By Izah Morales INQUIRER.net AS cliché as his declaration may sound, the words of our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal still resonate up to this day: "Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan." On the 110th celebration of Independence Day, the Department of Education-Special Event Unit held the 4th Pambansang Gawad Ulirang Kabataan, which recognized five young Filipino students. Among 51 nominees, Paul Julian Hao (Chiang Kai Shek College), Ben Ralph Yu (Davao City National High School), Stephen Panol (Fort Bonifacio High School), Jamil Repors (Kidapawan City National High School), and Kate Marie F. Benitez-Colmenares (Samal National High School) stood out as the grand winners of this year’s Ulirang Kabataan. Community service, scholastic achievement, versatility, personality and character, and interview served as the criteria for selection. The grand winners took home a total of P45,000, a plaque, medal, and a certificate. But more than the recognition is the responsibility that comes with it. “Nais lang namin ay patunayan sa buong Pilipinas at buong mundo, ang pagiging Pilipino. At ang pagiging Pilipino holds so much responsibility. And being awarded as Ulirang Kabataan is a great responsibility,” said Panol. And if Rizal were still alive up to this day, Benitez-Colmenares would live up to his words through service. “Kami po ay magseserbisyo sa abot ng aming makakaya upang mas makilala pa ang Pilipinas,” said Benitez-Colmenares. Gone are the days of just nodding or shaking heads. The youth of today are now more vocal and expressive of what they think and feel.
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By Tina Santos Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Members of a spiritual organization from all over the country will gather at 6 a.m. today in front of the Quirino Grandstand, Luneta in Manila to form a “human flag” as tribute to the national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, on his 146th birth anniversary. The first-of-a-kind patriotic display of the flag is made up of 500 members of Bigkis ng Pangkalahatang Espirituwal at Materyal na Rizalista ng Inang Pilpinas Unibersal Pederasyon Inc., a federation of various Rizalista groups nationwide. “This is a symbol that the spirit of nationalism is alive,” said Bigkis president Gauvencio Serrano. “To be united as a people, we have to have a starting point of oneness,” he said. “Saan ba tayo pwede magsama-sama? The historical Rizal, the radical Rizal and the mystical Rizal. When it comes to Rizal’s teachings, we are one.” Participants will wear robes and caps according to the colors of the flag they represent, Serrano explained. The male members will be in red (Mindanao) and the females in blue (Visayas); the white (Luzon) is reserved for “Sagrada Pamilya” (Holy Family) or parents and their children; and the sun and stars, officials, leaders and incorporators of Bigkis. Descendants of Rizal are also expected to attend the wreath-laying rites in Luneta. Outgoing Manila Mayor Lito Atienza will lead the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the Rizal monument at 7 a.m., with National Historical Institute executive director Ludivico Badoy and members of the military. In a related activity, environment advocates will honor the national hero for his love of nature from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Orchidarium, also at the Rizal Park grounds. With Allison W. Lopez
By Dr. Pablo S. Trillana III Inquirer (Editor's Note: The author is a former chair of the National Historical Institute and currently Knight Grand Officer of the Knights of Rizal.) MANILA, Philippines--Within a week of each other, the nation will commemorate two events of great national significance -- the declaration of independence in Kawit, Cavite, on June 12, 1898, and the birth of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal on June 19, 1861. These seemingly disparate events, in the course of our story as a people, led to a historical conjunction that gave birth to our modern nation. It would be difficult to think of one without the other. The radical idea of separating from Spain through a revolution is generally laid at the doorstep of the Katipunan. This was the secret society founded on July 7, 1892, the day the decree of Rizal's exile "to one of the southern islands" was published in the Gaceta de Manila. In truth, the roots of separatist ideas reached deeper into the past. On Dec. 12, 1896, in preparing his defense against the charge of rebellion, Rizal acknowledged these roots: "Separatist ideas have existed in the Philippines for many years. In this century alone there occurred many uprisings: Those of Novales, Cuesta, Apolinario, in the Ilocos and Pangasinan, of the regiment of the Pampangos, of Cavite and again that of Pangasinan in 1884." Novales was Capt. Andres Novales, a Spanish mestizo who led a revolt in 1823 and declared himself "Emperor of the Philippines." His armed uprising was foiled and he was executed. Cuesta was Lt. Jose Cuesta, another Spanish mestizo who, in 1854, rebelled and declared the country's independence from Spain. He was also captured and then hanged. Apolinario, on the other hand, was Apolinario de la Cruz, more popularly known as Hermano Pule, a native of Lucban, whose movement called the Cofradia de San Jose attracted thousands of followers in Tayabas, Laguna, Batangas and Cavite. They were suspected of being heretics and subversives and were attacked in 1841 on the slopes of Mt. San Cristobal in Tayabas. Pule was captured, shot and quartered. Early conquest years Going back farther, down to the early conquest years, the sons and relatives of Rajah Matanda, Lakandula and Rajah Soliman attempted in 1574 to separate from the Spaniards and regain leadership over their ancient domains. Thirteen years later, Magat Salamat and Agustin de Legazpi led the so-called "Revolt of the Lakans (1587-88)" to drive away the Spaniards. Both attempts failed. The uprisings were easily suppressed. They were not based "on the necessity of the whole nation," a principal reason, according to Rizal, why they failed. There was yet no clear idea of nation, no national sentiment that could galvanize disparate ethnolinguistic communities into a united yet widespread struggle for independence. Rizal changed all that and gave the idea of independent nationhood moral clarity. Social order Rizal’s choice of means were words. When Filipinos were falling for the line that our culture was nonexistent before the arrival of Spain, he found Antonio de Morga's "Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas" (Events in the Philippine Isles), first published in 1609, and annotated it to emphasize the richness and liveliness of our pre-colonial past. In "Noli Me Tangere" (The Social Cancer), published in 1887, Rizal took the bold step of laying bare the cancerous present by accurately depicting everyday events under the velvet heel of Spanish oppression, leading up to "El Filibusterismo" (The Reign of Greed), which came out in 1891, his call to revolution. And in "Las Filipinas Dentro de Cien Años" (The Philippines a Century Hence), Rizal lightly parted the veil of the future to give a glimpse of the direction toward which the country was heading. In these works, Rizal created a climate of opinion that questioned the existing social order. If Spain, after more than 300 years of colonial rule, had nothing more to offer than tears and chains for the indios, it was time for the Filipinos to separate from her by regaining their freedom and establishing their own nation. Rizal clearly laid out the historical basis for independence in Las Filipinas Dentro de Cien Años: If Spain would not introduce equitable laws and sincere reforms to assimilate Filipinos then he predicted that "the Philippines one day will declare herself inevitably and unmistakably independent." Peace or destruction? It is true that the national hero emphasized education as the foundation upon which the Filipinos could succeed in developing a fledgling nation. He condemned the 1896 revolution of Bonifacio because Rizal believed that conditions were not ripe for its success. Armed struggle, however, was an option that remained on his mind. On June 19, 1887, his 26th birthday, Rizal wrote to his good friend Ferdinand Blumentritt: "I assure you that I have no desire to take part in conspiracies which seem to me too premature and risky. But if the government drives us to them, that is to say, when no other hope remains to us but to seek our destruction in war, when the Filipinos would prefer to die rather than endure longer their misery, then I will also become a partisan of violent means. The choice of peace or destruction is in the hands of Spain…"