Study Questions to "Veneration without Understanding"

by Renato Constantino

 

"The true hero is one with the masses: he does not exist above them.  In fact, a whole people can be heroes given the proper motivation and articulation of their dreams."  (page 145)

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"[Appraising JosÚ Rizal as a great nationalist leader] has dangerous implications because it can be used to exculpate those who actively betrayed the Revolution and may serve to diminish the ardor of those who today may be called upon to support another great nationalist undertaking to complete the anti-colonial movement." (page 127)

 

 

(01) Renato Constantino published his book in 1970 during the controversial American invasion of Viet Nam which brought about active student opposition both in the Philippines and around the world.  It was the beginning of the Marcos era and Constantino (and others) viewed President Marcos, who would later declare a dictatorship, to be a pawn of American interests.  The inspiration of the book came from a four day student workshop on nationalism. 

How does the context of the era and the outlook of the author affect the article?

 

"[The choice of Rizal as the national hero of the Philippines] was a master stroke by the Americans.  The honors bestowed on Rizal were naturally appreciated by the Filipinos who were proud of him." (page 130)

X X X

"In the case of Rizal, while he was favored by colonial support and became good copy for propagandists, he had the qualifications to assume immortality.  It must be admitted however, that the study of his life and works has developed into a cult distorting the role and the place of Rizal in our history." (page 131)

X X X

""Today the ilustrados are shocked by the spate of rallies and demonstrations.  They cannot seem to accept the fact that peasants, and workers and the youth have moved without waiting for their word.  They are not accustomed to the people moving on their own." (page 141)

 

 

(02) Constantino maintains that Filipinos venerate JosÚ Rizal without truly understanding him.  Would you agree?  If so can you give some examples of an unexamined adoration?

 

(03) Constantino correctly points out that Rizal opposed the armed revolt of the Katipunan.  Can you research why Rizal was opposed to a resort to arms?  (Most biographies of Rizal take note of his meeting with Dr. Pio Valenzuela and the initial opposition which he voiced at that time.  Use this as at least a part of your research.)  How successful was the revolt of Bonifacio and later Aguinaldo against Spain?  Did the predictions of Rizal prove true?

 

(04) What are the virtues of a gradual movement of a national identity and government?  What are the virtues of a revolutionary approach?  Conversely, what are the dangers of the evolutionary and revolutionary approaches?

 

(05) What good came from the revolution against Spain?  What are the most positive outcomes of the subsequent revolt against American armed intervention and Imperialism in the Philippines?

 

(06) Do you feel that Rizal has overshadowed the revolutionary movement of his day and other leaders of that revolution?

 

(07) Few, if any, would doubt the preference of the American colonial administration for Rizal as the main figure to represent Filipino aspirations.  What self-serving reasons would the U.S. Colonial administration have in its promotion of Rizal?  What legitimate characteristics would a Filipino nationalist note in the character, writings, and ideals of Rizal toward the good of the country?

 

"A proper understanding of our history is very important to us because it will serve to demonstrate how the present has been distorted by a faulty knowledge of our past.  By unraveling the past we become confronted with the present already as future."  (page 130f)

 

 

(08) Would Rizal have agreed with this statement by Constantino?  Support your answer.

 

"... one might ask the question, what would have happened if Rizal had not been executed in December of 1896?  Would the course of the Philippine Revolution have been different?  This poses the question of the role of the individual in history.  Was this historical phase of our liberation struggle due to Rizal?  Did the propagandists of the 19th century create the period or were they created by the period." (page 131)

 

 

(09) How would you answer this question which is raised by Constantino?  How would the life of the Philippine nation been different if Rizal had never been born?  NOTE: you may want to review "The Role of Heroes" (pages 131 to 133)

 

"Rizal served his people by consciously articulating the unconscious cause of events.  He saw more clearly than his contemporaries and felt with more intensity the problems of his country, though his viewpoint was delimited by his particular status and upbringing.  He was the fist Filipino but he was only a limited Filipino, the ilustrado Filipino who fought for national unity but feared the Revolution and loved his mother country, yes, but in his own ilustrado way." (page 132)

 

 

(10) Compare and contrast the outlook of the ilustrado Rizal and that of Bonifacio, a common tao, who did not have the benefits which came by birth to Rizal.

