Sunday, October 15, 2017


This is why, fellow Knights of Rizal, we study and spread Dr. Rizal’s teachings, by word and deed, with unity, perseverance, and vigilance, so that this multi-colored, multi-layered archipelagic Inang Bayan of 7,641 islands, shall stand as one, compact, dynamic whole, with self-confidence, self-esteem and dignity, always advancing to her moral and material development, with no more reasons: to cry, to be subservient, to doubt, to fear, or to be ashamed – and so that our fellow citizens are each worthy of liberty, peace and prosperity!


Thank you Area Commander Sir Willie Mamucod for your kind words of introduction.

Our Supreme Commander, Sir Reynato S. Puno, Sr., KGCR,
Supremo Emeritus Sir Jerry Singson, KGCR,
Our respected Supreme Trustees: Sir Dave, Sir Ave, Sir Max, Sir Rene, Sir Rey, Sir Ennie;
Fellow Knights, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Liberty, Peace and Prosperity

The topic assigned to me is “Rizal the Patriot” which is contained within the theme “Patriotism for Liberty, Peace and Development”. Given these two sets of ideas, I would like to do a little re-statement and speak on “Rizalian Patriotism for Liberty, Peace and Prosperity”.

Our objectives are liberty, peace and prosperity; our strategic approach is Rizalian patriotism.

Let’s talk first about the objectives. There is a UN General Assembly Resolution which the Philippines co-signed that contains contemporary explanations of liberty or freedom, peace and prosperity. It is the UNGA Resolution of 25 September 2015 entitled “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. 

On freedom or liberty, it envisions “a world free of poverty, hunger, disease and want, where all life can thrive”; envisages “a world free of fear and violence, a world with universal literacy”; and declares the determination “to end poverty and hunger in all their forms and dimensions, and to ensure that all human beings can fulfill their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment”. That’s a statement of freedom or liberty we can accept and work for.

On Peace, its Preamble states that: “We are determined to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence. There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.”

On Prosperity, the same Preamble declares that: “We are determined to ensure that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature.”

These definitions and intentions are in harmony with our own national development plans.

Patriotism as Love

For us Knights of Rizal, we want to approach them from the perspective of patriotism and I respectfully submit, it should be Rizalian patriotism.

In simple terms, patriotism is love of country. Being a form of love, let’s get to know the dual interpretations from which love derives.

In Matthew 34 to 40, the Pharisees gathered together and one of them (a scholar of the law) tested Jesus by asking: "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Logic would say: love God, love yourself, then love your neighbor. But why did the Lord omit the second logical step?

I believe Sirs and Ladies that the Lord speaks from a different logic; I think He treats each one of us - though endowed with free will - as part of Him, and we are all part of each other, being all sparks of the divine. So when He said “love God with all your heart, soul, mind,” he inclusively meant to love yourself as part of God; which explains why the first is like the second: love your neighbor as you love yourself (being part of God).

From this perspective, we can say there are two general types of love: (1) the at-one-ment with all, part-of-God type of LOVE, and (2) the egoistic, selfish, separate, am-better-than-others type of love.

And I submit to you, Sirs and Ladies: Dr Rizal’s love of country springs from the at-one-ment with all and part-of-God type of love.

This is why Rizalian patriotism is important for us. It rejects the illusion of being separate.

In the words of Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr, “The root of violence is the illusion of separation - from God, from Being itself, from being one with everyone and everything.”

Rizalian Patriotism

Notice how Rizal felt one with his people.

In his “Farewell to 1883” Speech in Madrid, he said: “In my heart I have suppressed all loves, except that of my native land; in my mind I have erased all ideas which do not signify her progress; and my lips have forgotten the names of the native races in the Philippines in order not to say more than Filipinos”.

In his essay “Love of Country” published in La Solidaridad, 31 Oct 1890, he wrote: “It has been said that love is the most powerful force behind the most sublime actions; well then, among all the loves, that of country is the greatest, the most heroic, and the most disinterested”, and Dr. Rizal added: “…love of country is never effaced once it has penetrated the heart, because it carries with it a divine stamp which renders it eternal and imperishable”. 

But we have heard some say that we should not be patriotic as to discriminate against others, especially our non-Filipino fellow Knights, after all in the Fili, Dr Rizal had written that the word patriotism shall smack of fanaticism and he who would boast of patriotic virtues will undoubtedly be confined as a dangerously sick man, as a perturber of social harmony.

That argument is selective quoting. For the entire passage requires that five conditionalities should happen first before the “perturber” conclusion can stand. It says: “Some centuries hence [1] when mankind shall become enlightened and redeemed, [2] when there shall be no races, [3] when all peoples shall become free, [4] when there  shall be neither tyrants nor slaves, nor colonies nor metropolis, [5] when justice shall rule, and man shall become a citizen of the world, the cult of science alone shall remain, the word patriotism shall smack of fanaticism, and he who would boast of patriotic virtues will undoubtedly be confined as a  dangerous sick man, as a perturber of social harmony”. (El Filibusterismo; numbering supplied)

Moreover, Dr Rizal clarified in the same El Fili, that: “…however perfect humanity maybe, patriotism shall always be a virtue among the oppressed, because at all times it will signify love for justice, liberty, and dignity itself…”

This does not mean, however, that we are allowed to discriminate against our non-Filipino brother Knights. R.A. 646 in its Section 4 does not distinguish and simply says: “All persons of legal age and of good moral character and reputation, who are in sympathy with the purposes of the corporation, are eligible for active membership…” This provision gives substance to the tenet that every person is a divine spark and therefore entitled to love of neighbor as we love ourselves. Therefore, every Knight regardless race or creed is entitled to respect and treatment as an equally important member of the Organization.

Going back to how Rizal expressed his love for Inang Bayan, he wrote to the Spanish Governor and Captain-General on 21 Mar 1892, partly in this wise: “... the thought of my whole life has always been love of my country and her moral and material development…” Before that, in a letter to Mariano Ponce on 12 Oct 1888, he had declared: “I shall always be at the service of my country and what my fellow countrymen think I can do, I shall do”.

And in another letter to Mariano Ponce dated 27 July 1888, he urged: “Let this be our only motto: ‘For The Welfare Of The Native Land’. On the day when all Filipinos should think like M H del Pilar and like us, on that day we shall have fulfilled our arduous mission, which is the formation of the Filipino nation”.

Filipino Nation

Yes, Rizal and his friends in Spain and other parts of Europe fought for a Filipino nation. That was the bottom line. Reforms were the indispensable steps.

Thus, in the Fili, he predicted: “Tomorrow we shall be citizens of the Philippines whose destiny will be beautiful because it will be in loving hands. Oh yes! The future is ours, it is rosy. I see life stirring in these regions, so long dead and lethargic… I see towns rising along railways and factories everywhere and buildings like that at Mandaluyong…” (El Filibusterismo, p. 191)

This debunks certain assertions that Rizal was nothing but a reformist wanting continued attachment to Spain, because this talk about being citizens presumes a separate and independent republic! Remember, Spain was and is a Monarchy; their people are subjects, not citizens.

Loving hands to guarantee the nation’s beautiful destiny? We are now in the tomorrow of his era: are the hands of the majority of us “LOVING”? Regrettably, for most of us, NOT!  Rather, we labor under the prevailing value of: “paano natin mapagka-kwartahan ito, na di tayo mahuli” or just plain indifference.

Fellow Knights, “loving hands” are direly needed by our nation.

Multiplying "loving hands" is a main challenge, I submit, as we take patriotic actions and as we study and spread the teachings of the hero, to include the matter of having an industrialized nation.

Worthy of Rights and Liberties

In a letter to M H del Pilar of 22 June 1889, Dr Rizal argued for fearlessness, saying: “We… fight so that there may be more justice and more liberty, and for the sacred rights of man. We ask nothing for ourselves, we sacrifice everything for the common good, what more do we have to fear?”

And, to bring perspective on the tendencies towards licentiousness associated with freedom, he preached the concept of being worthy of liberties. Hence: “…I put as a premise (to liberties for our country) the education of the people so that through education and work, they might have a personality of their own and make themselves worthy of them (liberties)”. (Manifesto, 15 Dec 1896).For, to him: “Liberty is a woman who grants her favors only to the brave. Enslaved peoples have to suffer much to win her and those who abuse her lose her. Liberty is not obtained bobilis bobilis (without pain or merit), nor is it granted gratis et amore”. (Letter to Members of La Solidaridad).

