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!