June 19, 2007 was a red-letter day and I was especially happy this year to have celebrated the life and birth of José Rizál on tonight's episode of The Explainer with Manuel L. Quezon III, a most esteemed fellow traveler and searcher after intelligent life in the Archipelago.
But Manolo does not yet agree with my suggestion that the Filipinos ought to commemorate as Rizal Day, his birthday on June 19, 1861, and not the anniversary of that dastardly execution at the hands of the Spanish Taliban on December 30, 1896 (Accursed be the day and the hour!) Imagine! Every year we get to watch the national hero murdered anew by his enemies. Whilst we hum patriotic songs that sound oddly like Christmas carols. They shout, "Fuego!" and we sing the national anthem. It just doesn't make sense any more.
QUEZON'S ANALOGY On tonight's show Manolo presented a novel argument against moving Rizal Day to June 19 from December 30. He argues by analogy, saying that Filipinos regard José Rizál as they do Jesus Christ, as a kind of saviour of the nation; since Easter Sunday is considered the greatest holiday in Roman Catholicism, with Resurrection coming after Good Friday at Lent, Manolo favors by analogy keeping the present commemoration of the national hero's Death Anniversary on December 30 as Rizal Day.
I find this argument curious because Easter Sunday is NOT Good Friday, which would be analogous to December 30. Also which holiday is best-loved in Christendom? Is it Easter Sunday? Good Friday? Or is it Christmas? Which last, I did not fail to note in our discussion on the show, is the anniversary of Jesus Christ's Birthday! I must thank Manolo for handing me a line of reasoning that had not really occurred to me. June 19 is analogous to December 25 if José Rizál is analogous to Jesus Christ.
At the moment, José Rizál is trapped between Christmas on December 25 and New Year's Eve on December 31. I think he pales in such company, as even mere heroes cannot compete with the likes of the Infant Son Of God, Santa Claus, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, nor the stranger oriental gods that are targeted with high explosives a week later and the Infant New Year.
On the other hand, if Rizal Day were on June 19 every year, there would be a nice little kick-starter holiday a few weeks after the School Year starts. There would be in June a twin holiday (Independence Day on June 12 and Rizal Day on June 19) like Christmas and New Year in December! During the New Rizal Day, there could nonetheless be held declamation and dramatics contests, poetry and novel readings, and all sorts of Rizalistic things for students, teachers and parents to do in and around school and town. He already set the example in numerous fields of intellectual and literary endeavour, in science and in the practical arts which we now call technology. Every school and town could imitate the project of Crisostomo Ibarra in the Noli Me Tangere, to place a Time Capsule at the foundation stone of their local school buildings and, more importantly, for everyone to contribute to the physical construction, maintenance and continuous improvement of the local schools. Even civic leaders could create commemorations that recall his exemplary constructiveness, creativity, enterpreneurship and leadership whilst in exile in Dapitan.
On the show, I opined that Rizál is really part of language and tradition. In the long run, his contribution is as a Man of Letters, not politics. June is the month we begin Education. What better way to begin Education than with Rizál?
Let the Spanish Taliban pronounce "Fuego!" all they want in dark December.
Let the Filipinos sing and spell "Freedom!" in the bright sunshine of June!