Republic Act No. 1425, known as the Rizal Law, mandates all educational institutions in the Philippines to offer courses about Jose Rizal. The full name of the law is An Act to Include in the Curricula of All Public and Private Schools, Colleges and Universities Courses On the Life, Works and Writings of Jose Rizal, Particularly His Novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, Authorizing the Printing and Distribution Thereof, and for Other Purposes.
The measure was strongly opposed by the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines due to the anti-clerical themes in Noli Me Tangere andEl Filibusterismo. Senator Claro M. Recto was the main proponent of the then Rizal Bill. He sought to sponsor the bill at Congress. However, this was met with stiff opposition from the Catholic Church. During the 1955 Senate election, the church charged Recto with being a communist and an anti-Catholic.
After Recto’s election, the Church continued to oppose the bill mandating the reading of Rizal’s novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, claiming it would violate freedom of conscience and religion.  In the campaign to oppose the Rizal bill, the Catholic Church urged its adherents to write to their congressmen and senators showing their opposition to the bill; later, it organized symposiums. In one of these symposiums, Fr. Jesus Cavanna argued that the novels belonged to the past and that teaching them would misrepresent current conditions.
Radio commentator Jesus Paredes also said that Catholics had the right to refuse to read them as it would “endanger their salvation”.  Groups such as Catholic Action of the Philippines, the Congregation of the Mission, the Knights of Columbus, and the Catholic Teachers Guild organized opposition to the bill; they were countered by Veteranos de la Revolucion (Spirit of 1896), Alagad in Rizal, the Freemasons, and the Knights of Rizal. The Senate Committee on Education sponsored a bill co-written by both Jose P.
Laurel and Recto, with the only opposition coming from Francisco Soc Rodrigo, Mariano Jesus Cuenco, and Decoroso Rosales.  The Archbishop of Manila, Rufino Santos, protested in a pastoral letter that Catholic students would be affected if compulsory reading of the unexpurgated version were pushed through.  Arsenio Lacson, Manila’s mayor, who supported the bill, walked out of Mass when the priest read a circular from the archbishop denouncing the bill.  Rizal, according to Cuenco, “attack[ed] dogmas, beliefs and practices of the Church.
The assertion that Rizal limited himself to castigating undeserving priests and refrained from criticizing, ridiculing or putting in doubt dogmas of the Catholic Church, is absolutely gratuitous and misleading. ” Cuenco touched on Rizal’s denial of the existence of purgatory, as it was not found in the Bible, and that Moses and Jesus Christ did not mention its existence; Cuenco concluded that a “majority of the Members of this Chamber, if not all [including] our good friend, the gentleman from Sulu” believed in purgatory. 5] The senator from Sulu, Domocao Alonto, attacked Filipinos who proclaimed Rizal as “their national hero but seemed to despise what he had written”, saying that theIndonesians used Rizal’s books as their Bible on their independence movement; Pedro Lopez, who hails from Cebu, Cuenco’s province, in his support for the bill, reasoned out that it was in their province the independence movement started, when Lapu-Lapu fought Ferdinand Magellan.  Outside the Senate, the Catholic schools threatened to close down if the bill was passed; Recto countered that if that happened, the schools would be nationalized.
Recto did not believe the threat, stating that the schools were too profitable to be closed.  The schools gave up the threat, but threatened to “punish” legislators in favor of the law in future elections. A compromise was suggested, to use the expurgated version; Recto, who had supported the required reading of the unexpurgated version, declared: “The people who would eliminate the books of Rizal from the schools would blot out from our minds the memory of the national hero. This is not a fight against Recto but a fight against Rizal,” adding that since Rizal is dead, they are attempting to suppress his memory. 6] On May 12, 1956, a compromise inserted by Committee on Education chairman Laurel that accommodated the objections of the Catholic Church was approved unanimously. The bill specified that only college (university) students would have the option of reading unexpurgated versions of clerically-contested reading material, such as Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.  The bill was enacted on June 12, 1956, Flag Day. ————————————————- Content | | | The Noli and Fili were required readings for college students. Section 1 mandated that the students were to read the novels as they were written in Spanish, although a provision ordered that the Board of National Education create rules on how these should be applied.  The last two sections were focused on making Rizal’s works accessible to the general public: the second section mandated the schools to have “an adequate number” of copies in their libraries, while the third ordered the board to publish the works in major Philippine languages.  ————————————————- edit]Aftermath After the bill was enacted into law, there were no recorded instances of students applying for exemption from reading the novels, and no known procedure for such exemptions.  In 1994, President Fidel V. Ramos ordered the Department of Education, Culture and Sports to fully implement the law as there had been reports that it has still not been fully implemented.  The debate during the enactment of the Rizal Law has been compared to the Reproductive Health bill (RH bill) debate of 2011. 8] Akbayan representativeKaka Bag-ao, one of the proponents of the RH bill, said, quoting the Catholic hierarchy, that “More than 50 years ago, they said the Rizal Law violates the Catholic’s right to conscience and religion, interestingly, the same line of reasoning they use to oppose the RH bill. “ ————————————————- References 1. ^ a b c d Abinales, Patricio N. ; Amoroso, Donna J. (2005). State and society in the Philippines. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 187. ISBN 978-0-7425-1024-1. 2. Cruz-Araneta, Gemma (2010-12-29). “Legislating Rizal, 1”. Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 2011-05-24. 3. ^ a b c d Cruz-Araneta, Gemma (2010-12-29). “Legislating Rizal, 2”. Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 2011-05-24. 4. ^ Rodis, Rodel (2010-01-07). “Global Networking : The Rizal bill”. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 2011-06-12. 5. ^ a b c Pangalangan, Raul (2010-12-31). “The intense debate on the Rizal Law”. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 2011-05-24. 6. ^ a b c Ocampo, Ambeth (2007-05-04). “The fight over the Rizal Law”. Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Retrieved 2011-05-24. 7. ^ “Mr. Ramos leads Rizal Day rites”. Manila Standard. 1994-12-29. Retrieved 2011-06-19. 8. ^ Mendez, Christina (2011-05-23). “JPE, Joker confident of compromise on RH bill”. Philippine Star. Retrieved 2011-05-24. 9. ^ “Jose Rizal: new symbol of reproductive health rights? “. ABS-CBNnews. com. 2011-06-01. Retrieved 2011-06-01. Jose Rizal: A Biographical Sketch BY TEOFILO H. MONTEMAYOR| | JOSE RIZAL, the national hero of the Philippines and pride of the Malayan race, was born on June 19, 1861, in the town of Calamba, Laguna.
