Category: jose rizal

jose rizal on my blog

“the most brilliant filipino intellectual ever, bar none,” said adrian cristobal and jorge arago of our national hero.  on the 156th anniversary of his birth, sharing here my posts on dr. jose rizal that continue to be read by students and teachers alike.

rizal redux  19 june 2010
rizal’s twist of death  19 june 2011
rizal, elias, and the crocodile  19 june 2012

Rizal and socialism by Elmer Ordoñez  7 august 2011
Rizal and socialism (2)  28 August 2011
Rizal and socialism (3)  21 october 2011

Rizal’s Legacy for the 21st Century by Floro Quibuyen  6 May 2012
The Enigmatic Brotherhood of Dimasalang by Jose Victor Peñaranda  19 June 2013

Guniguni ni Isagani by Tom Agulto  June 19, 2015
Rizal, the Noli-Fili, and the Torre de Manila by Amelia HC Ylagan  6 July 2015
ambeth and the supremes, rizal and his ultimo adios  19 september 2015

Rizal’s prophecies fulfilled

Oscar P. Lagman, Jr.

Tomorrow being Rizal Day, we honor Dr. Jose P. Rizal by reading and pondering his writings. As he wrote prolifically, we choose today to contemplate on what he wrote for La Solidaridad, the newspaper published by Filipinos studying in various universities of Europe, from September 1889 to February 1890. In that series of articles Rizal envisioned what the Philippines would be 100 years from then.

Of those who governed the country, he wrote: “If those who guide the destiny of the Philippines should, instead of granting the reforms that are demanded, continue to erode the state of the country, exacerbate the hardships and repressions of the suffering and thinking classes, they will succeed in making them risk a troubled life, full of privations and bitterness, for the hope of obtaining something uncertain.

“What would they lose in the struggle? Almost nothing. The life of the large discontented class offers no great attraction that it should be preferred to a glorious death. Poverty inspires adventurous ideas, stimulates a desire to change things, and diminishes regard for life.”

It seems Rizal had visions of Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship. Millions of discontented Filipinos, including those from the uppermost level of Philippine society, risk life, liberty, and fortune in February 1986 to put an end to the dictator’s rule in the hope of getting something though uncertain that something may be.

The consequence of Mr. Marcos’ suppression of the press seems to have also been predicted by Rizal. He wrote: “Is it preferable to govern in the dark or to govern with understanding? If the great Napoleon had not muzzled the press, perhaps it would have warned him of the danger into which he was falling and it might have made him understand that the people were tired and the land needed peace.” Mr. Marcos fell from power because he muzzled the press and thus failed to understand that the Filipino people were tired of a life of privation, submission, and oppression.

Rizal also foresaw the many coups d’etat staged against Marcos’ successor. Wrote he about insurrections: “All the minor insurrections that had broken out in the Philippines had been the work of a few fanatics and discontented military men who, in order to attain their ends, had to resort to deceit and trickery or take advantage of the loyalty of their subordinates. Thus, they all fell. None of the insurrections was popular in character nor based on the basic need of the people nor did it struggle for the laws of making of justice. Thus, the insurrection did not leave indelible memories in the people. On the contrary, the people realizing they had been deceived and their wounds healed, applauded the fall of those who disturbed their peace.”

He could have very well been describing the putsches led by then-Colonel and now Senator Gregorio “Gringo” B. Honasan II, the last one disturbing intensely the merry observance of Christmas of 1989.

While they cried for reforms in the Armed Forces, the leaders of the coups did not offer any specific program. They appeared to the people as just out to grab power. Interestingly, two leaders of military adventures are now running for vice-president. Both are at the bottom in the rankings of the voters’ preference for vice-president, outranked by a widow with much less experience in government.

Rizal also wrote: “We said, and we repeat it once more, and will always repeat it, all reforms of a palliative nature are not only ineffective but are even harmful when the Government is beset with ills that need radical remedy.” President Joseph E. Estrada did not even offer palliatives. He offered only himself. The squealing masa, who voted him into office, were contented, nay ecstatic, in just having him as president.

When the Philippine Daily Inquirer exposed not only his utter lack of awareness of the function of the presidency but also his nocturnal bacchanalian activity, and subsequently his plunder of the country’s coffers, the upper crust of Philippine society decided a radical remedy was needed. President Estrada met the same fate President Marcos did.

