“Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunters.” ~African Proverb
The history of the world is written by those in power and to serve their own needs. Japanese history school books say little or nothing about World War II or their role in that disaster. For centuries, America almost totally ignored the contribution of minorities to our own history. Then in the early 1960’s the Civil Rights Movement forced a change to our historical records. Until 1946 Philippine history was controlled and recorded mostly by western powers. Since then such authors as Dr Gregorio Zaide, Antonio De Morga, and Negros Orientals own Caridad Aldecoa-Rodriguez have enlightened the world to the many valuable contributions made by Filipinos, both here and around the world.
Sadly despite over an estimated 4,000 new books on Philippine history many distortions and inaccuracies still survive. To illustrate my point I want to compare two historical figures, one western and one eastern.
Leonardo da Vinci is known around the world in every nation as a “genius”, a “Renaissance Man”.
“He was the most diversely talented person to ever have lived.”….Wikipedia
“Leonardo can be considered to have been the universal genius par excellence… Five centuries have passed, yet we still view Leonardo with awe”…. Liana Bortolon, 1967
“"There may not be in the world an example of another genius so universal,…. so far ahead of his own century “….H. Taine, 1866
Jose Rizal is not nearly as well known.
"A gem of a man.”…. Dr. Reinhold Rost, Curator British Museum.
"Pride of the Malay Race" ….Wikipedia
"The First Filipino"….Wikipedia
"Greatest Man of the Brown Race"….Wikipedia
Leonardo was the illegitimate son of a peasant girl; Jose was one of eleven children born into a middle class Philippine family. Leonardo accomplished very little until his teenage years when his talent for drawing was recognized. He became the apprentice / student for some of the greatest artists of his time. Jose could write the alphabet at age three and was reading and writing by age five. While his talent for art was also acknowledged, he was never provided any formal training. Leonardo never attended a university, while Jose not only attended four top quality universities but earned two doctorates. His student performance was always sobresaliente (outstanding). Leonardo only spoke Italian. Jose not only spoke Italian but twenty-one other languages. His linguistic fluency was such that he graduated from universities in three different countries.
Jose Rizal was a pacifist. Both Gandhi and Nehru credit him with originating the concept of “passive resistance”. Passive Resistance eventually freed India from British colonial rule. In contrast Leonardo spent much of his life designing and building “war machines”, unfortunately many of his designs were impractical and/or failures. His “helicopter”, “tank” and “airplane”, while ahead of their time, were poorly designed and would not actually work.
During Leonardo’s 67 years he is credited with being a : scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, musician, writer, aeronaut, botonist, civil engineer, chemist, geologist, optiical engineer, and zoologist.
During Jose’s brief 35 years he is credited with being an: anthropologist, architect, artists, businessman, cartoonists, cartographer, civil rights reformist, dramatist, diarist, editor, essayist, educator, economist, ethnologist, engineer, Freemason, hospital director, scientific farmer, historian, inventor, journalist, linguist, musician, mythologist, nationalist, naturalist, novelist, ophthalmic surgeon, pacifist, poet, propagandist, psychologist, playwright, martial artist, scientist, sculptor, sociologist, teacher, theologian and writer. He was also an expert swordsman and an excellent shot. He carried on a very active correspondence with intellectuals from around the world, often in their own language.
I do not want to denigrate Leonardo da Vinci. He was a genius and far ahead of his time but it becomes immediately obvious that Jose Rizal accomplish ten times as much in half the time. He was NOT just the “greatest man of the brown race”; he was a great man of all races. If Rizal had been given the support and opportunities that Leonardo enjoyed, one must wonder to what intellectual heights he might have soared.
There is much to be appreciated in Philippine history and culture but you must search it out because the full story has been hidden for over 500 years. Be an informed Everyday Hero. Do not accept everything you hear and do the research. Check even me and when you think I am wrong, write the editor. Truth is more important than ego.
One last bit of information you might find interesting. Modern genetic research has revealed Leonardo da Vinci’s mother was probably an Asian slave from Constantinople.