When I was in college, I particularly enjoyed my Philippine History and Rizal classes. I was lucky to take both classes under the same professor, Mrs. B. I have forgotten her real name because she preferred to be called Mrs. B and refused to be addressed as Ma’am or Madame.
When she assumed the position in our school, she just rendered her retirement from a highly acclaimed university in Manila. As a Rizal enthusiast, our classes revolved around Rizal, even if the subject was about Philippine History. For two consecutive years, Mrs. B influenced us to take a closer look at Rizal’s life. Most of my classmates didn’t care about him but I did.
My fondness for Rizal’s works started when Mrs. B asked us to have a “Biyaheng Rizalista” project where we would visit historical sites and make a scrapbook from our journey. My brother and sister accompanied me to the historical sites where we picnicked as a family. Our parents were back in the province at the time.
The memories of visiting Calamba, Laguna, where Rizal’s home is located and intact to this day, still lingers in my mind. It was raining when we went there and Rizal’s home was closed to tourists because it was undergoing renovation. We also journeyed to Intramuros where a number of historical landmarks can be popularly visited nowadays.
I did have a wonderful time and it was a great learning experience for me. Even my brother and sister learned loads about Philippine History when we began the weekend tour.
What struck me most learning about Rizal is his early childhood. As a young child, Rizal was very promising. I actually spent a couple of hours each day in our college library reading a book written by one of Rizal’s direct descendant.
The book is called “Indio Bravo – The Story of Jose Rizal” written by Asuncion Lopez-Bantug and co-authored by Sylvia Mendez Ventura. Asuncion Lopez-Bantug is Rizal’s grandniece and granddaughter of Rizal’s elder sister, Narcisa.
When Mrs. B asked my class if anyone was reading “Indio Bravo,” I quickly raised my hand. My classmates shot me a dirty look since I was the only one who actually reads it even if it wasn’t required in class. Mrs. B said that I should follow up my reading with “Lolo Jose,” another book authored by Asuncion Lopez-Bantug. Sadly, I wasn’t able to do so.
I am planning to buy both books because I was so inspired by “Indio Bravo.” Some memoirs written in the book are family kept secrets within the Rizal family and reading about it sheds a new light on our National Hero. I haven’t read “Lolo Jose” but I am planning to get my hands on it one of these days.
This Sunday, June 19, is the 150th birthday of Jose Rizal. For the past several days, all I can hear on the news is about Rizal and this memory of the “Indio Bravo” keeps me awake. This is the reason why I shared my story with you.
Perhaps it’s about time that Rizal’s words and works take refuge in our hearts. If not for his sacrifice, we might still be in the clutches of Spanish rule. I thank him and all the other Filipino heroes that changed our Philippine History forever. I hope as a nation, we can make a stand to create a better Philippines.
Let us help one another succeed, just like our ancestors did. Rizal’s life should never be forgotten or obscured. Even if he died more than a century ago, let us remember the “Indio Bravo” who sacrificed his life for our country.
Can we do that for our country as well? Can we move towards a better Philippines by helping one another succeed? Can we put a stop to corruption that’s been killing thousands of Filipinos each day? Can we make a stand for what we believe in? Can we not blame our failures on other people? Can we just make everything right in our lives? Can we just be one family and not fight among ourselves? Can we be Filipinos for once? Can we be an Indio Bravo like Rizal?
I know I can. How about you? I wonder…