He consciously chose to return to the country in face of the prospect of liquidation by the colonial oppressors, because he revealed: “I wish to show those who deny us patriotism that we know how to die for our duty and our convictions. What matters death if one dies for what one loves, for native land and adored beings?” (Message to Countrymen, HK, 20 June 1892, in sealed envelope)

For, he had asserted: “We die only once and if we do not die well, we lose a good opportunity which will never come up again… If one has to die, at least one must die in his own country, by his country, and for his country”. (Letter to Mariano Ponce, 9 July 1890)

He advocated maximimizing the use of our brains, cooperation, and self-respect: “I believe that nothing can redeem us except our brains” (Letter to M H del Pilar, 4 Apr 1890). “He who wants to help himself should help others because if he neglects others, he too will be neglected by them. One midrib is easy to break, but not a bundle of many midribs tied together”. (Letter To The Maidens Of Malolos). “A nation wins respect not by covering up abuses but by punishing them and condemning them.” (The Philippines Within A Hundred Years). “Lack of self-respect and excessive timidity invite scorn.” (Letter To The Maidens Of Malolos)

On the last point, author Robin Sharma wrote: “The greatest respect is self-respect. Lose that and all the success in the world means zero. If you don’t stand for anything, you’ll fall for anything. If you lack self-respect, you can expect to be treated as such. Living by your principles automatically informs how others should treat you. So start speaking to yourself with the respect you would offer to any great leader.”

With that in mind, it would be well for us to also remember Dr Rizal’s advice to the Members of the La Solidaridad in Barcelona, given that in our country injustice and criminality continue to reign. He wrote: “A great deal of integrity and much goodwill.  No one should expect rewards or honors for what he does. xxxxx …it is advisable for each one to do his duty just for its own sake and at best to expect to be later treated unjustly, because in anomalous countries, injustice is the prize for those who fulfill their duties.” (Letter to members of La Solidaridad in Barcelona)

Rizalian Patriotism Everyday

Remember that passage from the Upanishads that says watch your thoughts, for they become your words, that become your actions, that become your habits, that in turn become your character and will be your destiny?

Let’s keep these Rizalian thoughts and ideals in our hearts and minds everyday; for as Meister Eckhart said: “what we plant in the soil of contemplation we shall reap in the harvest of action”.

And remember: only actions bring results.

Rizal and the Duterte Administration

Speaking of actions, when my San Diego friend Atty Dabs Mama-o - who was a classmate of the President in the San Beda law school - asked me to join him in working for the Mayor in the service of OFWs, I immediately accepted. I had no reservations because I found in the President a fulfillment of a few lines in the poem of Dr. Jose Rizal entitled Miguel en Argamasilla de Alba, which if translated to English with substitution of Miguel with Rody, would read:

“Go then, Rody, and with your bright mind illumine your whole land and redeem the demented multitude; and like a pregnant cloud in flight so lofty, launch forth burning lightning to bring down the gods of insanity and let sprout the seeds of prosperity.”

Can we help the President redeem the multitudes of our people who have become demented and crazy about drugs and criminality?

Can we help him bring down the insane gods of corruption, abuse, and monopoly?

And can we help him make prosperity happen such that the poor are enabled to transcend the deep morass of inaction, unbelief and unwarranted entitlement?

Yes, Sir Knights, ladies and fellow Rizalists, I believe we can!

Especially if we strongly espouse his teaching that education and hard work allow people to have personalities of their own and become worthy of liberties.

In the Fili, he declared: “Our ills are due to ourselves; let us not throw the blame on anybody”.

And he urged: “…we should win our freedom by deserving it, exalting individual reason and dignity, loving the just, the good, the great, even dying for it. And when a people reaches that height, God will provide the arms, and the idols will fall, the tyrants will fall like a house of cards, and liberty will shine with the first dawn.” (excerpts from El Filibusterismo, 1891, pp.283-284)

Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022; Ambisyon Natin 2040

At this point, let’s bring our attention to the programs of the Duterte Administration, so as to “relevantize” our discussion.

The Philippine Development Plan (or PDP) 2017–2022 largely stems from the 10-point Socioeconomic Agenda. It is the first of four medium-term plans that will work towards realizing AmBisyon Natin 2040, the collective vision of Filipinos over the next 25 years.

For the first time in our history, succeeding administrations are bound by an over-arching vision: that of Ambisyon Natin 2040; also for the first time in our history, the National Security Plan was developed hand in glove with the Development Plan.

Ambisyon Natin 2040 posits the vision that by 2040 Filipinos will achieve their aspiration of a “matatag, maginhawa, at panatag na buhay.” Towards that goal, the PDP, with 21 Chapters, is aimed at laying a strong foundation for inclusive growth, a high-trust and resilient society, and a globally competitive economy.

The PDP 2017-2022 is structured along the pillars and intersecting strategies of: (1) malasakit (i.e., enhancing the social fabric and at-one-ment with the peoples’ pains), (2) pagbabago (i.e., inequality-reducing transformation to reduce those pains), and (3) patuloy na pag-unlad (i.e., increasing growth potential and upward spiral of equitable progress).

So here we see the convergence of a love of country from unity with the All in all, with the commitment to shift the nation to its true north direction, which we shall talk about later.

Rizalian Strategic Approaches

In moving towards the condition where every Filipino has “matatag, maginhawa at panatag na buhay”, I submit we can learn from Dr. Rizal an enabling maxim, an unstoppable attitude, and an unbreachable stanch.

The enabling maxim is his motto for the La Liga Filipina, which is “unus instar omnium”, a Latin phrase with three connotations in English, namely: “one like all, one equals all, one for all”. Notice how it fits the love of self as-part-of-God type of Love? Verily, we attain peace by oneness, not separateness. That is why the first aim of the La Liga Filipina was: “To unite the whole archipelago into one compact, vigorous, and homogenous body”. This is Rizalian at-one-ment.

The unstoppable attitude comes from the Chorus of Himno a Talisay which reads in part:

Firme y constante, siempre adelante, tu marcharas;
Tu victorioso, todo elemento, mar, tierra y viento, tu dominaras

Firm and constant, always advancing, you shall prosper;
You triumphant, all elements: sea, land and air, you shall master.

Matatag at matapat, palaging pasulong, ikaw ay magkamit ng kasaganaan;
Ikaw nananalo, lahat ng elemento: dagat, lupa’t hangin, iyong mapamahalaan.

Timgas ug makanunayon, punayng padayon, ikaw magmauswagon;
Ikaw madaugon, tanang elemento: dagat, yuta’g hangin imong dominahon.

From Himno a Talisay, then, we learn the relentless attitude: siempre adelante, always advancing, palaging pasulong, punayng padayon! This is the way the river reaches the sea, no matter how convoluted the way. This is Rizalian perseverance.

On the other hand, the idea of a strong defensive stanch can be gleaned from the Chorus of Himno al Trabajo which reads:

¡Por la patria en la Guerra,por la patria en la paz,
velará el Filipino,vivirá y morirá.

For the nation at war, for the nation in peace,
the Filipino shall stand guard, shall live and shall die.

Para sa bansa sa digmaan, para sa bansa sa kapayapaan,
ang Pilipino ay magtatanod, mabubuhay at mamamatay.

Alang sa nasud sa gubat, alang sa nasud sa kalinaw,.
ang Pilipino magbantay, mabuhi ug mamatay

So from Himno al Trabajo, we learn the firm and resilient stanch: velará el Filipino, the Filipino shall stand guard, ang Pilipino ay magtatanod, ang Pilipino magbantay! In other words, since all shall be involved in being alert and ready, nothing can get through. This is Rizalian vigilance.

As an aside, instead of having been largely indifferent to the happenings in their own City, if this defensive community alertness had been applied by the people of Marawi, would you think, perhaps, that the current terrible urban warfare there could have been prevented?

Anyway, Sir Knights, let’s learn and apply in our own daily lives these three tenets of: (1) at-one-ment, (2) perseverance, and (3) vigilance or alertness to threats to the nation and readiness to counteract them.

On the point of alertness, let’s converge Rizal’s dream of “an industrialized Philippines in loving hands” with the reminder from the First President of the US, George Washington, that: “to be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace”.

Contrary to some people’s perceptions, Rizal was not a peacenik; he just refused to go into battle that guaranteed defeat, which was the essence of his response to Pio Valenzuela in Dapitan. On this facet of history, please look up the memoirs of Dr Valenzuela detailing his conversation with Rizal and why, later in his testimony before the Court Martial, Valenzuela invented the story that Bonifacio got angry at the supposed cowardice of Rizal.  Read Agoncillo’s “Revolt of the Masses”, Chap X p. 366, and the blog –

Rizal’s deep seated and patriotic position in relation to conflict can be found in the lyrics of his Hymn to Talisay, which says in part:

“We are children who, though born quite late, have souls with vigorous character;                 
strong men we shall be in the future who’ll know how to guard their families.                     

