Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rizal on Backwardness and the Way Forward

Governor ER Ejercito and some provincial officials- June 19, 2011 Calamba city

I am not a history major or even a well verse middle-aged citizen about the Philippine National Hero. I am just aware and have lots of invitations from different distinguished people in my world from well meaning film showing to covering a political expose. I am bragging about what not everyone can do or can go. In this experienced and overwhelming journey I am having so far, awareness is what I could only share to my countrymen. Richness and favors are not in my side but fortune of having guts and supports from my family or just really the fighting spirit, nothing at all. Truly one is fortunate by being taught by her parents that one can do all, as long as you believed or that if others can, why can’t you.

With so many people I met and blocked from my life and cyber world in this digital social media we have right now, one can concluded that experienced is the best teacher of all. People taught one to be stronger, dubious and fighter.  That 90% of the acquaintances doesn’t practiced gratitude and that education is a must for one to get respected. The higher your education is, the higher will be your points.

Dr. Jose P. Rizal 150th Birth Anniversary is an eye opener. Learned that even then, Time management was a must. For only 35 years old, he was an accomplished man, a leader, poet, novelist, writer, doctor, activist and linguist. Traveled more than 20 countries and have 13 lovers in his lifetime. His life was not only meaningful but also admired by everyone today. A lot of questions in this 21st century and looks like there will be no answer but only conclusion with different meanings from different analyst.

I love to attend events. Each is unique with different people, new acquaintances, knowledge, oh yes including foods and I am looking forward to it every event, sumptuous food by the way and photo op to include in my collection. Each event is different with amazing theme. So when I got an invite from Mr. Gabby Lopez of Development Academy of the Philippines to honor Dr. Jose P. Rizal as the Bayaning Environmental Planner, I made a point to attend. Met the descendants, professors, politicians and students.

One speaker is the new chairman of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Maria Serena I. Diokno. A historian I supposed and a good speaker. Here is her complete speech that I admire the most from all speech I heard of. Her analysis with Rizal novels and works were amazing. She translated the 19th century genius mind to 21st century hypocrisy. Sharing direct to the point observation of mine is one of my advocacy by the way. Whatever goodness one can do, there will always be criticisms and mostly by Filipinos.

Jules Mariano, Wyatt Belmonte, Senator BongBong Marcos, me and Jaypee David

Noemi Dado and me

Senator Ferdinand "BongBong" Marcos and me- Fort Santiago, June 19, 2011

Dean Jorge Bocobo (ANCs "The Explainer) Wyatt Belmonte, Noemi lardizabal Dado( Blogwatch), Grace Bondad- Nicolas, Leslie Bocobo, Jaypee David, Jules Mariano and Noel De Guia

Chairman of NHCP- Maria Serena I. Diokno

Rizal on Backwardness and the Way Forward*
Maria Serena I. Diokno

(Read at the Development Academy of the Philippines on the occasion of Jose Rizal’s 150th birth
anniversary, Pasig City, 17 June 2011.)

Development management was unheard of in the 19th century, which is why
I hesitate to apply it to Rizal’s thinking, let alone speak of Rizal’s legacy in this very modern field of management. Yet, I suppose, given Rizal’s expansive and
insightful views on progress in his time, your message is that development
managers, planners and workers in the 21st century can benefit from his wisdom.

Reading Rizal, I would go further and say that in some ways, he was the precursor or pioneer, if you will, of this field. I say this because a number of today’s development management buzzwords—planning, best outcome, sustainability, transparency, effectiveness, consultative leadership, partnership, gender sensitivity—are not all that original; some come to mind when listening to Rizal speak of the need for reform and progress in 19th century Philippines.

Rizal’s advantage was that he wrote elegantly, thereby avoiding the triteness that
buzzwords often acquire, and with fervor matched only by the fineness of his
intellect. I do not of course suggest that what Rizal meant in his time necessarily
prevails today, lest I fall into the pitfalls of historical anachronism. But in a
perilously uncanny way, some of Rizal’s words regarding development and his
reform agenda resonate to this day.

RH Bill supporters and JPR Descendants Atty. Ramoncita Reyes, Tato Faustmann, Amelia Yulo, Mia Faustmann, Panjee Gonzales mom Tweetums Gonzales (Panjee is very vocal for her support) and another descendant

Structural causes of backwardness

Let us start with Rizal’s analysis of the causes of our underdevelopment or,
to use a 19th century term, backwardness. The first, often cited by Spanish
colonialists, was the laziness of the Filipino. But “instead of holding it to be the
cause of the backwardness and the trouble,” said Rizal, “we regard it as the effect of the trouble and the backwardness, by fostering the development of a lamentable predisposition,”1 a tendency that, Rizal conceded, was attributable to our lethargy inducing climate. More important, he pointed out, were the true causes of our backwardness, ranging from wars of conquest to the encomienda system, official corruption, religion, and so on.2

