Sunday, May 4, 2008

Rizal/ Bayaning Third World

It is Valentines Day, a perfect time to think about loving and loving and loving still. And to discuss about Rizal’s heroism at this time seems not so appropriate. I’d say, leave it to the historians. Let us give justice to our day of hearts. After all, Valentines doesn’t come everyday. Now, as a human being Rizal had his share of Valentines Days too. As I see it, he is more romantic than we are today. With the flowery words, geniality towards women, and his smooth moves, Rizal is definitely the perfect mushy-machine (although a coin would always have its other face). Needless to say, Rizal had a lot of flings and serious relationships. I don’t think I am bound to enumerate all of these women but since we are dwelling about Bayaning Third World, then the sole woman I opted to discuss is the Irish Jospehine Bracken and some of the controversial things connected to her.

Josephine, born of Irish parents, James Brown and Elizabeth MacBride, Josephine Leopoldine or Josefina as she was affectionately called by Filipinos, was born in Victoria City, Hong Kong on August 9, 1876. She took the family name Bracken from her adopted father, a Mr. Bracken.[1]

Some of the controversies connected to Josephine were that she was a Spanish spy and was sent by the friars to persuade Rizal to recant hostility towards the Church. In my own take, this line of thinking is a perfect plot for a modern telenovela and I’m sure the Filipino viewers would delight to see such kind of story. Rizal was influential indeed during his time and his family was rich, but I don’t think the Spanish Church would bother to plot anything against Rizal. If we look at it closely, the friars do not have a clue about what was going to happen in the future (unless they are relatives of Nostradamus) so they would not waste effort sending a woman who’ll coax an ilustrado detained in a far away place who they (friars) believe cannot do anything against continued poisoning of the Indios mind regarding religion –imposing tributes and indulgences. Well, I do not side by Josephine but as Rizal would put it, “I cannot take anything that is beyond reason.”

And another controversy that I just discovered from reading about Josephine was that after Rizal died, Josephine married a Filipino man named Vicente Abad, a businessman Josephine met at HongKong. They had a daughter named Pichay. Now historians say that this child could be Rizal’s but the couple decided to make it appear that it was Vicente’s since during this time, Rizal was still considered a filibuster. This is really startling for me. Much as I want for Rizal to have full descendants, unfortunately his son with Jospehine, Francisco, died. And if indeed this Pichay is Rizal’s blood then that would be wonderful. But we can never be sure now. There are just some things that we can’t change and history has become history not because we wanted it to be but because we had no control of the circumstances. Thinking of Ricky Davao’s line to Rizal – “Can you imagine if you were not shot in Bagumbayan?” What are the chances that Rizal won’t be a hero?

Anyway, these are some of the thoughts that made me reconsider my ideological position on Rizal’s life after watching the movie. Truly, the movie is a spirited deconstruction of the reputation of Jose Rizal[2] and made me smile despite its heavy statements.

[1] Isagani R. Medina, Ph.D. Women in Philippine history: Josephine (Josefina) Bracken (1876-1902).

[2] Time Out Film Guide 13. 3rd World Hero.

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