Bf, ever the fanboy, wanted to attend Ambeth Ocampo's new lecture. I was impressed with the famed historian's previous lecture so I readily agreed.
Ayala Museum was already bursting with people when we arrived. We had no choice but to stand at the back.
All of us Pinoys know who Jose Rizal is. We've been taught stuff about him since we were tiny snotty brats. Still, Ambeth had to clarify:
No, Rizal was NOT Hitler's dad.
(But he might have or might not have been Jack the Ripper.)
Rizal has always been put on a pedestal by most teachers and historians. He was the perfect son, the perfect student, yadda yadda. He was virtually untouchable. Anyone who disagreed would be struck down and taken to a private field trip, never to be heard from again. Sure, Jose got involved with several girls but those girls were more of admirers who our hero found impolite to turn down. Jose was always serious and pure. He wouldn't have become as great as he was if he wasted time with vices or clowning around.
In Ambeth's lecture, he took Rizal off his pedestal and put him in the same room as us. We realized that Rizal was not perfect. He was not a demigod, but a human being just like us. He joked around, ribbed his friends, engaged in activities his parents would not have approved of. He didn't walk majestically, living and breathing heroism every freaking day. He also had his share of doubts and regrets, as well as cowardice when it came to romantic matters, which led to a string of broken-hearted women.
In short, he was normal.
The audience appreciated this approach in tackling Rizal's private life. It was refreshing and inspirational to know that we flawed mortals could be awesome too. After all, Rizal is a hero, not a god. What good is a hero if his greatness can't be emulated, right?
Aside from the lecture, we also got Ambeth's new book Chulalongkorn's Elephants.
You can find pictures of the Queridas ni Rizal lecture at the Ayala Museum's Facebook page.
Ambeth Ocampo's "Queridas ni Rizal" Lecture
Makati City, Metro Manila
September 10, 2011