Author Topic: Rizal invigorated Southeast Asia’s revolutionary spirit, says new book  (Read 18582 times)

Joe Carillo

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It’s a well-established canon in Philippine history that Dr. Jose P. Rizal, the national hero, laid the foundations in the late 1800s for the struggle to create a Philippine nation. But in a newly released book, Revolutionary Spirit: Jose Rizal in Southeast Asia, Filipino journalist John Nery asserts that Rizal not only catalyzed the 1898 Philippine revolution against the country’s Spanish colonizers but also influenced the growth of the anti-colonial revolutionary spirit in Southeast Asia.

In a painstakingly researched but refreshingly readable historical analysis, Nery, senior editor and columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, shows that Rizal’s political writings and eventual martyrdom helped invigorate Indonesian nationalism and Malaysian scholarship, regional political discourse, and world literature. By exhaustively studying the many scattered threads of Rizal’s work in various Asian countries, Nery was also able to rectify many of the historical errors made by earlier writers about Rizal’s life and his legacy to Philippine nationhood.

“What results is a confirmation of the prescience, the brilliance and profundity of Rizal’s thinking as also expressed in his letters and articles,” says Filipino historical novelist F. Sionil Jose in his review of Nery’s book in the Philippine Star. “For instance, this has not been clearly understood by many of those who studied his life — that though seemingly opposed to revolution, among the early Filipinos who riled against Spanish colonialism, he was, in fact one of its first and staunchest believers.”

Sionil Jose praises Nery for illustrating the vast outreach of Rizal not [just] as a political reformer: “It is to Rizal’s credit that he elected to use the literary art. He could just have published those manifestoes, those inciting articles as did his colleagues in the Propaganda Movement. But he chose literature to magnify and broadcast his deepest feelings, his dreams for his unhappy country. He saw that literature — the noblest of the arts — would prevail long after the fact, that it is literature that renders history alive.”

On the other hand, in an appreciation speech during the book’s formal launching at the Ateneo de Manila University campus in Quezon City last July 8, Horacio “Howie” Severino, editor in chief of GMA News Online, said: “The only thing good journalists lack is time. But when a good journalist is given time to research and write history, he is able to step back from his immersion in daily events and allow that intimate knowledge to inform his thinking about the process of change over time… John Nery is one of the few who has combined his talents as a journalist with the time that historians devote to their subjects. And…he also exhibited another trait of a good journalist in writing this book: He met his deadline.”

Read F. Sionil Jose’s “The revolutionary Rizal in Southeast Asia” in the Philippine Star now!
Read Howie Severino’s essay “Time is Truth” in GMA News Online now!

Read excerpts from John Nery’s Revolutionary Spirit: Jose Rizal in Southeast Asia in GoogleBooks now!

« Last Edit: July 19, 2011, 07:01:53 AM by Joe Carillo »