One of the top posts in my blog the past few weeks is Idolizing Jose Rizal. It receives at least 20 hits a day and is the number 1 in terms of keyword search. In the past few months, the high-hitting articles are those I wrote about poverty in the Bicol Region and the Politics of Rice.
In the early 1990’s a survey was held asking who should be the national hero: Dr. Jose Rizal or Andres Bonifacio? The survey was in relation to the moves not only to rename the Philippines but also to replace some important symbols of the country. The pro-Rizals won and the idea of renaming Philippines lost. For these, the proposals vanished even before a bill was submitted to the Congress.
My response then was in favor of Rizal as we share some common traits (or so I thought) and these included a broad forehead, a love for peace, a fondness for traveling, and an interest in learning more and more things. The only attributes I didn’t acquire are his genius, his being a linguist, and his charm for girls. But a few years later, this adulation for the national hero crumbled when I happened to read an intriguing passage in one of the editions of Gregorio Zaide’s books “Jose Rizal: His Life and Works”. The passage reads: Why is it that on June 19, 1861 there is only one Filipino who rose to become a hero in fighting against the Spaniards?