PHILOSOPHY may be defined as the study and pursuit of facts which deal with the ultimate reality or causes of things as they affect life.
The philosophy of a country like the Philippines is made up of the intricate and composite interrelationship of the life histories of its people; in other word, the philosophy of our nation would be strange and undefinable if we do not delve into the past tied up with the notable life experiences of the representative personalities of our nation.
Being one of the prominent representatives of Filipino personalities, Jose Rizal is a fit subject whose life philosophy deserves to be recognized.
Having been a victim of Spanish brutality early in his life in Calamba, Rizal had thus already formed the nucleus of an unfavorable opinion of Castillian imperialistic administration of his country and people.
Pitiful social conditions existed in the Philippines as late as three centuries after his conquest in Spain, with agriculture, commerce, communications and education languishing under its most backward state. It was because of this social malady that social evils like inferiority complex, cowardice, timidity and false pride pervaded nationally and contributed to the decay of social life. This stimulated and shaped Rizal’s life philosophy to be to contain if not eliminate these social ills.
Rizal’s concept of the importance of education is clearly enunciated in his work entitled Instruction wherein he sought improvements in the schools and in the methods of teaching. He maintained that the backwardness of his country during the Spanish ear was not due to the Filipinos indifference, apathy or indolence as claimed by the rulers, but to the neglect of the Spanish authorities in the islands. For Rizal, the mission of education is to elevate the country to the highest seat of glory and to develop the people’s mentality. Since education is the foundation of society and a prerequisite for social progress, Rizal claimed that only through education could the country be saved from domination.
Rizal’s philosophy of education, therefore, centers on the provision of proper motivation in order to bolster the great social forces that make education a success, to create in the youth an innate desire to cultivate his intelligence and give him life eternal.
Rizal grew up nurtured by a closely-knit Catholic family, was educated in the foremost Catholic schools of the period in the elementary, secondary and college levels; logically, therefore, he should have been a propagator of strictly Catholic traditions. However, in later life, he developed a life philosophy of a different nature, a philosophy of a different Catholic practice intermingled with the use of Truth and Reason.
Why the change?
It could have been the result of contemporary contact, companionship, observation, research and the possession of an independent spirit.Being a critical observer, a profound thinker and a zealous reformer, Rizal did not agree with the prevailing Christian propagation of the Faith by fire and sword. This is shown in his Annotation of Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas.
Rizal did not believe in the Catholic dogma that salvation was only for Catholics and that outside Christianity, salvation was not possible even if Catholics composed only a small minority of the world’s religious groups. Nor did he believe in the Catholic observation of fasting as a sacrifice, nor in the sale of such religious items as the cross, medals, rosaries and the like in order to propagate the Faith and raise church funds. He also lambasted the superstitious beliefs propagated by the priests in the church and in the schools. All of these and a lot more are evidences of Rizal’s religious philosophy.
In Rizal’s political view, a conquered country like the Philippines should not be taken advantage of but rather should be developed, civilized, educated and trained in the science of self-government.
He bitterly assailed and criticized in publications the apparent backwardness of the Spanish ruler’s method of governing the country which resulted in:
- the bondage and slavery of the conquered ;
- the Spanish governments requirement of forced labor and force military service upon the n natives;
- the abuse of power by means of exploitation;
- the government ruling that any complaint against the authorities was criminal; and
- Making the people ignorant, destitute and fanatic, thus discouraging the formation of a national sentiment.
Rizal’s guiding political philosophy proved to be the study and application of reforms, the extension of human rights, the training for self government and the arousing of spirit of discontent over oppression, brutality, inhumanity, sensitiveness and self love.
The study of human behavior as to whether it is good or bad or whether it is right or wrong is that science upon which Rizal’s ethical philosophy was based. The fact that the Philippines was under Spanish domination during Rizal’s time led him to subordinate his philosophy to moral problems. This trend was much more needed at that time because the Spaniards and the Filipinos had different and sometimes conflicting morals. The moral status of the Philippines during this period was one with a lack of freedom, one with predominance of foreign masters, one with an imposition of foreign religious worship, devotion, homage and racial habits. This led to moral confusion among the people, what with justice being stifled, limited or curtailed and the people not enjoying any individual rights.
To bolster his ethical philosophy, Dr. Rizal had recognized not only the forces of good and evil, but also the tendencies towards good and evil. As a result, he made use of the practical method of appealing to the better nature of the conquerors and of offering useful methods of solving the moral problems of the conquered.
To support his ethical philosophy in life, Rizal:
- censured the friars for abusing the advantage of their position as spiritual leaders and the ignorance and fanaticism of the natives;
- counseled the Filipinos not to resent a defect attributed to them but to accept same as reasonable and just;
- advised the masses that the object of marriage was the happiness and love of the couple and not financial gain;
- censured the priests who preached greed and wrong morality; and
- advised every one that love and respect for parents must be strictly observed.
That body of knowledge relating to society including the wisdom which man’s experience in society has taught him is social philosophy. The facts dealt with are principles involved in nation building and not individual social problems. The subject matter of this social philosophy covers the problems of the whole race, with every problem having a distinct solution to bolster the people’s social knowledge.
Rizal’s social philosophy dealt with;
- man in society;
2. influential factors in human life;
3. racial problems;
4. social constant;
5. social justice;
6. social ideal;
7. poverty and wealth;
9. youth and greatness;
10. history and progress;
11. future Philippines.
The above dealt with man’s evolution and his environment, explaining for the most part human behavior and capacities like his will to live; his desire to possess happiness; the change of his mentality; the role of virtuous women in the guidance of great men; the need for elevating and inspiring mission; the duties and dictates of man’s conscience; man’s need of practicing gratitude; the necessity for consulting reliable people; his need for experience; his ability to deny; the importance of deliberation; the voluntary offer of man’s abilities and possibilities; the ability to think, aspire and strive to rise; and the proper use of hearth, brain and spirit-all of these combining to enhance the intricacies, beauty and values of human nature. All of the above served as Rizal’s guide in his continuous effort to make over his beloved Philippines.