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Rizal, in his essay The Philippines A Century Hence said:

“Very likely the Philippines will defend with inexpressible valor the liberty secured at the price of so much blood and sacrifice. With the new men that will spring from their soil and with the recollection of their past, they will perhaps strive to enter freely upon the wide road of progress, and all will labor together to strengthen their fatherland, both internally and externally, with the same enthusiasm, with which a youth falls again to tilling the land of his ancestors who long wasted and abandoned through the neglect of those who have withheld it from him. Then the mines will be made to give up their gold for relieving distress, iron for weapons, copper, lead, and coal. Perhaps the country will revive the maritime and mercantile life for which the islanders are fitted by their nature, ability and instincts, and once more free, like the bird that leaves its cage, like the flower that unfolds to the air, will recover the pristine virtues that are gradually dying out and will again become addicted to peace — cheerful, happy, joyous, hospitable and daring.”

On the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary of Dr. Jose Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonzo Realonda, it is worth reflecting on the following: 1) The old men (and women), both colonial and local, are still with us, using historical myth-making as their powerful weapon, still monopolizing the lands and all sources of productive wealth, making a mockery of our hard-fought democracy, and condemning the vast majority of Filipinos to a life less cheerful, less happy, less joyous, less hospitable, and less daring; 2) Rizal meant for Filipinos to determine their own destiny; and 3) Filipinos need to be “new men (and women),”  with a sense of history and steeped in the Filipino culture, in order to strengthen the Motherland and for all to reap the blessings of democracy.

Sounds familiar? Happy birthday to the great patriot, Dr. Jose Rizal!

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