Monday, December 31, 2018

Wisdom and Compassion, Foundations of a Free and Progressive Nation

Rizal 2018: Wisdom and Compassion,
Foundations of a Free and Progressive Nation

Remarks for the Commemoration of the
122nd Anniversary of Dr. Rizal’s  Martyrdom
by Sir Edwin D. Bael, KGOR,
in Tagum City, December 30, 2018

Thank you so much, Sir, for the kind introduction. Since important persons have been acknowledged before, may I just acknowledge the presence by groups, from left to right, of the Boy and Girl Scouts, the Army Reserves, our brother Masons, our brother Knights of Columbus, the Officials and employees of the City of Tagum led by their City Councilors, the delegation from the Dep-Ed, the Kababaihang Rizalista and the Kabataang Pangarap ni Rizal, the leaders and representatives of our Indigenous Peoples and Muslim communities, my brother Knights of Rizal, and the men and women of our AFP and PNP and allied entities…


Today we commemorate the One Hundred and Twenty-Second Anniversary of Dr. Rizal’s supreme sacrifice and martyrdom, with the theme as selected by the National Historical Commission:

"Rizal 2018: Wisdom and Compassion,
Foundations of a Free and Progressive Nation"

"Rizal 2018: Talino at Malasakit sa Isa't Isa,
Pundasyon ng Isang Malaya at Maunlad na Bansa"

“Rizal 2018: Kinaadman ug puangod sa usag usa:
Mga pundasyon sa usa ka nasud nga gawasnon ug malambuon”

I’d like to relate this idea of a free and progressive nation with the seven prophecies of Dr. Rizal. According to our former Supremo, Sir Dr. Pablo Trillana, in the 1889-1890 essay entitled Filipinas Dentro de Cien Años, Dr. Rizal made 7 prophecies, namely:

1. The Philippines will revolt against Spain
2. It will declare Independence
3. That Independence shall be seized by a nation from across the Pacific
4. Our people will fight for that independence with blood
5. Japan will swallow us
6. The Islands shall declare themselves a Federal Republic
7. The Country shall enter the wide road of national progress

Five of these prophecies have come to pass; the last two still have to be realized, although a Federal Republic seems near. And if projections are believed, we are also on the way to national progress.

As regards the Filipino translation of the theme, however, I submit, Sirs:  that knowledge, per se, is not power.  Only the wise use of knowledge is real power and it’s unwise use leads to ruin and destruction.

So to translate wisdom into simply “talino” in Filipino, meaning “intelligence”, seems to me, not enough. For wisdom in English connotes “understanding of what is true, right, or lasting; common sense; good judgment; and scholarly learning”…

Perhaps we can say in Tagalog, “kapantasan” because a wise person is a “pantas”, that is why universities are called “pamantasan” where wise persons are supposed to come forth and graduate from…

Ah, that’s another issue that can be discussed in another forum, in light of Dr. Rizal’s teaching that the purpose of education is to be worthy of liberties; and if I may add - beyond being a quick money earning OFW.

For now, may I just propose that the Tagalog version be: Kapantasan at Malasakit sa isa’t  isa…  And we pair that with the Cebuano: Kinaadman ug Puangod sa usag usa…

It is in this sense of wisdom and compassion, kapantasan at malasakit, kinaadman ug puangod, that I submit, we the Knights of Rizal, must encourage all our people to:

A.    Work for a nation with self-confidence

In the fourth stanza of Dr. Rizal’s untitled last poem now known as the Ultimo Adios, he said:

My dreams when just a lad barely adolescent,
My dreams when a young man all filled with vigor,
Were to see you one day, jewel of the sea of the orient
The dark eyes dry, smooth forehead held high unbent:
Without frown, without wrinkles, without blushing color.

What did he mean by this?

I submit that this was his vision for Inang Bayan; this was his magnificent obsession for which he calmly stood before the firing squad.

It means he believed it possible for the country to stand among the community of nations with self-respect, self-esteem and self-confidence with no more reasons to cry, to bow down, to doubt, to fear, or to be ashamed.

He was cool about returning to the Creator because as he wrote to his friends, if he dies in the hands of the Spaniards let twenty Filipinos take his place.  No, he does not want us to face any firing squad; he wants us to work together and build the nation.

Before I talk about working together, may I read his ultimo adios stanzas explaining this vision of “secos los negros ojos”.  In stanzas 1, 2 and 3, he said (in my own English translation):
Farewell, adored Fatherland, region beloved by the sun,
Pearl of the Orient Sea, our Eden lost and drifting!
Gladly go I to give you this sad withered life without fun,
And were it brighter, fresher, with more buds blooming,
Still would I give it to you, give it for your well-being.
In fields of battle, fighting with delirium and frenzy
Others give you their lives without doubt, without misery;
The place matters not, whether cypress, laurel or lily,
Gallows or open field, combat or martyr’s cruel agony,
All are equal, if asked and needed, by home and country.
I die when I see that colors lighten the sky
And finally herald the day after the cloak of night;
If you need scarlet grain, your dawn to dye,
Pour my blood, shed it in good hour to abye,
And gild it a reflection of your nascent light.

