KEY TO ENLIGHTENED, RESPONSIBLE CITIZENRY
By Rudy A. Arizala
19 August 2011
On 23 July 2011, we inaugurated in Infanta, Quezon the reconstructed Gabaldon type of school building housing 12 modern, spacious classrooms for the Infanta Central School.
The inauguration of said school building on 23 July was significant in the sense that on said date, a Filipino hero considered as the “Brain of the Philippine Revolution” was born at barrio (now Brgy. Talaga), Tanuan, Batangas. Incidentally, Mabini emphasized not only love of country but but also the value of education.
In paying tribute to his mother in his book: “La Revolucion Filipina” (The Philippine Revolution), he wrote as follows:
To My Mother:
When, still a child, I told you that I wanted to acquire learning, you were overjoyed , because your heart's desire was that a son of yours should be a priest; to be a minister of God was for you the greatest honour that a man could aspire to in this world.
Realizing that you were too poor to meet the expenses of my education, you worked as hard as you could, heedless of sun and rain, until you caught the illness that took you to your grave.
But I was not fated to be a priest. I am, however, convinced that the true minister of God is not one who wears a cassock, but everyone who proclaims His glory by good works of service to the greatest possible number of His creatures, and I shall endevour to be faithful to your desires as long as I have the strength to do so.
Mabini in his True Decalogue wrote the importance of education in the development of good citizenry of a nation as follows:
"Third. Thou shalt cultivate the special gifts which God has granted thee, working and studying according to thy ability, never leaving the path of righteousness and justice, in order to attain thy own perfection, by means whereof thou shalt contribute to the progress of humanity; thus; thou shalt fulfill the mission to which God has appointed thee in this life and by so doing, thou shalt be honored, and being honored, thou shalt glorify thy God."
Mabini also said that the Filipinos should cultivate God-given special gifts; work and study hard - "according to thy ability, never leaving the path of righteousness and justice.. ."
Aside from the value of education, Mabini in his “True Decalogue advocated also love of country and striving for its independence.
The True Decalogue’s fourth paragraph provides: “
Thou shalt love thy country after God and thy honor and more than thyself: for she is the only Paradise which God has given thee in life, the only patrimony of they race, the only inheritance of they ancestors, and the only hope of thy posterity; because of her, thou hast life, love and interests, happiness, honor and God.”
And its Sixth Paragraph states: “Thou shall strive for the independence of they country: for only thou canst have any real interest in her advancement and exaltation, because her independence constitute your own glory and immortality.”
Another Filipino hero and patriot whose 133rd birth anniversary we celebrate on 19 August 2011, is Manuel L. Quezon. He was born in Baler, Tayabas; rose to the Presidency of the Philippine Commonwealth and considered “the brain of Philippine Independence.”
II. Forlorn Statue?
It is not surprising therefore, that aside from the new Gabaldon school building, there is also a statue near said edifice. But perhaps due to the fact that the cynosure of the public was focused on the new school building many, if not all, did not notice said statue. I refer to the statue of Pres. Manuel L. Quezon. He, like Mabini, placed also great importance on education by issuing Executive Order No. 217 dated 17 August 1939, containing his Code of Citizenship and Ethics to give full meaning to the 1935 Constitution mandate in Section 5, Article XIII thereof as follows:
“ ...all schools shall aim to develop moral character, personal discipline, civic conscience, and to teach the duties of citizenship;”
Said provision of the 1935 Constitution is now contained in an amended form under Section 2, Article XIV of the 1987 Philippine Constitution which provides that education: “shall inculcate patriotism and nationalism, foster love of humanity, respect for human rights, appreciation of the role of national heroes in the historical development of the country, teach the rights and duties of citizenship. strengthen ethical and spiritual values.develop moral character and personal discipline, encourage critical and creative thinking, broaden scientific and technological knowledge and promote vocational efficiency.”
Like the True Decalogue of Mabini, aside from emphasizing the value of education, under Executive Order No. 217 or Quezon Code of Citizenship and Ethics specifically advocated also love of country and independence.
Paragraph 2 of the Code of Citizenship and Ethics states:
“Love your country for it is the home of your people, the seat of your affections, and the source of your happiness and well-being. Its defense is your prime duty. Be ready at all times to sacrifice and die for it if necessary.”
III. Effectiveness of Code of Citzenship
How effective is the Code of Citizenship and Ethics in making the youth of the Land imbibe the characteristics of a good citizen?
Based on the Quezon Award, the Code of Citizenship and Ethics has impact on the inhabitants of Quezon Province including that of Infanta, Quezon. Since the institution of the Quezon Award in 1970,from the town of Infanta alone, there were already twelve awardees (as of 2005), as follows:
1978 - Gen. Guillermo Nakar, Military Service (Posthumous)
1985 - Dr. Jose M. Pujalte, Medicine
1992 - Dr. Abelardo A. Mercado, Medicine
1994 - Bishop Julio X. Labayen, OCD, Christian Leadership
1995 - Amb. Rodolfo A. Arizala, Foreign Service
1998 - Fr. Francis B. Lucas, Community Development
1999 - Gen. Guillermo Nakar, Gintong Medalya ng Karangalan (Posthumous)
2003 - Atty. Jose Mario C. Buñag Law Practice
2004 - Ms. Mila Garcia Glodava Community Service
2005 - Dr. Amando A. Gurango, Military Medical Service (Posthumous)
Ms. Rita J. Ramírez, Education
Fr. Charlito C. Colendres, Spiritual Shepherding (Posthumous)
The Quezon Medalya ng Karangalan is awarded to persons in Quezon province who have outstanding achievement in special field of endeavor contributing to the promotion of the interest and welfare of the people. As stated earlier, in 2005, there were already 12 Awardees from Infanta, Quezon. There could be more now if we add in said list-- those Awardees from 2006 to 2011 who have imbibed and demonstrated Quezon’s standard or qualities of a good citizen.
IV. Other Legacy of MLQ
Before we close, aside from the above, what other legacy was left to us by Pres Manuel L. Quezon?
It may be recalled that prior to his death on 01 August 1944, he advised the Filipino people:
“After the lessons of the present war, one would be very blind indeed not to see that the postwar relationship between the Republic of the Philippines and the Republic of the United States should be as close as, if not closer than our relationship before the war. The security of both the United States and the Philippines, and perhaps the future peace of the Pacific, will depend very much on that relationship. Moreover, such a relationship is vital for the future influence of Occidental civilization in the Far East. The preservation of the present way of life of the Filipino people and their Occidental culture, which in effect are one and the same thing, would serve as a link between the East and the West, and might avert the coming of that day, which has been so often predicted by pessimists, when East and West shall clash.”
“My advice and counsel to the Filipino people is that they should preserve and perpetuate their Occidental way of life which they can only do through continued association and cooperation with America and the western world. Geographically, we Filipinos are Orientals and will forever so. Spiritually, that is to say, because of our culture and Christian civilization, we are with the west. The great destiny of the Filipino people, as I conceive it, is to play the role as the connecting link between Orient and Occident.” (Cited/quoted in the book: “Quezon, Paladin of Philippine Freedom” by Carlos Quirino, Manila Filipiniana Book Guild, 1971, p. 372).
The forlorn, unnoticed statue of Pres Manuel L. Quezon, on left, should henceforth continue to inspire the Filipino youth, especially that of Infanta , Quezon to emulate his sterling qualities of love of country, social justice, struggle for education and make him as their “role model”.