Rizal and His Dragon: Man of Science or Scientist?

I just recently watched Mike De Leon’s film Bayaning 3rd World. It was just a few days after his birthday and to be honest it is one of the films I like to watch and in my opinion better than the Heneral Luna film, but then that is just my opinion. If I were to describe De Leon’s Bayani in a sentence it would a thought provoking iconoclastic film about what is Rizal to us and who we are as Filipinos.

Now here is something I wrote sometime back about Rizal. What do you think is Rizal a man of science or a scientist?

Most of us grew up being spoon fed on Rizal. Only later did we know that a commission selected Rizal over Bonifacio. Like most history our story goes beyond the official account of historians and spiced up with tales of love, past times and foibles of our heroes, friends and villains. I still remember the picture of Taft

One of the most common vandalism done during high school was to place an infamous mustouche on Rizal. This was because one of the most popular gossip about Rizal was that he was the father of an Austrian who would later on become Der Furher of the Third Reich, Adolph Hitler. Who had started this rumor no one can tell but it was there. Almost as persistent as the portrait Rizal in an overcoat. There are probably more people know about it than people who knew about the retraction controversy or Rizal’s essay on the laziness of Filipinos or his prediction about the country a century after his time.

For most of us Rizal is the National Hero. But do we know Rizal beyond Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterisimo and Mi Ultimo Adios ? Or do we just accept him as the National Hero who was shot in Bagumbayan?

If he was not shot that fateful day would we know him? Do we know him now?
If Rizal had lived beyond Bagumbayan one of the people in Filipino Society and The world would probably know him because of dragons.

During Rizal’s exile in Dapitan, he was able to do a number of things that he probably would be unable to do one because he had the time and two because he was in Mindanao.

Rizal became a school master and he started a school where he developed his own curriculum his own O.B. Rizal. And with his students, Rizal the naturalist began collecting the several specimens of flora and fauna or plants and animals of Mindanao.

At that time he had one of the largest private collection of sea shells in the country. His collection had around 340 shells composed of more than 200 species.

Rizal and his students collected a big number of birds, insects, butterflies, shells, snakes, and plants, most of which he sent to Europe, mostly to Director A.B. Meyer of the Anthropological and Ethnographic Museum of Dresden in Germany.

For instance, in October 1893 , Rizal sent Meyer the following : twelve snakes; one sea horse; two scorpions ; and a number of butterflies.

In exchange Meyer paid Rizal in kind : Meyer sent back scientific books and journals; artificial eyes; microscopes and surgical equipment.

And Rizal kept on sending specimens to Europe. But it was not only volume or amount of specimens he and his boys sent that mattered. Mindanao was not yet fully explored at that time and there were several scientific gems found in the treasure Rizal and his students to Europe. Naturalists and biologist praised the rare specimens discovered by Rizal and company. Now one way naturalist and biologist honored people was by adding their names to the scientific name among them can be found the following:

The Beetle Apogonia rizali HELLER 1897;
The Fungus Beetle Spatholmes rizali;
The rare frog Rhacophorus rizali Boettger,1899;

And the Dragon: the flying Dragon : the Draco Lizard or Draco Rizali. Here is a specimen and picture of the dragon collected by Dr. Edward Harrison Taylor on March 11, 1923,

Link to see the Draco Lizard

The flying dragon are tree lizards that only come down from the trees to lay their eggs. And they got their name from their ability to glide. This is because they can extend their ribs and skin flaps to form wings.

Rizal being Rizal a Renaissance Man was not limited to teaching and biology. His interest in geography and archeology were also important since he was able to make contributions to that body of knowledge about the Philippines.

In a letter (written in Spanish by Rizal and translated by scholars into English for us ) to his Austrian friend Ferdinand Blumentritt, Rizal speaks of his life in Dapitan. Buying land and becoming farmer naming the trees he has on his land. He also mentions the weather how it is more personally more agreable than Manila; his inability to practice medicine ; and how he missed civilized life :

“I am very far from the incessant and indefatigable life of civilized Europe where everything is discussed, where everything is placed in doubt, and nothing is accepted without previous examination, previous analysis – the life of the societies of linguistics, ethnography, geography, medicine, and archaeology… ”

He does mention though Nature
“…But on the other hand, I am nearer nature, I hear constantly the song of the sea, the murmur of the leaves, and I see the continuous fluttering of the palms stirred by the breeze.”

I would like to think that based on what Rizal and his students have done that in fact Rizal had found a way to appreciate the Nature and Culture of Dapitan and Mindanao and at the same satisfy his thirst for knowledge and discovery … Becoming the Rizal without the overcoat or Rizal and the Dragons of Dapitan.

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Book Reading Assignment for STS X4 – Midyear 2016


Instructions for the book reading assignment:

Option 1 Read one of the following books. This will be included in the Viva Voce(Exam). Note – Film adaptations often differ from the book so read the book.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
The Prestige by Chritopher Priest
Dune by Frank Herbert
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
Watchmen by Alan Moore et al
I am Legend by Richard Matheson

Option 2. Read all of these short stories. This will be included in the Viva Vice (Exam) – Film adaptations often differ from the short stories so read the short stories.

The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allan Poe
Death in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe
The Speckled Band by ir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Absence of Mr. Glass by GK Chesteron
The Blast of the Book by GK Chesterton

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Are We Ready For The Internet That Will Be?

A number of friends after the national election were happy since things on-line would go back to normal. This was not surprising since the Philippine Internet has become a 24 Seven Battle Royal- Street Brawl No Holds barred match these past few months. Blocked and unfollower seemed to be norm. The melee spread from twitter and blogs and then to Facebook. Again it is of no surprise a number of friends were looking forward to the return of a like intense and gentler Internet. But will it really come back to that and was it ever that?

Consider a this point only around a vast minority of Filipinos can access the Internet. The Internet Penetration Rate is at around 39 to 40 percent – around 40 million people can access the Internet while 60 million cannot. At this rate divergent views and beliefs have manifested itself and to number of old Internet users, those who could afford it, have expressed disapproval at the coarse language and divergent views that surfaced. Can you imagine when the number of people who have access to the Internet reaches 70 to 90 percent? Then this slice of the Internet: the Philippine Internet will be a diverse, discordant and lively place.

Will it be a place you … we can thrive in? Probably more and more enclaves for specific groups will be more. On-line places where one can air one’s view without being interrupted ot ridiculed. A safe echo-chamber. There online places and groups existing now.

But it is more than just a matter of difference in opinion. There are real dangers from crime and bullying. The more people join the more opportunity to do crime.

So what is the solution a more controlled Internet?

Yes and No

There should be and there are legal measures that can be taken when one is violated on-line – this is the use of cybercrime laws. However, to use one must learn what it is and in particular what the cybercrime law is in a country.

Also, there is a need to safeguard one’s person – identity and digital property against theft and attacks. We must learn to back-up our files, secure our privacy, protect our data and safeguard our websites/web platforms from attacks. This involves education, learning, practice our learning and investing in anti malware and spyware solutions.

Lastly (for now), we must toughen and prepare ourselves to a more divergent, divisive and discordant Internet; reminding ourselves it is still a forum of ideas.

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