Then in stanza five, he passionately declared his devotion to Inang Bayan (again my translation):
Dream of my life, my ardent, living passion and cry,
Health, shouts to you the soul that soon shall depart!
Health! O, how lovely it is to fall to give you power to fly,
To die to give you vigor to live, under your heaven to die,
And in your enchanted land, to sleep forever never apart.

Yes, my countrymen, such devotion shall lead to our dream: usa ka nasud nga gawasnon ug malambuon! (a free and progressive nation!)

It is in the sense of wisdom and compassion, kapantasan at malasakit, kinaadman ug puangod, that I submit, we the Knights of Rizal, must convince our fellow Filipinos to:

B.    Cooperate and Converge with our Muslim kin

There is an instructive poem by Dr. Rizal written around 1890 entitled El Agua y El Fuego or Water and Fire. It is short and let me read the English and Cebuano translations:

WATER AND FIRE (around 1890)
[Free English Translation by Sir Edwin D. Bael, 2012]

Water we are, you say; yourselves, fire;
Let us be, as you like it! ...
Let’s live quiet without ire,
And let not conflagration ever see us fight;
But that united by wise science
From boilers in the burning breast,
Without anger, without rage,
Let us form the steam, fifth element,
Progress, life, light and movement!

TUBIG UG KALAYO (mga 1890)
[Gihubad sa Sugbo-anon Binisaya ni Sir Edwin D. Bael, 2012]

Tubig kami, ingon ninyo; kamo, kalayo;
Unsa may inyong gusto, pasagdan nato!...
Manimuyo ta sa kakalma ug kalinaw,
Ug nga kita nagbugno, sa sunog dili unta matan-aw;
Apan, pinaghiusa sa siyensang may kinaadman
Sa mga pugon sa masilabong dughan
Way kasuko, way kapungot o impetu,
Buhaton nato ang alisngaw, ikalimang elemento,
Kauswagan, kinabuhi, kahayag ug kalihokan!

If we - Muslims, IPs, Christians and others who form this One Nation under God - do what Rizal says in this poem, then the steam of peace and development shall come to Mindanao and will bring us closer sa atong damgo: usa ka nasud nga gawasnon ug malambuon! (bring us closer to our dream: a free and progressive nation)

It is in the sense of wisdom and compassion, kapantasan at malasakit, kinaadman ug puangod, that I submit, we the Knights of Rizal, must push our people and our government to:

C.     Stand as a nation that knows how to fight

Dr. Rizal advocated this idea in the Himno a Talisay, which poem/song incidentally was used by the Military Prosecutor in his trial in Fort Santiago as additional proof that Rizal instigated the revolution. Here are the pertinent stanzas:

Himno a Talisay (Hymn to Talisay, EDB Translation)
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.
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.

Let’s stand up and actualize this strategic approach. And I submit atong  makab-ot ang atong tingusbawan: usa ka nasud nga gawasnon ug malambuon! (And I submit we shall reach what we aspire for: a free and progressive nation!)

It is in the sense of wisdom and compassion, kapantasan at malasakit, kinaadman ug puangod, that I submit, we the Knights of Rizal, must urge our people to:

D.    Keep faith

In his poem Mi Retiro, penned in Dapitan, he wrote in part:

Mi Retiro (My Haven, EDB translation)
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.

Keeping this kind of faith, and believing we and our succeeding generations are the other voice, more sonorous, more happy, shall allow us to sing the triumphal song for usa ka nasud nga gawasnon ug malambuon, nga maoy atong gihandum! (for a free and progressive nation, which is what we hope  for!)

It is in the sense of wisdom and compassion, kapantasan at malasakit, kinaadman ug puangod, that I submit, we the Knights of Rizal, must take actions to spearhead:

E.     Illuminating the land and fighting the forces of darkness

In the poem Miguel en Argamasilla de Alba, Dr. Rizal had a fairy tell Miguel (the imprisoned Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote) to play his destined role. Now if we are to replace Miguel with Knights of Rizal, the stanza would read as follows:

Go then, [Knights of Rizal], that with your clear thinking,
Like a light bulb, you shall illuminate your land,
and redeem that demented multitude,
ripping off and tearing down the dark sinister shroud.
And, in your flight so lofty, as a charged cloud,
lance gracefully scorching lightning
that brings down the god of insanity
making sprout celestial prosperity.
[EDB translation]

If the Knights and our Citizens are to live this cleansing and cultivating approach, then under the leadership of President Duterte, we can proceed towards realizing the vision of usa ka nasud nga gawasnon ug malambuon! (a free and progressive nation!)

It is in the sense of wisdom and compassion, kapantasan at malasakit, kinaadman ug puangod, that I submit, we the Knights of Rizal, must campaign among our people to:

F.     Persevere and work together

Dr. Rizal wrote in the essay “Town Schools in the Philippines” that: “Whether the sacrifice be big or small; whether men 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.”

