October 2, 2008

Re: Rizal's novels for free

I would like to thank fellow Mindanao blogger
Gilbert Yap Tan for re-posting a piece by historian Ambeth Ocampo originally published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, titled Rizal's novels for free. I am reminded of my recent venture at the Manila International Book Fair where I personally observed the Noli, the Fili, and other works of Rizal as among the least handled books in the exhibit.

Among the very few booths I saw that displayed the said items was that of the National Historical Institute (NHI). I am sure why Rizal's works attracted only a few souls has got nothing to do with NHI's booth not being extravagantly made over (read: boring) unlike those which exhibited colorful children's books and techie materials. There were other more monotonously dressed up booths yet there were more patrons flipping through the pages of their displays.

It did not matter if the patrons' curiosities actually led to the eventual takeout of the books they were browsing. But I am almost sure of the reason why they snubbed Noli and Fili. It is the same reason I had why I just took photos instead of putting my hands on either: I am already done with it. Yes, I have been required by law to read Rizal. I did, not just once but twice; and I am done with it. The words of the student who once emailed Ambeth Ocampo could have been my words also. I began appreciating the Noli and the Fili only after the second time I got to read them. I am not about to say "no thanks" to my high school teachers. I did learn some drama techniques in class we were made to act out selected chapters of Rizal's novels; and I do appreciate the many other things outside of the Noli and the Fili I've learned from my high school teachers. But I have to say "many thanks" to my college mentor, the revolutionary (don't raise your eyebrows now) Reuel Molina Aguila, who made me finally enjoy Rizal's masterpieces reading through the English translations of Leon Ma. Guerrero.

It was the intent of R.A. 1425 to make us read and enjoy Rizal's works. The law was successful in me and probably that student of Mr. Ocampo, and was to some degree successful in all of those who passed their exams and quizzes in P.I. 100, Soc. Sci. 1-something and other differently-named Rizal courses. But that's just about it.

As the law (promulgated in 1956) continues to struggle to fulfill its other pertinent provisions (e.g. Section 3), a question runs parallel: are the great majority of the country's citizenry even up to the task of wanting to read and understand Rizal, much more, live his ideals?

As I wrote this post, I called up half a dozen people -- all working class -- and ask each one his/her recollection of the stories of either the Noli and Fili. None of them remembered. I am afraid the answer to the question above leans on the negative.

But perhaps, there is still hope. All of them remembered the novels were written by Jose Rizal, our national hero.


  1. Hi Daxi, please email me materials about your DREAM project so I can help promote it in my blog. :)
    thanks for your comment! :)

  2. Hi Gilbert, i'll send you the materials soon. Thank you very very much! :)