For a more enlightened nation, let’s read Rizal | Inquirer Opinion

For a more enlightened nation, let’s read Rizal

/ 05:01 AM June 24, 2021

Rizal’s misfortune is that he left great volumes of literary works and letters to a nation that does not read. Because Filipinos do not read, our country does not progress as a reflective society.

Rizal’s writings will help us to know who we are as Filipinos. It is only through knowledge and education that we can be free as a nation.

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By reading his works and the many books about him, we are reminded why Rizal was against Bonifacio’s revolution. He wanted our country to be free, but he knew that we were not yet ready at that time. Rizal wrote: “Countrymen, I have given proofs, as much as any one else, of desiring liberties for our country, and I still desire them. But I made them conditional on the education of the people so that by means of learning and work they would have their own personality and make themselves worthy of such liberties.”

It is only through freedom from ignorance that we can truly be free. Rizal affirmed in “Noli” that liberty is useless “when the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow.” Thus, Rizal as a reformist wanted a “reformation” in the values and hearts of the Filipino people. Because when Filipinos are corrupt, our country suffers the same fate of slavery. We become slaves to the powerful elite and corrupt politicians in our country. We are slaves no longer to foreigners, but to our own brothers.

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As we look at the statue of Rizal, may it give us precious moments to think deeply about our nation through history and reading. Rizal is a great thinker and voracious reader. He is the model of an enlightened being. The only way to escape from the shadow and chain of poverty and injustice is through education. We are only free when our minds are free.

Unfortunately, Rizal is irrelevant today because many people remain ignorant. But Rizal is more than relevant, because he is the soul of our nation. When we know him, perhaps we will learn to know who we are.

RADO GATCHALIAN
Sydney, Australia

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TAGS: Jose Rizal, Letters to the Editor, Rado Gatchalian, reading Rizal's works
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