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Rizal Day To Be Moved From December 30 to June 19

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A typical Rizal Day celebration held many years ago.

A typical Rizal Day celebration held many years ago.

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.


3 responses »

  1. Have you ever wondered why we Filipinos celebrate Bonifacio’s birthdate and not his death?

    These national dates, these holidays are all political in nature.

    Rizal death was used by the propagandistas, the elite, the ruling class, their the ones who benefited from his execution more than the the Filipinos which even resisted the revolution aainst Spain. Men like Bonifacio, which many believe was the face of the true ‘masa’ struggle ended up being hacked to death – and like before as it is now, we are ruled by these oligarchs that fought Spain and used the people so they could reign over the islands.


    • Well, there’s another angle, my friend. Many believe that the reason why Bonifacio’s special day is celebrated on his natal day is to make students avoid delving into the “delicate” issue surrounding his death. Many students, especially the militant ones from UP and the like, believe that President Aguinaldo ordered his death. If Bonifacio Day is celebrated on the day he was executed, then that would lead the Filipino mindset to believe that Aguinaldo shouldn’t have been proclaimed a national hero.


  2. precisely. history is being used to promote nationalism, in order to accomplish this reference to important dates must tell the story of the revolutions united front against Spain (but we both know that the 1896 revolution was a Tagalog movement and was not really reflecting the will of the majority )which is farthest from the truth. For example, historical text refers to the killing of Gen Luna as an assassination when in fact it was an executive order from Aguinaldo, hence, a execution – he verified this act by not punishing those people who acted on their own will.



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