Dr. Jose Rizal: A Filipino Badass in His Own Right

It is no secret that European colonialists explored and conquered land all over the world for the 3Gs— God, Gold, Glory. Life changed in their conquered land no matter how long or short they remain. Resistance was to be expected from the colony’s locals because no one will just easily give up their home to another. Just as with any other conflict, there are different to go about it: take up arms or use diplomacy. Taking up arms seems like the more courageous fight because you are face-to-face with your enemy and your death. The use of diplomacy and negotiation between the elites and the lower-class locals seems impossible when they have become fed up with the cruelties of living under colonial rule. Living under Spanish-colonial rule for 333 years, Filipinos during that time have become fed up and sought independence in various ways. Dr. Jose Rizal, the country’s hero, was one of those who rebelled against the Spanish government, but he didn’t take up arms or negotiate with the gobernador-general or other officials. He took his pen and started writing pages and pages worth of poverty and the abuse of Spanish colonists— crimes against Filipinos. He is a bad-ass in his own right.

A “badass” can be defined as someone who has a tough or intimidating look, or quite frankly, someone that cannot be fucked with. Messing with these so-called “badasses” literally meant that you could be killed if you mess with them at all. There was a negative connotation associated with the word “badass”: that being a badass involves violence and that being a badass means one is superior to all.

Today, a “badass” is redefined to mean a multitude of things. Those who adhere to this definition of a badass would mostly disagree that Dr. Rizal was a badass because he did not take up arms and fought against the Spanish officials. He did not take refuge in the trenches with his fellow Filipinos when they were in an open fire with the Spanish military. However, he did what others had not done at that time– to write his novels, “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo”, to expose the corruption and abuse of the Spanish colonial government. Writing stories that expose the cruelty of the powerful, whether fiction or not, can be dangerous to any writer at that time. One would say that it was as courageous as taking fighting on the battlefield. Dr. Rizal portrayed the church as hypocrites to their own moral teachings, especially chastity. He showcased how elites used their power to escape the consequences of their wrongdoings. His display of the horrifying consequences of mistreatment and abuse against a country’s own people through his creative writing wounded the powerful Spanish elites’ reputation and ego. He remained firm in his advocacy for nonviolence means of resolving conflict– the road not taken by his peers.

Dr. Jose Rizal used his artistic talents to expose the crimes of Spanish colonizers against the Filipino people— a dangerous life-threatening feat only a true badass, like himself, can commit to until his death. Although he lost his life to a firing squad ordered by the Spanish government, his works did not go to waste. With his novels, the Filipinos were empowered to gain their confidence after years of being under colonial rule. We often talk about crimes committed by regular individuals against another, but what happens when the state commits crimes against its own people? How can you be a badass in the injustices our society experiences?

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