Similarities Between Jose Rizal and Me

Episode 163 – Monday, June 19th, 2017 (7475)


Today is the 156th birthday of Dr. Jose Rizal, our national hero that he fought our country for freedom against the Spanish regime during late 19th century. He was a great genius to distribute his works in the Philippine history. He was a physician, educator, engineer, businessman, historian, farmer, botanist, essayist, linguist, musician, poet, novelist, painter, psychologist, sculptor, surveyor, traveler, zoologist, and more. But because of him, some of my things and happenings were almost similar to what Rizal did during his times. In this episode, I just want to share you about my things that are almost or somewhat similar to our national hero. There are my top 10 lists:

  1. Learning Different Languages


As we learned about the life of Dr. Jose Rizal during high school and college days, we’re so interested more about him especially to his great talent and wisdom. And as I mentioned earlier, he’s a linguist. Yeah, he could speak not only Filipino language but also Spanish, English, Ilocano, Bisaya, Italian, French, German, Japanese, Belgian, Latin, Greek, Arabic, Malay, Hebrew, Dutch, Swiss, Catalan, Subanum, Chinese, and Russian. He could speak 22 languages around the world that he learned. He’s a true linguist in our history. He easily mastered his speaking different languages as well as he met foreign friends during his travel abroad.

For me, although I don’t speak any languages aside of English and Filipino (Tagalog), there’s one “language” where I can communicate with deaf people. Sign language is also a form of communication for those who are deaf. And because I had studied in deaf institutions, such as Philippine School for the Deaf (PSD) and Alabama School for the Deaf (ASD), I learned this communication to my classmates who are totally deaf. There are different sign languages that I learned such as Sign Exact English (SEE – the most common use for Filipino deaf people), Filipino Sign Language (FSL), and American Sign Language (ASL) which I learned this when I was in the United States back in 2004. How amazing, isn’t it? So, I think I have almost a similar to Dr. Jose Rizal, a linguist, because of communicating different languages.

  1. Meeting with Foreign Friends

Indeed, I and Rizal also have a similarity in terms of having foreign friends because of our experiences to travel abroad. When Rizal was in Spain to study medicine, he met many Spaniards there to become his friends. In years later, he would also meet German, Japanese, French, Belgian, and other foreigners while he traveled in different countries. One of his foreign friends that he met was an Austrian professor named Ferdinand Blumentritt who became his best friend. Rizal always sent his letters to him to update the happenings about his life mostly when he was in abroad. He had many foreign friends from different countries where he traveled and stayed for a while.

Together with other exchange students at Montgomery State Capitol on January 29, 2005 (Photo courtesy from Tent Archives)

And again, I also have foreign friends most especially when I was in the United States as one of the exchange students back in 2004. While I was there, I met foreign exchange students from different countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Poland, Germany, Brazil, and South Korea (see one of my pictures above with other exchange students in the U.S.). They became my friends as well. Also, I met Americans (white, black, or native) while I was in Alabama, and some of them are deaf because I was studying in my host deaf school, ASD. Thus, I made them my friends other than my Filipino friends here, and I have connected with them as my distant friends thru social media such as Facebook.

  1. As an Artist

Actually, both of us have talent in arts. Yet, Rizal had his great talent in art such as painter and sculptor. According to the book about Rizal’s life that I read during college, he made some artistic sculpture during his school days in Ateneo Municipal (later became Ateneo de Manila University). Some notable works of Rizal were the image of Our Virgin Mary, Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Science Triumph Over Death. He also worked as a painter where one of his works was his sketch of his longtime sweetheart, Leonor Rivera. He also sketched several paintings and drawings. He had already learned art during his childhood days in Calamba and was taught by his uncle, Jose Alberto (the brother of his mother, Doña Teodora Alonzo).

The Skyscapers (Nov. 2006)
One of my beautiful artworks that I made in 2006.

Like him, I also have a talent in arts. However, although I’m not so much talented in sculpture and painting, I have drawn my drawings as my hobby. In fact, I drew several works that most of them were architectural design such as buildings and skyscrapers. My most favorite art was made in late 2006 where I drew a 36-storey building and a fountain nearby (see above). It was actually drawn on the sketch pad of my classmate that I borrowed back in college days. I also drew plenty of people in one place where they rallied to support me and my own imaginary world. Other “artistic” works that I made in the past 15 years were toll gates, superhighways, expressways, flyovers, and skyscrapers in the city. Most of these were drawn on my old notebooks and books.

  1. As a Writer

As we know in his history, Rizal wrote his famous novels such as Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. These novels led the Filipino people awakened and to fight their freedom against the Spaniards. These were based on his true observations about the events and incidents during the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines. Besides of writing his novels, he was also a writer of several articles such as his works in La Solidaridad, headed by his friend, Graciano Lopez Jaena. He’s also an essayist where I wrote several essays and poems. His first known poem was entitled Sa Aking Mga Kababata (To My Fellow Children) that he wrote it when he was only 8 years old.

