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Veneration Without Understanding

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Reading and Writing

Montallana, Jiason


Title: Veneration without Understanding

    Renato Constantino's article, "Veneration Without Understanding," presents a strikingly thought-provoking idea for the reader, be it a Rizalist or anti-Rizalist, or even I that is positioned in neutrality with regards to the topic.

Rizal should not be the national hero of the Philippines, because Rizal did not want the revolution; the fact that he did not promote it, nor gave his fellow Filipino ideas, he was quoted as saying "I cannot do less than condemn this uprising... which dishonours us Filipinos, and discredits those that could plead our cause....".  This is the thesis of Renato Constantino in his 1969 work. He understands that while Rizal's greatness is unquestionable, his nationalist interest is doubtful. The arguments of Constantino were, at the time and even now, controversial and radical. I am very grateful for the consistency of the process discussed today, and it clarifies my many questions and objections to this paper. Historians in their historical writing should be scrutinized, first, on their written agenda, and secondly, their sociological background prevails in their time. By doing so, the reader can criticize the context of a text and actually see from which stand the arguments for a written work come from. This is the background of Constantino's article; one must examine his historical background and his intention to write this article. It was written in the first term of President Marcos, where political upheavals began to build. As Professor Fernandez decisively pointed out, the political intervention of the United States in this era was the most active in the government hall.

According to Constantino, Rizal's denial of the revolution has been overshadowed in the history books and should therefore be a reluctant act of national heroes. He further pointed out that Rizal promoted to a national hero is a product of American intervention. During the United States Committee on the Philippines in the 1900s, the Commission was looking for a Filipino personality that rejected revolutionary ideas, but a person who accepted government reform in the form of peaceful means. Rizal fully conforms to this passive description and is elevated to his prestige and respectful position. This measure ensured colonization of the American colonial islands, as Filipinos would imitate Rizal's passivity and focus on defeating the Spanish colonists. In addition to being known as the US-sponsored hero, Constantino also marked Rizal's limited hero. His reasoning is that Rizal's elite and upper-class growth inevitably shaped his ideology, limiting his grasp of the social reality that the lower classes were facing.



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