“Children who, none can intimidate: not waves, nor hurricane, nor thunder;            
with speedy arm and serene feature, we can fight when in difficulties.  xxxx                           

“There is no darkness, no pitchblack night, nor fierce storm or typhoon that we dread;    
and should Satan himself come to sight, he shall be captured alive or dead.” xxxx

Our arms wield with skill and fine accord: the knife, the pen, the gardening hoe,       
the pickaxe, the rifle and the sword - companions of the strong fellow.                       

Worthy of Liberty, Peace and Prosperity

Fellow Rizalists, these three – united teamwork, united perseverance, united vigilance - are important parts of the Rizalian mindsets, attitudes and approaches; but what is the end game or vision for which Dr. Rizal so passionately advocated these strategies?

I submit, Sirs and Ladies, that it is the vision or shall we say his magnificent obsession - constituting, I submit, the true north port onwards to which the nation sails - that enabled him to stand so cool, calm, collected, with normal blood pressure in front of the firing squad.

Dr. Rizal expressed that obsession and true north direction in the Last Farewell in the stanza saying: “My dreams when a lad barely adolescent, my dreams when a young man already filled with vigor, were to see you one day, pearl of the seas of the orient, the dark eyes dry, the head held high unbent, without frowns, without wrinkles, without blushes of high color”.

This is why, fellow Knights of Rizal, we study and spread Dr. Rizal’s teachings, by word and deed, with unity, perseverance, and vigilance, so that this multi-colored, multi-layered archipelagic Inang Bayan of 7,641 islands, shall stand as one, compact, dynamic whole, with self-confidence, self-esteem and dignity, always advancing to her moral and material development, with no more reasons: to cry, to be subservient, to doubt, to fear, or to be ashamed – and so that our fellow citizens are each worthy of liberty, peace and prosperity!

Daghan kaayong salamat!

*Edited Speech of Sir Edwin D. Bael, KGOR, at the First Plenary Session of the Knights of Rizal 22nd Mindanao Area Special Assembly (MINDASA) on October 7, 2017, Big 8 Corporate Hotel, Tagum City; Revised to serve as part of the briefing materials for Knights of Rizal.     

Monday, August 8, 2016

Knights of Rizal Perspective on the Election of Rodrigo R. Duterte as President of the Philippines

In the aftermath of the last May 2016 elections, the 2014-2016 Supreme Council of the Knights of Rizal considered and unanimously approved this letter drafted by Sir Edwin D Bael, KGOR, and signed by Supreme Commander Sir Jeremias "Jerry" Singson, KGCR.

Dear Sir Rodrigo Roa Duterte, KCR:

Congratulations, Sir! 

As a non-partisan public corporation under Republic Act. No. 646, the Knights of Rizal watched with keen interest your lofty run for the Presidency of our Republic. And we were so impressed with our people’s response to your offer as a viable choice of leader.

The effect of your candidacy in kindling and rousing our people’s hopes reminds us of Dr. Rizal’s essay entitled "Laughter and Tears" (1884), where he alluded to a general approach in the general situation he found himself in. He said: “It was a world which granted privileges to some and imposed prohibitions on others... Endowed with strength and eager to learn, one had to drag himself in a narrow prison cell when he could see an open field, a vast horizon in the distance; when he could feel the beatings of a heart; and when he believed himself entitled to enjoy the beauty of a dream.”

The common Filipino people have so far lived in the narrow prison cell of daily survival where they have been compelled to seek connections so as to gain privileges and circumvent prohibitions; and they have remained desperate for morsels of hope. In this May 2016 elections, you offered them an alternative leadership that could make a difference; that could allow the Filipino eco-polity to break through the daily “narrow prison cell” allowing them views of “open fields” and “vast horizons” of possibilities. Thus the great majority of the Filipino people has spoken through the ballot and decided to follow the “beatings of their hearts” and to pursue “the beauty of their dreams”!

We have you, Mr. President-elect. And we are so proud of your being a Knight of Rizal! And so we abide by the advice of Dr. Rizal in his Letter to the Members of the La Solidaridad (1889), that: “The individual should give way to the welfare of the society. (because) xxxxx the decisions of the majority, after sufficient discussion, are sacred and unquestionable.”

Now that the national choice has been made clear, the Supreme Council of the Knights of Rizal believes that this is the right moment to remind our people to heed Dr. Rizal’s exhortation in his Speech at the Café Habanero, Madrid (1891) that we should: “…maintain firmly union and solidarity among us; let the good of the mother country be our only cause; and … prove to everyone and … make it clear, that if the Filipino wills, he can.”

Inspired by your hard won victory, which but signals the start of more hard work, for and with our people in the next six years, we wish to share with you a stirring encouragement given by Dr. Rizal in his poem entitled “Cervantes en Argamasilla de Alba”. In this poem, Miguel de Cervantes is challenged out of despondency and moved to action by an angel which encounter is supposed to have stimulated Cervantes to write the classic “Don Quixote”. The pertinent stanza is quoted in its Spanish text, followed by a free English translation where Miguel is replaced with Rody, viz:

“Ve pues, Miguel, y que tu clara mente, 
foco de luz, que alumbrara tu suelo, 
redima a esa multitud demente, 
rasgando el hosco encapotado velo. 
Y, cual nube prenada, rayo ardiente 
airoso lanza en tu encumbrado vuelo 
que derribe al dios de la locura 
brotar haciendo celestial ventura.”

“Go then, [Rody], and with your clear mind, 
light bulb which shall illumine your land, 
redeem that demented multitude, 
shredding the dark sinister shroud. 
And as charged cloud, lance gracefully 
blazing lightning in your flight so lofty, 
to bring down the god of insanity 
making sprout celestial prosperity.” 

We, the Knights of Rizal commit ourselves to help you cause positive changes in the mindsets of our crowds, with clear thinking along Rizalian ideals in the midst of chaos, and use all available tools including web in the clouds, sending forth love and clarity to dispel inconsequence, letting surge and flow moral and material affluence.

Mr. President, the Knights of Rizal stand with you in making a difference for the greatest good for the greatest number of our people!

Congratulations, once more, and Mabuhay po kayo!

Very sincerely yours,
Non omnis moriar: 

Supreme Commander

Monday, December 21, 2015


A presentation by Sir Edwin D Bael, KGOR
Supreme Archivist of the Knights of Rizal
during the 53rd National Rizal Youth Leadership Institute
on December 19, 2015 at the Teachers’ Camp, Baguio City

Juventud Filipina, Mga Kabataang Filipino:

Seeing Open Fields And Vast Horizons From Prison

Remember Chapter 3 of the Noli? At that point of the story, Crisostomo Ibarra had just left Kapitan Tiago’s party after coming home from abroad. He was followed outside by the old lieutenant; in an isolated street the lieutenant told him the truth - that his father, Don Rafael Ibarra, died in prison. Crisostomo was shattered. In a sympathetic voice, as he saw the emotion his words had caused in the young man, the officer said: “I thought that you knew it; but be brave. Here, you know, no man can be honorable without being imprisoned.”

That’s the way it was in those days. In his letter to the members of La Solidaridad, Barcelona, Jan 1889, Dr. Rizal counseled: “…it is advisable for each one to do his duty just for its own sake and at best to expect to be later treated unjustly, because in anomalous countries, injustice is the prize for those who fulfill their duties.”

Anomalous pa rin ba ang bansa natin?    Di na masyado!

Our country has definitely changed. Now, it is marked among others by many elected “honorables” in prison, and by the fact that in our national prison, or the Bilibid, drug lords and other nefarious beings hold sway, directing operations from within, and even have de facto control, borne out by a report the other month that Bilibid inmates with automatic weapons prevented the warden from moving their “bossings” to another block…

This bit and clip of our current state of affairs brings us to our theme: “Youth, Elections and the Future”. The question, to me, is:  In this hyper-connected world of a Philippines entering an ASEAN Common Market, confronted by a resurgent neighbor bully, with so much drug-related problems under the surface, and once again boiling in political games so focused on the ego, the personality, and the “personalan” that the true and lasting interests of the nation are forgotten, can you the youth of this generation make a difference for the future? 

I say, yes. Being the majority of our voters, if you get your acts together, you would be unstoppable.

