Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Rizal Day Ought To Be June 19, Not December 30

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!


Joe Padre said...

If the father was bold enough to move Philippine Independence Day from July 4th to June 12th, the daughter should make some token history as well and move Jose Rizal Day from that ignominious 30th day of December to the man's actual birthday on June 19th. Any idiot knows that an important person of Rizal's caliber ought to have that person commemorated on his birthday not on the day he was murdered and wasted.

Ben Vallejo said...

The problem is that Aguinaldo's Republica Filipina proclaimed Rizal Day, Dec 30 as a national holiday. Moving Rizal Day to June 19 misses the historical context WHY Dec 30 is important.

My only problem with the Dec 30 holiday is that it falls at the end of the year holidays and the nation is unable to fully reflect on the day's significance.

On the bright side Her Excellency Gloria has very little reason to move the date.

Marcus Aurelius said...

At the risk of being a little too flip (as in flippant) with a figure that deserves great respect I heartily agree!

I think today should also be declared Marcus Aurelius day! ;-)

As far as the commemorating Dec. 30 the day of his killing, why not commemorate it? Were it not for his execution, while he would still loom large in Filipino history, Dr. Rizal would not be the figure he is and we would not have Mi último adiós.

Deany Bocobo said...

One thing I forgot to mention is that by moving Rizal Day to June 19, there gets set up a pair of holidays like Christmas and New Year in December, but in June we would have Independence Day and Rizal Day!

Howz that for holiday politics?

Unknown said...

December 30 as we live it through

Rizal’s martyrdom several years ago
But ‘twas gloria’s sacrifice* in 2002…

Quite ironic, I may say, for our dear nation

As Rizal’s prophesy of unification
Turned into gloria’s prophesy of disunification


Click on December 30 on the 2002 archive here. They’ve already replaced the link with gloria’s speech in 2003.

It’s as if they are trying to make us forget gloria’s sacrifice on that day…and, perhaps, again supplant it with Rizal’s heroic deed.


December 30 is already tarnished
Put June 19 instead on the holiday list!


*gloria’s 2002 speech here, excerpt of which:

“…I have decided not to run for President during the election of 2004.

If I were to run, it will require a major political effort on my part. But since I’m among the principal figures in the divisive national events for the last two or three years, my political efforts can only result in never-ending divisiveness.”

Tiki Music said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tiki Music said...

It might go both ways. For example, for Pushkin, the day of his death is seen as a holiday, while the date of birth is used for centennial and related celebrations:


On the other hand, some schools might use his date of birth for performances:


XIAO CHUA said...


This is Mr. Michael Charleston B. Chua, 23, instructor at the University of the Philippines' Department of History. I enjoyed this particular episode of THE EXPLAINER on Rizal. Commendable. I just want to ask where can I buy a copy of your DVD? Thanks very much sir.