By Dr. Jun Ynares, M.D.
“Today’s youth are classified into two – those who root for the Cavs and those who cheer for the Warriors.”
“The competition for top “lodi” (idol) of the young is limited to two – just between Lebron and Durant.”
These were the remarks I heard recently at a conversation with a handful of colleagues from the local government sector.
In a humorous sort of way, they were bewailing the fact that our young people’s search for heroes today have pointed them to the most popular basketball league in the world. My colleagues were comparing that situation to the way they did their own search when they were part of the country’s youth – in the 50s and 60s.
They related that they looked for their heroes from among those who fought in the war; those who influenced the nation’s life, those who had outstanding achievements in their respective fields.
Of course, they were quick to add that they did hero-worship James Dean and Fernando Poe, both the senior and the junior.
The conversation then turned to the issue of whether or not our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, might still be considered the ideal “lodi” for today’s young generation.
“Would they still find him the personification of what they might want to be in the future?” one of my colleagues asked.
I said, “yes, definitely.” After all, Dr. Rizal was, during his time, part of their own version of the millennial generation.
So, as the nation celebrates the national hero’s 157th birthday, we are sharing with our young readers the three of his most outstanding qualities which we feel are good for the millennial generation to emulate.
We culled this from the column we published some two years ago. They are still relevant today.
Consider the following things about the national hero.
First, he was a voracious reader.
Second, he worked with his hands.
Third, he made it a habit to triumph over adversity.
Rizal scholar Esteban de Ocampo and historian Ambeth Ocampo attest that the national hero was an incurable fan of written works by some of the world’s best known authors.
According to them, among the late hero’s favorites were the popular novels The Three Musketeers, The Count of Montecristo, and Robinson Crusoe.
It may be safe to assume that the major characters in those novels had a major influence on Dr. Rizal. He appears to have been inspired by the adventurous, swashbuckling spirit of these characters. Those who have read these novels would also recall that their authors emphasized the classic battles between good and evil, between the oppressed and their oppressors.
His appetite for the classics and his reading habits must have trained Dr. Rizal’s mind to be creative and imaginative.
Imagination, child psychologists point out, is important in human development. It is what brings about so-called “critical thinking” and “creative problem solving skills.”
In layman’s terms, these are one’s abilities to see and examine all sides of a situation and to think out of the box as one searches for solutions.
The superb intellect of our national hero did not stop him from also using his hands to create. He painted. He sculpted. He planted. He did carpentry. He knew how to do blue-collar work.
I believe working with one’s hands is good for the mind, body, and soul. The hands are the tools used by the mind to create. The work of the hands is proof of how rich one’s mind is.
That it is good exercise for the body needs no further explanation.
That it is good for the soul is also worth appreciating. Working with the hand helps one remain humble, to stay attached to the earth, and to prefer simplicity over extravagance and clutter.
Finally, Dr. Rizal had this enviable habit of overcoming the blows that life had dealt him. His mother was unjustly charged and imprisoned. He was maligned, vilified, and subjected to an unfair trial. None of these stopped him from bringing the strength of his character and spirit and the brilliance of his mind from coming into full display.
Adversities did not break him. They merely serve as opportunities for him to bring out his best.
True, our youth are now in love with other heroes. As mentioned, they have lately been cheering the heroics of their favorite NBA hoopsters.
We cannot stop them from looking for their own role models and inspirations.
It will be good to encourage them to revisit the life of Dr. Rizal and to appreciate those aspects of him that made him one of the greatest persons to ever walk the earth.
We are sure our children will not be disappointed by what they will discover.
Happy birthday, Dr. Rizal.
*For feedback, please email it to [email protected] or send it to #4 Horse Shoe Drive, Beverly Hills Subdivision, Bgy. Beverly Hills, Antipolo City, Rizal.