Going to the topic of my speech this morning: “Rizal and New Dapitan (Vision for the Philippines)”, perhaps our question could be: Are there any tips, or operations manual, or suggestions for having a consensus on what we want our common future to be and for having a general approach to life?

In an essay entitled "Laughter and Tears" (1884), Dr. Rizal alluded to his general approach in the general situation he found himself in. He wrote: “It was a world which granted privileges to some and imposed prohibitions on others... Endowed with strength and eager to learn, one had to drag himself in a narrow prison cell when he could see an open field, a vast horizon in the distance; when he could feel the beatings of a heart; and when he believed himself entitled to enjoy the beauty of a dream.”

Our common people lived in the narrow prison cell of daily survival where they were compelled to seek connections so as to gain privileges and circumvent prohibitions. Has this general situation substantially changed?

I submit, not really; and therefore I also put forward, that no matter what our circumstances may be, we can follow Jose Rizal’s attitude of resolutely standing up to see open fields and vast horizons, feel the beatings of our hearts, and believe we are entitled to enjoy the beauty of a dream… in other words, as a strategic approach, to change our mindsets and focus our respective consciousness on opportunities, blessings, abundance.

Owning A La Juventud Filipina

You know every generation must fight its own battles; and the future is what you predict and create. Abraham Lincoln is quoted to have said: “The best way to predict your future is to create it”.

How do you create the future?

Dr. Rizal wrote in the first stanza of A La Juventud Filipina:

Crece, oh timida flor!
Alza su tersa frente,
Juventud Filipina, en este día!
Luce resplandeciente
Tu rica gallardía,
Bella esperanza de la Patria Mía!

Grow, oh timid flower!
Lift your smooth countenance
Filipino Youth, on this day!
Let shine with full radiance
your rich grace and gallantry,
beautiful hope of my country!

Young ones, I plead guilty to having helped formulate what now appears on your NRYLI T-shirts; in that print you take full possession and ownership of these Rizalian ideas, and declare to all the world: “I am, shy flower may be, yet rich with gallantry, and hope so lovely, of this my country!”

Since we started reading this poem which Jose Rizal wrote when he was 18, may I finish its entire English translation so you get to appreciate the complete sense of what he was saying? Here it goes:

By Jose Rizal
Translated to English by Edwin D. Bael,
Revised August 30, 2015

               Grow, oh timid flower!
Lift your smooth countenance
Filipino Youth, on this day!
Let shine with full radiance
your rich grace and gallantry,
beautiful hope of my country!

Take wing, grand genius,
and let noble thought  infuse
those who launch their virgin mind
stronger than wind of gale kind
at the seat so glorious.

Descend to the amphitheater
O Youth, with pleasant glow
of arts and sciences, and sever
the strong heavy fetter
that chains your poetic flow.

See that in the zone a-burning,
the Spaniard, in shadows staying,
with a pious wise hand,
offers splendid crown grand,
to the son of this Indian land.

You, who ascend seeking,
in wings of your rich fantasy,
from Olympus in clouds hazy,
the most tender of poesy
ambrosia and nectar exceeding.

You, with accent from heaven,
melodious rival of Philomen,
who dispels, in varied recital
in the quiet night so serene,
bitter pain from the mortal.

You who, by the cruel agony
stirring your mental tendency
and the pure memory
of the genius refulgent,
eternalizes with genius prepotent.

And you, of varied charms that ripple
of Phoebus, darling of divine Apelles,
who translate the canvas simple
with magic paintbrushes
to that of nature’s mantle.

Hurry! For the laurel does await
to crown the genius’ sacred flame,
spreading around the fame
with trumpet that does proclaim
the mortal’s name for the long wait.

O happy, happy day at hand,
gentle Philippines, for your land!
Bless the Omnipotent Grand
who with loving yearning
sends you fortune and well-being.

A La Juventud Filipina
Por Jose Rizal, November 22, 1879

              Crece, oh timida flor!
Alza su tersa frente,
Juventud Filipina, en este día!
Luce resplandeciente
Tu rica gallardía,
Bella esperanza de la Patria Mía!

Vuela, genio grandioso,
Y les infunde noble pensamiento,
Que lance vigoroso,
Más rápido que el viento,
Su mente virgin al glorioso asiento.

Baja con la luz grata
De las artes y ciencias a la arena,
Juventud, y desata
La pesada cadena
Que tu genio poético encadena.

Ve que en la ardiente zona
Do moraron las sombras, el hispano
Esplendente corona,
Con pía sabia mano,
Ofrece al hijo de este suelo indiano.

Tú, que buscando subes,
En alas de tu rica fantasia,
Del Olimpo en las nubes
Tiernisima poesia
Mas sabrosa que nectar y ambrosia.

Tú, de celeste acento,
Melodioso rival de Filomena,
Que en variado concierto
En la noche serena
Disipas del mortal la amarga pena.

Tú, que la pena dura
Animas al impulso de tu mente,
Y la memoria pura
Del genio refulgente
Eternizas con genio prepotente.

Y tú, que el vario encanto
De Febo, amado del divino Apeles,
Y de natura el manto
Con mágicos pinceles
Trasladar al sencillo lienzo sueles.

Corred! Que sacra llama
Del genio el lauro coronar espera,
Esparciendo la Fama
Con trompa pregonera
El nombre del mortal por la ancha espera.

Día, día felice,
Filipinas gentil, para tu suelo!
Al Potente bendice
Que con amante anhelo
La ventura te envía y el consuelo.

Anong ibig sabihin nito sa madaling salita? Ansabi nya, magmadali tayo mga bata, in unfolding and manifesting our respective unique geniuses, dahil nag-aantay si laurel or the recognition of your excellence. Come on, let them shine with full radiance, in nobility, with arts and sciences, be they poetry, music, science or painting. 

And, may I say, own your future, whatever your potentials may be.

Yes my friends, to effectively create, you must own your future!

Always, the power to choose is yours.

But I can hear your question: what are the options for the future to choose from?

Actually, as many as you can imagine.

But there is one option that springs from our topic: New Dapitan.

New Dapitan

Why new Dapitan? Because there, Dr. Rizal put his ideas into practice and there he refined his ideas of what and how the Filipino can be; there, he fused ideas with action into his unique praxis.

I wish to submit to you that the poem-song “Himno a Talisay” or Hymn to Talisay is one such product of his visioneering for our country or how the Filipino can be or ought to be. For this presentation, let’s just assume this Himno is a main pillar of Rizal’s framework of ideas that we now call New Dapitan.

Before I take up this Himno with you, however, I want you to recall Dr. Rizal’s plan in the La Liga Filipina that Sir George Aseniero had wonderfully explained yesterday. Among the underlying tenets that caught my attention in the La Liga are the principles of cooperativism that Jose Rizal thought should underpin the workings of the entire organization to engage the rest of the Philippine population. 

Rizalian Cooperativism

Cooperativism and its principles were first set out in 1844 in Rochdale, England and have formed the bases for the principles on which co-operatives around the world continue to operate.

In 1889-1890, Dr. José Rizal spent several months in London first, to do his historical research on pre-colonial Philippines and second, to improve his English language skills. During that time, he annotated Antonio Morga’s 1609 “Historical events of the Philippines” and among others, sent out the Liham sa mga Kababayang Kadalagahan sa Malolos.

I would submit that it is very probable Jose Rizal came across and learned of cooperatives and its principles during this stay in London or about 45 years after the establishment of cooperativism. But he could as well have learned it in Spain or other parts of Europe. He must have appreciated how these principles could co-exist with and yet counteract the monopolistic tendencies of those with political and economic power. Hence, he used them as the organizing principles underpinning the La Liga.

Just for our overview (as there is a need for a separate study on each of them) the seven principles of cooperativism, in summary form, are as follows:
1. Voluntary and open membership;
2. Democratic member control;
3. Member economic participation;
4. Autonomy and independence;
5. Education, training and information;
6. Co-operation among cooperatives; and
7. Concern for the community.

From this summary enumeration, you can already see how a democratic free market can be achieved through cooperativism.

That People Become Persons Worthy Of Liberty

But beyond the underpinnings of cooperative principles, Dr. Rizal pursued his frenetic activities under an overarching value.

That value was to “make men worthy”, especially Filipinos.

In a letter to Blumentritt dated February 2, 1890 in Brussels, Rizal narrated his exchange with his rhetoric professor, the Jesuit Priest Fr. Francisco Sanchez who defended the Noli in public. He wrote: “I told him that I wanted to awaken my countrymen from their profound lethargy and one who wished to awaken did not use soft and gentle sounds but detonations, blows, etc. ‘Are you not afraid of the consequences of your audacity?’ asked Fr. Sanchez. ‘Father,’ I replied, ‘you are a missionary. If you go on your mission, are you not afraid of the consequences of its fulfillment?’ ‘Oh, that is entirely different!” he responded. ‘Not at all,’ I answered, ‘your mission is to baptize the heathen, but mine is to make men worthy.’”­

But worthy of what?   Liberty, I submit.