Our judiciary as has been described as the best judiciary money can buy. Judges and prosecutors for sale abound in our justice system. President Estrada, of all people, called the members of the judiciary as hoodlums in robes.

The incoming administration should heed the words of Rizal on Justice before another prophecy of Rizal is fulfilled. He said “Justice is the foremost virtue of civilized society. It subdues the most barbarous nations. Injustice arouses the weakest.”

Rizal also wrote that the Islands will probably adopt a federal republic. There is much dissension and resentment in many parts of the land towards Imperial Manila. Manila, the official seat of government, has too much control of the governance of the entire nation. The dissension and resentment have sporadically flared into violent armed conflicts.

Peace might descend upon this troubled land if the different regions, distinguished by ethnic origin, language, religion, culture, and natural resources, were allowed to conduct their own affairs and determine their own destiny as Rizal envisioned.

ambeth & the supremes, rizal & his ultimo adios

it is ironic that 3 supreme court justices i cheered on for dissenting on the enrile bail case are the same 3 justices i am now jeering at for  buying (so to speak) not just DMCI’s, but even ambeth ocampo’s, arguments against the demolition of  torre de manila.

given her husband’s connections with DMCI, i don’t understand why chief justice sereno did not inhibit from the case the way associate justice perez did, his son being the owner of a torre unit.  and, take note, just a week after the court issued the TRO (that she voted no to) on june 23, almost a month before the first oral arguments, cj sereno in a letter to associate justice jardeleza (ponente of the case) enumerated “issues” that should be tackled in oral arguments and en banc deliberations, among them:

“What is the total damage to be sustained by private respondents [DMCI], including the workers, the subcontractors, the investors, and the buyers of the project, in case the building is demolished?”

Sereno even put a footnote quoting “Article III, Section 9 of the 1987 Constitution [as it provides] that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.”

excuse me, your honor, ma’am, with all due respect, the original clear-sky background of the rizal monument is public property that DMCI, by building beyond the 7-floor limit, dared despoil for private profit.  it’s not as if torre de manila deserved to be in the same sacred space, looming over and distracting from, the rizal monument.  it’s not as if the kind of progress and development that DMCI stands for has brought any prosperity except to a privileged few (at the expense of the many).  DMCI took a gamble, big time, on getting away with it, and deserves to lose, big time.

as for the overrated ocampo’s argument that rizal did not even want a monument, all rizal wanted was a simple grave, he said so himself in a letter to his family, which is to say that the monument does not honor rizal’s wishes, and therefore torre de manila does not dishonor rizal?  i can’t believe that sereno, carpio, and leonen swallowed  that hook line and sinker.

sixth orals

the one shining moment was when associate justice teresita leonardo de castro pounced on NHCP chair serena diokno for the NHCP statement re the front view of the rizal monument not being obstructed by the torre.  duh, nga.

The justice said the NHCP was to be blamed for what she branded as “miscommunication” and “inefficient way of dealing with the situation.”

De Castro told the NHCP chief that the “issue about the background was raised before your commission but you did not deal with it.  You had a very clear idea of what the issue is about — the background [view].”

De Castro … criticized the NHCP for not taking a stronger position on the issue so as to guide the local government. The magistrate said that even if its guidelines were merely recommendatory, part of NHCP’s mandate is still to provide the correct opinion to LGUs. 

indeed, NHCP has been glaringly inconsistent in its official recommendations.  june 2012, to the manila city council,  it was a no to the torre (keep vista points and visual corridors to monuments clear for unobstructed viewing appreciation and photographic opportunities).   november 2012, to DMCI consultant alfredo andrade, it was a yes (Your project site is outside the boundaries of the Rizal Park and well to the rear of the Rizal National Monument, hence it cannot possibly obstruct the front view of the said National Monument).  august 2014, in a position paper submitted to the senate hearing, it was back to a  no (Diokno’s letter said that the front view of the monument is not the issue, but the obstruction presented by Torre de Manila on the Rizal Monument’s back view. … the condominium adversely affects the monument’s visual corridor).  sa oral arguments, day 6, it was back to a yes (The property of Torre De Manila is not part of Rizal Park and well beyond).

