By: Quennie Ann Palafox  

      Rizal is alive every 30th of December, the day he was shot at Bagumbayan Field. The celebration of Rizal Day is based on the decree issued by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo on Dec. 20, 1898 declaring Dec. 30 as the anniversary of Jose Rizal’s death and also as “a national day of mourning” for other people who were victims of the three-century oppression of the Spaniards.

      There are still continuing debates whether Rizal Day should be celebrated every December or move the holiday to June 19 which is his birthday. Historian Esteban de Ocampo quoted Pres. Quezon’s statement that, “Rizal’s execution on that fateful day in itself created a national feeling among the people”. This feeling brings every Filipino to gather in plazas, parks and other venues to look back at the way Rizal lived his meaningful life.

      In the forthcoming presidential election in 2010, we will elect a president whom we believe is the rightful leader who shall bear our hopes and aspirations. If Rizal were alive today, he will be the perfect candidate running for President because throughout his whole life he subordinated his personal interests to those of his country and the national welfare. With that, Filipinos look upon him as a stalwart symbol of patriotism and nationalism. Rizal’s writings pronounce the values of freedom, and the right of every individual to life, liberty, and equality before the law. He even became the defender of rights which he firmly believed should be enjoyed by everyone who has experienced injustice in his times. Throughout his life, he experience injustice, directly or otherwise: there was the arbitrary arrest and detention of his aged mother, the deportation of his brother-in-law brought about by trouble over the lands in Calamba, and his own deportation without trial in Dapitan. He would be among the foremost to condemn the use of force to dominate people and armed aggression to seize territory. He would be against the horrible scene of the Maguindanao massacre of some members of a political clan in Maguindanao and journalists.

      A great political statesman as Rizal would have been if had lived in our times, this man from Calamba will have little chance of winning the presidential race because he would not understand Philippine politics, and would not be able to afford to finance his campaign in the form of TV commercial. Rizal may have been an excellent public speaker that could attract the intellectual with his wit, but, he could hardly attract large numbers of followers as he could not pay for celebritys endorser who would entertain the masses after hearing Rizal’s boring speeches on nationalist and patriotism. The majority of the Filipinos today could not relate what Rizal had dreamed of during his times downgrading Rizal’s liberalist tradition since our country is no longer under Spain. Unlike other politicians who appear in business ads such as beauty and household products, Rizal would not be into the habit of making headlines in the newspaper or become the talk of the town because he even refused to discuss his personal life. As a genuine gentleman, he would rather keep his romance with Josephine Bracken or other women a secret unlike many politicians of today who would proudly announce before a press conference their escapades with different celebrities so as to be famous.  

      Rizal was a staunch opponent of the government and criticized this political institution for not doing its function in providing services to the citizens. He relentlessly attacked the friars in his two novels; the Noli and the Fili, for making themselves wealthy from the church’s money and abusing their powers. In his campaign for change he would have avoided accusing an opponent of immorality simply because he himself would be eyeing a government seat in the next election. He would have disliked giving promises that he could not fulfill because he is a person of principle.  In other words, Rizal will not survive the infamous Philippine election and will be overwhelmingly defeated by his opponents who have mastered the game of Philippine politics.

      Rizal is a leader the country needs today, for men who knew Rizal best often said that he lived “the most gracious, cleanest life of his generation. Sadly, his uprightness and moral servitude to his countrymen will not earn him the leadership of this country because is not corrupt. He could have been the perfect candidate for president in 2010 with his excellent educational background and his dedication to serve his countrymen. Rizal’s ideas on politics and governance could be this nation’s only hope for the attainment of justice, peace and prosperity, but Rizal can only be a hero and would never be a president.

      Rizal with his courage and honor is still indispensable to us Filipinos being a guide through the path toward serenity and liberty. He continually inspires us with his brand of heroism and nationalism. Rizal, our hero, will forever be significant in this day and age.