Study Questions to "Veneration without Understanding"
by Renato Constantino
"The true hero is one with the masses: he does not exist above them. In fact, a whole people can be heroes given the proper motivation and articulation of their dreams."
(01) Renato Constantino published his book in 1970 during the controversial American invasion of Viet Nam which brought about active student opposition both in the Philippines and around the world. It was the beginning of the Marcos era and Constantino (and others) viewed President Marcos, who would later declare a dictatorship, to be a pawn of American interests. The inspiration of the book came from a four day student workshop on nationalism.
How does the context of the era and the outlook of the author affect the article?
(02) Constantino maintains that Filipinos venerate José Rizal without truly understanding him. Would you agree? If so can you give some examples of an unexamined adoration?
(03) Constantino correctly points out that Rizal opposed the armed revolt of the Katipunan. Can you research why Rizal was opposed to a resort to arms? (Most biographies of Rizal take note of his meeting with Dr. Pio Valenzuela and the initial opposition which he voiced at that time. Use this as at least a part of your research.) How successful was the revolt of Bonifacio and later Aguinaldo against Spain? Did the predictions of Rizal prove true?
(04) What are the virtues of a gradual movement of a national identity and government? What are the virtues of a revolutionary approach? Conversely, what are the dangers of the evolutionary and revolutionary approaches?
(05) What good came from the revolution against Spain? What are the most positive outcomes of the subsequent revolt against American armed intervention and Imperialism in the Philippines?
(06) Do you feel that Rizal has overshadowed the revolutionary movement of his day and other leaders of that revolution?
(07) Few, if any, would doubt the preference of the American colonial administration for Rizal as the main figure to represent Filipino aspirations. What self-serving reasons would the U.S. Colonial administration have in its promotion of Rizal? What legitimate characteristics would a Filipino nationalist note in the character, writings, and ideals of Rizal toward the good of the country?
(08) Would Rizal have agreed with this statement by Constantino? Support your answer.
(09) How would you answer this question which is raised by Constantino? How would the life of the Philippine nation been different if Rizal had never been born? NOTE: you may want to review "The Role of Heroes"
(10) Compare and contrast the outlook of the ilustrado Rizal and that of Bonifacio, a common tao, who did not have the benefits which came by birth to Rizal.
(11) In the section "Innovation and Change" Constantino notes the commercial change and the improvements in infrastructure which led the Philippines away from a Spanish medieval mindset. What are the greatest needs for change in infrastructure that need to be addressed at this time in the life of the Philippines? Constantino also notes the class divisions that took place between the indio and mestizo during the last third of the 19th century. What class divisions are evident in the Philippine culture today? How do these divisions need to be addressed?
(12) Do Filipinos tend to over-identify with cultural traits of other nations and peoples? If so, name those nations and peoples that Filipinos tend to imitate? Do these attempts at imitation lead to genuine transformations or are they merely superficial copying?
(13) Do you feel that Constantino has a genuinely high regard for Rizal?
(14) Was Rizal's mission, in part, to seek out what was "authentic" and good about the Philippine character? Support your answer with examples.
(15) How independent is the Philippines from the pressure of other world powers such as the United States or Japan?
(16) Do Filipinos evidence any cultural bias when it comes to the darkness of a person's skin color? How about the region in which one was raised? Is there an urban bias and distain for those who are born in a rural setting? Does class bias remain a "cancer" in the heart and mind of most Filipinos?
(17) If you agree with Constantino what steps are needed to make all Filipinos (regardless of education or wealth) equal in the eyes of the law and in the esteem of its people? What forces work against this goal?
(18) Do you agree? Was the nation ready to govern itself throughout the 7,000 plus islands? Had Spain adequately prepared the Philippines for self-government at that point and time? Today is the Philippine nation moving toward liberty and justice for all her people? NOTE: as you consider your answer you might take into account the words of Father Florentino which Constantino quotes on page 140.
(19) What are the dangers of armed revolt? Are there ways that such dangers can be lessened? If so what are they?
(20) What Filipino(s) -- famous or not -- would you list that epitomize the best of a "Filipino hero"? Please illustrate from their lives what causes you to make this choice /these choices?
(21) Is it a worthy goal to discover in Rizal's writings and legacy those legitimate criticisms which plague the nation? What specifically from the life or writings of Rizal would you use to illustrate your answer?
Source: The Life and of Dr. José Rizal by Dr. Robert L. Yoder