He added, as we mentioned before: “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.”

This perseverance, my fellow citizens, is a sure way to attain usa ka nasud nga gawasnon ug malambuon! (a free and progressive nation!)

It is in the sense of wisdom and compassion, kapantasan at malasakit, kinaadman ug puangod, that I submit, we the Knights of Rizal, must ask every Filipino to:

G.    Keep vigil

This sense of alertness and watchfulness, was advocated by Dr. Rizal in the chorus of his poem Himno Al Trabajo (or Hymn To Labor) written in 1888. Let me share that chorus with you:

¡Por la patria en la Guerra,
por la patria en la paz,
velará el Filipino,
vivirá y morirá.
We can simply translate this as “for the country at war, for the country in peace, the Filipino shall keep vigil, shall live and shall die”.
We could also render it as follows:
For the homeland in war time,
For the homeland in peace time,
The Filipino shall keep vigil and stand fast,
Shall survive and shall breathe his last!
(English translation by EDB)

It has been said that “The price of liberty, and even of common humanity, is eternal vigilance.” (Aldous Huxley, 1956). Though already used in the early 1800s, Dr. Rizal used this idea in 1888 to map out another sure way to having usa ka nasud nga gawasnon ug malambuon! (a free and progressive nation)!

And it is in the sense of wisdom and compassion, kapantasan at malasakit, kinaadman ug puangod, that I submit, we the Knights of Rizal, must urge all our people to keep moving forward:

H.    Always advance

The need for this consistent moving forward was emphasized by Dr. Rizal in the Chorus of his Himno a Talisay, which  says:

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

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

Mabuhay, Talisay! Matatag at matapat,
palaging pasulong, ikaw ay magkamit ng kasaganaan;
Ikaw matagumpay, sa lahat ng elemento:
dagat, lupa’t hangin, magkaroon ka ng kapangyarihan.

Mabuhi ka Talisay! Timgas ug makanunayon,
punayng padayon, ikaw mag-mauswagon.
Ikaw madaugon, tanang elemento –
dagat, yuta’g hangin - imong dominahon!

The sense is like that of waters in a river inexorably going to the sea: obstacles are met with pushing, or finding ways around, under, and above, even by evaporating, so long as the sea is reached.

Pinaagi niining siempre adelante, always advancing, palaging pasulong, ug punayng padayon nga pamaagi o dalan, atong makab-ot ang usa ka nasud nga gawasnon ug malambuon!

By means of this always advancing approach, we shall reach the condition of a free and progressive nation.

Daghan kaayong salamat!


Edited Presentation of Sir Edwin D. Bael, KGOR*
At the KOR Strategic Planning Conference in
DAP, Tagaytay, 05 August 2018

Sir Supremo Justice Elihu Ybañez,
The Illustrious Members of our Supreme Council,
The Uber Illustrious Members of the Council of Elders, our former Supreme Commanders here present, like Sir Ver and Sir Reghis,
Mga kasamang Maginoong Maka-Rizal                                                 
Magandang umaga po:

Yesterday, we heard the impassioned Pamana sharing of the Chair of our Council of Elders, Sir Bert Nanquil, followed by the quantitatives of millennial majority out there who are the small minority in the KOR by Sir Mark Boado, na tinuhog-tuhog naman by the integrative nudges of Sir Maxx Salazar, our coach par excellence.

Last night Sir Trillana regaled us with the 7 prophecies of Dr. Rizal in the essay Philippines within a Century (Filipinas dentro de Cien Años), namely that:
  •   we would revolt,
  • 2.   we would declare ourselves independent,
  • 3.   a country from across the pacific will steal away that independence
  • 4.   we will defend that independence with our blood
  • 5.   Japan will swallow us,
  • 6.   we will become a federal republic, and
  • 7.   we will enter into the wide road of progress.
In effect, Dr Trillana challenged, that our continued relevance lies in our role as added catalysts in bringing the last two prophecies to come to pass…

Sirs, there is no choice but to stand up and be equal to that challenge.

How do we do that?

Perhaps we can learn from Rizal in Dapitan, especially how he approached his exile, which was made of two elements, viz:

1. Do not forget the big picture regardless of difficulties and isolation, and
2. Make a positive difference to the lives of the local people wherever you may be...
    or bloom wherever planted...

Concerning the big picture, now is the time we recall the main difference between leadership and management. Leadership is directing that the ladder be leaned on the right building so that the right rooftop can be reached; management is climbing that stair as fast as one can without falling down to reach the rooftop, where perhaps a helicopter awaits.

So what was the right rooftop that Rizal envisioned? He wrote his magnificent obsession of that vision in the Ultimo Adios. He had that stanza saying: “My dreams when a lad barely adolescent, my dreams when a young man already full of vigor were to see you one day, pearl of the seas of the orient, the dark eyes dry, the smooth forehead held high unbent, without frowns, without wrinkles, without blushes of high color.”

He meant the vision of a nation standing with confidence, dignity, and self-esteem among the global community without reasons to cry, to bow down, to doubt, to fear, or to be ashamed.

