Tuesday, May 8, 2007


My favorite Pinoy author is Ms. Barbara Gonzalez. If you have not read her books you missed a treat. I sent her this letter.

Ms. Gonzalez,
I just finished your book “We’re History.” Unlike your aborted dinner companion, I did not borrow a copy; I bought one. I am eagerly looking forward to reading “How Do You Know Your Pearls Are Real.”

I very much enjoy your writing style. You took me on an almost poetic journey through Philippine history and the Pinoy mind. I enjoyed the trip.

I am afraid my writing style is not as polished or as eloquent. My somewhat harsher blunt style undoubtedly is a reflection of my career choices and lack of formal education. One of your passages rang true for me. “A writer’s life is a solitary life. Not because it has to be, but because it takes courage and honesty to be the kind of writer I like to be.”

I reserve my own critical writing for my countries foibles. As a guest here in the Philippines I do not feel it is proper to criticize my host. I love your country and if I could contribute in anyway to help her attain her full potential, I would. But as you and EDSA have taught me, any problems that may exist, the Filipino people are fully capable of solving in their own time, in their own way. My ignorant musings in this area would not help and more likely would harm.

Having said all that, I do have a question. I was captivated by your efforts to humanize Jose Rizal. While I see your goal was to bring him closer to the people he loved by showing his flaws; I worry this is a two edged sword.

All our mortal heroes have feet of clay; Martin Luther King held a mirror to the face of America’s bigotry and prejudice. He forced America to change her ignorant and ugly nature. He also broke his marriage vows and kept a mistress. Thomas Jefferson was one of America’s most brilliant founding fathers. A genius and enlightened soul without whom there very well might not have been a United States of America. He not only owned slaves but fathered at least one illegitimate child with his house slave, Sally Hemings.

Does knowing our heroes were flawed make them more human or does it help to excuse our own flaws? Does knowing our heroes have “warts” make us appreciate their accomplishments more or less?

People are better than they think they are. People can achieve more than they think they can. People need role models that set goals and standards high enough that they must stretch to match them. We need inspiration not excuses.

Please allow me to breech good etiquette and suggest, let Jose Rizal’s towering brilliance shine through and let his relatively minor flaws lay undisturbed in the dust of history.

I look forward tour next poetic journey…. Admiringly.

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