Rizal’s Stand on Freedom

While awaiting trial in 1896, Rizal wrote a manifesto that expressed his disapproval of the armed revolution against Spain. He cleared his name, which he said was being used by some revolutionaries to espouse certain ideals. He said that he has always opposed, fought, and made clear that armed revolution was impossible, absurd, and disastrous. He explained that reforms must “also come from above,” because reforms that “come from below are upheavals both violent and transitory.”

He emphasized, however, that like any Filipino, he desired our country’s freedom; and that education and hard work might make the Filipino people worthy of that freedom. Elsewhere, Rizal wrote: “What is the use of independence if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow? And no doubt they will, because whoever submits to tyranny loves it!” For Rizal, “The gift of reason with which we are endowed must be brightened and utilized” in order to overcome ignorance which causes slavery.”

What comes first, however, is love for country, which can be expressed in various forms. In his poem “Mi Ultimo Adios,” Rizal wrote:

The place matters not—cypress or laurel or lily white,
Scaffold or open plain, combat or martyrdom’s plight,
T’is ever the same, to serve our home and country’s need.

Photo: Graciano T.Nepomuceno: Jose Rizal. Circa 1930

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