But his skills in writing are also my hobby. I wrote several stories, articles, commentaries and documentaries, mostly about my life and happenings including this blog, My Tent Journal, which was started almost two years ago. I also wrote some articles describing my life in school, at my work, and even in my love life. When I was a child, I was so creative to make a little newspaper, and this would be my work for my own self-written newspaper from 2000 to 2003 which I called it, The Tent Newspaper (later The Tent Times), and most of the news that I wrote for it were the events and happenings about my life and some imaginations (as well as my own imaginary world).

  1. Going Abroad to Study

On Rizal’s side, after studying in University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Rizal decided to continue his medicine studies in Spain because he was not satisfied in his studies in UST due of discrimination between Filipinos (calling themselves as indios) and Spaniards. He took his studies in Spain for three years to finish his medicine course to become a doctor. This looks similar to me because I did to study abroad via foreign exchange.

It’s me when I visited Alabama School for the Deaf (ASD) for the first time upon my arrival in Alabama with the Woolmakers (Photo courtesy from Tent Archives)

Studying abroad that he took during his young life became a fate in my whole life during my days in high school. I never thought that this would happen to my whole life where Rizal had already done this during his school life about 122 years ago. When I was in junior year high school, by the encouragement of my teachers, I applied for a foreign exchange program to let a student to bring in the United States to study for at least one year. My application took six months to have lots of examinations and interviews until I was selected as the one of 40 high school students from different parts of the Philippines to become foreign exchange students. On August 9, 2004, we went to the United States to study for our respective host schools across the country, including my host deaf school, ASD, for one academic year. I was senior (fourth year) high school student when I entered there to study and was graduated with colorful and most memorable moments. Obviously, my studying in other school abroad was so similar to what Rizal did.

  1. Diary

Rizal loved to write, not only his essays, novels, and articles, but also on his own diary. He always wrote his happenings during his everyday life on his diary and even during his travel in different countries. I truly admire him because I also wrote my everyday life on my diary. Yeah, I had my own diary, but writing my diary hadn’t been started until 2003 when I was in sophomore year high school.

My Tent Diary 2007 was the best and most successful diary that I ever had where I wrote most memorable events during my college life. It was the only diary that I wrote for one whole year.

Before writing my diary in 2002, I began to write my happenings during my freshmen days in high school. It was called Tent Stories and Commentaries where it consisted of 24 episodes (chapters) narrating my happenings during my freshmen and sophomore years in high school. In January 2003, I wrote my first diary that I would write my everyday happenings during my high school life. And of these 7 editions of My Tent Diary that I made from 2003 to 2010, my favorite and most memorable diary that I wrote was My Tent Diary 2007 where there were lots of most memorable and unforgettable events happened during freshmen and sophomore years in college. Sadly, I’ve discontinued writing my diary due of my working time, lack of private place and time due of my elder brother sharing in my bedroom (it’s actually separated but connected in one door).

My Tent Diary is one of my sacred (and confident) documents that I keep where no one can read it. However, there was one time that it was almost seized because of non-sense incident when I was in college particularly in 2009. My parents wanted to seize my diary for stopping me to write, but I strongly refused because they had no right to take my own private properties including my diary. I’m already old enough to keep my own personal things! If my diary was almost bothered by my “enemies”, the diary of Rizal had the same fate.

Like me, Rizal’s diary was also seized by the Spaniards after he was arrested for rebellion. It was later returned it to Rizal after the Spaniard authorities saw his secret writings on the diary that he did state nothing against Spain. After his death in 1896, his diary was preserved by the historians to keep his writings about his life. For me, I want my diary to be safe and preserved in the future to reminisce my past when I’ll be gone.

  1. Consistent with Honors

Because of his great wisdom, Rizal was always consistent in class during his school days. From teaching him by his mother, he attended Ateneo Municipal for 5 years, and he became “emperor” in every subject that he studied. His grades in all subjects during 5 years in Ateneo were excellent, and on his graduation, he received the degree of Bachelor of Arts, with highest honors. After Ateneo, he attended in University of Santo Tomas (UST) to continue his studies although his mother opposed for it. His studies in UST were not so impressive unlike during his days in Ateneo, so that he decided to study abroad to continue his medical course. After studying in Spain for three years, his grades were excellent (some with prize or a scholarship) and completed his studies both Medicine and Philosophy and Letters. He’s a great genius as a student.

