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Education: Dr. Jose Rizal’s Supreme Aspirations for The Filipino Nation

This essay presents Rizal’s educational philosophy and his concept of civic virtue and Filipino nationalism.

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One of Rizal’s reform agenda was the Philippine representation in the Spanish Cortes. He expressed in a letter to his friend Blumentritt his ardent desires: “When we shall have obtained this (representation in the Cortes) concession, then we shall rest and devote our strength to the education of our people, which is my supreme aspiration.” Rizal had firmly believed that political reforms were only possible through education and liberty. Rizal wrote, “Without education and liberty – the soil and sun of mankind – no reform is possible, no measure can give the desired result” (Rizal, The Indolence of the Filipinos).

Virtue: The Core of a True Education

        The educational ideas of Jose Rizal were actually first conceptualized when he was only sixteen years old. While still a high school student in the Ateneo Municipal, he wrote two poems entitled, “Education Gives Luster to the Motherland” and “Intimate Alliance Between Religion and Education.” A summary of these two poems runs as follows:

“Wise education is the mother of virtues.  Where the youth are wisely educated, they become vigorous and their ideas are exalted. They become intolerant of error, break the neck of vice, halt crime, tame the barbarous nation, and raise savage nations to a nobler station.

“Wise education lights the living flame of virtue. When education is nourished by the principles of religion, she may walk toward the good and spread everywhere the fruits of virtue. The country progresses because of those whose goodness comes from a Christian education.

“When education is complete and true, there is no human suffering we cannot overcome. The educated citizen spreads his blessings among his fellowmen. His examples make others climb the height of honor. He faces the problems of his country and guides its destiny.

“Through wise education, art and science are born and enduring peace is given to the motherland. Wise education exalts the human mind, enlightens motherland, lifts her to lofty seat of glory and offers her endless glow.

In the second poem, Rizal wrote: “Without Religion man’s Education is like a ship struck by the wind.” (Jose Rizal. Rizal’s Poems, Writings of Jose Rizal, Volume III, Book One (Manila: National Historical Institute, 2002) 9-10.) Moreover, Rizal puts further stress on virtue and encourages his fellowmen to live up to such virtues. He asserts:

“True virtue is modest and simple. True Christian virtue is the only true virtue, humanitarian, universal, humbly heroic, which the son of God bequeathed to men as a symbol of peace…for the ills not only of the community, people, or race, but of all of mankind.

“To do good to one’s fellowmen, to make a sacrifice for the happiness of others, to tell the truth even to one’s detriment, look upon all men as brothers are acts that go unnoticed, either because true virtue is modest and simple or because it is unknown to men.

“May my countrymen also sacrifice their passion on the altar of the country….May they seek their welfare in the virtue that distinguish and adorn free peoples.

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