on May 21, 2001
This masterpiece work of literature written by the famous asian historian Gregorio Zaide, tells us of the contribution of Doctor Jose Rizal in shaping and awakening the entire nation from the pit of corruption and injustices. For those of you young Filipinos there....read this book. This will ignite a flame in your heart...the flame of patriotism. Because of the hellish political instability, poverty uprising in our country, I think patriotism and love for country will solve our countless
problems...for if we have love...we will not only think of our own good but we will be directed to the thought of serving the country FIRST before our own interests. The book will indirectly teach you how to destroy that greed in your heart and love your country...
on July 17, 2003
A review of Jose Rizal: Life, Works and Writings of a Genius, writer, Scientist and National Hero, by Gregorio Zaide.
I was required to purchase and read this book for a class in the University of the Philippines, and boy was my money and time wasted! This reads not so much as a sober historical biography, but as a gospel of Jose Rizal, a hagiography of a deified savior of the Philippines. There is a paucity of critical analyses of historical data, and an overly credulous acceptance of anecdotes and unsubstantiated stories.
As is quite common of early Filipino historians like Zaide (Agoncillo is another example), their methodology is nothing more than creative story-telling and recounting legendary embellishments as though they were fact. To them, the historico-critical method of modern historical scholarship does not exist, or if it does, they definitely did not to use it.
And what's with all this overly religious language? Anything that Rizal ever possessed is God-given, and he rarely makes mistakes, and if reported, the author is quick to make lame excuses as to why he was wrong, or was unsuccessful (he would make a good Christian apologist, IMO). His family name had an auspicious beginning, and it was said that he even prophesized his eventual greatness where people would build monuments in his honor. Maybe Zaide should have read Joseph Campbell to see the numerous mythological motifs his portrait of Rizal has, and maybe, just maybe, he would be skeptical of even a few of the things he read about the Great Hero.
And there was even a passage in Zaide's book of Rizal's success being due, for the most part, to divine providence (p. 19). Is this what passes as scholarship back then? Aside from the fact that it is unverifiable, it is nothing but crass proselytizing. For shame!
And there is even a tidbit about "heredity influences" on Rizal. Words cannot express the sheer superficiality of Zaide's scholarship in Biology, so I will quote his entry at length:
"According to biological science, there are inherent qualities which a person inherits from his ancestors and parents. From his Malayan ancestors, Rizal, evidently, inherited his love for freedom, his innate desire to travel, and his indomitable courage. From his Chinese ancestors, he derived his serious nature, frugality, patience, and love for children. From his Spanish ancestors, he got his elegance of bearing, sensitivity to insult, and gallantry to ladies. From his father, he inherited a profound sense of self-respect, the love for work, and the habit of independent thinking. And from his mother, he inherited his religious nature, the spirit of self-sacrifice, and the passion of the arts and literature." (p. 18)
I wonder, does Zaide believe in the pseudoscience called phrenology? He had said on two different occasions about Rizal's big infant head. While not saying explicitly, he seems to put much weight into the size of Rizal's head. Was he trying to connect it with Rizal's intellect?
If you're looking for a good introduction to Rizal's life, this book is definitely not it. Nor are the alternatives any better. Jose Rizal studies is in a stagnant condition, and that is quite a shame. Let us hope that future historians would not sully Rizal's name with such fetid junk passing of as scholarship. He would definitely turn in his grave.