still on day 6, some embarrassing gems from sereno, carpio, and leonen.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, on the other hand, asked how other cities are treating the monuments if there are any in their area, like the Bonifacio Shrine in Caloocan, which is facing the LRT 1 station and being surrounded by malls, the EDSA Shrine, which was built in front a mall and the MRT and the Ninoy Aquino monument in Makati, which is crowded with high-rise buildings.

uh, ma’am, none of those locations are sacred like luneta, formerly bagumbayan, where rizal (and many more filipino martyrs) were executed by the spaniards.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said “his (Rizal’s) dying wish was to face east but the captain of the guard said no so he died facing west.” …“Now, Rizal is still facing west. We still deny him his dying wish…”

uh, sir, rizal’s wish to face east was so he would die facing the firing squad that faced west.  is the good justice suggesting that if the firing squad had been facing east, rizal would have been okay being shot in the back?  facing east was the important thing, and not facing his killers?

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen added that “when the Constitution says conserve and promote historical heritage, it also means that we should actually grant Rizal his dying wish so that our people know that our heroes should be humble, that our leaders should not have billboards, should not have markers, should not be ‘epal’ because that is somebody that we should emulate.” … “Therefore, what we are fighting for in this case is really a monument which Rizal did not want.”

uh, sir.  sino ba talaga ang epal dito?  di ba’t ang torre de manila ng DMCI ang medyo bastos at garapal, butting in where it’s not wanted, intruding brazenly shamelessly on our vista of the rizal monument to make capital of the wonderful view?

and, grabe lang, sir, the way you dignify a message that was only for family, a message that rizal did not even bother to smuggle out, or to hide in his other shoe.

“Bury me in the ground, place a stone and a cross over it. My name, the date of my birth and of my death. Nothing more. If you later wish to surround my grave with a fence, you may do so. No anniversaries. I prefer Paang Bundok.”

rizal, of course, would not have asked more of his family.  but of nation, he certainly did, ask more, in his last poem that begins, “Adios, Patria adorada.”   ito mismo, hindi ang bury-me note, ang final testament ni jose rizal.

adios, patria adorada

this untitled 14-stanza poem, that presumably rizal finished writing on the eve of his execution, was found hidden in a lamp (some say a stove) that rizal gave a sister after a last visit on that last day.  the family made copies and sent them out to friends.  bonifacio’s tagalog translation of this emotional farewell reached, touched, the masses and fanned the flame of revolution.

needless to say, i am surprised, nay, shocked, that ocampo dares talk about rizal’s dying wishes without acknowledging, even once, this poem that we know as “Mi Ultimo Adios” – as though it did not exist, as though it did not matter, as though it were not relevant to the public outcry against torre de manila.

does ocampo really think we have all forgotten, too, or that, like him, we are content to thrill at the trivial, and glorify the mundane, about our heroes?  or maybe he’s just not into literary masterpieces, least of all one that makes you think, and feel, and weep for inang bayan?   isn’t that the height of academic irresponsibility?  rizal would not be amused.

not only is it great poetry by the most brilliant filipino intellectual ever (saludo sina adrian cristobal at jorge arago), this last poem reflects rizal’s state of mind the day before he was to face a firing squad, full of fervent hope that his dreams for a free and proud filipinas would come true, yet fearful that his sacrifice might be for nought, uncertain that he would even be remembered.

from nick joaquin’s translation

Should you find someday, somewhere on my gravemound, fluttering
among tall grasses, a flower of simple frame:
caress it with your lips and you kiss my soul.
I shall feel on my face across the cold tombstone,
of your tenderness: the breath – of your breath: the flame.

Suffer the moon to keep watch, tranquil and suave, over me;
suffer the dawn its flying lights to release:
suffer the wind to lament in murmurous and grave manner
and should a bird drift down and alight on my cross,
suffer the bird to intone its canticle of peace.

from andres bonifacio’s:

Kung sa libingan ko’y tumubong mamalas
sa malagong damo mahinhing bulaklak,
sa mga labi mo’y mangyayaring itapat,
sa kaluluwa ko halik ay igawad.

