Friday, August 2, 2013

Rizal's Concepts on Nation Building

By: Romero, Romana and Santos.
(Rizal and the Development of National Consciousness)


Rizal had a pervading constancy and love for his country which meant love for justice, for liberty and for personal dignity. He was the first Filipino to give expression to Philippine nationalism in his writings, to chart a route to national unity for his people and to elaborate nationalism as tangent to freedom and emancipation. This was the time when the Filipinos had no sense of national consciousness nor a desire for independence. In his novels he envisioned a fulfilled society, an emancipated people and a progressive nation mature in political freedom. This dream was nursed at a time when it was political treason for a Spanish subject to conceive of a society independent of Spain.


Despite political inhibitions, Rizal aimed at the restoration of his people’s dignity and the recognition of their natural rights. Rizal’s political conviction and concept of nationalism matured between 1882 and 1887. From a distance he gained a better perspective of his country’s problems. He saw his country abused, maligned by vices of the Spaniards and the Filipinos alike, helpless with their oppressed unhappy people. The country inspired in him not inky sympathy but an enduring love. He began to understand now that the prolonged subjugation of his people was caused primarily by two factors, namely, the absence of national consciousness and the poor training and education of the people. Gradually, his own lifetime plan emerged into a reality of direction and dedicated leadership.

He not only showed his people how to live nationalism; he also conceived an idealism of dedication and intrepidity for the betterment of Philippine society. Hence, his blueprint for nation building includes the importance of education, instilling racial pride and dignity among the people, the promotion of national consciousness, the re-orientation of values and attitudes, and the willingness to sacrifice for the country.

Rizal looked upon education as a prerequisite to the realization of a people’s freedom. It is through education that people obtains knowledge of themselves as individuals and as members of a nation. He insisted on educating his people so that they may successfully eradicate the vices of their society. He wanted them to develop a national awareness of their rights and pride in their country’s heritage and culture.

The long period of colonial domination and the constant humiliations and discrimination experienced by the Filipino people from their colonial masters produced a feeling of inferiority and a lack of racial pride and dignity. This attitude must give way to a restoration of the people’s sense of pride in them as a nation. Rizal wanted to inculcate into his people an understanding of history, from which, he believed sprang the roots of genuine nationalism. Without these roots, nationalism would degenerate into a flippant, flag-waving category, which he criticized in Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.

He wanted his people to dedicate their thoughts, words and actions not solely to themselves as individuals but to themselves as citizens of a nation. National consciousness is a key to the attainment of a better society. The people must reorient their values and attitudes in order to contribute to the task of nation building.

Rizal emphasized that the task of nation building is accompanied by hardships and sufferings which the people must inevitably experience to bolster their courage. The sacrifices experienced by a people strengthen their bonds of unity and their sense of independence.

The paramount problem during Rizal’s time was the development of a national consciousness, that is, the creation of the spirit of nationhood in the minds of the people. It was important that the people realized the sordid facts of their existence, the cause of their oppression, and the sacrifices they must endure to be freed from colonial domination. Rizal felt the need for a psychological approach to rouse the people’s pride of their ancient heritage. This was necessary to restore the native dignity which had been denied them by three centuries of systematic humiliation and degradation. Once stirred from their inertia of servility and apathy, they should organize themselves and direct their efforts and action toward building a nation. Rizal envisioned a nation of individuals who would make responsible and independent judgment and who would think in terms the welfare of the whole community. Hence, a national community would be created where the fruits of Filipino labor would benefit the people and not a foreign master.


His program of action consisted of a plan to:

1.      Organize a group of Filipino students in Madrid. They would form the nucleus of a group that in the future would use their varied talents to work for solutions to the Philippine problems.

2.      Proposed to them the writing of a book similar to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Eugene Sue’s The Wandering Jew which would deal with the various aspects of Filipino life. The book would be the project of the Circulo Hispano-Filipino with each member contributing a chapter. (This book was entitled Noli me Tangere, 1887).

3.      From the records in the vast Filipiniana collection of the British Museum, Rizal had pieced together the past history of the Philippines which revealed that even before the coming of the Spaniards; the Filipinos already had a developed culture. And of these records, he chose to annotate Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas. (Excerpt from his dedicatory remarks “It is necessary to first lay bare the past in order to better judge the present and to survey the road trodden during three centuries.”

4.      He wrote “The Indolence of the Filipinos” which came out as a series of 5 articles in La Solidaridad from 15 July to 15 September, 1899.

5.      Feared the possibility of the Filipinos resort to arms as a desperate means to fight, he wrote El Filibusterismo to show his countrymen the price they should be willing to pay and the problems they would have solve first before plunging the country to revolution. He warned his countrymen to consider seriously its decision to revolt against Spain if no reforms were granted.

6.      He thought of showing the people how to organize themselves into a compact homogeneous body in the Philippines. Rizal’s major plan of organization was the establishment of La Liga Filipina (Philippine League).

7.      When he was deported to Dapitan he had already accomplished a major part of a self-imposed mission of redeeming the Filipinos from medieval colonialism. His exile demonstrated the hero’s untiring efforts at continuing the program of action that he relentlessly pursued for the realization of his blueprint of nation building. Establishment of a school and a clinic therein, the community development projects he undertook.


The nationalism he taught his people did not end with the attainment of independence. He looked beyond independence to the progressive development of a new nation in politics, economics, technology and education. His writings conveyed concepts that are applicable for all time especially to the present in all major areas of political, socio-economic and educational reforms and his moral teachings and principles convey the essence of national awareness. His profound ideas and teachings have become the model and inspiration for Philippine national leaders.

Political Reforms:

Seek a self-reliant, self-respecting government and “a people’s government made for the people, by the people and answerable to the people.”

Educational Reform:

“Without education and liberty – the soil and the sun of mankind – no reform is possible, no measure can give the desired result.”

Socio-Economic Reforms:

“Consider socio-economic aspects in campaigning for political reforms for I believed that such reforms would be meaningless if the people remained in poverty.”

Moral Principles and Teachings

“Morality was the application of reason and conscience to specific problems of behavior.”

1 comment:

  1. A great liberator, in the flesh and named Jose Rizal, may not be household name in the global Afrikan struggle for sovereignty; but his life, vision and dedication to his people is a noteworthy example and will not go unnoticed.


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