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Life and Works of Jose Rizal Essay Sample

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Life and Works of Jose Rizal Essay Sample

In this module, we will discuss the historical context of the Rizal Law. Before we tackle Jose Rizal’s life and works, it is important discuss its legal basis and the issues surrounding it for us to understand why we need to study this course and what we must achieve in studying it. Historians agree that every historical actor is a product of his time, therefore it is equally important and beneficial for our study to learn the historical context of Jose Rizal – the social, economic and political milieu of his time in order to contextualize our study of his life and works. Doing away with historical context, might mislead us from a genuine reading and understanding of Jose Rizal’s life and works. In order to achieve this, we will start our study by having a glimpse of the 19th century Philippines or the last century of Spanish colonial regime in the Philippine.

The following are the learning outcomes we are expected to achieve at the end of the lesson:
Understand the historical background and rationale of the Rizal Law and the Historical context of 19th Century Philippines
• Explain the rationale of the Rizal Law
• Discuss the historical context of the Rizal Law
• Describe the Spanish colonial government by reading excerpts from selected works of propagandists
• Relate the passage of Rizal Law to nation-building, patriotism and nationalism.
• Examine the economic and socio-political milieu of the 19th century Philippines
• Compare the reactions of Filipinos to the passage of the Rizal Law


Open Forum
Group work/Brainstorming
Activity: Reading the excerpts from selected works of Jose Rizal and other propagandists and excerpt from the Rizal Law
• K-W-L Chart

This is a controlled document. Revision of this document should undergo the standard procedure. The original copy of this document is located at the office of the Academic Affairs Department (AAD). The user should secure the latest revision of this document from the AAD office.

I. The Rizal Law
Many Filipino students are curious why they are still required to study the life and works of Jose Rizal in college despite having studied the biography of Jose Rizal and his two novels in their high school years. They believe that it might just be a repetition of the things they have learned and that it would be a waste of their time. Little did they know that they are mandated by the law to study the life and works of Jose Rizal not only in high school but also in college and they might not even have an idea what this law had gone through in order to be passed and approved.

On June 12, 1956, Philippine Independence Day, the Republic Act 1425 (R.A. 1425) also known as the Rizal Law was passed. It 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 contents of the law gives us answers to the following questions:

a. Why was it passed at time of the Philippine Independence Day?
b. Why only Jose Rizal was selected to be studied?
c. What are the goals or purpose of this law?
d. How will it be implemented?

This is a controlled document. Revision of this document should undergo the standard procedure. The original copy of this document is located at the office of the Academic Affairs Department (AAD). The user should secure the latest revision of this document from the AAD office.

II. Reactions towards the Rizal Law
At present, the passage of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (Republic Act No. 10354) or popularly known as the R.H. Law was probably one of the most controversial laws passed due to the opposing reactions of Filipinos to its passage. There were that anti and pro RH Law who rallied for or against its implementation. Over have a century ago, similar thing happened to the Rizal Law. According to the historian Ambeth Ocampo (1990) lawmakers argued that had even ended in a fist fight between two hot – headed lawmakers. The strongest opposition force was the Catholic Church, arguing that the law would violate freedom of conscience and religion. They argued that “Rizal violated the Church’s laws specifically Canon Law 1399, which forbids books that attack or ridicule any of the catholic dogmas or which defend errors condemned by the Holy See.”

They also argued that only 25 passages of the Noli Me Tangere were patriotic as compared to the 120 passages that were anti-catholic. Furthermore, they argued that Rizal even retracted his ‘attacks’ on the Catholic Church before he was executed. They maintained that Filipinos could still venerate him as a national hero even without reading the two novels and that Filipino students could read other works done by Rizal instead of the two Novels. the Catholic Church opposition went up to the extent of threatening religious sanction s to all the supporters of the law.

In a letter to Rafael Palma who wrote a biography of Rizal, an archdiocese stated that “we prohibit under the pain of sin and canonical sanctions the reading, keeping or retention of the same [Noli and El Fili] whether in original or in translation in the Archdiocese of Manila and Cebu.” Among the prominent ‘defenders’ of Rizal Law was Sen. Claro M. Recto who was the author of the law and fought hard for its passage despite the threat of losing votes and religious sanctions. He assailed the people who opposed the law by saying that fighting against the law is like fighting Rizal and attempting to “blot out his memory”. The supporters of the bill maintained that law would uplift Filipino sense of identity and nationalism especially during that time when Filipino sense of identity and nationalism was dwindling and the prevalence of American neocolonialism in the Philippines.

After long and divisive debates, the Rizal Law was passed with certain provisions that served as compromise between two opposing sides. One of these compromises is the exemption given to those who feel that their faith is damaged by reading of Rizal’s novels provided, that they file a sworn statement stating as such as stated in Sec. 1o f the Rizal Law.

