We first meet heroes in books and on television—fictional heroes armed with different skills to fight the oppressors and fight for the oppressed.
We have real-life heroes, too, albeit without the magic and fireballs emerging from their palms, who dared to stand up against the oppressive conquerors.
Filipinos such as General Antonio Luna, Gabriela Silang and husband Diego Silang, Gregorio “Goyo” del Pilar, and Andres Bonifacio were some of the brave patriots who used their strength and influence to protect their loved ones and their countrymen.
They had different fighting styles. But the one man who stands out among them, so much so he is our National Hero, is no other than Dr. Jose Rizal.
Jose Rizal, or José Protacio “Pepe” Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda (1861-1896), was a Filipino polymath, nationalist, and the most prominent advocate for reforms in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era.
He is known for, among other things, writing Noli Me Tángere and its sequel, El Filibusterismo. These two novels were intended to expose the ills of Philippine society and call for a peaceful reform against the Spanish regime.
However, the Spaniards noticed how Rizal’s influence and novels could spark rebellion among Filipinos. He was later arrested for “inciting sedition” based solely on his writings, and executed by firing squad on December 30, 1896. He was 35.
Rizal fought a different fight. He didn’t go to war and “fight” in the way most revolutionaries would—with weapons and bloodshed. His was a silent, peaceful, and calm battle. He did not use force, but instead used peaceful methods such as writing literature, creating arts, and focusing on the Filipino culture to stir up the patriotic feelings of everyone.
And he was successful in stirring up the nationalistic fervor that was in the hearts of other revolutionary Filipinos like Bonifacio and the katipuneros. That was Rizal’s fighting style.
We, the youth, may not be strong enough to charge into a battle, and we may never do in our lifetimes, but we have our own way of showing our love for our country. We can write and express nationalistic ideas through media and the arts, support our local goods and businesses, and excel in our studies.
We can fight in a different, peaceful way, just like Rizal did.