This month, as the Philippines celebrates the Buwan ng Wika, the admirers of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen (the “José Rizal” of China), commemorate the founding of the Three Principles of the People, a political philosophy which he developed in August of 1905.
I publish here the oratorical piece which I wrote back in college (Adamson University) for the José Rizal – Sun Yat-Sen National Oratorical Contest (hosted annually by the Jose Rizal – Sun Yat-Sen Society, Inc.). My college department chose it among other essays, and it was delivered by Mass Communication student Joan Solís who later wrote for the now defunct Adamson Chronicle. Solís was coached by our college instructor, Arlene Villaluz de Paredes. The event was held at the University of Santo Tomás on 12 November 2001.
Among numerous participants, Ms. Solís won 2nd place. And for that, my school awarded me a Certificate of Recognition on its Awards night held at the Traders Hotel (Roxas Boulevard, Malate, Manila) on 2 March 2001. But my wife attended the event because I was rehearsing with my rock band for an upcoming live performance (silly me).
Here’s the oratorical piece about the two Asian medical doctors-turned-revolutionaries…
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen (1866-1925)
THE RELEVANCE OF RIZAL’S AND SUN YAT-SEN’S IDEALS IN THE COMING INFORMATION AGE
José Mario S. Alas
A local TV personality once mentioned that “information is power.” Such a remark, though terse, is in itself a powerful phrase. Information, to put it more bluntly and in a more lucid definition, is knowledge. And this further proves the much-accepted cliché that “knowledge is power.”
Those who possess, or have access to, information is powerful enough to steer themselves to greater heights of glory and to a much higher form of authority. They could even manipulate the masses. Such knowledge is their pedestal to power.
The modern explosion of information through cyberspace has given almost everybody a chance to stand on that same kind of pedestal. Unlike in the old days, access to information has become more convenient. In the past, news from this side of the globe would take months before reaching the other side. Nowadays, information from an unfamiliar, faraway nation could reach us in almost a matter of minutes in the comfort of our own localities, thanks to Internet cafés and local Internet servers.
In the past, an exhaustive research would be needed just to extract appurtenant data to subsist a subject or thesis. Such undertaking required months or even years. But thanks to the convenience of this so-called “information superhighway,” all the facts that one would ever need is just a couple of clicks away. And the constant flow of data throughout civilization and history has given more opportunities for technological advancement for the betterment of humanity.
But I ask, isn’t that one of the purposes of information dissemination? It is logical enough to say that information is of academic importance since civilization rests upon the broad shoulders of the academies. Besides, the university’s main purpose is also for the betterment of mankind. Another purpose of information is that some of it is solely for entertainment and leisure. Certainly, man needs to break away from the monotonies of life once in a while to nourish and enliven his exhausted mind and body. All in all, such purposes when synthesized would point out towards one direction: the betterment of humanity. It is information technology’s main target. That’s actually the way it should be.
However, it is alarming to note that the reverse is happening. Human progress is no longer moving forward; neither is it regressing. It is on the verge of freezing, a complete halt in the never ending turn of events in history. This is not just a bad situation; it is beyond evil. Yes, everything that is of harm to the existence of our kind is beyond evil. An éminence grise is behind the abuse of information technology. In this regard, it is also the opportune time to know who your enemy is.
The two great doctors of the 19th century, José Rizal and Sun Yat-sen, did just that. They, too, were products of the onslaught of information. They championed all information that were relevant and useful to what they were fighting for. Like jigsaw puzzles, they fitted well to the knowledge that they had gathered which became the powerhouse for their ideals and aspirations. Both nationalists bathed under the torrents of information, unmindful of the consequences. Bathing under a rainstorm may cause fever. But bathing under a shower of lore in the midst of an oppressive milieu meant death or persecution.
Rizal and Sun were educated the Western way. In other words, they allowed themselves to be shaped, influenced, and empowered by information from Europe. Indeed, man is a lover of knowledge. But these two heroes not only had love for knowledge. As a matter of fact, they diverted their knowledge for a much nobler cause: love of country. With the patriotic valor burning deeply in their hearts, they rolled all that they had learned into big masses of nationalistic counterattacks against their oppressors.
Their philosophies and beliefs should not be taken lightly, especially during these troubled times. With the outbreak of information through advanced technology in the mass media, it seems that we are headed for disaster. The idea that the whole world is wired together signifies mass death–the end of our species. Why is that so? Because this status quo contributes to the end of innovation. Just as I have mentioned earlier, human progress is freezing to a halt. And recent studies were proven that small groups of any living beings evolve faster when they are in isolation. For us humans, our evolution occurs mostly through our behavior. We innovate new behavior to adapt. Adaptation, anyway, is a law of nature, not a theory since it is very evident. And I assume that you all know that innovation is successful only in small groups. Let me elucidate: a committee of two or three people will prove to be successful; but put more than three people, then things would be difficult; put twenty or so people in the meeting, then the agenda would be impossible to ever materialize; Put around a hundred, then it would be hopeless.
These are just some of the ill effects of the information explosion. It promotes global uniformity and swamps diversity. Poco a poco, everything around us is slowly becoming the same. Weaker cultures are either effaced or exploited and abused to make way for imperialist motives. Indeed, the coming information age is but a component of gobbleization. The enemy, perhaps out of pure stupidity or sheer ignorance, is also on the verge of collapse. Everything is on the verge of collapse! It seems that history is bowing before the final curtain…
But there is still hope. Life is hope. We can put a stop to this coming disaster simply by going back to our roots and imbibing the ideals of Rizal and Sun. Their philosophies, their aspirations, had survived through tumultuous times since the their incipience. Both Asian heroes fought for the redemption of their fellow citizens from the perils of time. Ergo, let us emancipate ourselves from the chains of ignorance and apathy. Know the truth wisely. It is time to unite and face the greatest evil that man has to imminently battle using Rizal’s and Sun’s methodologies. We must emulate how these two demi-gods utilized all the information that they had received throughout their academic lives. And let us allow their methodologies and philosophies to be the information. This will kindle the messiahs in us. At that point the people will make a gallant stand against the coming information age’s corruption and bigotry. Through our treasured heroes, there is still hope to change this decaying system. Our Asian patriots’ heroic ideologies would be helpful in enlightening our minds in this global darkness. And as gratitude for Rizal’s and Sun’s sacrifices, as well as for our own benefit, we must, quid pro quo, voluntarily and heroically do our part.
José Rizal (1861-1896)