That is what we, the Knights of Rizal, are called upon to continue working for.

Are we up to that challenge, Sirs?

There is another vision of the right rooftop that he expressed in the Fili, as follows: ‘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 at Mandaluyong. I hear the ships’ whistle, the concussion of trains, the clatter of machineries… xxxxx (El Filibusterismo, Ghent, 1891)

Brother Knights, are we – here and now – citizens with loving hands who guarantee a beautiful destiny for the country and support national progress through industrialization? 

This is another challenge for us!

Then there is the rooftop vision and direction in his Poem “Miguel En Argamasilla De Alba” which talks of Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote who, suicidal in prison, was challenged by a fairy for doubting the genius God had given him and when he got hold of his senses, was given the parting message, that is presently applicable. If you replace Miguel with Rody for our President, the stanza would read as follows:

Go then, [Rody], that with your clear thinking,
Like a light bulb, you shall illuminate your land,
and redeem that demented multitude,
ripping off and tearing down the dark sinister shroud.
And, in your flight so lofty, as a charged cloud,
lance gracefully scorching lightning
that bring down the god of insanity
making sprout celestial prosperity.

I honestly believe, brother Knights that: this searing message is not only applicable to our President with all his political will and resoluteness, but perhaps is even more appropriate and relevant to each of us, to each of our chapters, and to the entire global Corps of the Knights of Rizal. Because the mandate of R. A. 646 calls upon us to illuminate our land with the clear thinking of Dr. Jose Rizal to tear down sinister shrouds that dement our crowds with drugs and corruption. RA 646 also demands of us to uphold the “inconvenient” truths as told by Dr. Rizal to topple insane mindsets and replace them with prosperous thinking that our people may achieve the “green grass of home” of financial sufficiency and thus avoid doing “kapit sa patalim” by working in dangerous places and jobs abroad. 

Are we up to meet this huge challenge, Sir Knights?

Remember, after our oaths as Knights, there is morally no going back.

But going back to Dapitan, Rizal frustrated the Spanish purpose of exiling him there to perhaps wither and just die of boredom. He reacted like a turtle being thrown into another body of water; he lived and thrived in the then isolated backwater.

He kept his mind on the things that matter (or the big picture). He probably rehashed in his mind the following commitments:

A.   “Let this be our motto: for the welfare of the native land.” (Letter to Mariano Ponce 27 Jul 1888

B.   “…the thought of my whole life has always been love of my country and her moral and material development.” (Letter to Governor and Captain General, Hongkong, 21 Mar 1892). Note: moral first, then material.

C.   “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.” (Speech, ‘Farewell to 1883’, MS)

Thus he weathered the desolation. Writing to Father Pastells, he said:

“It is true that my situation is not very pleasant accustomed as I am to live under other atmospheres, to enjoy the liberty necessary for man to be responsible for his acts; it is true that I have to deprive myself of many things, nay, to repress myself; that the loss of family, the destruction of a future prepared during my whole youth, the seclusion from the social world – all constitute a great penalty but who does not have regrets in this life? A bit of philosophy and another bit of resignation will make me bear my little sorrows. What is my misfortune compared with that of many others?” (Letter to Fr Pastells)

In his poem Mi Retiro, written in Dapitan for his mother, he confided:

“So pass the days in my dark haven from ire,
banished from the world where once I lived,
of my varied fortune, the Providence I admire:
abandoned pebble, for the moss I only aspire
that the world in me, may by all be unperceived.”

Abandoned pebble aspiring only for the moss, that’s how he saw himself, though he had “the world in him”. He kept himself sane by connecting with the sea. In another stanza of Mi Retiro, he shared:

“The sea, the sea is all!  Its mass, sovereign,
brings me the atoms of worlds so far and foreign;
it inspires me with its limpid morning smile,
and when by afternoon my faith feels futile
the heart finds an echo in its sorrows utile.”

And through it all, he kept faith and hope. Here’s the pertinent stanza of Mi Retiro:

“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.’

Sirs: Is our generation or those who follow, the more sonorous voice that sings the triumphal song?

Fellow Knights, turning Rizal’s faith and hope into reality is part of our challenge.

Given the mental toughness that kept him going, what were the things that Rizal did in Dapitan?

In general, I would say he did not go out there showing off that he was expert in this or that or whatever. He just perceived problems and proceeded to provide solutions according to the knowledge and skills that he had.

This is an approach that I believe each and every chapter of the Knights of Rizal should adopt. Because by following it, the people of Dapitan came to love him and when he was leaving by the end of July 1896 they went out in droves to say their goodbyes - just like when the Pope left the country after a visit – but the Dapitanons had the band playing funeral music, as if sensing it would be the last they would see him.

Perhaps re-enacting that goodbye could be a project of this Supreme Council, may be to include producing a replica of the ship España, all to commemorate the solutions Rizal gave in response to the needs of the Dapitanon community.

