Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mr. National Hero!

TODAY is the 148 birth anniversary of Jose Rizal, who was born on June 19, 1861. For me, the First Filipino is still the best, and the most luminous proof of our Humanity, our Intelligence, our Courage and our Compassion. He stood for eternal principles, and that is why we mark him.

Indeed there is full-fledged National Holiday on December 30 which is called "Rizal Day"--though in recent years the date has become more memorable for the deadly Rizal Day bombings conducted by Al Qaeda on December 30, 2000, and of course Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's broken promise not to run in 2004, likely delivered with malice aforethought as subsequent events proved, on Rizal Day 2002. On the other hand, June 19 is NOTHING, nada on the national scene. Instead June 19 is Araw ng Surigao and Palawan's Feast of the Forest.

But what does one expect of a holiday squeezed in between Merry Christimas and Happy New Year and competing with Ninos Inocentes? On every December 30, the loudest sound heard is: "Fuego!" -- as the Spanish Taliban is officially vouchsafed to commemorate its most villainous act of murdering one of its best and brightest products. And so I am for rescuing the Rizal Day holiday from the depths of dark December, and celebrating it on June 19. Since this closely coincides with the beginning of each school year, such a move may be of great benefit to schools and students--as an inspiration to study and to work hard--since his novels, plays, poems, letters, scientific and historical treatises, and works about his life lineage and labors --can all enrich and invigorate the experience of learning in Philippine schools.

Perhaps the December 30th holiday was important at the early stage of nationhood. But today, I would rather see us celebrate his well-tempered life of noble achievements, than the cruel death to which his enemies condemned him, by at least celebrating RIZAL DAY on June 19 too!


Dean Jorge Bocobo said...

MANILA BULLETIN NEWS ARTICLE ON JUNE 19, 2009 reports that the House of Representatives has unanimously approved a measure to move the RIZAL DAY holiday to the birthday of Jose Rizal, instead of the day he was shot in the back on Bagumbayan Field! Now it's just up to the Senate.
Bill moving Rizal Day to June 19 approved
June 19, 2009, 6:24pm

The century old practice of observing Rizal Day on Dr. Jose Rizal’s death anniversary is expected to end soon following the final- reading approval of a bill moving the national holiday to June 19, the national hero’s birth date.

Before adjourning its regular session early this month, the Lower House disposed of House Bill 5408, unanimously approving the measure on third and final reading and sending it to the Senate for its action.

HB 5408 seeks to amend the Administrative Code of 1987 to move the annual observance of Rizal Day from December 30, the date of his execution, to his birthday.

Authored by a group of solons led by Reps. Raul T. Gonzales Jr. (Lakas-Kampi, Iloilo) and Jaime Lopez (Lakas-Kampi, Manila), approval of the measure was supported by the National Historical Institute which disclosed that the December 30 observance of Rizal Day traces its historical roots to a decree issued on December 20, 1898 by President Emilio Aguinaldo.

NHI Chairman Ambeth R. Ocampo said the decree actually declared December 30 of each year as a day of national mourning and was intended to honor Rizal and other Filipino patriots during the Spanish period.

According to Ocampo, Rizal Day was declared one of the official holidays of the country with the enactment of Act No. 245 of the Philippine Commission. It was signed on February 1, 1902.

Ocampo supported Gonzales’ contention that commemorating June 19 as Rizal Day is more appropriate, considering that birth anniversaries are celebrated than the death anniversary of heroes.

“The NHI maintains that the observance of Rizal Day should be done on June 19, his actual date of birth. If Rizal Day is observed on June 19, classes have just started and students would be able to actively participate in the commemorative activities,” said Ocampo.

On the other hand, Lopez noted that the Rizal’s death alone did not trigger the 1896 revolution that Filipinos thought catapulted the country to independence.

“It was his life-long accomplishments done during his lifetime that inspired and pushed us Filipinos to fight and work for our greatness as a race,” Lopez said.

Other authors of the bill include Reps. Justin Chipeco (NP, Laguna); Ma. Victoria Sy-Alvarado (Lakas, Bulacan) and Ma. Evita Arago (LP, Laguna).

“It is only proper, and it is about time that the country bestows this great man with deference and honor by marking the day of his birth as a National Holiday, and to call it ‘The National Hero Day,” said Chipeco, who represents Calamba City, Dr. Rizal‘s birthplace.

Jesusa Bernardo said...

Three points, Dean Bocobo, on the HB 5408 news article in Bulletin:

1. If Rizal Day will be moved to June 19, and Dec. 30 will become "a day of national mourning... intended to honor Rizal and other Filipino patriots during the Spanish period," shouldn't lawmakers declare as well an equivalent 'Day of Mourning' for our fallen patriots during the Fil-Am War or American Occupation?

2. Isn't it that, presently, there is no official law declaring Jose Rizal as the national hero? According to the NCCA, Rizal and Andres Bonifacio are IMPLIED national heroes by virtue of the longstanding Rizal & Bonifacio day holiday celebrations.

If the bill would make June 19 ‘The National Hero Day,” rendering Rizal as officially (a/the) national hero, what happens to Bonifacio's status then?

Dean Jorge Bocobo said...

Quite so. Good points for the Senate to take up when they consider the measure. But frankly, I've had it with "mourning". That was the whole point of ditching December 30, I thought. Haven't we had enough of Death in our holidays. Isn't Good Friday enough for Christ's sake? (oops).

Dean Jorge Bocobo said...

However, I shall also post your comments on the Rizalist Press Facebook site for further discussion.

Dave said...

Move it to 19th of June? Hip! Hip! Hooray!

Once that is done, the Philippines can join Texas in celebrating the one and only JUNETEENTH!

About time, say I.

Jesusa Bernardo said...

I'll appreciate it so much if you'll publish my comments to Rizalist Press Facebook. Thanks!

Re mourning holidays, I guess Filipinos are simply the dramatic type. And we like underdogs, too.

I'm just thinking that if, indeed, that Dec. 30 day of mourning for our Spanish-era fallen revolutionaries will push through, it could also be a great opportunity to demand for an American-era counterpart. The part on American colonization and rule (marked by a pathetic colonial/pro-Western miseducation) has simply been conveniently glossed over and it's high time we revisit what were done to us Filipinos by the Yankees.

Jesusa Bernardo said...


I've seeded this at Newsvine:
Happy Birthday, Jose Rizal!