Tomorrow, June 19 we celebrate -- with much gratitude and adoration, Jose Rizal's birthday. For the uninformed few (okay, very very few, if there are actually any), Jose Protacio Rizal is the Philippine's National Hero. I guess there's no need to elaborate on that.
I have the pleasure and honor of living (for almost 2 years now) in the same city where he was born -- Calamba City, Laguna. And so, being a few kilometers away from Rizal's Shrine ( Rizal's ancestral house), I feel that it is only appropriate and yes, expected that I blog about him today -- not discounting the fact that I genuinely have the urge to write about him. Before anything else, I have a confession to make. In the (almost) 2 years that I've moved here with my family, I have not ( and I am ashamed to admit this..) visited Rizal's Shrine -- not even once. And it's not for lack of anything but "effort". The seemingly patriotic and nationalistic side of me resents that. I pass by that area almost everyday and yet, all this time, the closest that I got to showcasing it is through a "photo post" about a usual journey home from Crossing, Calamba. Pathetic, I know. But it's true. And what's troubling about it is that if someone like myself haven't been there for lack of "effort", there is a great chance that many people share the same pathetic story of "lost patriotism". And for a small country like ours who depend highly on a few country-loving citizens to put some sanity in this crazy-politician-ruled country, that is a loss we cannot disregarad, however little it may seem.
Rizal's birth is not significant because he is our National Hero. In my opinion, it is his death that ultimately summarized all that he wrote about and inspired us to do -- to die for love of our country. Rizal definitely "walked the talk". So, yes, it is not his being a National Hero that prompts us to honor his birthday, rather it is his "being Filipino" and the resounding truth that if he has created an impact so great so as to inspire and stir a revolution, then that means that any Filipino CAN do the same. It is in our blood, in our culture and in our beliefs. Each and every Filipino can be a new Rizal -- inspiring people not just by words but by actions that speak louder, battling with today's oppressors and colonizers in the form of economic sabotagers, extremist groups, abusive media groups and power-hungry and self-obsessed politicians -- all painting the country's grim future while wrecking havoc in the present.
We need new Rizals and we need it now. Jose Rizal is dead but we are still alive. We may not be able to do what he has done over a hundred years ago but we can do something like it today, one form or another. Showcase the Rizal spirit in you today. Showcase the Filipino spirit!