Was Rizal a ‘Nationalist’?

We have been taught to equate Rizal with nationalism, or with love of country.  But do we know what he meant by the word? One noted Filipino historian tried to summarize Rizal’s views on the matter.

It turns out that Rizal would be secretly reviled by very many today because he defined and equated nationalism with sacrifice.

But ‘sacrifice’ was not the usual blood and guts, as in the subsequent wars, but of an altogether different kind. Sacrifice meant earning one’s nationalism the way a boy scout earns his badges: through practice, practice, practice. No short cuts for the little guy in the western hat and morning coat. If you want to be a proud Filipino then you studied hard, worked hard, took it on the chin, and did all this with little obvious glory. Self-serving social network hubris and blather won’t count at all. And obviously, trapo corruption, epalisms, rent-seeking cum corporate social responsibility and PR trickery would get the JPR smirk, if he had any.

How many who wear their ‘nationalism’ on their sleeves today will pass the Rizal test? I’d bet that you can count them on your fingers, and that may well be generous.


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