Rizal’s forecast of the Philippines a Century Hence » Manila Bulletin News

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Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid

By Florangel Rosario Braid

 

This essay The Philippines a Century Hence by our national hero Jose Rizal published in La Solidaridad is as relevant today as it was when it was written over a century ago. In this long essay, Rizal explained the causes of the Filipino people’s miseries during the four centuries of Spanish rule. Here, together with Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, he shares us insights into our culture and why we must focus on strengthening the most important backbone of the country – our values, mindsets, and all the beliefs that had shaped our sense of national identity.

This is the picture of how it was during those years of colonization. There was rampant poverty which he attributed to the implementation of military policies which resulted in yearly decrease in the population as farmlands were left to wither and the people continued to suffer from hunger and disease. Another feature was the deterioration and disappearance of our indigenous culture. The people started forgetting who they were, what their cherished beliefs, songs, poetry, religion, and other forms of their cultural heritage were. Impoverished and retarded, they lost their sense of self-worth. Their spirits were broken and they began to lose hope and became disgusted with themselves . In this essay as well as his novels, Rizal attributes the passivity and submissiveness of our people to the manner of governance by the colonizers. These, he noted, developed a “culture of silence” and lethargy. Eventually, the people realized that such oppression by foreign colonizers must no longer be tolerated.

The lessons learned from those years of colonization were that all those efforts to keep people uneducated and impoverished, had failed. Nationalism eventually thrived and many of the predictions of Rizal came true. The country became independent after four centuries of abusive Spanish rule and ng five decades under the Americans. An example of resoluteness and determination. A positive virtue indeed.

There is, however, some questioning on whether we are truly independent. The continuing control of our economy by an elite oligarchy is an example of such dependency. Quoting Rizal in El Filibusterismo who said,  “Why independence if the slaves today become the tyrants of tomorrow?” they have expressed cynicism about the wide social and income disparities between a small favored economic and political elite and the rest of the population. And the failure of the family, our educational system and political leaders to instill national discipline and love of country.

A number of analysts have pointed out some flaws in our national character that can get into the way of achieving desired visions such as competitiveness. These include mindsets like lack of appreciation of importance of adhering to the rule of law and maintaining high standards of excellence. Prevailing attitudes like “puwede na” or “bahala na” only foster mediocrity in a global setting where attributes of precision and critical thinking are needed.

The creeping autocracy and our inability to exercise full control over our national sovereignty require public awareness, courage, and a strong sense of national identity. But being a people divided and fragmented, a great challenge to governance is being able to help citizens connect with their communities . There are opportunities lost such as using available communication technologies – Internet and mobile technology to connect groups, to inform and educate, to enable all of us citizens to discover the common ties we share. The delays we have faced in our peace talks are indicators of our lack of resoluteness in taking risks and meeting challenges of establishing a more peaceful and stable social order. The growing social and income gaps are symptoms of our inability to forge a common bond with our brothers and sisters in marginalized communities. How some of us can possibly endure living in a most unequal community befuddles neighbors who live in more egalitarian societies! We have failed to utilize available communication technologies in creating innovations that would improve dialogue and close gaps between our fellow citizens and the world outside. Instead, they have been used to create chaos and spread fake news. If these statements appear to be indictments of the status quo, it is because we wish help establish a fairer, kinder society by reminding fellow citizens that our hope for survival depends on each of us taking responsibility. I am sure that our heroes would not have been contented to rest on their laurels. Which is what we sometimes do when we are told that our country is the fastest growing economy. Or, when the Palace pats its back because in 29 days of war in Marawi, there has not been a single violation of human rights.

 

My email, Florangel.braid@gmail.com

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