This is a controlled document. Revision of this document should undergo the standard procedure. The original copy of this document is located at the office of the Academic Affairs Department (AAD). The user should secure the latest revision of this document from the AAD office.

III. Historical Background of the 19th Century: Spain and Philippines Jose Rizal’s ideas and philosophies in life could be better understood in the context of his time, meaning the period where Rizal belongs. The historical context of Jose Rizal allows us to have a glimpse of the prevailing social, economic, political and cultural conditions of the last century of Spanish colonial regime in the Philippines. These prevailing conditions will be exposed to us by some of the works the Propagandists, they are Filipinos based in Europe who wrote manifestos, letters and essays in order to expose the social conditions in the Philippines and the needed reforms that Spain must provide.

Conditions in Spain
During the first three quarters of the 19th century, Spain has been in turmoil especially when it was conquered by the French. When the monarchy was restored in 1814, Fernando VII returned to absolutism [absolute power is vested in the monarch e.i. the king]. When he died he passed his crown to his infant daughter Isabel, under the regency [ a government or period in which a person /regent rules in place of the king/queen] of her mother Maria Cristina. Civil war broke out when Don Carlos, the king’s younger brother was claiming the throne. As a result, revolts between the Liberals (supporters of Maria Cristina) and Carlists (supporters of Don Carlos) ensued. In 1886, when Isabella became queen, a revolution against her took place and she was forced to abdicate. Alfonso XII of Spain became king, which finally brought Spain into a period of stability and reform.

Social Condition in the Philippines
Events in the Spain had implications on her colonies. The Philippines and Cuba are two of the colonies that had waged a revolution for total emancipation from Spain. The political, social, religious and economic changes in Spain during the latter part of the 19th century have repercussions in the colonies. In the Philippines Spain has no clear program in uplifting the country’s economy. The Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade only served the Spanish and Chinese people in the country but it did not help the colony as a whole. It only served as a transshipment point between China and Mexico thus benefiting very few Filipinos. Governorgenerals initiated reforms in commerce and agriculture but were not enough to boost economic growth.

This is a controlled document. Revision of this document should undergo the standard procedure. The original copy of this document is located at the office of the Academic Affairs Department (AAD). The user should secure the latest revision of this document from the AAD office.

In terms of political development, Governor-generals who were assigned in the Philippines for a short period of time have failed to implement policies that will be enough to promote development, yet they returned to Spain richer. In the cultural and religious aspects, the colonizers failed to implement effective policies of cultural and educational advancements. Catholicism was still used as tool for subjugation of the Filipinos and friars were very influential and powerful that made them de facto administrators of the colony. Inequalities among social classes, discrimination, injustices, corruption and slavery were very rampant. These injustices and social ills suffered by Filipinos became the subject of protest of the Propaganda movement and served as the ‘unifying cause’ of the Philippine Revolution initiated by the Katipunan. ILLUSTRATIONS/EXAMPLES/FORMULAS

For us to have an idea of the social conditions in the Philippines during the 19th century, let us examine works of some propagandists. The Propaganda Movement was organized by Filipinos in exile or studying in Europe. They came from wealthy middle-class families in the Philippines. The main goal of the Propaganda movements was to expose the worsening conditions in the Philippines and asking reforms that are needed to improve the conditions of the country. Three of the works done by the propagandists exposed the ‘social ills’ that were perennial and extensive. These works are:

• Monarchism in the Philippines by Marcelo H. Del Pilar

• The Distressing Situation of the Philippines by Graciano Lopez-Jaena

• On the Indolence of the Filipinos by Jose Rizal

This is a controlled document. Revision of this document should undergo the standard procedure. The original copy of this document is located at the office of the Academic Affairs Department (AAD). The user should secure the latest revision of this document from the AAD office.


Coates, Austin. 1969. Rizal: Philippine Nationalist and Martyr. Quezon City: Malaya Books
Craig, Austin. Lineage Life and Labors of Jose Rizal Philippine Patriot

• Ocampo, Ambeth R, 2000. Rizal Without The Overcoat. Pasig City: Anvil Pub. •

Ocampo, Nilo S. 1995. Rizal: Makabayan at Martir. Diliman, Q.C.: University of the Philippines Press
Schumacher, John SJ. 1996. The Making of a Nation. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila Press

Internet Sources:

http://teamcrisostomo.wordpress.com/noli-filirizal-bill-one-of-the-most-controversialbills-in-phil-history/ http://maharlikansite.blogspot.com/2008/08/polo-y-servicio.html http://angtakipsilim.blogspot.com/2010_08_01_archive.html

http://informalreadings.weebly.com/uploads/6/3/1/9/6319049/propaganda_readings.pdf http://www.chanrobles.com/republicactno1425.html#.VBagW8KSz-A

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