The Appointed lives of the Rizalians
From the Desk
We are not talking about the religious movements in southern Luzon, for they are called the Rizalistas. Neither are the people residing in Rizal Province, as they are called Rizalenos. Rizalians are actually youngsters but even the old claim this title because of their past. They are students! The students of Rizal High School in Caniogan, Pasig. In their hands reside the power and the energy envied by those who can’t return to their previous youthful selves. Amid manic Mondays and frantic Fridays, these young people wearing their iconic uniforms bearing the profile of our National Hero have seen so many days and school works – quizzes at that and group works! stretching more than a century of learning. Hectic classrooms and thousands of students plying the same corridors year by year with campus grounds extending outside school premises, Rizal High is not an ordinary school named after a hero for they have produced heroes as well.
Rizalians in the Arts
Growing up, for sure you have heard of the song Sa Ugoy ng Duyan. A famous lullaby about the genuine love of a mother to his child and the longing for maternal affection. The composer of this song is a Rizalian, Lucio San Pedro of RHS Batch 1932. This song is perhaps Maestro San Pedro’s most renowned work. It is considered the de facto official cradlesong of the Philippines. Originally composed by this Rizalian for a song competition during the Japanese Occupation, he pulled it out for it has no lyrics at that time. When San Pedro went to Julliard School of further studies, he advanced more his music theory expertise and upon his return in 1948 aboard SS Gordon he met Levi Celerio on a stopover in Hawaii. At the course of the remaining trip on the way home, Levi wrote the lyrics of the immortal song that also launched their lifelong friendship. Both of them became National Artists and died 2 days apart in 2002.
If you ever been to the National Museum, for sure you have seen the large murals of National Artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco who finished his secondary studies in Rizal High in 1929. Botong is considered as one of the leading modernists like Edades and Ocampo who broke from Fernando Amorsolo’s romanticism of Philippine Scenes. His arts depict crucial moments on Philippines history like the First Mass at Limasawa and the monumental Filipino Struggles Through History, considered a National Cultural Treasure. However behind all of these is his lasting contribution to archaeology and history. He is credited in discovering the Angono Petroglyphs in 1965 while on a trip with the Boy Scouts in the mountains near his hometown. He quickly reported it to the National Museum and was designated as National Cultural Treasure in 1973. The Petroglyphs is the oldest rock art in the Philippines and was discovered by a leading artist of the time!
The Cory Days – the greatest time for Rizalians in Government
When Cory assumed the Presidency after the peaceful revolution of 1986. She brought with her a string of dynamic and young leaders who together with her husband fought and struggled against the tyranny of a dictator. One was called “Prof” while the other was labeled as the “Sagisag ng Pangulo”. These two men are graduates of Rizal High. The most esteemed of the two is regarded as an intellectual titan and statesman, Jovito R. Salonga of batch 1936. During the dictatorship, he became a lead counsel of Ninoy Aquino in his cases and the worst hit in the infamous Plaza Miranda Bombing that left him partially blind and deaf in one ear. Despite all of these, he emerged as Senate President and led his chamber in the non-renewal of the US Bases – a move that solidified the Nation’s independence from the Americans.
The Sagisag ng Pangulo moniker is for Rene Saguisag of batch 1955. Before becoming Senator, he was the Spokesman for President Cory Aquino and was known for his colorful and sincere language. He was pushed and compelled to run in the Senate. He promised not to run anymore after his first term - a covenant he fulfilled as he returned to private practice and the academe. He is a legal authority and is known for his humility and reverence. Despite being a great lawyer, he was never able to build his own home while his senate car is a modest old Ford model. You might say that as a legislator, he was busy writing and upholding laws. His hand is wielding a pen to write statutes and not to sign pork barrel fundings or agreements.
Both Rizalians never built a fortune and thence returned to their private selves untainted and clean. History has been kind to them for they have not lifted a finger against the people they promised to serve. And though there is a longing for such great men and women, Rizal High continuous to produce students by the thousands. As long as this old school remains open, the doors of greatness would continue to welcome would be redeemers who can save us from the tar pits of our own doing.