Saturday, August 24, 2013

The First Filipino by Leon Maria Guerrero

Originally posted at Goodreads

For all the years, studies and romanticisms of Rizal, he has somewhat remained, an enigma. This is not surprising.

The vast number of scholars that have attempted a great many times to deconstruct and understand Rizal on his writings have fallibly tainted Rizal’s political ideologies and perspectives in doing so. Some even failed to see that what they have deconstructed was not Rizal, but an image hewn from themselves.

Some of this were, Agoncillo who regarded Rizal as a “revolutionary reformist” or “reformist revolutionary” while Constantino declared Rizal’s genuine agenda were the Hispanization of the Indio and the assimilation of the Philippines to Spain, which proved little to clear the matter but in essence has founded the contradiction that has bedeviled nationalist historians. Romeo Cruz however puts it differently by saying that Rizal’s purported assimilation is the union of sectionalism – loyalty entrenched in the Filipino people and nationalism – this he refers to the loyalty directed to Spain. The belief that these sentiments are subversive and seditious to the national cause is wrong, for nationalism does not favor class and the nature by which it is defined.

Floro F. Quibuyen maintains that this view is inherently flawed on the aspect that most of our scholars’ personal standpoint is levied upon the Enlightenment terms when Rizal is studied. Viewing the matter in the Enlightenment terms merits a view in terms of the liberal concept of the nations–state. The state exercises power in making and enforcing laws in behalf of the people it stands for. But Rizal’s vision went beyond the liberal concepts conceived by the Enlightenment period.

Does this rudimentary predicament afflict Leon Maria Guerrero's work?

In the pursuit of veracity more than brevity, I quote and support the introduction in saying that:

"... it presents him in the guise of the original and singular philosopher he is, as well as the great stylist and thinker of clarity, precision, and profundity he also is."

An achievement in itself.

The question looms however, and whether one accepts the answer entirely depends on no one else but the reader as much as the material. Is Rizal worthy to be the first Filipino? Is it fitting?

As any historical work, the historical narrative is to be subjected upon critical objective examination. Points of contention undeniably exist, which are realistically inevitable, in the historicization. This subjective scholar preference I'm pointing exists for example on Leon Guerrero's choice with which to start his discussion (Gomburza), which also implicitly carries his nationalistic orientation (that is much to be desired).

Still, as it stands, a great scholarly work.
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