Rizal arrived in Dapitan on June 26, 1892 and went about serving the people, through his civic and agricultural works, medical practices, land development and promotion of education. He also devoted time to improving his artistic and literary skills, engaging in business activities, and writing letters to his friends in Europe.

He saw malaria among the community: he had the surrounding swamps drained.

There was sickness: he practiced his medical skills. For those who could not pay, who were the majority, he prescribed local medicinal botanicals which he himself studied and prepared. Of course the payments by the rich were welcomed. His specialized practice of ophthalmological surgery brought many to him in Dapitan and allowed him to cure his mother’s eyes (who did not follow his instructions not to touch the dressing). That practice also brought the swallow of his life his way, Josephine Bracken, through her foster father George Taufer, whose eye condition had already deteriorated so much that the operation could not cure it; but Rizal, in gloom after hearing the death of his sweetheart of 11 years Leonor Rivera in August of 1893, resurged in February 1895 with “love at first sight” upon setting eyes on the 18-year old Josephine who, in Wenceslao Retana's words, was “slender, a chestnut blond, with blue eyes, dressed with elegant simplicity, with an atmosphere of light (gaiety)” and who later got immortalized with that line in the Ultimo Adios as the “dulce extranjera, mi amiga, mi alegría” (sweet foreigner, my friend, my happiness).

The streets were dark at night: with the extra money he had, he caused the setting up of coconut oil lamps along the streets of Dapitan.

Agriculture was still backward: he bought land from his lottery winnings, practiced agriculture and showed the people how, even importing American agricultural machinery and shared these.

The farmers were controlled by monopolist middlemen, who also controlled the the selling of household goods: he organized them into a coop for mutual help and to circumvent that middleman control.

The education of the young was even worse than many in the rest of the country: he established a school in Dapitan which was attended by 16 young boys from prominent families. Community projects, like maintaining his garden and field, constituted the matriculation. He taught them reading, writing in English and Spanish, geography, history, mathematics, industrial work, nature study, morals and gymnastics. He encouraged his students to engage in sports activities to strengthen their bodies as well. There was no formal room, like the typical classroom nowadays. Classes were conducted from 2 p.m to 4 p.m. with the teacher sitting on a hammock while the students sat on a long bamboo bench.  One of his students was the cousin of my lolo on my father’s side and I can tell you, Sirs, that the descendants of those pupils of Rizal are “influentials” in our province of Zamboanga del Norte.

Water was not readily and reliably available for the community: he set up a good water system, tapping a distant spring and constructing flowing routes on mountain sides to ensure that the water would flow continuously, using inverted tiles, burned coral, lime, stones, bamboos and other locally available materials.

Not enough bricks were available for construction of good housing: he invented a wooden brick-making machine capable of producing about 6,000 bricks a day. Producing fire easily was also a local problem, and he just happened to invent a special wooden lighter called ‘sulpukan’ based on the principle of compressed air; he sent a working model of it to Blumentritt as a gift. I wonder, can some KOR chapters re-create this brick-making machine and sulpukan as projects and train members of target poor communities to produce and sell them?

Local industries and businesses were not really dynamic and showed a lot of room for improvement while presenting opportunities: Rizal went into business with his friend Ramon Carreon going into fishing, hemp and copra industries. The industry in which Rizal became more successful was in hemp, shipping the said product to a foreign firm in Manila.

At certain times, there were needs for artistic contributions, so Dr Rizal pitched in, like helping the Sisters of Charity to prepare for the arrival of the image of the Holy Virgin by modeling the image’s right foot and other details and by conceptualizing its curtain oil-painted by a sister under his direction. 

He also sketched things that attracted him in Dapitan, like the rare fauna he discovered and the fishes he caught; he sculpted in wood “The Mother’s Revenge” showing his dog Syria avenging her puppy against the crocodile that killed it. 

He beautified Dapitan by remodelling the town plaza, with the aid of his Jesuit teacher, Fr. Francisco Sanchez - who came to Dapitan to make him renounce his writings to no avail - and created a relief map of Mindanao (using stones, soil and grass) right in front the church.

Science was essentially not practiced in Dapitan, so Rizal expressed his interest in nature and engaged his students in explorations of the jungles and the seas in search of specimens that he sent to friends in Europe in exchange of which he was mailed scientific books and surgical instruments. He also made a bulk of other researches and studies in the fields of ethnography, archaeology, geology, anthropology and geography. But Rizal's most significant contribution to the scientific world from Dapitan was his discovery of three species, namely: draco rizali, the flying dragon or lizard; apogonia rizali, the small beetle; and rhacophorus rizali, the rare frog.

The world did not know about the Subanen language and the variations of Visayan as spoken in the Dapitan and its nearby areas. Hence, Dr. Rizal studied these languages.

In sum, my fellow Knights, in Dapitan Dr. Rizal looked at the unity of problems (needs) and solutions (skills/competences/resources) as the opposing ends of something like one big straight rubber band that he bended and curved around to make both ends meet, thus making a wheel, by which the community was enabled to move together, faster.

Can we follow this approach in the projects of each and every KOR chapter?