In his manifesto of December 15, 1896 while incarcerated in Fort Santiago, Jose Rizal wrote: “I have given proofs as one who most wants liberties for our country and I continue wanting them. But I put as a premise the education of the people so that through education and work they might have a personality of their own worthy of liberties.”

A personality worthy of liberties is brave. For, as Rizal had written to the members of La Solidaridad in Barcelona, “(l)iberty is a woman who grants her favors only to the brave. Enslaved peoples have to suffer much to win her and those who abuse her lose her.”

Now, if you sell your votes, are you a person worthy of liberties?

If you just take and believe what other people say without critically thinking about its truthfulness and source-reliability, are you a person worthy of liberties?

Dr. Rizal clarified many things about this matter in his Liham sa mga Kababayang Kadalagahan sa Malolos from London dated February 1889. He wrote on points that should be taken as tips on how to be a person worthy of liberties. Here are a few quotes from that long letter in Tagalog:

1.   “Ignorance is bondage, because like mind, like man. A man without a will of his own is a man without personality. The blind who follows other’s opinion is a like a beast led by a halter.”

2.   “God gave each one his own mind and his own conscience so that he can distinguish between right and wrong. All are born without chains, free, and no one can subject the will and spirit of another. Why would you submit to another your noble and free thought?”

3.   “Ignorance is ignorance, and not goodness and honor. God, fountain of wisdom, does not expect man, created in his image, to allow himself to be fooled and blinded. The gift of reason with which we are endowed must be brightened and utilized.”

4.   “Let us be reasonable and open our eyes, especially you women, because you are the ones who open the minds of men. Consider that a good mother is different from the one created by the friars. Raise your children close to the image of the true God – the God who cannot be bribed, the God who is not avaricious, the God who is the father of all, who is not partial, the God who does not fatten on the blood of the poor, who does not rejoice at the plaints of the afflicted, and does not obfuscate the intelligent mind. Awaken and prepare the mind of the child for every good and desirable idea – love for honor, sincere and firm character, clear mind, clean conduct, noble action, love for one’s fellow men, respect for God – teach these to your children. And because life is full of sorrows and perils, fortify their character against any difficulty, strengthen their hearts against any danger.”

5.   “Lack of self-respect and excessive timidity invite scorn”.

6.   “Men are born equal, naked, and without chains. They were not created by God to be enslaved, neither were they endowed with intelligence to be misled, nor adorned with reason to be fooled by others. It is not pride to refuse to worship a fellow man, to enlighten the mind, and to reason out everything. The arrogant one is he who wants to be worshipped, who misleads others and who wants his will to prevail over reason and justice.”

From Dapitan, in a letter dated December 20, 1893, Dr. Rizal counseled his nephew Alfredo T. Hidalgo, saying: “Go ahead then; study, study, and meditate well on what you study. Life is a very serious thing and only those with intelligence and courage go through it worthily. To live is to be among men and to be among men is to struggle. But this struggle is not just a brutal and material struggle with men alone; it is a struggle with them, with one’s self, with their passions and one’s own, with errors and preoccupations. It is an eternal struggle with a smile on the lips and tears in the heart. On this battlefield man has no better weapon than his intelligence, no other force but his heart. Sharpen, perfect, polish then your mind; and fortify and educate your heart.”

If I may say so, young friends, most of Rizal’s works can probably be categorized under the general rubric of “how to be a person worthy of liberties”.

Let’s move on to the Himno a Talisay before we take on many other things.

He made his students sing this Himno before start of classes and the Spanish Military Prosecutor used it in his Trial in Fort Santiago as corroborative proof of his alleged subversion of Spanish sovereignty.

Recall La Liga? That sent him to exile in Dapitan. (Di lang alam ng mga prayle at colonyalistang Espanyol na ipapadala ng Maykapal si Josephine Bracken doon para ma-ibsan ang lungkot ni Rizal sa pag-iisa).

And the Himno a Talisay? It served as added justification for the prejudgment to send him to death by firing squad in Bagumbayan. (And it gave him the chance to record for posterity in the last farewell, his high regard for Josephine, as his friend and his joy divine!)

Why? What was so important about these two writings?

La Liga was intended firstly to “unite the whole archipelago into one compact, vigorous, and homogeneous body,” secondly, for “mutual protection in every want and necessity,” thirdly, for “defense against all violence and injustice”; its motto was unus instar omnium, which had three connotations, namely: one like all, one equals all, one for all. If our people were to behave as a united archipelago, with mutual respect and teamwork, working together and refusing to quarrel with each other, then that behavior would undermine and defeat Spain’s strategic approach to colonization here, which was “divide and conquer”. So, they suppressed those ideas by exiling Rizal: trying to “cut the head off.”

The Himno a Talisay, on the other hand, was more potent. It described in the present tense the future condition of the Filipino standing as a free, learning, and overcoming being, marked with courage and self-esteem.

It describes the Filipino who has won his freedom not with the sword but, as Rizal wrote in the Fili, “by deserving it, exalting individual reason and dignity, loving the just, the good, the great, even dying for it.” And he continued in the Fili, “when a people reaches that height, God will provide the arms, and idols will fall, the tyrants will fall like a house of cards, and liberty will shine with the first dawn.”

Que horror! The colonialists must have thought: if the Filipinos behave as described in the Himno a Talisay, then indeed we could fall “like a house of cards.” We better kill this man to sow terror among the populace and discourage them from following his suggestions, they plotted.

Killing Rizal is just what occurred: after a kangaroo court trial, they had Filipino guardia civil marksmen shoot Rizal with the threat that if they hesitated, an equal number of Spanish regulars armed with Mauser rifles positioned behind them would include them in the execution.

However, the populace did not get cowed; his innocent's death became the loudest detonation and it awakened his countrymen; ang mga great, or great-great grandparents ninyo saw Rizal’s martyrdom as the last straw on the carabao’s back, so to say, and ended their limitless patience and placidity.

And the hostilities happened. The rest is history. The Filipino nation was born. [albeit, amid punyeta]. We are the latest manifestation and unfolding.

How can the Himno a Talisay help us today?

It could point us to a noble “choice of being” as a nation.

But note: just to point out, not to make us; because only our own choice and our resolute follow-up actions can make us do and become…

So, aside from what’s already in the Bagumbayan publication, here’s how I want to discuss this Himno with you: I’ll treat them in two stanza chunks for consideration, then the chorus, and lastly a general view.

Asilo Sagrado - Sacred Sanctuary

Stanzas 1 and 2 read as follows:

HYMN TO TALISAY                         
An English translation                     
By Sir Edwin D. Bael, KCR
Taguig, June 2013                                    
From Dapitan’s sandy shore and strand           
and the craggy rocks on mountain high
are your throne, O sacred sanctuary!   
where I spent my tender childhood.                
In your valley glazed by blooms grand,           
and shade and fruiting trees growing nigh;
our fully formed minds there do tarry,         
with our bodies and souls as we could.

HIMNO Á TALISAY                       
por José Rizal y Alonso                    
(Original text in Spanish,
Dapitan, 13 October 1895)                                

De Dapitan la playa arenosa                     
y las rocas del monte encumbrado
son tu trono, ¡oh asilo sagrado!              
donde paso mi tierna niñez.                  

En tu valle que esmaltan las flores
y sombrea frutal arboleda,                     
nuestra mente formada se queda,        
con el cuerpo nuestro el alma la vez.

Here we see the nation’s throne defined as stretching from shore to mountaintop. As we know, throne rooms form small areas in comparison to the entire building. It stands to reason that our entire territory would comprise our seas and islands since the throne is just beach to peak.

And so, taken together with the La Liga formulation for a unified archipelago, we have the archipelagic doctrine articulated by Rizal way back in 1892-95…

This doctrine is now incorporated in our 1987 Constitution as follows: “The national territory comprises the Philippine archipelago, with all the islands and waters embraced therein, and all other territories over which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction, consisting of its terrestrial, fluvial and aerial domains, including its territorial sea, the seabed, the subsoil, the insular shelves, and other submarine areas. The waters around, between, and connecting the islands of the archipelago, regardless of their breadth and dimensions, form part of the internal waters of the Philippines.”

