The First Filipino

Posted on October 19, 2006

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Jose Rizal

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If you can go around the Philippines, you will realize that the most common monument that can be found is dedicated to Jose Rizal. every municipality and city at least has one Rizal Plaza or public square. Almost every school in the country has Rizal statue in one form or another. He is everywhere, from postage stamps to coins, from comics to movies. He is in T-shirts and he is on billboards. You might say that it is idolatry. Indeed, you are right! Rizal is literally worshipped by some groups of people here in the Philippines. He is believed to be the Filipino Jesus Christ.

However great Jose Rizal was. He is not a god. In fact, during his life time, it can easily be proven from historical sources that he was a man who was also in search for a god. Although he had not found the god of the Catholic friars of his time to be the same God of the bible, it is sufficient to say that his idea of the supreme being was still largely based on Catholic dogmas.

Jose Rizal’s greatest contribution to the Filipino people is not in the field of science or literature, it is not in the field of linguistics or anthropology, although Jose Rizal achieved significant contributions in these fields. His greatest contribution is the idea of nationhood. He transcended the cultural and linguistic barriers of the Filipinos. He was the first to suggest the idea of a Filipino people. His annotations of Antonio Morga’s work on Phillipine history was his way of proving that the Filipinos already have a distinct culture and government long before the Spaniards came to conquer the archipelago.

Rizal novels preached revolution but Rizal himself was a pacifist advocating reforms rather than bloody overthrow of government.

Although Rizal was a true cosmopolitan man and he abhorred extreme nationalism, his legacy was giving the Filipinos a national identity. Hence, Rizal was the first Filipino.

For more information about Jose Rizal, click this site: http://www.joserizal.ph/in01.html.

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