Armando Malay’s excellent rebuttal of Renato Constantino’s “Veneration without Understanding” Part I

I reported about Armando Malay’s “Veneration with Understanding” for my Rizal class (PI 100) in UP Diliman two years ago. Renato Constantino’s 1969 was a controversial piece, and the arguments he put forward may sound convincing – until you read this point-by-point rebuttal by the eminent late Filipino journalist-freedom activist. Below are the most essential points of Malay’s article. You can also download the PowerPoint presentation I made for this report. 🙂
1.    Attempts to downgrade Rizal have not ceased completely 74 years after his death. More unfortunately, those who would downgrade him and picture him as a false hero are his own countrymen.
2.    “The wounds that had been inflicted by foreigners were painful, but more painful are the wounds still being inflicted on his memory by his own countrymen.”
3.    The main argument of the home-grown detractors of Rizal is this:
Since Rizal did not lead the revolution of 1896 – he even discouraged and disowned it – he could not be properly the national hero of the Philippines.
4.    Two minor themes have been put forward by Rizal’s made-in-the
Philippines critics:
*Rizal’s becoming the national hero was the result of American sponsorship
*Rizal’s patriotic works, including his two novels, reflected his mestizo or ilustrado background and were taken precisely to protect the interests of the ilustrado class.
5.    Main conclusion of Rizal’s latter-day detractors:
Since Rizal, despite the fact that he is a false hero, continues to be venerated by Filipinos, then that veneration is misplaced and that if his countrymen only “understood” Rizal’s motivation, they would drop him like a hot potato.
Malay: "Veneration of Rizal by the country, and even by the world, is not only deserved but also understood.”
Malay: "Veneration of Rizal by the country, and even by the world, is not only deserved but also understood.”
6.    A. Malay: “I would like to develop the opposite thesis: Continued veneration of Rizal by the country, and even by the world, is not only deserved but also understood.”
7.    R. Constantino:  “Almost always, national heroes of the world have been revolutionary heroes. If you do not lead a revolution, your chance of emerging a s a national hero is nil – or very little.
8.    A. Malay: “I beg to disagree…Out of 125 nations [in the roster of United Nations), Constantino could only name seven revolutionary heroes who, in his opinion, have become national heroes…Very clearly, a mere seven out of 125 is a very small minority.”
The Seven: George Washington (U.S), Vladimir Lenin (Russia), Simon
Bolivar (South America), Sun Yat Sen and Mao Zedong (China) and Ho Chi
Minh (Vietnam)
9.    “A man becomes a hero, or a national hero, not because he leads a revolution – but because he is admired for his achievements and noble qualities, and considered a model or ideal. “
10.    “I suppose he {Constantino} would rule out India’s Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi led no armies, but he did more than all the military leaders of India put together to achieve nationhood for India.”
11.    “On the other hand, Constantino failed to list Sukarno of Indonesia. Following his criterion of leadership in a revolution as a prerequisite for the status of national hero, Indonesians should automatically regard Sukarno as the national hero. But they don’t because some of his actuations have been placed under a cloud.”
12.    “I question Constantino’s inclusion of Washington as the national hero of the United States…Even if we concede that Washington was the greatest revolutionary or military leader of the U.S, Washington came from the landed gentry, owning vast tracts of land and keeping slaves.”
13.    “One of Constantino’s gripes against Rizal’s being the national hero is that the latter did not come from the masses whose aspirations did not sympathize with. We could say the same way with regards to Washington (perhaps even worse because Rizal did not hold slaves), yet he made Constantino’s list and Rizal would not.”



Mark Pere Madrona

The Filipino Scribe (TFS) is managed by Mark Pere Madrona, a multi-awarded writer and licensed professional teacher from the Philippines. Mr. Madrona earned his master’s degree in history from the University of the Philippines-Diliman last 2020. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in journalism cum laude from the same university back in 2010. His area of interests includes Philippine journalism, history, and politics as well as social media. Know more about him here:

13 thoughts on “Armando Malay’s excellent rebuttal of Renato Constantino’s “Veneration without Understanding” Part I

    1. Thanks for informing me, Bob. I shall take the time to read your work soon. Would it be alright for you to send me a soft copy of that through I do not have a Scribd account which means I won’t be able to read your work if I am not online. Thank you!

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