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Author Topic: The Ant and the Eagle: Rizal and Philippine Education  (Read 8546 times)
Eduardo (Jay) Olaguer
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« on: December 31, 2011, 08:07:42 AM »

Some time ago, my son presented to me as a gift a book on Philippine history that rekindled my interest in the national hero, Jose Rizal. And so, for the first time since high school, I read both the Noli Me Tangere and its sequel, El Filibusterismo. I did so with entirely new eyes, the eyes of one who, like Rizal, had been educated abroad, published books and scientific articles, and learned the histories and languages of foreign countries. What a revelation it was to read Rizal after so many years! The version I read was the classic English translation by Charles Derbyshire, complete with historical preface, a preface I found illuminating, despite having to filter out Derbyshire’s self-serving tendency to see in Rizal a justification for the brutal pacification of the Philippines by the United States.

When I first encountered Rizal’s novels, I was required to read them in a literary Tagalog vastly different from the familiar language of the streets. In retrospect, I doubt whether I and my cohort of then teenagers were equipped to appreciate the biting sarcasm of Rizal, let alone the various literary, cultural, and historical allusions that permeated his works. Although Rizal was the foremost of Filipino nationalists, he wrote his novels from a transnational perspective that transcended the limited world of the Filipino village. It is precisely because he wrote in the Spanish language, one with a firm literary tradition and historical consciousness, that he could express reality on the scale of civilization, unfettered by parochialism. It was fascinating for me to discover that Rizal even chose English as the medium of instruction for the school he founded while in exile in Dapitan. This from the man who said, “Ang hindi nagmamahal sa sariling wika ay masahol pa sa malansang isda (He who does not love his native language is worse than a rotting fish).”

This brings me to the main lesson of my re-encounter with Rizal. Filipino education, as I have experienced and observed it, tends to view things from the perspective of the ant, whereas Rizal saw things from the perspective of the eagle. We Filipinos tend to collect knowledge in the same way we build our barungbarongs-- haphazardly, like so much loose change. For example, Filipino college curricula are overcrowded with cafeteria-style survey courses without depth or organizing worldview. I remember a visit to the University of Santo Tomas arranged for me by my scientific colleagues, wherein I witnessed circumstances not vastly different from those described in El Filibusterismo, specifically the chapter entitled, “The Class in Physics.”
  
If we are to progress as a nation, we need to go beyond the temporal and spatial scales of the village to the scales that mark civilization. Let us by all means develop Filipino as our national language. But let us also recognize that the Filipino, like his model Rizal, is at his best when he is also a citizen of the world.

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Did Rizal ever speak and write in English?
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cateespimsleur
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2012, 11:05:49 AM »

Thanks for your insight and providing the information.
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MadelineJohnson
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Love is Limitless but time is not.


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« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2012, 08:54:23 AM »

Thanks for your nice post. I really like this forum.I knew many important info from this forum. Keep up your good work.
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chiropractornorthsydney
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« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2012, 07:17:13 AM »

Many Filipinos are putting themselves down when in fact they can do a lot better. Some need a little push to break away. Seeing life in a broad perspective is the best way to have a positive outlook.
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