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Rizal: Hidden Beneath the Surface

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Submitted By OfficialNix
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Nikki Vanessa V. Novales July 20, 2012 # 2012-42443 PI 10 E2-6R

Rizal: Hidden Beneath The Surface
A Reaction Paper On “Bayaning 3rd World”

“Who is Rizal?” If you ask this question to any Filipino, they will most likely say, “He is our national hero” Or “He’s the person stamped on our 1-peso coin”. But is that all he really is?
The movie “Bayaning 3rd World” is about two film makers trying to make a movie about Rizal. They found out, however, that this would not be an easy task, for their subject is a very complicated man. Rather than focusing on a single issue about Rizal, they decided to make a detective story about Rizal being the country’s national hero. They tackled several issues but focused mainly on Rizal’s retraction and Josephine Bracken.
The movie was meant to be educational, but unlike most documentaries, “Bayaning 3rd World” is definitely not boring. The documentary was presented in a comical way, so that viewers of all ages would be able to understand it and grasp its meaning. I was confused at first because I didn’t know what the “Retraction Controversy” was and the two film makers started having these long conversations about it without explaining it to the viewers. But when I found out what it was all about, following the flow of the story became easy. Another controversy that arose was about Josephine Bracken, on whether she and Rizal were married or not. It was implied that if they were indeed married, then Rizal retracted for the church wouldn’t allow them to get married without doing so. It was further implied that if this was indeed true, then our national hero betrayed the country for a woman.
The Retraction Controversy is about whether or not Rizal wrote and signed a document saying he takes back and apologizes for all his attacks against the Church. While this was being tackled in the documentary, several questions started to form in my mind. First of all, why would Rizal retract? After writing two long novels and planning to write a third novel, why would he pull back? Is it because he feared for his life? If that was so, then he wouldn’t have written Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo in the first place. If he really feared for his life then he wouldn’t even have thought of going against the Church. As I was pondering over this, the name Josephine Bracken came up. At that time, there was no such thing as civil marriage, only marriage granted by the Church. Josephine Bracken was said to be Rizal’s Irish wife. If they were indeed married, then Rizal wrote and signed that document. If not, then Rizal’s signature was forged or possibly forced on him.
In the documentary, while the two movie makers were talking to Josephine Bracken, she claimed that her “Dear Joe” married her before he was executed. But this couldn’t be proven as there were no documents to support her claim. As the movie makers were investigating this issue, they encountered two of Rizal’s sisters, Trining and Narcisa. When asked about Rizal’s retraction, both of them said that they didn’t believe he would do such a thing. Narcisa claims that Rizal was simply a victim of the Church and had not done anything wrong. Trining was asked several times on this matter, at first she didn’t believe that her brother would retract, but upon seeing the signed document, she was convinced otherwise.
The two film makers also interviewed Father Balaguer, the man responsible for the release of Rizal’s retraction. According to him, Rizal did go back to being a Catholic. He also said that Rizal confessed multiple times, requested for mass to take communion and finally married Josephine Bracken. This was an expected answer from a priest, and so the two film makers are still nowhere near the truth. After this, a scene showing Trining and Narcisa opening a lamp was shown. In the lid of the lamp, Rizal’s last poem, “Mi Ultimo Adios” was hidden. Josephine Bracken then showed up, claiming that the lamp was meant for her, and not for the two sisters. Enraged by the woman’s claim, Trining started throwing foul words toward Josephine, calling her a “Hongkong Bitch” and a stupid woman.
The last part of the film showed the two film makers interviewing Rizal. The Rizal they were interviewing, however, was different from the image of Rizal they’ve managed to create through their investigations. The Rizal in front of them was “pilosopo” and is smoking, similar to the two film makers. Their Rizal finally stated that the image they formed was not the real Rizal but what they wanted Rizal to be. The film ended with the two film makers deciding to give up on making a film about Rizal, stating that it was too complicated for there are different kinds of Rizal for each of us and that his life only belongs in books.
I agree with what is stated at the end of this “mockumentary”. There is a different image of Rizal for each of us. Some of us think of him as a national hero, some of us doesn’t. What we believe Rizal to be is not necessarily the truth, but it is the truth we want to believe in. And Rizal’s life is certainly not fitted for a movie production. There are too many questions, with very little answers. His life belongs only in books, and it’s up to the readers on how they will interpret it.
Now, let’s go back to what I’ve said at the beginning. “Who is Rizal?” If you ask this to any Filipino, they will reply “He is our national hero.” Most Filipinos are satisfied with knowing him as just that. But is that the truth? Does he really deserve to be called that? I’m afraid the answer to that will forever be hidden beneath the surface.

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