Rizal, the fifth generation

Did your parents ever take you to Luneta to watch the Independence Day parade? Or a reenactment of Rizal’s execution? My maternal grandfather, Dr Alfredo Guerrero, would take my brother and I to Luneta on July 4, that was when Independence Day was celebrated in those days. I enjoyed the fanfare and those floats representing departments of the government, each with a theme, and a motto.

Then, in May 1962, Pres. Diosdado Macapagal made a decisive proclamation that henceforth Philippine Independence would be commemorated on 12 June. On that auspicious day, our first President, Emilio Aguinaldo, in military regalia, was seated beside Pres. Macapagal in the Quirino grandstand. There was a parade of bureaucratic floats, as usual, but the military cavalcade was led by the Veteranos de la Revolución, a batch of staunch, battle-scarred men whose ranks dwindled through the years. Pres. Aguinaldo himself passed away in February 1963.

When my mother was appointed chairman of the National Historical Institute (now National Historical Commission of the Philippines) there was an infinite number of commemorations we had to attend–- Rizal’s birth and death, GOMBURZA, Mabini, Bonifacio, Balagtas, the Luna brothers, the Battle of Pinaglabanan, the Philippine American War etc.,etc.

An uncle, Francisco Lopez, descendant of Paciano Rizal, would invite us to the latter’s birthday in his chalet by Laguna de Bai. Tito Fran prepared quizzes and assigned us to read stanzas of the “ Ultimo Adios”. Looking back, I think my elders were, wittingly or unwittingly, preparing my generation for an eventual “changing of the guard”. Now that we are in our 70’s pushing 80, we recently decided to purposely pass the torch on the day of Jose Rizal’s 162nd birthday, in Calamba, Laguna.

The 5th generation will now be represented by Maxine Cruz, Raquel Torres Manalastas, Paolo Azurin who gave speeches on behalf of the family. I must include Julian Reyes (Saturnina line) for having a TV interview on my behalf and my grandson, Tekwani Araneta Morales, a mestizo Mexicano who reads Rizal in Spanish.

They are taking the task seriously. Maxine (Maria line) said: “Rizal’s writings and intellectual pursuits remind us of the transformative power of ideas. He understood the power of critical thinking and believed that education was the key to emancipation. He envisioned a nation of enlightened citizens, free from the shackles of ignorance and apathy. It is incumbent upon us, the youth, to embrace the values of intellectual curiosity, lifelong learning and empathy. By nurturing our minds and hearts, we can contribute to the betterment of our society, just as Rizal did. Today also marks what we call “the changing of the guards” within the family. A new generation is stepping up to bring him closer to the Filipino people. This does not mean starting from scratch, or erasing the past but continuing and strengthening what has already been built by adapting our methods to the world we live in today, and above all, continuing the legacy of our hero. A torch is being passed on to us, and we intend to make the flame burn even brighter.”

According to Raquel Torres Manalastas ( Narcisa line) : “ It is through the lens of the youth that we can truly understand the significance of Jose Rizal’s ideals and recognize the vital role we play as the future of our beloved Philippines. Rizal once said the youth is the hope of our future. Those words resonate with even greater significance today. We, the young Filipinos, hold the key to unlocking the full potential of our nation. It is our duty and responsibility to carry on Rizal’s vision and build a brighter future for generations to come.

“Rizal’s words and actions remind us that we, the youth, are the torchbearers of change, entrusted with the task of shaping the future of our action. Let us embrace this responsibility …fueled by the timeless values of justice, education and love of country. Let us honor the legacy of Jose Rizal by living lives that reflect his ideals, for it is in doing so that we can truly be the hope of our future.”

In Tagalog, Paolo Azurin, (Paciano line) spoke: “ Bakit nga ba importante pa rin sa mga Pilipino si Rizal. … Ang daming mga pelikula tungkol kay Dr Rizal at mas-marami pa ang mga librong isinulat tungkol kay Rizal kaysa sa librong isinulat niya. . Palagay ko’y dahil si Jose Rizal ay tayo rin– isa siyang anak, kapatid, kaibigan, estudyante, at OFW. Sa maraming aspeto ng ating mga buhay, meron tayong koneksyon kay Dr. Rizal.”

Other members of the 5th generation live in Mexico, Germany, Spain, Canada, Australia and the USA; they will defang Rizal’s denigrators while spreading his wisdom and light.