At sa aking noo nawa’y iparamdam,
sa lamig ng lupa ng aking libingan,
ang init ng iyong paghingang dalisay
at simoy ng iyong paggiliw na tunay.

Bayaang ang buwan sa aki’y ititig
ang liwanag niyang lamlam at tahimik,
liwayway bayaang sa aki’y ihatid
magalaw na sinag at hanging hagibis.

Kung sakasakaling bumabang humantong
sa krus ko’y dumapo kahit isang ibon
doon ay bayaan humuning hinahon
at dalitin niya payapang panahon.

rizal imagined a gravemound and wildflower, and in the next breath, a cold tombstone, and further on, a dark graveyard where only the dead keep vigil.  he knew it was possible that he would be forgotten, but he himself would not forget, and he would haunt us.

And when in dark night shrouded the graveyards lies
and only, only the dead keep vigil the night through:
keep holy the peace: keep holy the mystery.
Strains, perhaps, you will hear – of zither, or of psalter
it is I: O land I love: it is I who sing to you!

At kung ang madilim na gabing mapanglaw
ay lumaganap na doon sa libinga’t
tanging mga patay ang nangaglalamay,
huwag bagabagin ang katahimikan.

Ang kanyang hiwagay huwag gambalain;
kaipala’y marinig doon ang taginting,
tunog ng gitara’t salterio’y mag saliw,
ako, Bayan yao’t kita’y aawitin.

rizal did not imagine a national monument such as the one we have built him, and improved on over the years.  i have no doubt that he approves, even, that he cheers us on who see torre de manila as a symbol of capitalist oppression in a land no longer as enchanted or beautiful as when he lived and died for inang bayan.

take it down.


consunji,semirara, torre de manila, atbp. 
Much ado about Ambeth Ocampo
jeremy barns on torre de manila
sona, tsona, torre de manila #takeitdown
TAKE IT DOWN #torredemanila
Rizal, the Noli-Fili, and the Torre de Manila

consunji, semirara, torre de manila, atbp.

the synchronicity is striking.

while having to deal with the shameless atrocity that is DMCI’s torre de manila, and having to listen to DMCI’s lawyer who dares declare that jose rizal is no demigod — “his statue does not possess a super constitutional power that acts like a laser sword that any building exceeds the line of sight should be torned” (sic sic sic) — yes, on top of hearing such disdainful capitalist  rhetoric while watching the wheels of supreme court justice grind exceedingly painfully slow (in contrast to  enrile’s bail), we were hit with news of yet another mining “incident” in semirara island, province of antique, that saw nine miners buried alive (the first, in 2013, killed five) in a landslide.

DMCI, which dared build that monstrous torre, and semirara mining corporation, the only large-scale coal-mining operation in the country, are both subsidiaries of DMCI Holdings Inc., a conglomerate (also into roads, power, water, real estate, concrete atbp.) largely owned and run by the david m. consunji family whose patriarch is listed as the 6th richest filipino (worth $3.2 B) by forbes magazine 2014.

quite the oligarch, di ba, who by the way, was part of the marcos cabinet 1970-75 as secretary of public works.  he got exclusive rights to semirara also in marcos times (early 1980s) that should have expired in 2012 but was extended to 2027 by the energy department in the time of arroyo (2008).

of course, less than a month after the “incident,” the DENR lifted its suspension order on semirara ops;  another suspension order from the department of energy has yet to be lifted, but we know that’s coming next, ‘no? because, really, our power plants need the coal to generate the electricity we can’t live without.

In its motion to lift cease and desist order and suspension order, Semirara said it did not violate any provision of its ECC and the accident that occurred in the mine site did not have any adverse impact on the environment.

It also said the collapse of the wall was a “fortuitous event” beyond its control, and that erosion control measures have been put in place.

FORTUITOUS?!?  nine miners died and that was fortuitous?  according to what value system?  why were those erosion control measures not put in place BEFORE that killer landslide of july 17?  in fact, it would seem that it was sheer irresponsibility on the part of semirara that killed those miners.  antique governor rhodora cadiao says the panian pit is already over-mined.

“‘Yung hinuhukay nila [sa Panian Pit], nasa mouth lang ng pit… ‘Yun ang (lupang) nag-crash sa workers,” she said. “It’s already 1/2 kilometer below sea level, mahina na talaga.”