What struck me as Rizal explained each of these causes was his keen
appreciation of the underlying causal nature of the lack of progress. Here Rizal
recognized both the material conditions and structures that blocked progress and
the psychology of underdevelopment. With regard to the first, listen, for example,
to Rizal’s elaboration of the colonial structure of politics and justice or, more aptly, injustice, as the cause of backwardness and indolence.
‘Why work?’ asked many natives. The curate says that the rich man
will not go to heaven. The rich man on earth is liable to all kinds of
trouble, to be appointed a cabeza de barangay, to be deported if an
uprising occurs, to be forced banker of the military chief of the town,
who to reward him for favors received seizes his laborers and his
stock, in order to force him to beg for mercy, and thus easily pays up.
Why be rich? So that all the officers of justice may have a lynx eye
on your actions, so that at the least slip enemies may be raised up
against you, you may be indicted, a whole complicated and
labyrinthine story may be concocted against you …? The native,
whom they pretend to regard as an imbecile, is not so much so that
he does not understand that it is ridiculous to work himself to death
to become worse off …. he prefers to live miserable and indolent,
rather than play the part of the wretched beast of burden.3

It fascinates me how Rizal transformed laziness, a negative trait by
convention, into a micro-weapon of the oppressed, a deliberate alternative to the
state of being a beast of burden. The inclination toward indolence, as Rizal
explained, was thus no mere reaction to the climate and neither an innate attribute of the Filipino, but rather the product of colonial conditions and structures.

Descendants of Dr. Jose P. Rizal

Psychology of underdevelopment

Equally important to Rizal was the psychology of wretchedness that these
structures nurtured and reinforced. Notice how deftly Rizal turned the divide
between colonizer and colonized inside out when he said:
The pernicious example of the dominators in surrounding
themselves with servants and despising manual or corporal labor as
a thing unbecoming the nobility and chivalrous pride of the heroes of
so many centuries; those lordly airs, which the natives have
translated into tila ka castila, and the desire of the dominated to be
the equal of the dominators, if not essentially, at least in their
manners: all these had naturally to produce aversion to activity and
fear or hatred of work.

In addition to the psyche of the oppressed-oppressor transformation, Rizal
highlighted the role of religion in the psychology of underdevelopment.
It is well, undoubtedly, to trust greatly in God; but it is better to do
what one can and not trouble the Creator every moment, even when
these appeals redound to the benefit of His ministers. We have
noticed that the countries which believe most in miracles are the
laziest, just as spoiled children are the most ill-mannered. Whether
they believe in miracles to palliate their laziness or they are lazy
because they believe in miracles, we cannot say; but the fact is the
Filipinos were much less lazy before the word miracle was
introduced into their language.

Education and the lack of national sentiment

Above all, Rizal pointed to education as the cause of the country’s
backwardness, describing it as “brutalizing, depressive and antihuman (the word
‘inhuman’ is not sufficiently explanatory …).”6 While he lauded the efforts of some
priests who had established schools and colleges, like Fr. Miguel de Benavides
(who founded UST), Rizal observed that such efforts were few and were rendered ineffectual. Books, for example, were chosen “by those very priests who boldly proclaim that it is an evil for the natives to know Castilian, that the native should
not be separated from his carabao, that he should not have any further aspirations, and so on.”Added Rizal:
“You can’t know more than this or that old man!” “Don’t aspire
to be greater than the curate!” “You belong to an inferior race!” “You
haven’t any energy!” This is what they tell the child, and as they
repeat it so often, it has perforce become engraved on his mind and
thence moulds and pervades all his actions. The child or youth who
tries to be anything else is blamed with vanity and presumption; the
curate ridicules him with cruel sarcasm, his relatives look upon him
with fear, strangers regard him with great compassion. No forward
movement! Get back in the ranks and keep in line!8

Yet even as he decried the conditions under Spain, Rizal also recognized
the weakness of the Filipino: the absence of a sense of nation. This “lack of
national sentiment,” wrote Rizal,
brings another evil, moreover, which is the absence of all opposition
to measures prejudicial to the people and the absence of any
initiative in whatever may redound to its good. A man in the
Philippines is only an individual, he is not a member of a nation. He
is forbidden and denied the right of association, and is therefore
weak and sluggish.9

As a result, Rizal concluded, “if a prejudicial measure is ordered, no one
protests; all goes well apparently until later the evils are felt….”10 In my view, the
lack of a sense of nationhood posed the greatest hurdle to development, and
remains—albeit in different forms—an unfinished project more than a century later.