Of course, he did continue to deal with the Catholic Church: he engaged Father Pastells in an exchange of heated arguments by letter, which ended in a stalemate as neither convinced the other of his position; and he had to deal with a spy from the Friars who pretended to be a relative offering to confidentially bring his letters to his family (so as to steal them) and he had this guy reported to the Comandante who detained, investigate and then released him. Rizal did not live in the convent as offered because there were conditions like renouncing his writings, even as he still went to mass; then the local priest, Father Obach, refused to solemnize his marriage to Josephine Bracken, without approval from church superiors in Cebu.

The Katipunan sought his advice through Dr Pio Valenzuela who brought along a blind companion for cover story. Dr. Valenzuela shared with Dr. Rizal the plan to immediately launch the revolution as the Katipunan’s existence was uncovered. When apprised that there were no weapons for the revolutionaries, Dr. Rizal counseled restraint until they could buy arms or at least bolos. We can see here that Dr. Rizal was not a peace-nik but rather a leader who did not want his people to go to war with the guaranteed result of defeat and uncounted deaths.

When Dr. Valenzuela told him that once the revolution starts, they would return to Dapitan to fetch him, he declined saying that one man should not delay the revolution, after all he said, his Moro friends can get him out of Mindanao at any time.

He trusted his Moro friends.

Which brings us to the Bangsamoro Organic Law and the inevitable question for us, Knights: do we trust our Moro brethren in the implementation of this law? I submit we should do all we can to work with our Moro brothers and sisters so that, together, the entire nation can speedily enter the paths of progress as alluded to by Sir Trillana and our Moro brethren can catch up with the rest.

As Rizal heeded his friend Blumentritt’s suggestion to volunteer as a military doctor in Cuba, he had sent a letter to the Governor General to that effect; after about seven months he received a reply from Governor Blanco accepting his offer.

In the prospect of travelling again, he wrote “Canto del Viajero” or Song of the Traveller, which I think can be the anthem of our OFWs. One of its stanzas, reads:

And they envy the sad traveler
When he swiftly crosses the earth… 
Ah, they know not within the soul 
Exists an emptiness for lack of love! 

In Cebuano, it can be rendered as follows:

          Ug magselos sila sa biyaherong masub-anon
          Samtang kusog siyang motabuk sa kalibutan…
          Ah, wa sila kaamgo nga sulod sa kalag ug dughan
          Dunay kahaw’ang kay sa gugma may kawad-on!

Of his writings in Dapitan, however, I respectfully submit that the Himno a Talisay or Hymn to Talisay is of transcendent importance because it is his integrated vision for the country. Recall that “vision” is a future condition expressed in the present tense. Himno a Talisay does that.

Let’s review some of the stanzas:

In the third stanza he talks of young souls with vigorous character:

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.   

In the fourth, he sees us as children that cannot be intimidated by anything:
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.

The fifth stanza describes how we should have our defense systems:

Our games scramble the sand;
caves and thickets we reconnoiter;   
on big rocks our houses stand,        
our weapons reach everywhere.

Can you imagine in the early 1890s Rizal was already imagining something like the MIRV (or the Multiple Independently-Targeted Re-entry Vehicles) of ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles)?  Perhaps it’s time to establish our advanced Artillery and Missile Corps in the AFP.

The sixth stanza shows what resolute courage can do:
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.

There shall be no room for the Satans of dangerous drugs and corruption in our midst.

The eighth stanza predicted the global ascendancy of our dragon boat racers:             
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.

The ninth describes our positive intellectual, linguistic and philosophical capabilities:

We study exact science challenges,   
and the history of our country,                  
we talk in three and four languages,
making both faith and reason agree.

The tenth stanza describes our being multi-talented multi-taskers:

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.

And the chorus is another rooftop vision:
Hail, Talisay! Firm and constant,     
always advancing, you shall prosper.        
Every element, with you triumphant,                                                        
sea, land and air, you shall master! 

It is in considering this chorus that we can perhaps appreciate a true Rizalian teaching as our motto. Maybe we can consider the following as our new motto:

          Firme y constante, siempre adelante! (Spanish Original text)
          Firm and constant, always advancing! (English)
          Matatag at matapat, palaging pasulong! (Tagalog/Filipino)
          Timgas ug makanunayon, punayng padayon! (Cebuano)

I most respectfully submit this as an alternative to “Non omnis moriar” which is a Horatian teaching, not Rizalian.

As Doctor Rizal prescribed in his Liham sa mga Kababayang Kadalagahan sa Malolos that we should be critical thinkers, because “a man who does not think for himself lacks personality; the blind man who allows himself to be guided by the thought of another is like the beast led by a halter”, I humbly submit this point for consideration in this Strategic Planning Conference.

Firstly, our RA 646 Charter mandates that the Knights of Rizal’s purposes shall be to study Rizal’s teachings, share and propagate them, and then celebrate or commemorate them.

That’s the focus: Rizal’s teachings; there is nothing else.