This territory my friends, is asilo sagrado or sacred sanctuary, according to Dr. Rizal. Sacred, aside from the religious or spiritual connotation, refers to something entitled to reverence and respect, or highly valued and important. So our territory is a place that must be respected. We have to value it beyond claims of mere selfish ownership and ensure that others respect our territory too in its archipelagic meaning.

The 2nd stanza would remind us of a phrase popular among expat Filipinos, which is: “You can take the Filipino away from the Philippines, but you cannot take the Philippines away from the Filipino,” because where ever we may be, our minds “there do tarry.”

Hombres Fuertes – Strong Persons

Stanzas 3 and 4, read as follows:

We are children who, though born late,         
have souls with vigorous character,     
and strong persons we shall be in the future
who’ll know how to guard their families
Children who, nothing can intimidate
not waves, nor hurricane, nor thunder;           
with speedy arm and serene feature
we’ll know how to fight when in difficulties.

Somos niños, pues tarde nacimos,
mas el alma tenemos lozana,                 
y hombres fuertes serémos mañana     
que sabrán sus familias guardar.              

Somos niños que nada intimida                  
ni las olas, ni el baguio, ni el trueno;
pronto el brazo y el rostro sereno        
en el trance sabrémos luchar.

The 3rd stanza may refer to either or both being overdue or late bloomer… well, hanggang ngayon, tila hindi pa rin fully bloomed… (may I say, that’s your opportunity young people: make this country bloom fully!); and immediately the lines proclaim the vigor of your souls that ensure developing into strong beings protective of families…. walang pupwedeng makakasindak o di ba puporma’t magpapayuko; at kung magka-gipitan, marunong kaming makipaglaban, sabi ng fourth stanza.

I like the phrase “with speedy arm and serene feature”. It describes the demeanor of our arnis or eskrima masters: so cool and calm, and yet their arms blur in the flow of strikes and parries. You know of course that FMA or Filipino Martials Arts (Kali/Arnis/Eskrima) has been featured in “The Bourne Series,” “Mission Impossible III,” “The Hunted,” “I, Frankenstein,” and other Hollywood movies. It is acknowledged to be one of the best systems in CQC or Close Quarters Combat. Hence US, military, police and intelligence units train in it too. I personally know a Filipino guru who gives that kind of training there. But in the movies, you don’t get some screaming title saying this is FMA: if you know the moves, then when you see them you recognize them.

Jose Rizal envisioned that the Filipino practices this martial art form, which has a deeper significance. Maestra (Professor) Josephine Del Mar of the Hawaii Escrima Academy, a descendant of Lapu-Lapu, explained that "Escrima is a spirit for our school and our system; it is the spirit of Kali, which is the mother art.” [Dan Inosanto explained in an article that his gurus told him Ka comes from “kamut” or hand, and Li comes from “lihut” or movement] Maestra del Mar continued: “When they (the manongs) left the Philippines they had to conform to another way of living. The Filipinos are great adapters and impersonators. But they survived. And this is the essence of Kali: survival. The Filipinos were never completely conquered. They have been able to maintain this basic essence. This essence is the philosophy of escrima; that is what makes the Filipino. You have to have that soul, that depth, that feeling and the philosophy is what keeps the art going, too.”

And I think Dr. Rizal saw the outlines of this, or at least the survival and cool speedy essence, long before our global diaspora.

Nuestras Armas Alcanzan Doquier - Our Weapons Reach Everywhere

Stanzas 5 to 6 describe certain capabilities and attitudes. They say:

Our games scramble the sand;
caves and thickets we reconnoiter;      
on big rocks our houses stand,
our weapons reach everywhere.
There is no darkness, no pitchblack night,
nor fierce storm or typhoon that we dread,
and should Satan himself come to sight,
he shall be captured alive or dead.      
Nuestros juegos la arena revuelven;
recorremos los antros, las breñas;        
nuestras casas están sobre peñas,
nuestras armas alcanzan doquier.        

No hay tinieblas, no hay noches oscuras
que temamos, ni fiera tormenta,            
y si el mismo Luzbel se presenta,          
muerto ó vivo cogido ha de ser.

The fifth stanza says the Filipino plays hard: our games stir up and scramble the sand… we also work hard, investigating and scrutinizing fearful places of unknown contents and consequences, like caves and thickets… and we build our habitations on hard, solid foundations…

Then in one innocuous line, Rizal puts the country in a very advanced stage: nuestras armas alcanzan doquier – our arms reach everywhere! Armas does not mean our upper limbs; these are called brazos – armas means weapons or weapons systems. Remember that was 1895 and Dr. Rizal was saying we have weapons that can target and hit all over.

What weapon or weapons can hit many targets one after another, or all at the same time? Did he envision having intercontinental ballistic missiles with multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles? Or satellite- and laser-guided hypersonic cruise missiles? Or stealth air fighter-bombers and navy craft? Or a gigantic electro-magnetic pulse? Those are the things we can think of now as weapons that can reach everywhere… but they did not exist then, not even in the drawing stages…

Can you see the preconditions for that capability? Massive Industrialization; innovative advances in shipping and aircraft systems; and all other needed scientific, technological and human resource pre-requisites.

Are our political leaders (or other leaders for that matter) giving any attention to industrialization strategically, which after all is the only way to absorb our growing work force so that they do not have to go abroad to find greener pastures?

And can you see the implications to those who would try to bully our country? It would not be worth their while, unless they are very foolish.

Industrialization and readiness for eventualities is a strategic approach for a nation worthy of liberties: that’s what Rizal is saying here, I submit!

Never again the approach of funnel-minded balat-sibuyas egos ever-ready to pounce on and kill each other [punyeta] and ever-eager to be distracted and entertained by cheap, shallow shows, thus allowing the banyaga or those with money and connections to control and dominate.

In fact in the Fili, Rizal was enthusiastic about industrialization in the following passage: “Tomorrow we shall be citizens of the Philippines whose destiny will be beautiful because it will be in loving hands. Oh yes! The future is ours, it is rosy. I see life stirring in these regions, so long dead and lethargic… I see towns rising along the railways and factories everywhere and buildings like that in Mandaluyong. I hear the ship’s whistle, the concussion of trains, the clatter of machineries…”

Well, is any of our President-wannabes talking about full industrialization for our nation or just peripheral production for the industrialized first world or nothing at all? Hmmmm…

Take note that Rizal had the happy hope: that being then colonial subjects, they shall be citizens of the Philippines ensuring its future to be beautiful with loving hands.

For the coming electoral exercise in May next year, we may as well ask:
·    Do we vote for candidates who would make us continue to be slaves and subjects, ruling and disciplining us because we know no better and they seem to be the “better”? 
·    Do we choose candidates who would allow us to get away with getting what we want but not really need, unmindful of consequences and costs? 
·    Do we elect candidates who lead by guaranteeing continuing citizen participation in decision-making and subjecting themselves to citizen accountability for their platforms and behavior? and leaders who would ensure the nation’s beautiful future with loving management?

Now, let’s go to the sixth stanza: it talks about the character of courage and not fearing dark and confusing times; it talks about such vigilance and bravery that would not hesitate to go forth and capture the very devil himself or anyone who dares to be a devil in our national life.

It evokes the resolute watchfulness Dr. Rizal immortalized in the chorus of his poem entitled Himno al Trabajo or Hymn to Labor, an undated work presumed to be of the period in Europe. That chorus sings: 


Por la patria en la Guerra,          
Por la patria en la paz,                 
Velera el Filipino                           
Vivira y morira!


Chorus: (Simply translated)
For the country at war,
For the country at peace,
The Filipino will stand guard,
Will live and will die!

(A more elaborate translation says:)
For the homeland in war, conflict and rivalry,
For the homeland in amity and harmony,
The Filipino shall keep vigil and stand sentry,
Shall be alive and shall survive till extremity!

Do our leaders (especially those who want to be elected) and do we ourselves have that commitment?

Almas Grandes – Great Noble Souls

Stanzas VII and VIII talk some more of the Filipino nature and character. They read:

The people call us Talisaynon,              
great noble soul in not so big constitution,
that in Dapitan and in all its region,
Talisay has had no competition.                      
Our pond has no contender,      
our dive is abyss so deep cavernous,   
and rowing, the world has no outrigger
that in a moment can overtake us.

Talisaynon nos llama la gente,      
alma grande en un cuerpo chiquito,   
que en Dapitan y en todo el distrito,   
no ha tenido Talisay su par.                   

Nuestro estanque no tiene rivales,      
nuestro salto es abismo profundo,       
y remando no hay banka en el mundo      
que un momento nos pueda pasar.