 

(11) In the section "Innovation and Change" (page 133f) Constantino notes the commercial change and the improvements in infrastructure which led the Philippines away from a Spanish medieval mindset.  What are the greatest needs for change in infrastructure that need to be addressed at this time in the life of the Philippines?  Constantino also notes the class divisions that took place between the indio and mestizo during the last third of the 19th century.  What class divisions are evident in the Philippine culture today?  How do these divisions need to be addressed?

 

"Equality with the Spaniard meant equality of opportunity.  But they did not realize as yet that real equality must be based on national freedom and independence.  They were still in the initial phases of nationalist consciousness -- a consciousness made possible by the market situation of the time."  (page 134)

 

 

(12) Do Filipinos tend to over-identify with cultural traits of other nations and peoples?  If so, name those nations and peoples that Filipinos tend to imitate?  Do these attempts at imitation lead to genuine transformations or are they merely superficial copying?

 

"Rizal contributed much to the growth of this national consciousness.  It was a contribution not only in terms of propaganda but in something positive that the present generation of Filipinos will owe to him and for which they will honor him by completing the task which he so nobly began.  He may have had a different and limited goal at the time, a goal that for us is already passe, something we take for granted.  However, for his time this limited goal was already a big step in the right direction.  this contribution was in the realm of Filipino nationhood -- the winning of our name as a race, the recognition of our people as one, and the elevation of the indio into Filipino." (page 135f)

 

 

(13) Do you feel that Constantino has a genuinely high regard for Rizal? 

 

(14) Was Rizal's mission, in part, to seek out what was "authentic" and good about the Philippine character?  Support your answer with examples.

 

"[Many Filipinos are not aware] that today there are social conditions [that] demand that the true Filipino be one who is consciously striving for de-colonization and independence."  (page 136)

 

(15) How independent is the Philippines from the pressure of other world powers such as the United States or Japan?

(16) Do Filipinos evidence any cultural bias when it comes to the darkness of a person's skin color? How about the region in which one was raised?  Is there an urban bias and distain for those who are born in a rural setting?  Does class bias remain a "cancer" in the heart and mind of most Filipinos?

"... the Filipino of today must undergo a process of de-colonization before he can become a true Filipino.  The de-colonized Filipino is the real goal for our time just as the Hispanized Filipino was once the goal of the reformists.

 

     "Though Rizal was able to win for his countrymen the name Filipino, it was still as ilustrado that he conceived of this term.  As ilustrado he was speaking in behalf of all the indios though he was separated by culture and even by property from the masses."  (page 138)

 

 

(17) If you agree with Constantino what steps are needed to make all Filipinos (regardless of education or wealth) equal in the eyes of the law and in the esteem of its people?  What forces work against this goal?

 

"[Rizal] condemned the Revolution because as an ilustrado he instinctively underestimated the power and the talents of the people." (page 139)

 

(18) Do you agree?  Was the nation ready to govern itself throughout the 7,000 plus islands?  Had Spain adequately prepared the Philippines for self-government at that point and time?  Today is the Philippine nation moving toward liberty and justice for all her people?  NOTE: as you consider your answer you might take into account the words of Father Florentino which Constantino quotes on page 140.

"It was Bonifacio and the Katipunan that embodied the unity of revolutionary consciousness and revolutionary practice.

     "The indio as Filipino rose in arms while the ilustrado was still waiting for Spain to dispense justice and reforms."  (page 142)

 

(19) What are the dangers of armed revolt?  Are there ways that such dangers can be lessened?  If so what are they?

"We must see Rizal historically.  Rizal should occupy his proper place in our pantheon of great Filipinos.  Though he is secure to be in our hearts and memories as a hero, we must now realize that he has no monopoly of patriotism; he is not the zenith of our greatness; neither are all his teachings of universal and contemporary relevance and application.  Just as a given social system inevitably yields to new and higher forms of social organization, so the individual hero in history gives way to new and higher forms of heroism.  Each but assume their correct place in a particular stage of the people's development.  Every nation is always discovering or rediscovering heroes in the past or its present."  (page 143)

 

(20) What Filipino(s) -- famous or not -- would you list that epitomize the best of a "Filipino hero"?  Please illustrate from their lives what causes you to make this choice /these choices?

(21) Is it a worthy goal to discover in Rizal's writings and legacy those legitimate criticisms which plague the nation?  What specifically from the life or writings of Rizal would you use to illustrate your answer?

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