There’s one fact that we Filipinos cannot accept – we are being manufactured. We are being mass-produced by this elitist society and we are not aware of it. Why? Because we chose to ignore the rays of understanding that we could have if we took off the shadow of ignorance that conceals us from reality. Over the course of history, over the pile of books and records that we have about the stupidity that lingered our very well-being, after centuries and decades of fighting for our freedom, over the dead bodies of our ancestors whose blood became the foundation of this very nation, over the legacies of our forefathers who failed to deliver us from the hands of the oppressors, we became afraid. We got scared of learning, we resorted to search for someone who can do the thinking and the oppressed of yesterday’s slowly turned into maniacs of today. Oh, Rizal, if you only knew what happened.
During my days in high school, I became aware of the characters of Rizal’s Noli me Tangere. I read, and analyzed each chapter and wrote individual summaries of the events, as translated in Tagalog by our textbook writers. That was for the sake of grades. The heck with them, I really didn’t read it by heart because I felt that it will not contribute to my life. I was thinking that Pinoy Big Brother teens edition was more important back then.
Fast forward, after eight years, I was able to obtain another copy of the English translation of Noli by Leon Ma. Guerero and San Diego started to take shape inside my head. I was able to hear the voice of the town people and the agony of Don Rafael inside the prison cell. Sisa’s pain pinched my heart as she prepared the meal of her sons and ended up being munched by her god/husband who cares no one but his gamefowl. And judging by the state of our country today, what do you think Tandang Tacio meant when he said that dying people don’t need medicine, but the ones who remain do?
Rizal’s legacy is to establish a good flow of knowledge among his people. But why? What will knowledge do to our lives? Ask Mr. Ibarra, who did his best to gain the approval of the officials to build a school for future children. Ask Tandang Tacio who wrote his books using sophisticated invented codes so that future generation will decode it and understand his legacy. Why did they want us to be educated?
We share the same attribute – ignorance. We ignore. It’s there but we ignore. Again. What will knowledge do to our lives? Will it make us rich? Probably, if you abuse the knowledge in order to deceive people. Will it give you power? Of course if you learn how to cheat.
But there’s this single destination that we share — death. Without knowledge, we forget that we are human. We will soon die, but will we say the words “worth it” at our deathbed? Several decades ago, the Spaniards made their pledge not to teach natives complicated knowledge. They just introduced us to basic reading and writing but they never taught us to reason, because they don’t want the people to raise questions. All they need to do is to pay and obey. Wealthy families sent their children abroad to study, some became crazy with Western influence, ask that to Dona Victorina, and some went back to their motherland to save his kin.
Today, yes, they granted us education, but the society is still dictating us what to do, what to wear, what to buy, who to worship, when to eat, what to eat, how to earn money, and continue to pay for nothing and live in the world of debts and bills and continue to live in misery under the spells of oligarch wretches until we die.
We were born to this cycle of life to be a part of the industrial wheels of oligarchy. And remember, the only duty is to pay and obey. Look around you, your balance in your bank, your parent’s plea to help them because they failed when they’re young and thus passing their mistakes to you, your church’s demands to worship them in an effort to raise influence and control minds, your school’s demands to reach a certain standard of achievement in an effort to train you to follow the rules, your boss’s boss’s boss’s demands to work overtime without pay in an effort to juice out everything they can from you , the judgment of the people based on your looks, the absurdity of the traffic systems that will waste your precious time , the society is gnawing us alive and consuming our remaining hours doing things for the sake of money and fake fulfillment . Fly seven miles above sea-level, or climb at the summit of the nearest mountain, look at the wide “civilized” community thriving our very country, widen your perspective and you will see that we are a bunch of slaves, holding our pathetic elementary , highschool and college diplomas.
So, why Rizal wanted us to learn? Simple. To understand life. To be happy. To fulfill the purpose of our human existence. To be with nature. To feel contentment even without the demands of the society. To cure the social cancer. Are we studying to meet the status quo, to slap the public with academic credentials just to be “accepted” and end up being a finished product of this giant factory of manpower, or simply because we want to learn? Are we human or just another zombie searching for Pokemon? Do you feel that you’re alive or just another warm body in existence as a part of the never ending pathetic system founded by the elites? The heck, do you even exist?
After the chase at the river, Elias wandered and ended up in the forest of San Diego. He found Basilio weeping beside his mother’s dead body few hours before Christmas. Elias obtained several wounds from gunshots. He’s dying. He instructed Basilio to gather wood and burn him along with his mother at a certain site. He directed the boy to dig at the place of the pyre and look for his gold. And his last instruction to the boy: STUDY.
And Rizal’s last instruction to us: STUDY.
Elias died without seeing the sunrise on his country. Rizal died without seeing the next day’s sunrise on his country. But, he gave the opportunity to the youth to, as per the words of Elias,
welcome it and not forget those who fell during the night.