Since early childhood, Jose Rizal already loved books. His mother, Doña Teodora Alonzo taught him how to read a material in Spanish language and developed his mind and artistic talents by telling him wonderful and colourful stories and poems. Furthermore, his Tio Gregorio, a book lover, intensified his reading of good books. The favourite pastime of Rizal during his stay in Madrid was reading. Instead of gambling and flirting with women as many young Filipinos did in the Spanish metropolis, he stayed home and read voraciously until midnight.
I can relate Rizal’s love on books to my passion. Since my high school days, I was drawn to insightful books and magazines.
Unfortunately, this passion of mine was not developed early enough because our school’s library back then is poorly-equipped. There are only few books and most of them are outdated but I managed to gain insights from them. By the time I went to the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) in Cebu City to pursue my college studies, I was very much excited when I found out that the institution has a very fascinating library.
The size of our library in high school is only one percent of the library of this University. I was amazed by the myriad of new and insightful books displayed in the book shelves. Furthermore, the facility has a huge space so that it can accommodate lots of students.
It is during my stay in this University did enhance my reading skills and develop my personal character through reading good and informative books. Through reading lots of books and magazines as well as surfing in the internet, I was able to widen my knowledge and nurtured my soul. I gained lots of information and wisdom from these reading materials. Moreover, my vocabulary and grammar had also improved through knowing the meaning of new words I read from the books. Indeed, reading will truly bring you liberty– freedom in your mind and soul. One of the most favourite novels of Rizal was the Count of Monte Cristo which was authored by Alexander Dumas. This novel—which portrays the story of Edmond Dantes– instilled his romantic cravings. Accordingly, the life of Edmond Dantes was a story of hope, vengeance, forgiveness, and mercy. This novel was an excellent example of pure wisdom and love. The theme of its story struck Rizal’s genius mind and unique character. The novel became a favourite reading material of the hero during his teenage years.
On the other hand, I can say that this story of Edmond Dantes was truly one of a kind during the times of Alexander Dumas. The story would show us the evil side of human person– selfishness and pride. In fact, the events in the story still exist during these times. One good example is the corruption and injustices happening in our country. To name a few: the case of Ampatuan Massacre which until now is still not resolved and the families of the unfortunate victims still not able to taste justice of the crime; and the unending corruption in the Philippines. Furthermore, we can also relate the theme of the story to each of us. The novel was an epic adventure of a human being’s nature and emotions. I can say that it is natural for us to feel angry to those who had wronged us. When we hold grudge to someone, we are compelled to take revenge in order to satisfy our feelings of anger. In fact, this kind of emotional adventure has already happened to me once then and I learned so much out from that experience. Surely, it had also happened to someone else on this planet and many lives are torn apart just because of the selfishness and pride of some people.
However, when we surrender everything we feel to God and feeling all those emotions of anger without trying to change anything that has happened to us– we will soon be enlightened and forgiveness will step our way. When everything is already enough and we feel that many people have been affected just because of that feeling of anger and revenge, we start to forgive those who had wronged us. Accordingly, this is one of the best feelings we experience as humans because in forgiveness you see peace and love. When you forgive a person, it means that you are letting go of that grudge and finds your way to peace and happiness. Indeed, the Lord Jesus taught us to forgive those who had wronged us. Even He Himself died in the cross in order for us to be redeemed from our sins and to experience new life. That’s how huge God’s love for us. Thus, it is fine when we have to undergo feelings of anger towards a person.
It is good to feel it rather than rejecting it because when we start running from the truth that we are angry at the person– and all we just feel is revenge– we start to hurt ourselves and others. Our health will be destroyed so much that our relationships will be in much chaos. Perhaps, this novel nurtured the spirit of Rizal to fight Spanish tyranny. He was consciously aware of the atrocities and maltreatment that some Spanish officials and friars did to his fellowmen. Corruption and injustice were everywhere but most of the Filipinos were not aware of it. The powerful Spanish Friars just used the Catholic Religion in order to cover their corrupt actions. But Rizal knew that there was something wrong and he must act to fight it. Furthermore, another two books that deeply affected Rizal were Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Eugene Sue’s The Wandering Jew. These two books aroused his sympathy for the oppressed and unfortunate Filipino people.
He further developed and liberated his mind by reading various books and studying the different lives and cultures of the European countries. He was desperate to free his suffering countrymen from slavery and torture. As much as Rizal did free his mind to venture into the unknowns and to find out that everything that the tyrants did were wrong through fervent studying, he also liberated the minds of his countrymen through writing his first novel “Noli Me Tangere”. Indeed, Noli was a very excellent novel that showed the truth– that the tyrants are torturing the Filipino people. Because of this novel, the Spanish friars were enraged and they tried to protect themselves by attacking the novel. However, truth will always prevail and the good will always win. I can say that Rizal was designated by God to be the saviour of the Filipino people against Spanish tyranny and we can see this through his unique genius and patriotism.
He loved his countrymen and he found wisdom in every wrong thing happening in his country. He tried to find a way in order to correct this wrongdoing and he prepared himself to free his countrymen. Indeed, Rizal was a true liberator. And one of the factors that encouraged him to liberate his mind and his people was reading good books. Thus, I can say that reading can free your mind from negative “stinking” beliefs that blinded you from seeing the right and positive way of living. In fact, I could say that some of our beliefs that we developed and inherited based from our past experiences and influences are all lies.
They need to be removed in order for us to see the truth, the right direction and the most eternal way. And we can do this through reading and acquiring wisdom and knowledge. Our lives are driven by our own beliefs and those beliefs brought us to where we are right now whether those beliefs are right or wrong. As much as Rizal freed his countrymen from Spanish tyranny through using his exemplary character and outstanding genius, we can also free our minds against the negative thoughts that are barring our minds to see the right way towards living the most out of life through continued developing of our character and perseverance and passion to learn new things even to the things that we do not know. That’s a true heroism!