Coates’ RIZAL and Ambeth’s RWTO

April 6, 2010

I have just finished reading Coates’ book on our National Hero, Jose Rizal. I liked his version because it is analytical and truly an interesting read. Through his book, I come to understand better Rizal’s relationship with Marcelo del Pilar [Plaridel] with regards the La Solidaridad…and like in Asuncion Bantug’s LOLO JOSE, the role of Paciano, Rizal’s only brother loomed large to me.  He was as heroic as Pepe, it appeared, and quite convincingly. Continous reading on Rizal really helps in making him as real as any person who lives with us today. In fact, because of immersing myself through readings on his life, he inevitably follows me now, in my dreams— unfortunately only as an observer. I had no speaking lines with him in the dream. Sayang! I dreamed of him the other night. But it was just like editing any of Tikoy’s films. I was watching the scenes, studying all the movements within the scenes. I was an onlooker, or much like someone simply watching a movie in a theater. And in color!!!

Now, I am halfway through in reading Ambeth Ocampo’s RIZAL WITHOUT THE OVERCOAT, Second Edition [2nd Printing, 1996]. I have already read three biographies of Rizal before, and this book is not comparable with the previous books that I have read because this is just a compilation of Ocampo’s journalistic essays on Rizal in his column, “Looking Back” written from 1987-1990 in the Philippine Daily Globe, the contents of which are largely taken from the diaries and correspondences of Rizal with his friends and families. As such, what he wrote are mostly known to me by now. However, the contemporariness of his style, and his personal experiences in relation to the trivias that he learned, wrote, shared and gossiped about with us are interesting, i.e., Teodora Alonso, Rizal’s mother was an illegitimate child of Lorenzo Alberto Alonso, Rizal’s lolo [p.30], or that Narcisa’s [Rizal’s older sister], husband Antonino Lopez was the son of Fr. Leoncio Lopez, parish priest of Calamba at that time [p. 38]. [Remember Padre Damaso and Maria Clara relationship in Noli Me Tangere? It is worst now I guess with the scandal involving Catholic phedophile priests]. Since those trivias are nowhere written in the usual biographies on Rizal, they are like “scoops” to those unaware of the now family’s “open secrets.” But there are some other things that he wrote other than several of those family secrets. That I really quite appreciate. At times he really interprets beyond the surface of the literal words of Rizal, so much so that new meanings can be deduced based on the angle Ambeth has seen or absorbed the passages. Without question, he can parallel any of the current crop of tabloid and entertainment column writers. Afterall, Ambeth described himself as a “gossip-loving columnist.” [See p. 58 of the same book]. Sa dami ng mga tsismoso at tsismosa sa mundong pinapaliit ng media, click talaga siya!!! Global ‘ika nga.


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