She added that workers are afraid to go back to the area as it was already the second accident to happen on the island.

NO ADVERSE IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT?!?  more like, no adverse impact on the coal.  only the coal matters.  never mind that of all fossil fuels, coal’s extraction, and use,  contributes the most to environmental degradation, whose long-term effects we are feeling now as Climate Change.  and never mind that semirara’s coal mining operations bring no real significant benefit to community or nation except as the end-product electricity that we still have to pay for anyway.  never mind all that because, you know, coal is so much cheaper to “produce” than solar power.

what is not factored in is the fact that the mining company, in this case, semirara, did not truly produce, i.e., develop or create, the coal – Nature did that, over hundreds of millions of years, from dead plant matter subjected to geological forces of heat and pressure.  as such, it is part of the natural wealth, and meant for the benefit, of the filipino people across generations, not just a few privileged families and their cohorts in government across generations.

it’s pretty much the way we lost our millions of hectares of hardwood forests – but that’s another story of the rent-seeking / exploitation-by-the-powerful-few genre.  read maximo “junie” kalaw’s essays Forests Gone and Forests Left, excerpts from Exploring Soul & Society: Papers on Sustainable Development (Anvil 1997).

which is all pasakalye to why i agree with carlos celdran about the demolition of torre de manila:

“DMCI ito. They are a mining company. If they can make Semirara Island disappear, they can make that building disappear. DMCI is very good in demolishing things. They are into mining… To tear down is not a technological impossibility. Kayang kaya nila iyon,” he claimed in an interview with GMA News TV’s “News To Go” on Wednesday.

DMCI Holdings Inc., the parent of DMCI homes, also holds the exclusive rights to explore, mine and develop the coal resources in the 5,500-hectare  Semirara Island in Caluya, Antique. Other minerals on the island are limestone and silica.

Celdran issued his statement after the Supreme Court imposed a temporary restraining order suspending the construction of Torre de Manila.

… “The thing I like about this TRO is that it showed the Filipino people that oligarchs or large corporations like this can be questioned, can be stopped, and can be taken to task for things that they do and abuses that they do,” he added

more recently, there was this from QC rep winston castello who heads the metro manila development house committee:

“The public relations nightmare of the DMCI will continue if they would not totally remove it. I advise them to voluntarily dismantle it. After all, it would be a big contribution to preserve our cultural heritage and national patrimony,” Castelo said.

Castelo said once the Supreme Court issues an injunction to permanently halt the construction, DMCI should refund the property buyers who bought condominium units, lest it risks being blacklisted from doing business with government.

The construction arm of DMCI is also part of various big ticket public-private partnership projects with government, such as the P15.86 billion Ninoy Aquino International Airport Expressway, two sections of the P26.656 billion Metro Manila Skyway project, the P2.27 billion LRT-2 East extension project, among others.

indeed, the consunji conglomerate can afford this one setback after being so consistently blessed by government, administration after administration, over the last 30 plus years.  surely DMCI knew about zoning regulations and knew from the start that it was taking a risk in pushing on with the torre de manila project.  surely they knew there was a reason why a torre kind of building had never been attempted, or, maybe, even considered, in that particular site but they decided to take the risk anyway, thinking maybe that they could bully their way up, because wow the projected returns on condo units with a rare untrammeled view of the historic rizal park and manila  bay, and environs near and far — sunset na, citylights pa — must have been way over-the-top incredible.

besides, city hall made it so easy, and when heritage activists raised a howl, no less than the presidential action center and the NHCP intervened, because, you know, heritage can co-exist with progress, or so the media blitz across major broadsheets and news websites goes, complete with a photo of the rizal monument dwarfed by a backdrop of skyscrapers.  argh.

it’s too much.  kulang pa yung pagpapayaman nila by making private capital of our natural wealth?  pati talaga ang rizal monument sa bagumbayan, na kaisa-isa nating national monument, ay pagsasamantalahan at pagkakakitaan,  e ano kung nakakasira ng view natin of rizal  — bongga naman ang view nila from the torre?  business first before anything?

sobra na.  that torre is a dirty finger raised in contempt at nation and everything sacred that the rizal monument stands for.  take it down, guys!

[next: ambeth ocampo & the supremes]