I’m currently reading Rizal Without the Overcoat, a collection of essays and articles about Jose P. Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines. Rizal was also famous for writing Noli Me Tangere (1887) and El Filibusterismo (1891), the two novels that exposed the Spanish colonization and the Catholic Church in the Philippines.
The anthology is written and compiled by Ambeth Ocampo. The articles are collected from his column, “Looking Back”, published bi-weekly in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Ambeth Ocampo is a renowned public historian in the country focusing on the 19th Century Philippines and an associate professor at De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines.
When I was a high school student, I read Rizals’ novels because it was part of the curriculum. Years later, I realized that I wanted to read them again–I wanted to know more about Rizal and why he was a hero. I wanted to know more than what I’ve learned in high school. That’s why I bought this book.
And that’s why I’m writing about the book.
I wouldn’t exactly call this series of posts a book review; rather, it’s a series of posts where I analyse each chapter in the book.
I will summarize each chapter by taking out important points and highlighting historical facts that either validate or refute people’s opinion or knowledge about Rizal. I will quote Rizal and Ocampo to provide proof and to support my analysis.
In short, this ‘Rizal’ series is like writing an academic paper but on a website. The anthology has 9 chapters–I’ll make it a personal goal to finish it before December 30th, to commemorate Rizal’s 118th death anniversary.
History is a living and lively account of what we were and are; it could and should be as real to each of us as stories about family or about recent and past events, as anecdotes about people known and unknown, as fiction read in books. If all of that makes us understand humanity better, so does history make us understand ourselves and our country infinitely better, in the context of our culture and society.
Foreword by Doreen G. Fernandez in Rizal Without the Overcoat