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Rizal and PNoy

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If Dr. Jose Rizal were alive today, what advice would he give PNoy for the president to liberate Filipinos from the present-day, relentless oppression of poverty, corruption, insurgencies, breakdown of law and social services, meltdown of ecology and natural resources, and social disunity and divisions?

Rizal, whose 150th birth anniversary the nation commemorated last Sunday, June 19 amid much affection for the national hero, espoused through his writings and humanitarian work for the emancipation of his countrymen through peaceful but fundamental reforms in the Spanish colonial government.  For his vision and love of country, the colonialists made him pay with his life, but his martyrdom enraged and mobilized other patriots to fight successfully for independence.  By his death, Rizal – who was deeply spiritual despite being critical of his contemporary friars – epitomized Christ’s admonition that “those who lose their life for my sake will find it”.  Rizal is by all means immortal now.

More than a century after the first and tentative independence of 1898, we continue to stagger along under the crippling effects of centuries of foreign rule by three successive colonial regimes, soon followed by 14 years of harsh and autocratic Martial Law rule.  As a consequence, our culture today has been described as badly damaged, and this may be the reason why the nation is chronically afflicted with a huge number of social, political and economic problems.

Like Rizal, Pnoy comes from the ranks of the social and economic elite.  Can Pnoy overcome his oligarchic ties to heroically unify and lead his countrymen in defeating massive poverty and all the other terrible afflictions that endanger our lives and future?

His one year as president presents an ambivalent, not so re-assuring picture.  Fighting corruption as he is doing obsessively is important, but closing the multi-faceted gaps between the rich and poor will take even more Herculean effort, far more than his mere doling out of patronage cash to the starving.  He will have to give up his Porsche, his coat, and – like Rizal - his life (in the Christian sense, perhaps including any would-be wife) to find it for his countrymen, if he truly loves them as our national hero did.

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Reforesting our badly denuded mountains and mangroves is probably the most urgent and important task of the present generation for the sake of ensuring our society’s long-term environmental, economic and social sustainability.  So on international Arbor Day this Saturday, June 25, local residents are urged to participate in planting at least 10,000 tree seedlings in various parts of the city.

The event will also kick off locally Pnoy’s newly-inaugurated National Greening Program that requires the planting of six million trees nationwide in the next five years.

The indispensability of trees cannot be oversized, given the extent of ecological destruction everywhere today.  Trees re-oxigenate the atmosphere, replenish underground water reservoirs, fertilize the soil, prevent soil erosions that otherwise destroy rivers and fish sanctuaries in mangroves and marshes, provide habitats for animals and other living things,  hoard water for agricultural use, and so on.  (Press Release/Peace Advocates Zamboanga)




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