How Rizal Became the National Hero of the Philippines

Find out why Jose Rizal (and not Andres Bonifacio) is the national hero of the Philippines.

It has always been a heated argument on who deserves to be called Philippine’s national hero — Jose Rizal or Andres Bonifacio.

Why is Jose Rizal the national hero of the Philippines? It is interesting to note that Jose Rizal’s heroism was recognized first by the colonizing Americans and later on by General Emilio Aguinaldo.

Recommended by US Governor Taft

The Americans (through the American Governor William Howard Taft) recommended to the Philippine Commission, which was sponsored by the US, to declare Jose Rizal as a national hero for the Filipinos. The Americans recommended Rizal because of the fact that he was executed by the Spaniards and of his peaceful way to achieve liberty. Unlike Andres Bonifacio whose desire to achieve independence for his native land required armed approach. The Americans deemed this approach to independence of Andres Bonifacio to be unacceptable and may inspire other Filipinos to rebel against American rule. This is why Jose Rizal was chosen over him as the national hero. Jose Rizal was declared as the greatest Filipino hero during the American colonization after the Aguinaldo led armed forces were subdued during the Philippine-American war.

December 30th as National Day of Mourning

General Emilio Aguinaldo was the first one to declare December 30th as a national day of mourning in honor of Rizal and others who have died fighting the Spanish tyranny.

The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword

The Philippine revolution led by Andres Bonifacio was fueled by the writings of Jose Rizal, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, which made a more lasting impression. This is one of the best arguments of those who believe that Rizal is rightfully the national hero. Rizal was truly an inspiration to many Filipinos during the Spanish period. According to the historian Rafael Palma, Rizal was more deserving of the national hero title. Rizal was even thought to have suggested that Antonio Luna lead the revolutionary forces since Luna has studied military science which was a brilliant idea to lessen casualties against the powerhouse Spanish militia. Rizal believed that only an army that was well prepared and had enough arms would ensure victory .

Founder of La Liga Filipina

Jose Rizal founded the La Liga Filipina, a civic organization that led to the creation of the Katipunan headed by Andres Bonifacio. This fact may already substantiate that Rizal’s title was deserving since without the La Liga Filipina, Andres Bonifacio and his army would have been non-existent.

Everything started with Rizal. Philippine Revolution against Spain started what was known as the First Republic led by Emilio Aguinaldo.

For Rizal, violence or armed resistance only as a last resort and considered the restoration of the people’s dignity as a justification means of achieving national liberation and self-rule. On the other hand, Filipinos are also grateful to Andres Bonifacio’s legacy, his advocacy to an armed revolution. We credit both Rizal and Bonifacio for awakening the patriotic spirit of Filipinos.

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