Consultative approach to development

Given the causes of our lack of development, let us turn to the manner in
which Rizal proposed that development be undertaken. First, Rizal said,
government must be consultative. While lauding the efforts of the Spanish Minister of Colonies to develop agriculture in the Philippines in 1889, for instance, Rizal proposed “that the farmer be consulted also, the one in direct contact with the land, who makes the land productive with his capital and labor and puts into practice the measures that science and experience suggest.”11 To improve
agriculture, Rizal advised, “[i]t is necessary to aid those who practice it.” And then
in a pointed reference to government bureaucrats, Rizal said:
Those who from their comfortable chairs think otherwise and see the
inefficacy of the royal decrees throw the blame for its backwardness
to the indolence of the Indio. They do not know with what obstacles
he has to contend …”
Moreover, Rizal argued, projects had to be implemented effectively, beyond
the rhetoric of official instructions.
And not only must he [the Filipino] not be forgotten but neither
must his hands be tied, disabling them for work, as it happens,
unfortunately. It is not enough to issue royal decrees and timely
measures; they must be enforced and enforced expediently.13

Rizal had the opportunity to put his thoughts into practice while in exile; he
helped organize the Association of Dapitan Farmers. The by-laws of the
Association in 1895 indicate Rizal’s understanding of the need to raise the quality
of the produce, improve access to markets, and provide farmers and farm laborers with facilities to purchase their needs at reasonable cost. Organized as a premodern cooperative, the Association consisted of industrial partners who handled marketing, loading and storage of farm products, and shareholders who
contributed at least P50.14

Ayala Alabang Resident  and JPR Descendant  Atty. Ramoncita Reyes who rallied with us for the passage of RH Bill at Ayala, Alabang.

Role of women

Just as Rizal’s venture into a farmer’s cooperative reverberates to this day,
so does his salute to the women of Malolos, whose valor in demanding education
impressed him no end. Wrote Rizal:
Now that you have responded to our vehement clamor for
public welfare; now that you have shown a good example to your
fellow young women who, like you, desire to have their eyes opened
and to be lifted from their prostration, our hope is roused, now we are
confident of victory. The Filipino woman no longer bows her head
and bends her knees; her hope in the future is revived; gone is the
mother who helps to keep her daughter in the dark, who educates
her in self-contempt and moral annihilation. It is no longer the highest
wisdom to bow the head to every unjust order, the highest goodness
to smile at an insult, to seek solace in humble tear. You have found
out that God’s command is different from that of the priest, that piety
does not consist in prolonged kneeling, long prayers, large rosaries,
soiled scapulars, but in good conduct, clean conscience and right
thinking. You have discovered that it is not goodness to be too
obedient to every desire and request of those who pose as little
gods, but to obey what is reasonable and just, because blind
obedience is the origin of crooked orders and in this case both
parties sin.

Rizal viewed the role of Filipino women as essential to the freedom and
progress of our country. In his words: “The mother who teaches nothing else but
how to kneel and kiss the hand should not expect any other kind of children but
stupid ones or oppressed slaves.”16 Today no development project can take flight
without a clearly articulated gender component.

National Historical Commission of the Philippines Chair Serena Diokno is supporting the RH Bill- June 19, 2011- Calamba City

Infrastructure development

Rizal, too, had something to say about local infrastructure projects. When
the Spanish newspaper in Manila, La Voz de España, urged municipal
governments to ask for infrastructure development, Rizal asked, rhetorically, how
public works are carried out in the first place. And his response: “At the expense of the unhappy people, all gratis, with many vexations, and many beatings, and then of what use are they?”17 Rizal went on to cite example after example of
infrastructure projects that turned out to be a farce (sounds familiar?), such as two school buildings in Calamba built at the expense of the town and the
gobernadorcillo, which ended up as barracks and the courthouse; or the hospital in Los Baños, constructed by workers from other towns, forced to work and at way below the daily wage. Charity bazaars had to be held to cover the cost of the
hospital, which eventually descended to a state of ruin.18 Development managers
have lots to learn from the examples Rizal cited: how to plan projects that are
actually needed, for whom, the manner of executing the project all the way to its
eventual use.

In the end Rizal had a singular message to the Filipinos of his time and to
us today, that if we desire freedom and progress, we must strive for it even at
great cost to ourselves. Listen to Rizal:
Filipinos do not seem to know that triumph is the child of struggle,
that joy is the flower of many sufferings and privations, and that
redemption presupposes martyrdom and sacrifice. They believe that
with regretting, folding their arms, and letting things go on as they
are, they have fulfilled their duty. Others, it is true, pretend to do
something more and give pessimistic or discouraging advice: They
advise that nothing be done. There are some, however, who begin to
see clear and do all that they can.19

So, development planners and managers of the Philippines in the 21st
century, you have three choices: to bask in remorse and leave things just as they are; to appear to act by serving as the adviser of gloom; or to understand the situation and then act as best, as wisely, as you can. The last was Rizal’s way forward. Which is yours?

June 17, 2011- Amelia Reyes Yulo (Great Grand Child of JPR under Narcisa) with mary Therese de silva, grace Bondad- Nicolas and Noel de- Guia

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