by Mary Ann F Daclan

Harboring the feeling that I knew Rizal (his-story) very much, it feels strange to be writing this piece. This is the first time I am confronted with the academic task of writing about the Sociology of Rizal. I have been a Rizal fan since the subject matter about the national hero was introduced in my elementary years. Back then, I read the childhood Rizal stories, and many anecdotes stick to mind like the “munting gamo-gamo” and the “other footwear.” I reflected on the lessons from those stories and tried to apply them in my life.  As a college student, I had to memorize dates and events surrounding Rizal’s life to earn 1.25 grade in History 3 class.  All I ever thought of as I was taught since is that Rizal is a historical figure befitting history classes.

When my professor mentioned about this very first requirement, I was really amazed, although, I like to believe it did not show. Then my amazement doubled up when I came across who wrote about the topic – Dr. Syed Farid Alatas.  I met him in 1996 during the First Asia-Pacific Conference in Sociology at the Philippine Social Science Council building. I was just starting my teaching career then. Too encouraging to young sociology-learners, who may have obviously gawked intently at international paper presenters, he generously gave me his (only copy of) 3-inches thick paper about Ibn Khaldun. But, I never get to read it so I had to start from scratch about Khaldun too.

Upon reading his write-up on Rizal, I kept on nodding my head in agreement to most of Dr. Alatas’ points. Scanning through memory, Rizal has been dubbed to have imbibed professions from A to Z, Anthropologist to Zoologist, but I cannot recall there was Sociologist included on the lengthy list.  As a historical figure, Rizal had done a lot of sociological works during his time, both in writing and in practice.

In writing, Rizal did convey to his fellow Filipinos his logical consciousness about the colonizers’ presence in the country through his novels, poems, essays, and other stories.  His writings were useful guides by underground country revolutionaries, but definitely fuelled anger among the government of colonizers.  In short, his writings made a huge impact to the Philippine society, extending out to Spain and other concerned areas in the world.

In the “Indolence of the Filipino people,” Rizal expressed his sound defense for the Filipino society in general against such wrong accusation.  At that time, Filipinos were subjected to forced labor in building fortresses in exchange of meager wages. Forcing the rightful dwellers to work in their home country, bossing them around, then labeling them lazy, letting them fully take the blame of being causes of the backwardness and poverty looming around the country.  Rizal did awaken the consciousness of many Filipinos through his exposure of what really transpired in society. He was able to transcend to the level of the common people’s understanding of things, making the complex situations the Filipinos were into in simpler manner to decipher.

In practice, Rizal did organize people in rural Dapitan, when he was exiled in Mindanao, to make irrigation to water the plants. He was noted for this as agriculturist, but this actuation was in fact sociology in action.  He taught people how to plant to yield more harvest.  His concern was not just for few individuals, but involving society in general.  His genius was generously shared to those who may have lacked it at that time.  He just did not write his thoughts about something; he acted on some thoughts needed to be done.  These days, this is what we call advocacy or action research or participatory research.

In wonder at first, but the realization that Rizal is also a sociologist by some of his multitudes of achievements and writings already sets in.

Viva Rizal! Mabuhay ang Filipino! God bless Philippines!

Posted on August 5, 2015, in Society Matters. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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