Any teaching beyond that is out of bounds and “ultra vires” (beyond the powers or beyond one's legal power or authority) if adopted. Under the principle of “inclusio unius, exclusio alterius” what is not included is excluded.

“Non omnis moriar” is a phrase and really a brag used by the Roman poet Horace in his Poem 30 in Book 3 of Odes. There seems to be no writing of Rizal or documentation that shows he advocated this “thinking”. Assuming there is, and granting he used it as something from the common domain, this phrase can never be attributed to Rizal as there is abundant ancient documentation proving that Horace used it first, antedating Rizal by around 1,800 years.

Being of Horace, and not from Rizal, it cannot qualify as one of "the teachings of Dr. Jose Rizal"  as circumscribed in Section 2 of R.A. 646, viz:

“SEC. 2. The purposes of this corporation shall be to study the teachings of Dr. Jose Rizal, to inculcate and propagate them in and among all classes of the Filipino people, and by words and deeds to exhort our citizenry to emulate and practice the examples and teachings of our national hero; to promote the associated knights the spirit of patriotism and Rizalian chivalry; to develop a perfect union among the Filipinos in revering the memory of Dr. Jose Rizal and to organize and hold programs commemorative of Rizal’s nativity and martyrdom.”

As such, “non omnis moriar” cannot and should not be the motto of the Knights of Rizal.

Motto is defined as “a short sentence or phrase chosen as encapsulating the beliefs or ideals guiding an individual, family, or institution.” Some of its synonyms are the following: maxim, saying, phrase, aphorism, adage, saw, axiom, apothegm, formula, expression, dictum, precept.

The corporation known as Knights of Rizal is all about the beliefs and ideals of Dr. Jose Rizal and his teachings.

How come all these are encapsulated by a Horatian 3-word boast or showing off or blowing his own horn or singing his own praises, which is not even shown to have been used by Dr. Rizal?

And it is a phrase whose use and context contradict the very ideals of Rizal!

The following shows both the English translation and the original Latin text of Poem 30, Book 3 of the Odes of Horace:

And now 'tis done: more durable than brass
My monument shall he, and raise its head
O'er royal pyramids: it shall not dread
Corroding rain or angry Boreas,
Nor the long lapse of immemorial time.
I shall not wholly die: large residue
Shall 'scape the queen of funerals. Ever new
My after fame shall grow, while pontiffs climb
With silent maids the Capitolian height.
“Born,” men will say, “where Aufidus is loud,
Where Daunus, scant of streams, beneath him bow'd
The rustic tribes, from dimness he wax'd bright,
First of his race to wed the Aeolian lay
To notes of Italy.” Put glory on,
My own Melpomene, by genius won,
And crown me of thy grace with Delphic bay.
Source: Horace:The Odes and Carmen Saeculare of Horace.

Source: Horace. Horace, Odes and Epodes. Paul Shorey and Gordon J. Laing. Chicago. Benj. H. Sanborn & Co. 1919.

The reason for the use of “non omnis moriar” is that his “monument” is done and he crows about the fact that his after fame shall grow while “Pontiffs climb the capitolian heights with silent maids”, because a large residue of his works (mainly the ode poems) “shall escape the queen of funerals”.

Yes, Horace may have been right, in that the leaders of the Renaissance (rebirth) in Europe in the 14th-16th centuries, chose to keep and teach his works and thus they have lasted up to this time.

But the provenance of his Odes and other writings remain: he needed to redeem his great disgrace, dishonor and shame during the battle in Philippi where he was a high ranking officer and he ran away from battle and death.

In the aftermath of Julius Caesar's assassination in March 44 BC, the Roman Empire was plunged into a civil war between the assassin group’s leaders Brutus and Cassius, against Caesar's partisans namely Mark Anthony and Octavian (later named Emperor Augustus).

Horace joined Brutus' army and was made tribunus militum, an exceptional honor for a freedman's son. The tribuni militum were generally second in command of the Roman Legions, between the Legate or Consul and the Centurion; they were promising young men deemed Senator material.

In November 42 BC, at the two battles of Philippi against Antony and Octavian, Horace and his fellow tribunes (in the unusual absence of a more senior officer) commanded one of Brutus' and Cassius' legions. They suffered total defeat. Horace, with his later admission, threw away his shield and fled back to Italy.

Afterward he was taken in and given a chance by Maecenas, who was one of the principal political advisers of Octavian; and so, with amnesty, Horace got back into the good graces of the Roman elite and proceeded to reclaim his reputation through the excellence of his poetry. Which is why he was unrelenting in his writings and this brings us to his Poem 30 of Odes Book 3.

Contrast the Horatian “non omnis moriar” bragging words and mindset with Rizal’s:

“To fall with the head high and a serene brow is not to fall, it is to triumph. The sad thing is to fall with the stain of dishonor.” (Letter to his sister Soledad, Brussels, 6 June 1890).