His school achievements were somewhat similar to what I did during my school times, mostly in my studying in a deaf school, Philippine School for the Deaf (PSD). Since I first attended at PSD that began in 1994, I had been always leading in class. Thus, I became consistent first honor in the class for 10 consecutive years (1994-2004). This made my school legacy into a great power as well as a leader. Although I was not so active in some school and extra-curricular activities unlike Rizal who joined some clubs in his school, I was remained on the top until the exchange program selected me to go to the U.S. to study for a year. My study in the U.S. was also my greatest achievement that I had, but this would be my last being the “top” of the class. After being transferred from the deaf school in July 2005, I had studied in non-deaf institutions for 5 years where my grades were still high but not getting the top of the class unlike what I had done in deaf school.

I probably think that I’m just the same to Rizal because of school achievements and being the “most intelligent” in school.

  1. Travel Different Places


When Rizal first left the Philippines to go Spain in 1882, he rode in a ship named Djemnah and traveled many places during his journey like in Singapore, Colombo, Suez Canal, Naples, Marseilles, and Barcelona, Spain where he arrived. In Spain, he met some Filipino students attended in their school to become new friends. After he was graduated, he also traveled many places with his friend, Maximo Viola, in some cities in Europe such as Paris, Berlin, some places in Germany, Prague, Vienna, Munich, Rheinfall, Geneva, Rome, and Vatican City. Shortly after his return home 5 years later, he again left the country (for his safety due of the friars argued against his novel, Noli Me Tangere) and traveled several places during his journey like in Hongkong, Macao, Japan where he stayed a little bit longer and met a Japanese girl named O-Sei-San who later fell-in-love with him, United States, London, and other European places that he traveled for his second time. He learned a lot of experience and different culture that he explored.

Like Rizal, I also traveled many places mostly in United States while I was an exchange student. It was a “dream come true” for me to travel abroad after I was selected as one of 40 Filipino students to study in the U.S. for at least one year. When I was there, I traveled with other exchange students, my deaf classmates and staffs of Alabama School for the Deaf (ASD), and of course, my host parents – the Woolmakers, in Washington D.C., the capital of the U.S., many places in Alabama (particularly in Birmingham), some places in Georgia (particularly in Atlanta), some places in Tennessee such as Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg, and in Spartanburg, South Carolina with ASD Academic Bowl team with many nicest and most memorable moments. If Rizal traveled on the ship, I traveled on the plane. My first time to ride in an airplane was the destination from Manila to Hong Kong on August 9, 2004, just three days after my 18th birthday, where I and other Filipino exchange students were so excited to go to the United States for our foreign exchange program. During my stay in the U.S., I already rode 12 commercial airplanes (including a free trip to Washington, D.C. with my ASD Academic Bowl Team in April 2005) from the departure in August 2004 to my return back home in July 2005. 10 years later, in October 2014, it was my second time to travel abroad where I traveled to Hong Kong with my friends from a financial school to attend our financial seminar. We stayed there only for three days and three nights.

This was a great experience for me to travel abroad, and like Rizal, I learned the different culture especially in the U.S. by the help of exchange program that I applied.

  1. Adversaries


Like me, Rizal also had many enemies throughout his life. It was because he fought for his country’s independence from the Spanish regime. In his young age, he learned from his eldest brother, Paciano, affecting on the martyr of three priests – Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora (collectively called as “Gomburza”) who were executed in 1872 after the Cavite Mutiny. Years later, he realized about the incident, so that he expressed his idea thru writing his first novel, Noli Me Tangere. This novel was similar to the true incidents in the Philippines portraying against the corrupt friars. When he went back home in 1887, most of the Spanish friars (except for the Jesuits) heavily criticized him after publishing his first novel. Because of that, this was the start of having adversaries to Rizal on the friars. For his safety, he left the country and continued his true patriotic ideas such as writing his second novel, El Filibusterismo. While he was in abroad, he also encountered some of his adversaries such as his fellow Filipino rival, Marcelo H. del Pilar, a duel with Antonio Luna because of his romance with Nellie Boustead, and another duel with Wenceslao Retana who heavily criticized Rizal about the latter’s anti-friars ideas. But because Rizal had better skill in weapons, his enemies were declined to have a duel with him including Retana who would later narrate Rizal’s biography. His writings (particularly against the friars) were the reason why he had enemies in his life.

His adversaries were more emerged when Rizal was accused for being anti-friar after Governor-General Eulogio Despujol discovered some handbills which were allegedly found in the pillows of Rizal’s elder sister, Lucia, when they arrived from Hongkong. Although he was innocent, Rizal was exiled in Dapitan where, not only he enjoyed his life in the lonely place, but also he would encounter other enemies in his life such as his debate with Father Pastells over the religion, and the spying of an “imposter” on Rizal. After his exile, he was accused for being the “leader” of the revolution against the Spaniards. Governor-General Camilo de Polavieja and other Spaniard authorizes were the responsible of the execution of Rizal that they would be forever the villains in the Philippine history.

