TODAY JUNE 19, 2015 marks the 154th birth anniversary of the Philippine national hero, Dr Jose P. Rizal.
Members and officers of the Order of the Knights of Rizal Sydney Chapter, Rizal Park Movement Campbelltown (RPMC) and Campbelltown & Region Filipino Community Council Inc (CRFCC) observed the date with floral offering at Rizal’s bust at Ibero-American Plaza near Central Station Sydney and at the foot of the hero’s bronze statue at Rizal Park in Rosemeadow Campbelltown.
Philippine Consular General Anne Jalando-on Louis together with other Sydney consular officers were in attendance in both locations.
Highlight of today’s commemorative activity is the reading of the national hero’s letter to his youngest sister, Soledad.
In his letter to his sister, Rizal counselled his sister who was a teacher, to be a model of virtues and good qualities “for the one who should teach should be better than the persons who need her learning.” Nonetheless, he somewhat rebuked his sister for getting married to Pantaleon Quintero of Calamba without their parents’ consent.
Philippe de Champagne
Brussels, 6 June 1890
Miss Soledad (Rizal) Mercado
My Dear Sister:
I was much pleased to know that you are teaching because your position will oblige you to improve yourself more and more in an effort to be a model of virtues and good qualities, for the one who should teach should be better than the persons who need her learning.
Unfortunately, I learned afterwards that because of you, the peace of our family has been disturbed, the peace already so upset. It is true that I have already caused it much harm, but at least there remains for us the consolation that my motive is not shameful and does not humiliate anyone; on the contrary, it dignifies us and makes us worthy of consideration even in the eyes of our very enemies: To fall with the head high and a serene brow is not to fall, it is to triumph. The sad thing is to fall with the stain of dishonor. Besides, I can be what my enemies like, but never can they accuse me of anything that will make me blush and lower my head, and I hope God will be sufficiently merciful with me that he would prevent me from committing one of those sins that involves an entire family. Well now, if I ask for myself this good fortune, it is because I do not wish to increase in the least the sorrows we have, and we have already had many, and this is also what I’m asking of you, Trining, and Pangoy. Always keep before your eyes the honor and good name of us all. Don’t do anything that you cannot say and repeat before everyone with head up and a satisfied heart. If you have a sweetheart, behave towards him nobly and with dignity, instead of resorting to secret meetings and conversations that do nothing but lower a woman’s worth in the eyes of a man. Men should be noble and worthy and behave like men and not like thieves or adventurers who hide themselves. You should value more, esteem more your honor and you will be more esteemed and valued.
As to myself I can tell you (without posing as a model) that in my love affairs I have always acted with nobility, because I myself would feel humiliated if I had conducting myself otherwise. I have despised and considered unworthy of me any young man that I have seen hiding and fleeing between shadows.
I enjoin you to consider the gray hair of our parents; they were already very old and we should sow with glory their old days. There is a certain egoism in the love of parents, it is true, but it is an egoism that is the offspring of their excessive love. Parents would not wish to see their children unhappy. I’m a man and when I returned there I was older, and more experience and more wisdom than you have, and above all I have more commitments. You know well, as all of you do, that I should and could go to Pangasinan (1) that I had a formal engagement there, and that for many years one of my great desires has been to go there. Well then, despite the fact that I have been cherishing this desire for a very long time, and I still cherish it, our father’s opposition was enough for me to give up all my plans. I should like to go to Bacolor, our parents opposed it, and I gave in and obeyed them. And notwithstanding that, my disobedience would not have brought the slightest dishonor to us. Leonor (2) has done the same thing as I did. Although she wished and could go to Manila with her father to fetch her nephews, he father’s mere opposition was enough to stop her from insisting on it, and frankly, if she had insisted and I had known it, I would certainly not have gone to see her.
You are no longer a child, all of you are no longer children, nor are you uneducated. Thanks to our parents you are educated and informed; I speak to you as my sisters and I repeat to you: Think of the old age of our parents, of your honor and of ours. You have many nieces; give them a good example and be worthy of yourselves.
(1) Rizal is alluding to his visit to the Philippines in 1887. His father restricted his movements on account of the threats against his life by his enemies the friars who hated him for his writings, especially Noli me tángere.
(2) Rizal’s fiancée, Leonor Rivera.