He was the seventh child in a family of 11 children (2 boys and 9 girls). Both his parents were educated and belonged to distinguished families. His father, Francisco Mercado Rizal, an industrious farmer whom Rizal called “a model of fathers,” came from Binan, Laguna; while his mother, Teodora Alonzo y Quintos, a highly cultured and accomplished woman whom Rizal called “loving and prudent mother,” was born in Meisic, Sta. Cruz, Manila. At the age of 3, he learned the alphabet from his mother; at 5, while learning to read and write, he already showed inclinations to be an artist.
He astounded his family and relatives by his pencil drawings and sketches and by his moldings of clay. At the age 8, he wrote a Tagalog poem, “Sa Aking Mga Kabata,” the theme of which revolves on the love of one’s language. In 1877, at the age of 16, he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree with an average of “excellent” from the Ateneo Municipal de Manila. In the same year, he enrolled in Philosophy and Letters at the University of Santo Tomas, while at the same time took courses leading to the degree of surveyor and expert assessor at the Ateneo.
He finished the latter course on March 21, 1877 and passed the Surveyor’s examination on May 21, 1878; but because of his age, 17, he was not granted license to practice the profession until December 30, 1881. In 1878, he enrolled in medicine at the University of Santo Tomas but had to stop in his studies when he felt that the Filipino students were being discriminated upon by their Dominican tutors. On May 3, 1882, he sailed for Spain where he continued his studies at the Universidad Central de Madrid.
On June 21, 1884, at the age of 23, he was conferred the degree of Licentiate in Medicine and on June 19,1885, at the age of 24, he finished his course in Philosophy and Letters with a grade of “excellent. ” Having traveled extensively in Europe, America and Asia, he mastered 22 languages. These include Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Malayan, Portuguese, Russian, Sanskrit, Spanish, Tagalog, and other native dialects.
A versatile genius, he was an architect, artists, businessman, cartoonist, educator, economist, ethnologist, scientific farmer, historian, inventor, journalist, linguist, musician, mythologist, nationalist, naturalist, novelist, opthalmic surgeon, poet, propagandist, psychologist, scientist, sculptor, sociologist, and theologian. He was an expert swordsman and a good shot. In the hope of securing political and social reforms for his country and at the same time educate his countrymen, Rizal, the greatest apostle of Filipino nationalism, published, while in Europe, several works with highly nationalistic and revolutionary tendencies.
In March 1887, his daring book, NOLI ME TANGERE, a satirical novel exposing the arrogance and despotism of the Spanish clergy, was published in Berlin; in 1890 he reprinted in Paris, Morga’s SUCCESSOS DE LAS ISLAS FILIPINAS with his annotations to prove that the Filipinos had a civilization worthy to be proud of even long before the Spaniards set foot on Philippine soil; on September 18, 1891, EL FILIBUSTERISMO, his second novel and a sequel to the NOLI and more revolutionary and tragic than the latter, was printed in Ghent.
Because of his fearless exposures of the injustices committed by the civil and clerical officials, Rizal provoked the animosity of those in power. This led himself, his relatives and countrymen into trouble with the Spanish officials of the country. As a consequence, he and those who had contacts with him, were shadowed; the authorities were not only finding faults but even fabricating charges to pin him down. Thus, he was imprisoned in Fort Santiago from July 6, 1892 to July 15, 1892 on a charge that anti-friar pamphlets were found in the luggage of his sister Lucia who arrive with him from Hong Kong.
While a political exile in Dapitan, he engaged in agriculture, fishing and business; he maintained and operated a hospital; he conducted classes- taught his pupils the English and Spanish languages, the arts. The sciences, vocational courses including agriculture, surveying, sculpturing, and painting, as well as the art of self defense; he did some researches and collected specimens; he entered into correspondence with renowned men of letters and sciences abroad; and with the help of his pupils, he constructed water dam and a relief map of Mindanao – both considered remarkable engineering feats.
His sincerity and friendliness won for him the trust and confidence of even those assigned to guard him; his good manners and warm personality were found irresistible by women of all races with whom he had personal contacts; his intelligence and humility gained for him the respect and admiration of prominent men of other nations; while his undaunted courage and determination to uplift the welfare of his people were feared by his enemies.
When the Philippine Revolution started on August 26, 1896, his enemies lost no time in pressing him down. They were able to enlist witnesses that linked him with the revolt and these were never allowed to be confronted by him. Thus, from November 3, 1986, to the date of his execution, he was again committed to Fort Santiago. In his prison cell, he wrote an untitled poem, now known as “Ultimo Adios” which is considered a masterpiece and a living document expressing not only the hero’s great love of country but also that of all Filipinos.
After a mock trial, he was convicted of rebellion, sedition and of forming illegal association. In the cold morning of December 30, 1896, Rizal, a man whose 35 years of life had been packed with varied activities which proved that the Filipino has capacity to equal if not excel even those who treat him as a slave, was shot at Bagumbayan Field. |
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