Thursday, November 08, 2007

Rizal in Noli and Fili

Dr. Jose Rizal's second novel, El Filibusterismo, is a political treatise and is a maturer book than his first novel Noli Me Tangere. The Noli is a book of feeling and deep emotion; the Fili, a book of thought.

The Noli exposed the evils of society; hence, the title was translated to English The Social Cancer. The Fili exposed the evils of the people in government and in church; thus, the translation The Reign of Greed. The Noli therefore, is a novel of society while the Fili is a novel of politics.

In the Noli, the ridiculous actions of the unworthy government officials and unholy church people made us laugh in derision in the Fili the misfortunes of the Filipinos in the hands of the cruel and abusive Spaniards made us cry

In El Filibusterismo, the peaceful and progressive Filipino leader Crisostomo Ibarra who in Noli Me Tangere wanted to educate his people by building schools, is converted into a bloody revolutionist. He is now known as Simoun, the jeweler, a malignant character who, because of his wealth, has gained access of the Spanish officials.

Secretly he plots a revolution. He wants to arouse the feelings of the people by all possible means. He incites the government to create more abuses so that the people may have much cause to revolt as soon as possible.

After the failure of his project to destroy certain Spanish dignitaries, he becomes a fugitive, mortally wounded. He goes to home at Father Florentino to whom he confesses all his plans, and wonders why God has been so unkind as to prevent their realization.

Father Florentino, who is supposed to represent a maturer judgment, replies that no revolution is justified on selfish grounds. If there is to be a call for change, he says, it must come from the people.

After hearing about Simoun's plans to bring about the revolution through intrigues and crimes, and about his personal motives which are to avenge the persecution of his family and to secure the liberty of his beloved Maria Clara, Father Florentino exclaims: "God will forgive you, Simoun. He has frustrated yours plans one by one. Let us bow to His will." (Translation of the Novel by R. Nem Singh, 1999)

Then Simoun asks the priest if it is God's will that the country should remain in the condition in which it is suffering.

Father Florentino answer: "I don't know for I can't read the thoughts of the Lord. I know that He has not abandoned those people who in their supreme moments have trusted in Him and made Him the judge of their cause."

Rizal was a revolutionists, one who wanted change. But not to fight Spain, but just to have certain reforms in government, in the church, in the way the Filipinos were being treated by those in authority.

Rizal, in this sense, therefore, was just a reformist. He would appeal first to the Spaniards' sense of right and wrong, and exhaust all means for reforms were truly desperately needed.

There is no doubt that El Filibusterismo preached a revolutionary doctrine, but it is not a doctrine of Simoun the unsavory character, but that of Father Florentino, the good man and idealist.

Father Florentino could not sanction a revolution led by a vindictive figure like Simoun who dad sown seeds of discord and depredation. Sacrifice, love, and consciousness of one's rights, he believes, should be the prime motives of a just revolution.

Father Florentino's last words; "Where are the young who will consecrate their enthusiasm to the welfare of their native land..."-these last words of the good priest truly embody Dr. Rizal's real feelings. It is crying out, a plea to the youth of the land to do something, to act for the sake of the country.

If Rizal was famous before, he became more so after the publication of El Filibusterismo in 1891. This second book, more than the Noli Me Tangere, must have given stronger impetus and greater urgency to the cause of the Revulotion.

Dr. Rizal's greatest claim to being first in our political history is that he was the real founder of Philippine Nationalism. At his death, he bequeathed to us Filipinos his yearning for liberty while also giving us the necessary background of sacrifice.

Truly we can say that Rizal was a model toward which Philippine life maw aspire. And in the words of the scholar Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera," The appearance of Rizal announced that the Filipino race was able to give birth to individuals endowed with the highest attributes, who could be considered an honor to the human race."

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