"Love of Country" (Jose Rizal)
Jose Rizal’s article entitled “Love of Country,” highlights the author’s desire to create a sense of patriotism and nationalism among the Filipino people. As brought up in discussion, Rizal belonged to the elite, mestizo group of intellectuals called the Propaganda. Consequently, his social status reflects the sense of class divisions that existed and continue to exist in the Philippines. The historical timeframe in which Rizal is writing this article is also a period of Spanish colonization and rule over the Philippines. However, Rizal tries to convince the reader that despite the class divisions and the Filipinos’ lack of sovereignty, the Philippines is still a country to be loved. Although Rizal is writing from Europe at this point in time, he still feels a connection to the motherland. In fact, Rizal’s sense of Philippine nationalism appears to heighten with distance as he states that “we in a foreign land shall dedicate our first endeavors to our native land, wrapped among the clouds and the morning mists, always beautiful and poetic, more loved when one is away or separated from her” (p. 1). Later, he refers to this homesickness as a “profound loneliness” (p. 2). Not only does Rizal use personal testimony to encourage Philippine nationalism, but he also makes references to family and religion as a means of persuasion.
Rizal uses his understanding of Filipino values, including family and religion, to convince the Filipino people of their need to demonstrate a sense of nationalism. From my upbringing in the church, I remember hearing passages from the bible that would often refer to the mother-son relationship. The relationship between Mary and Jesus is a clear example. Rizal, by the same token, uses this same relationship as he personifies the Philippines as the mother and states that “whatever be her name, her age or her fortune, we love her always like a child loves his mother amidst hunger and misery” (p. 1). He parallels the relationship of the Filipino people and the motherland to that of tight-knit Filipino families, despite economic hardships. In addition, his frequent use of “we” infers that Rizal is trying to point out that despite his physical distance from the Philippines, he is still united with the Filipino people.
As Rizal describes how the “poorer and more miserable she is, the more one suffers for her, the more she is idolized and adored until there is even pleasure in suffering for her” (p. 1), I recall the events of Semana Santa, or Holy Week, in the Philippines. The Filipino evening news recaps images of Filipinos in the motherland carrying a life-size, wooden cross, as well as a man, who is suppose to represent Jesus, being whipped and crowned with real thorns. My dad clarified the meaning of the dramatization. To share in the suffering of Jesus is a way of reciprocating His love for us. Thus, Rizal is inferring that just as Jesus whose “entire love was given to the world for the salvation of mankind” (p. 3), the Filipino people likewise, must suffer for the Philippines in order to save it from Spanish rule and domination.
Rizal has great command over a persuasive rhetoric. Not only does he incorporate family and religion into his paper, but he also equates patriotism to heroism. This theme runs throughout the text, but is most evident near the end when he creates the image of a father who has left his children to defend his country during a time of war. Although this father as well as other soldiers and leaders all “go out and die!” (p. 3), Rizal reminds the reader that there is victory in death. The sons who “lend themselves to defend the land of their forefathers” are “fierce and proud” (p. 3).
Nevertheless, while I commend his writing style, I also question who Rizal is referring to when he states that “some have sacrificed their youth, their pleasures; others have dedicated to her the splendors of their genius” (p. 3). In a class and gender based society such as the Philippines, who decides which Filipinos make physical sacrifices and which make intellectual contributions for the country? Does Rizal only call on fathers and sons to fight while women stay at home and tend to the children? How about the intellects of the country? Can other members of the working class follow in the steps of Andres Bonifacio and engage in intellectual and political discussions about how to defend the Philippines?