“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, Brussels, 9 July 1890)

“…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?” (Letter to Countrymen, Hongkong, 20 June 1892)

“Moreover, I do not aspire either for eternal fame or eternal renown; I do not aspire to equal others whose condition, faculties, and circumstances could be and are in effect different from mine.  My sole wish is to do what is possible, what is in my hands, the most necessary. I have glimpsed a little light and I believe that it is my duty to teach it to my countrymen.” (Letter to Fr Pastells, Dapitan, November 11, 1892,

And when the time came on December 30, 1896, after having been marched with tied arms and legs from Fort Santiago to Bagumbayan Field, Rizal wanted to face the firing squad but was refused; he stood before them cool, calm, collected, and the military doctor was amazed that, upon checking, he found Dr. Rizal’s blood pressure to be normal. Hit at the back by the volley of bullets, he still had the presence of mind to use the last ounce of his energy to turn his body around so that he fell with his face toward the morning sky.

Rizal was the moth flying unafraid near the lamp’s flame unworried about eternal fame; Horace was definitely otherwise.

It would thus be tantamount to acts of disdain and put down, to portray and use such Horatian conceited words as Rizalian teaching.

Another thing: the complete Roman or Latin name of Horace was Quintus Horatius Flaccus. Flaccus is the root word of flaccidus which is the root of flaccid.

As Knights and paladins for the ideals and teachings of Rizal, do you think, Sirs, that we should and we have no choice but associate our corporate entity with one from whose name the word “flaccid” was derived?

Given these, I most respectfully suggest we immediately replace “non omnis moriar” with “firme y constante, siempre adelante” (firm and constant, always advancing; matatag at matapat, palaging pasulong; timgas ug makanunayon, punayng padayon).

The first part of this motto (firme y constante) is borne out by Dr. Rizal’s teaching to develop a strong heart and a sharp mind, thus:

“On this battlefield [of life] 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.” (Letter to his nephew Alfredo T. Hidalgo, Dapitan, 20Dec 1893)

“And because life is full of sorrows and perils, fortify [your children’s] character against any difficulty, strengthen their hearts against any danger.” (Liham sa Mga Kababayang Kadalagahan sa Malolos, Feb 1889).

The second part (siempre adelante) - like the inexorable flow of the river to the sea: going through or under, shifting to the sides or over, breaking down the barriers, or even evaporating – is buttressed and sustained by Dr. Rizal’s teaching on perseverance:

“Whether the sacrifice be big or small; whether men 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. xxxxxx 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.” (Essay: ‘Town Schools in the Philippines’, M.S.)

Sir Supremo, the Supreme Council, the Council of Elders and Sir Knights: at this point of pausing to reconsider and plan our new directions, it is most respectfully and humbly submitted that this matter of our motto – the public view of the quintessence of our ideals – must be put on the Supreme Council’s agenda so that it can pass a resolution to change this unworthy motto.

On this score, Sirs, may I end this talk with a proposed new salute, since we do not have wombs that the old practice seems to imply as needing protection:

Firme y Constante - Clenched right fist over heart
Siempre Adelante - Clenched right fist, with forefinger extended front, having the entire right arm raised straight at 45 degrees angle front-right and from the shoulder level parallel to the ground.

Brother Knights: impelled and inspired by this dynamic leadership “new motto and new salute”, the Knights of Rizal shall help by catalyzing concerted national actions towards the last two Rizalian prophecies of having a Federal Republic and of reaching the wide road of national progress.

Maraming salamat po!


*Introduction of the Speaker
by Sir Marlon Tagorda, KGOR

Our speaker is a legal, management, and policy consultant. A member of the Project Management Institute (PMI), he was involved in 2013, as the Deputy Director of the Philippine-California Advanced Research Institutes (PCARI) Project of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), a pioneering project to bring the R & D and innovations capabilities of Philippine universities and colleges to globally competitive standards.

Currently, he is Undersecretary-designate at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on OFWs and Muslim Concerns with offices in Mabini Hall, Malacañang. He has served as such since July 2016. Following Dr. Rizal’s advice that “to serve our country, there is nothing like staying in it”, he had returned to the country in 2012 to practice law and do consulting work.

Our speaker was a business consultant in Phoenix, Arizona, from 2010 to mid-2012 for start-up businesses and for US immigration law. He served as Member of the Board of Directors of the New Americans Museum, Inc. in San Diego (2004-2009), where he was an also OFW managing the branch of an immigration law firm.

He was dubbed a Knight Commander of Rizal (KCR) in 2000 in recognition of his leadership as Consul General of the Philippines in Los Angeles. He chose optional early retirement in 2002 from the career foreign service where he had served in Madrid, Honolulu, Canberra and Los Angeles, aside from the DFA Home Office in Manila.

He helped secure the non-profit legal status of the Arizona Knights of Rizal, Inc., which is now a qualified 501(c)(3) entity under US Federal Law. 

Our speaker served as Supreme Archivist with the KOR Supreme Council of 2014-2016 during the time of Supreme Commander Sir Jerry Singson.

Fellow Knights, to speak on “DAPITAN: NOON AT NGAYON” please welcome Sir Edwin D. Bael, KGOR!