This was last month’s news, but I only learned about it today.
I support Manila Representative Jaime López’s bill to move Rizal Day from December 30 to June 19.
House Bill 5408 which he sponsored was already approved on third and final reading in the House of Representatives. It seeks to amend the Administrative Code of 1987 (Section 26, Chapter 7, Book I of Executive Order No. 292, as amended) to change the commemoration of the event.
According to López, “Dr. José Rizal devoted practically all of his 35 years of existence on earth in putting premium on education and knowledge; and not on violence as a means of change.” He said Rizal’s death alone did not trigger the 1896 revolution that Filipinos thought catapulted the country to independence; it was the National Hero’s life-long accomplishments which inspired and pushed Filipinos to fight and work for our greatness as a race.
Even Calambâ, La Laguna, Rizal’s hometown, supports the move. One of the town’s representatives, Justin Marc Chipeco, is López’s co-author. Instead of merely moving the commemoration of Rizal Day to a different date, Chipeco also suggested to make June 19 as a national holiday.
My take on this is that it’s another fresh start to renew old ties and heal old wounds. Commemorating Rizal Day on the anniversary of the National Hero’s death only suggests hatred and bitterness towards Spain and our Spanish past. And this proves true among the young Filipino studentry. I for one, when I was young, used to hate Spain for what I was taught she did to the Philippines. Those things I learned about our country’s Spanish past from the classrooms were indeed very sad and mostly untrue.
In closing, let me share to you one of my favorite quotations from another Rizal specialist, Nick Joaquín:
“To accuse the Spanish, over and over again, of having brought us all sorts of things, mostly evil, among which we can usually remember nothing very valuable, ‘except, perhaps,’ religion and national unity, is equivalent to saying of a not very model mother, that she has given her child nothing except life, for in the profoundest possible sense, Spain did give birth to us — as a nation, as an historical people. This geographical unit of numberless islands called the Philippines –this mystical unit of numberless tongues, bloods and cultures called a Filipino– was begotten of Spain, is a Spanish creation. The content of our national destiny is ours to create, but the basic form, the temper, the physiognomy, Spain has created for us.
Towards our Spanish past, especially, it is time we became more friendly, bitterness but inhibits us; those years cry for a fresher appraisal.”
The Philippines is a Spanish creation. Rizal himself would’ve reiterated that fact along with me if he were alive.