Similar to Rizal, I started to have enemies in different situation such as teasing, betrayal, bullying, and threat. But the most notable enemies that I encountered were my former crushes and lovers, both from my different “worlds” – Deaf and Non-Deaf World. Yeah, indeed, it was because of controversies that we involved. I don’t want to discuss about my enemies because they’re already in my “past” life. Most of them were already excommunicated from my friendship.

But I ask you…, if Rizal was killed by the Spaniards because of his struggle for the country’s freedom, will my enemies “kill” me in the future? Obviously, some of them had already “killed” my happiness either all of us have been faulted on these incidents that I involved from the past.

  1. Being “Chickboy”

One of the similarities between me and Rizal that I like most is about being a “chickboy”. Yeah, indeed, both of us had dated so many girls involved in our lives.

Josephine Bracken
Josephine Bracken

During his days in Ateneo, he met Segunda Katigbak as his first lover, followed by “Miss L”, (although he didn’t reveal her true identity), and Leonor Valenzuela. Unfortunately, Rizal failed his courtship to them, but not until he met Leonor Rivera while he was studying in UST. She became his longtime sweetheart even though both of their families were not favored their relationship because they were “true” relatives as she was his cousin. Their longtime relationship was finally broken years later after Leonor Rivera was married to an Englishman by the choice of her mother.

When he studied abroad, he met some foreign ladies there. In Spain, he befriended Consuelo Ortiga y Perez who fell-in love with him in a short time. Years later, when he left the country again in 1888, he met Seiko Usui, also known as O-Sei-San, in Japan where he loved her in almost a long time. After O-Sei-San, he met and fell-in love to Gertrude Beckett, Petite Suzanne Jacoby and Nellie Boustead while he was in Europe. His romance to all of the girls that I mentioned was not fortunate for him especially to Leonor Rivera who had “betrayed” him after marrying to the Englishman which made him so hurt. While he was in exile in Dapitan, his loneliness in love was vanished by the introduction of Josephine Bracken, a pretty Irish lady from Hong Kong (see her picture on the left). He immediately fell-in love with her, and they got married although the priest in the place didn’t allow them to marry in front of the church. They had only son who immediately died few hours because he was immature. Nevertheless, they lived happily ever after until the death of Rizal in Dec. 30, 1896.

Like him, I have also several girls involved in my love life. During my young age, most of my crushes and sweethearts are totally deaf while I was studying in deaf institutions such as Philippine School for the Deaf (PSD) and Alabama School for the Deaf (ASD). I had some deaf girls who became my “illegitimate” lovers since my love life started to exist in 1997, and the most storied relationship that I had was my dating with a witty deaf girl who, similar to O-Sei-San, also has Japanese blood; however she later became my enemy because of her “scandal”. I had also fell in-love with some foreign ladies particularly when I was an exchange student I had a deaf American girl, just called her in initials “J.B.” in 2005, but my dating with her was so short due of my remaining days in the U.S. before I went back home in July 2005. Also like him, I also have failures to court and to grab my crushes (mostly are non-deaf and were in college) since I was transferred from so-called “Deaf World” era. Until 2012, I finally found a nice lady who was my first textmate to become my first ever (non-deaf) girlfriend. Our relationship was somewhat similar to Rizal’s fate to Leonor Rivera where their love relationship was a long distance. But Leonor broke her communication to Rizal after her mother was against their relationship making him so much hurt after he found that she was already married to an Englishman. This was also similar to my love situation after I and my former girlfriend broke our long distance relationship in June 2015 due of complicated reasons, and lately I found out that she had a “relationship” to other guy just months after our break-up.

When I was comparing my love life to Rizal, I’m realizing that both of us have almost the same fate in love life. On my observation, he was the first “chickboy” in the history, so that I admired him in terms of romance and courtship. But the question is… if Rizal married to a pretty Irish lady, Josephine, shall I get married to a foreign lady just like him? Hmmm… I don’t know, but for me, I will rather like to fall in love with a Filipina to be my “true love” in the rest of my whole life.

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I learned a lot from him based on his biography books that I read and studied while I was in college. I don’t think that I have some similarities to our national hero, but I guess because I really admire him so much as he’s the one of my idols in the Philippine history. And I ever imagine if he’s still alive today (even he would have been 156 years old, wow ah), I don’t think that he might be glad or worried about our country’s present situation. But to think if he would have escaped from the trial that put him into death sentence, he might have become our first Philippine president or even would live as a statesman guiding our young nation into prosperity. If ever his lone son could have lived from birth, the Rizal’s generation and blood could have been existed up to the present. But these didn’t happen alternately in our Philippine history.

Well, to my idol, Dr. Jose Rizal or “Pepe”, happy birthday and thank you for your bravery to fight our nation from the abusive and aggressive Spaniards.


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