This year, the Filipino nation celebrates the 150th birth anniversary of Jose Rizal, "The First Filipino" as described by Leon Ma. Guerrero.
Born om June 19, 1861, Rizal made himself immortal writing two of the best novels this brown nation has ever produced - Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.
The first time I read Noli was in High School, second was in College, third was two years ago and fourth, a week ago.
The first and second occasions left no impact with much thanks to my former teachers; the third was an awakening; the last time, a sense of wonder. Had Rizal not died in 1896 and lived till he was 40 when life as they say begins, he could have been a Nobel nominee.
However, had he been nominated, surely, the Spanish government would have done to Rizal what the Portuguese government had done to Jose Saramago, the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature Winner. Portugal's conservative government would not allow Saramago's work to compete for the European Literary Prize, arguing that it offended the Catholic community. (José Saramago: Autobiography. 1998. Nobelprize.org. Retrieved 2011-02-04)
The above tells us that the world hasn't really changed. The Joses of the world still fight using their pens. Some quarters still use God to advance personal interests masquerading as humanity's salvation.
The Story of Elias will put to shame the current teleseryes and telenovelas, be it locally made or Korean made. Ibarra, as a tragic hero can be placed side by side Oedipus and Medea.
While it is true that Noli is way too didactic and that both Ibarra and Elias are used shamelessly as mouthpieces of Rizal, one can't disregard the fact that a piece of literature gets conceived precisely for that.
That is Noli.
As of last night, I have read the first 14 chapters of El Filibusterismo.