Resurrection as fake news
Fake news is not new. It has been around long before social media was created to spread it, faster than you could type coronavirus. Fake news can be found in history and in the Bible, too. The Gospel reading for Monday, April 13, for example, would have gone into one ear and out the other, but this one hit the mark: On the way back to town from the empty tomb, two women see Jesus, who commands them: “Tell the apostles to go to Galilee, I will meet them there.” It is significant that women were the first to see Jesus rather than any of the apostles who were all male. In those times, women were not taken as seriously as men.As the women went on their merry way to spread the good news, men assigned to guard the tomb related the same to an assembly of chief priests and elders, who only saw bad news in the report and paid them a large sum of money to sing a different tune. Taking the money, the soldiers then declared that Jesus’ disciples went to the tomb in the dead of night and stole the corpse as they slept. The Gospel concludes: “And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.”
Closer to home, we have another resurrection story. Jose Rizal is believed by some to be alive and well, and living in the magic mountains of Makiling, Banahaw, and Arayat. The account that follows is not from the Rizalistas, but from an intelligence report of the Cuerpo de Vigilancia, transmitted by the Civil Governor of Manila to the Governor-General on March 29, 1897. A curious document in the National Archives of the Philippines states that barely three months after Rizal’s execution in Bagumbayan, news was rife in the suburbs of Manila that Rizal was not dead as documented by the newspapers, but that the masses believed he was alive. As reported by the Cuerpo de Vigilancia:
“After the execution of the prisoner, when the body was collected and locked in the closed carriage that transported it to the Cemetery, a faint, pink cloud settled on the carriage, surrounded it and followed it on its entire journey to [Paco Cemetery]. Stopping at the door of the cemetery, the carriage was met by servants who took out the stretchers where the corpse lay but it was not there. In its place a beautiful white rooster was seen that, in the presence of the authorities and to the great surprise of all, took flight, surrounded by the faint cloud, toward the province of Cavite, where it was joined with the soul of Father [Jose] Burgos who, [since his execution by garrote in] 1872 has watched over this province, instilling courage and daring in its inhabitants.
“Another of the absurdities propagated in the same vein is that Rizal’s body was removed from the pit in which he was buried in the Paco Cemetery and transferred to another site in the same Cemetery. To address this version on the violation of [Rizal’s] grave, I have quietly instituted the necessary steps, to show everyone that the grave has not been desecrated, that it is today completely covered with grass. I observed that on the wall immediately at the head of the grave, a cross has been carved on the stone with a sharp instrument. Not knowing who executed it, I arranged to have this cross secretly erased, leaving no trace even if you touched the stone.
“Such fake news, Honorable Sir, proves once again the great ascendancy that the name of the prisoner Rizal exercised over the indigenous people, the masses who believe, by superstition and idolatry, that Rizal is an extraordinary being with supernatural powers. This is why it is necessary, by all means, to stop the spread of such hoaxes. This fake news is spread by workers keen to foment rebellion, taking advantage of the superstitious nature of the indios.
“The undersigned believes that the Rizal family, which harbors among them ideas of the uprising, sustains this agitation among the masses, either to avenge what they call grievances, or to continue the anti-Spanish and anti-Catholic history that has always been the motto and flag of José Rizal Mercado, who can be considered as the most fateful man in Philippine history. In this sense, the continued stay of the Rizal family in the Archipelago is detrimental.”
The above came to mind after watching a documentary on the Ilocos-based cult that worships Ferdinand Marcos as God and Savior. Their belief must be fake news, too.
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