BENEATH AND BEYOND

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BY SONIA D. DAQUILA
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Déjà vu?

ONE hundred ten years had passed since the execution of Dr. Jose P. Rizal at Luneta yet his two novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo have remained the only two internationally acclaimed historico-socioeconomic and political novels written by a Filipino. There are still Padre Damasos, Salvis, Camorras, Tiagos, Doña Victorinas, Doña Consolacions, Sisas, Ibarras, Ma. Claras, Sacristan Mayors, the Manangs, Basilios and Crispins, as there are Jose Rizals and Andres Bonifacios in Philippine society today. These characters exemplify human beings we find in our midst today.

We are still here, a people full of potentials despite our frailties and blemishes. We are still here, a happy race, gentle, forgiving, having short memories, easily swayed by distorted history. We are still here, mostly indifferent despite sophistications in media and technology, but then again, we can assume the proverbial “tamaraw-carabao attitude.”

We can rise in arms or peacefully stage our indignation as if it is the end of everything and show to the world our might as a people. Nonetheless, we also easily slide back to what we are: languid as a carabao. After all the sound and fury, we are back to our old selves as a people, generally indifferent, lethargic until we are extremely provoked again. The stories, the events, the setting, and the characters are still here, making Jose Rizal’s message in these two novels and his other works timeless and timely.

The Philippines is composed of 7,107,000 scattered islands and islets, a splintered country, and its people learned they are Filipinos, and the Philippines a nation born only after the lapse of more than three hundred years of exploitation by powerful countries. Through the years, the Filipinos experienced revolts and revolutions, yet there is still an unending quest for freedom. True freedom has been elusive for the Filipinos and Jose Rizal’s truism still rings a bell: “Why give the Filipinos freedom if the slaves of today shall be tyrants tomorrow?” Were not some regimes worse than the foreign invaders?

Rizal may be taken for granted, but for a pensive reader, his message remains relevant. Like the ancient philosopher Socrates said, “Nosciteipsum” – “Know thyself for an unexamined life is not worth living.”

The Rizalian revolution exhorts every Filipino to wage a kind of revolution that starts from within, starting from values clarification to moral regeneration, for the Filipinos to be truly free.

(Note: This is the author’s epilogue in her textbook, “Seeds of Freedom,” 2017 edition. Email comments to [email protected]/PN)
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