In Stanza VII, we are told of alma grande, translated as great noble soul, that animates a not so big body; actually Rizal describes the body as un cuerpo chiquito or literally a small cute body; but in Dapitan and in the region, Talisay (the country) has had no peer… This reminds us of the saying: it’s not the size of the dog, but the size of the fight in the dog, that matters.

Stanza VIII says our waters are unparalleled, that give us wide and almost bottomless diving thrills, and we are great team players, especially in rowing – no boat can overtake us in a moment.  Again, Rizal wrote this in 1895 but he somehow foresaw current Filipino dragon boat rowers becoming champions against well-known team rowers from around the world…

Multi-Habil Integradora - Integrative Multi-Skilled

Stanzas IX and X indicate that the Filipino approaches situations from a scientific, historical, linguistic and integrative perspective; and describe our people as multi-skilled multi-taskers in various fields…

We study exact science challenges,       
and the history of our country,              
we talk in three and four languages,
making both faith and reason agree.
Our arms wield with skill and fine accord
the knife, the pen, the gardening hoe,
the pickaxe, the rifle, and the sword,  
companion of the strong fellow.

Los problemas de ciencias exactas,      
de la patria la historia estudiamos,
tres y cuatro lenguajes hablamos         
acordando la fe y la razón.   
Nuestros brazos manejan á un tiempo            
el cuchillo, la pluma, la azada,              
la piqueta, el fusil y la espada,              
compañero del fuerte varón 

I suppose exact science challenges were those that had accurate quantitative means of testing hypotheses and repeating results. Probably Dr. Rizal was referring to the sciences that had rigor and that accounted for the many technological advances in his time, as he was interested in those things that advanced human progress. And he projected that future Filipinos would be adept in these areas.

But I believe he would also welcome quantum science and chaos theory, which did not exist yet in his time. For while at the macro level, things are measurable and predictable, at the micro level according to quantum theory, the intention of the observer changes the behavior of the phenomenon being observed. Rizal would probably appreciate the unceasing change in micro details given the infinite number of observers and would at the same time value the continuing reliability of certain macro- general principles and laws, like gravity.

And probably, he would also welcome chaos theory which posits that there is a butterfly effect, or the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere; that everything matters such that even the flutter of a butterfly’s wings can cause a hurricane on the other side of the world and that if you change even the smallest of life’s details, you completely change its outcome. Yes, in chaos theory science-lingo, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.

The little details Rizal wanted changed in the life of the Filipino focused on their mindsets or belief clusters so that they stand as men and women worthy of liberties.

Can we still pursue these changes along the lines of science, hard or exact?

I believe we can.

But dear young ones: beware of a counterpoint to science - romance is not exact.

Ok, now to his succeeding vision.

Rizal also projected a people avidly studying their own history. For as he wrote in his essay entitled The Philippines within a Hundred Years: “to foretell the destiny of a nation, it is necessary to open the book that tells of her past.” Indeed, as George S. Patton advised: “Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.” 

But then, Henry Kissinger wryly observed: “It is not often that nations learn from the past, even rarer that they draw the correct conclusions from it.” And author S. M. Sigerson has pointed out: “A nation which fails to adequately remember salient points of its own history is like a person with Alzheimer's. And that can be a social disease of a most destructive nature.” 

The third point Rizal predicted here, I’d say observed, is that we speak three and four languages; Filipinos are linguists, he says. Now, let’s clarify this. Dr. Rizal asserted that “(w)hile a people preserves its language: it preserves the marks of liberty.” And he also said in “Los Viajes” that: “Man is multiplied by the number of languages he possesses and speaks.” So for him, it’s perfectly okay to learn other languages so long as you preserve and continue loving your own.

The last point he described in Stanza IX is that we are integrative: we make both faith and reason agree. Our logic can take in stride and live with beliefs that are beyond logic. We do not fall into the strictness and intolerance of religious fundamentalism. In his essay entitled “Doubts” where he tackled the importance of religion to man, he said: “A man needs to believe and to love, he needs a goal towards which to steer his actions, to formulate for himself a purpose, to see something more beyond matter and noise, he needs in short an objective worthy of his being and his faculties!”

Stanza X describes the multi-tasking, multi-talented Filipino be it with the knife (in the kitchen or self-defense), the pen (writing, communications), the gardening hoe (agriculture), the pickaxe (mining and industries), the rifle (hunting and defense from a distance), and the sword (close combat) – all of which presume an agile mind and a perceptive heart behind effective body and hand movements…

Clara Estrella, Preciado Tesoro - Bright Star, Precious Treasure

Stanzas XI and XII express praise for provisions and strong inspirations.. They read:

Hail, hail, Talisay rich with verdure!    
In chorus all our voices thee praise,     
bright star, precious treasure,    
of childhood’s true learning and solace           
In the struggles that await man,   
subject to grief, pain, unease,
your memory shall be his talisman,
and in the tomb, your name, his peace.          

¡Vive, vive, frondoso Talisay!                  
Nuestras voces te ensalcen á coro,
clara estrella, preciado tesoro,              
de la infancia doctrina y solaz.              

En las luchas que aguardan al hombre,      
á pesares y duelos sujeto,                       
tu memoria sera su amuleto,                  
y en la tumba tu nombre, su paz.   

This is rootedness in a rich green homeland… deemed a bright star and precious treasure, that provides true guidance and real comfort… the attitude of gratitude is emblazoned here…

Which brings us to happiness, because “happiness comes from gratitude” according to David Stendl-Rast, a monk who studied a variety of world religions throughout his life; his message to the world is to “slow down, look at where you’re heading, and above all – be grateful.”

And Rizal was a model of gratefulness that was also rootedness - such strong emotional and cultural tie imparting strength in the face of life’s inescapable struggles, that the mere remembering of home fortifies the striving soul and grants an expectation of peace even if death should come… a wonderful stanch of a being so worthy of liberties…

Siempre Adelante – Always Advancing

The chorus sings of purposive persistence and mastery of elements.

Be safe, Talisay! Firm and constant,
always advancing, you shall prosper.  
Every element, with you triumphant,
sea, land and air, you shall master!

¡Salve, Talisay! Firme y constante,
siempre adelante, tú marcharás.   
¡Tú, victorioso, todo elemento,             
mar, tierra y viento, dominarás!

What does “always advancing” mean? Does it mean sugod ng sugod maski sumasalpak na sa sobrang kapal na pader?

Well, what did Bruce Lee advice? Be water.

Romantic oldies like me remember lyrics like: “Don't you know, Dindi (Gingi), I'd be running, searching for you? Like a river that can't find the sea; that would be me, without you, my Dindi (Gingi).”

Yes, there is an inevitable, inexorable sense that by gravity, rainwater would find its way to the sea, regardless of obstacles. It would go over, slide under, shift on the side, bore holes, break barriers, move obstructions, carve rivers, destabilize mountains, or even evaporate…

That is the sense of siempre adelante as used here. Hence, it is described as firm and constant – firme y constante - giving the impression of water drops falling one after another consistently over time creating holes in granite rocks.

It reminds us of Dr. Rizal’s advice on perseverance in his essay “Town Schools in the Philippines,” where he said:

“Whether the sacrifice be big or small, whether man be ungrateful and forgetful, whether malice be opposed, or whether sterile and barren egos mock, we ought not to be dismayed before an insignificant failure nor go backward at the least obstacle that is discerned in the horizon. xxxxx Let us work then together and instead of useless lamentations, of disconsolate complaints, of accusations and excuses, let us apply the remedy, let us build,  no matter if we begin with the simplest, for later we shall have time to erect new edifices on that foundation.

“Step by step one reaches the Temple of Progress whose numerous and fitful steps are not climbed without having faith and conviction in the soul, courage in the heart necessary to facing disillusions, and the gaze fixed on the future. xxxxx The road is ours as the present is ours, and if it is not given to us to reach the end, we may be sure that by fulfilling our duties, the future will be ours also – the future of blessings.”

That is what Dr. Rizal meant by siempre adelante.

