By Raïssa Robles
Today is Dr. Jose Rizal’s 153rd birthday.
In his honor, I am uploading this video interview I took of Dr. Rizal Sukma, an internationally prominent foreign policy expert and the Executive Director at Jakarta’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
I had heard before that Rizal was once a popular name in Indonesia. And when I met Dr. Sukma during the 1st Japan-ASEAN Journalists Conference held in Tokyo last January by the Japan Institute of International Affairs, I grabbed the chance to ask him why his parents named him Rizal. Because the only Rizal I had met in my life was a janitor at the University of the Philippines College of Law.
Dr. Sukma’s answer made me proud to be a Filipino.
It is difficult to be proud of being a Filipino today. Our government bureaucracy is shamefully riddled with corruption and creaking under red tape and inefficiencies. Most of our people remain as poor as their families have been for centuries. Foreigners who abused us tell us to our face that we are a lazy people with a “damaged culture” and we accept their assessment unquestioningly.
But our race was able to produce a Rizal. Not only a Rizal but also a Bonifacio, a Marcelo H. de Pilar, a Ninoy Aquino. Our list of heroes is long.
Yes, we have been abused as a people for so long. We won’t forget that but we will rise above that.
As our late hero Rizal once wrote,
“I don’t see why I should bow my head when I could hold it high, or place it in the hands of my enemies when I can defeat them.”
You can see why I think that if the late Dr. Jose Rizal were alive today, he would rank among the top global thinkers.
Now, do listen to Dr Rizal Sukma’s interview where he discusses why Rizal remains relevant to this day.
You can read more about Dr Sukma by clicking here. Sorry for the background noise. It was taken during the farewell dinner of the conference when everyone was animatedly exchanging views about Asia, the South China Sea, Japan and China.