The ideas of struggle, persistence and hope are also evoked in Dr Rizal’s poem entitled “A Mi…” or To My… (which refers to My Muse)

Muse, who in my past age
you inspired me sweet
love songs, go and repose;
Today I need a sword,
rivers of gold, and acrid prose.
I need to reason,
to meditate and to fight,
sometimes to cry,
for who wants to love much
must have to suffer much.
But if the victory with laurel crown
our efforts, and my fatherland united
emerges like a queen from burning zone,
white pearl from the morass liberated,
then return and with vigor entone
the sacred hymn of the new life,
that we the chorus shall sing
even when in the tomb we rest

Musa, que en mi edad pasada,
me inspiraste carinosa
cantos de amor, ve y reposa;
Hoy necesito una espada,
rios de oro, y acre prosa.
Necesito razonar,
meditar y combater,
algunas veces llorar,
pues quien mucho quiere amar
mucho tiene que sufrir.
Pero si el triunfo con laurel corona
nuestros esfuerzos, y mi patria unida
surge cual reina de ardiente zona,
blanca perla del fango redimida,
entonces vuelve y con vigor entona
el himno sacro de la nueva vida,
que nosotros el coro cantaremos
aun cuando en el sepulcro descansemos

Faith in eventual triumph permeated a stanza in Rizal’s “Mi Retiro”, another Dapitan poem that he penned around the time he wrote the Himno a Talisay. In that stanza he said:

And I have faith, and I hope it must shine one day
when the force of Idea conquers the brutal force,
that after the struggle and the protracted agony,
another voice, more sonorous, more happy,
will know how to sing the triumphal song perforce.
will know how to sing the triumphal song perforce.

Y  la tengo, y yo espero que ha de brillar un día
en que venza la Idea a la fuerza brutal,          
que después de la lucha y la lenta agonía,    
otra voz más sonora y más feliz que la mía
sabrá cantar entonces el cántico triunfal.   

One line here brings to mind a quote from Willliam E. Gladstone: “We look forward to the time when the Power of Love will replace the Love of Power. Then will our world know the blessings of Peace.” 

Young ones, will it be your generation to sing the triumphal song and to know the blessings of peace, in this country of ours?

Your choices and your actions will determine so.

And it might be good to remember Dr. Rizal’s observation in the essay Como se Gobiernan las Filipinas: “Filipinos don't realize that victory is the child of struggle, that joy blossoms from suffering, and redemption is a product of sacrifice.”

Overview on the Himno

You will note that the Himno a Talisay does not have a line saying “ang mamatay nang dahil sa iyo!” There is no advance acceptance that there is nothing else we can do but die; there is however such bold and audacious declaration of intention to catch Satan if he ever appears.

So when you sing the Lupang Hinirang, always connect the Himno a Talisay to the line “sa manlulupig, di ka pasisiil”; that is, in the normal, day-to-day events, we protect our families, we can fight if need be, we fear no one – we know how to take a stand and assert ourselves.

Yong huling mga linya, na: “aming ligaya na pag may mang-aapi, ang mamatay ng dahil sa iyo” should be understood as applying only to very extraordinary circumstances, such as the one that Dr. Rizal faced.

Remember, he had that inner strength, the tatag ng loob, the guts to expose the negative aspects of the ruling sect, the Friars, through his writings. In a letter to Mariano Ponce and companions of La Solidaridad, he said: “Let destiny be fulfilled! The day they lay their hands on us, the day they martyrize innocent families for our fault, goodbye friar government, and perhaps, goodbye Spanish government. The cruelties of Louis XIV and XV brought about the Revolution; the cruelties of the Inquisition killed monasticism. We demonstrate in books and writings that friars are not what they pretend to be nor are they ministers of Christ or the protector of the people, nor the support of the government. We write this and we affirm it, and the friars prove it by their deeds.”

And so everyone among his family and friends and other Filipinos were afraid for him, that he would be killed by the Spanish colonialists. But he still came home from Hongkong in 1892 where he left a sealed letter that among others said: “I wish to show those who deny us patriotism that we know how to die for our duty and our convictions.”

This sentiment was consistent with his 1890 letter to Mariano Ponce from Brussels saying: “We die only once and if we do not die well, we lose a good opportunity which will never come up again… If one has to die, at least one must die in his own country, by his country, and for his country.”

In a letter to Marcelo H. del Pilar, also in 1890 from Brussels, he wrote: “I am preparing myself for death; I put in order what I am going to leave behind, and I get ready for any eventuality. Laong Laan is my true name.”

Since 1890, Rizal was ready already… No wonder he was so cool, with normal blood pressure, standing before the firing squad in 1896.

Those were abnormal, extraordinary circumstances in Rizal’s time; “mamatay ng dahil sa iyo” should only be the last resort, like in those uncommon conditions where Rizal expected to be replaced by a pleiad of his countrymen; it should not be a cop out in the normal course of events, for giving up then saying bahala na! Normally, we should say: “di kami puedeng masisiil!” “kung dadaanin mo sa sapilitan, marunong kaming maki-paglaban!” “kung si satanas ka, hulihin ka namin, patay o buhay!”

Young friends, that is being worthy of liberties, a la new Dapitan!

Sons and daughters we could go on discussing more details on related topics like leadership, success, elections. But I guess we are running out of time. So let me wind this up.


We began with a Rizalian quote relating to prison and I would like to end this presentation with another quote from Rizal that is fictionally located in prison but I think very relevant to your considerations.

Jose Rizal had a poem entitled “Cervantes en Argamasilla de Alba”. It talked about Cervantes being depressed while in prison and being inspired by an angelic presence who told him what to do. Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, was imprisoned in Seville, Andalucia for accounting discrepancies because a banker with whom he deposited the King’s funds went bankrupt. Since Cervantes says that Don Quixote was "engendered" in a prison, that is presumably a reference to this episode.

But Rizal situated his prison in the little town of Argamasilla de Alba in the region of La Mancha (where Don Quixote was supposed to have tilted against windmills). Argamasilla means mortar, ‘yon bang masilya sa atin, to cement tiles on concrete, etc.; of course alba means dawn --- the phrasing, gives you a sense about something that attracts and holds the dawn, something that brings hope… and here is where Rizal’s quote is relevant to you. It goes:

Go then, Miguel, and with your clear thinking,
light bulb, which on your land shall be shining,
that demented multitude, go redeeming
the dark sinister shroud ripping, rending.
And, as charged cloud, in your flight so lofty, 
scorching lightning lance gracefully
that brings down the god of insanity
making sprout celestial prosperity.

Ve pues, Miguel, y que tu clara mente,
foco de luz, que alumbrara tu suelo,
Redima a esa multitud demente
Rasgando el hosco encapotado velo.
Y, cual nube prenada, rayo ardiente
Airoso lanza en tu encumbrado vuelo
Que derribe al dios de la locura
Brotar haciendo celestial ventura.

Wow, nung panahon na ‘yon, Rizal had already figured out na ang sambayanan had become a people who did not have their own minds, esa multitud demente he called them - a crowd of people misinformed, misdirected, misled, miseducated and thus demented by the continuing obscurantism and deprecation of the occupying Spanish colonialists spearheaded by the Friars. You know of course that obscurantism is the practice of deliberately preventing the facts or the full details of some matter from becoming known; if consistently done for three centuries combined with control, abuse and condescension interspersed with random kindness, then you have a demented multitude.

So what was Rizal’s prescription?
Education, education, education, education.

Ngayon, dito ba sa sulok ng pitong libo at iilang mga islang ito, in this year of our Lord 2015, do we still have multitud demente?

Meron pa, e… and that is our continuing opportunity!

In more contemporary terms, young friends, taking off from the Cervantes en Argamasilla de Alba poem, it can be said, that you are called:

to cause positive changes in the mindsets of our crowds,
with clear thinking in chaos theory, and use of web in the clouds,
sending forth love and clarity to dispel inconsequence,
and to let surge and flow: moral and material affluence.

Inconsequence: walang nangyayari… nagbabago raw pero pareho pa rin; think electoral exercises; ngayon, talagang baguhin natin, at palakasin natin ang butterfly effect ni Rizal, gawin nating bagyo, para magkaroon ang Inang Bayan ng makabuluhang moral at materyal na kasaganaan.

The changes of course refer to Dr Rizal’s vision, a la New Dapitan.

And let’s do it with teamwork, just as Dr. Rizal appealed to his colleagues at the Café Habanero in Madrid on December 31, 1891: “Gentlemen,” he said, “let us maintain firmly union and solidarity among us; let the good of the mother country be our only cause; and let us prove to everyone and let us make it clear, that if a Filipino wills, he can.”

Remember your first lesson with Sir Maxx, how turtle and rabbit broke standing records of speed in accomplishing things with their teamwork?

Each one of you, in your own unique way, in teamwork with others, can make a big difference, very fast.

Every minute localized change you provoke and stimulate, in concert with your fellow NRYLI alumni all over, in this complex system we call Philippine society and eco-polity, can have large effects, sooner not later…

Ikaw na, nilalang na karapatdapat sa lahat ng mga kalayaan!

Marami pong salamat!