10 Things that Would’ve Happened if Rizal Were Alive Today

To commemorate the martyrdom of Jose Rizal today, we dared to ask: if Rizal was a millennial, what would he be like? Here are our 10 theories:

  1. Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo may have taken longer to write, because Rizal’s distracted by all of the things on the Internet.

    He would probably be busy doing one of the following things: re-sharing posts on Facebook on various advocacies, reading publications around the world from The Guardian to The New Yorker and even Al-Jazeera, watching TED Talks, or browsing reddit.

  2. That, or he’ll be publishing the two novels as a serial on Wattpad or on his blog first.

    Kwento mo kay Rizal meme

    Rizal would be publishing the Noli and the Fili chapter-by-chapter on Wattpad. This includes the “missing” chapter on Elias and Salome (which would’ve been omitted if it were published on print, due to budget constraints). After having completed both novels, he’ll submit it to the Palanca Awards as his entry to the Novel category, but will not win the award due to a controversy. That controversy will end up spreading the word about the novel, with thousands of readers logging on to read the entire thing.

    Eventually, a major book publisher would offer to publish the entire thing in print. However, due to a clause stating that Rizal would have to take down the online version of the novels if he were to have it published as a book, he’ll back out. The novels will remain on Wattpad.

    His blog, meanwhile, would contain a number of posts—among them “The Indolence of the Filipinos”—that would go viral and will be eventually reposted on Rappler.

  3. Novel or no novel, Rizal would be a social media influencer.

    Pareng Jose Rizal
    Image courtesy of spot.ph

    It will start with his speech on Juan Luna’s and Félix Resurección Hidalgo’s wins in Madrid being videoed, uploaded, and shared countless times on social media, hashtagged with #PinoyPride. This would lead netizens into following the good doctor’s Facebook account, commenting on his posts and debating with him online. Meanwhile, the phrase “Genius knows no country” from his speech is made into statement shirts.

  4. Speaking of social media, Rizal’s Instagram would be so much fun to follow.

    Where else would he put all the pictures of his travels around the world, snapped with his trusty iPhone? And of course, he’ll have his own set of selfies, plus a pic of him and Blumentritt. #PambansangBromance

  5. He might be a member of Filipino Freethinkers.

    While not as organized as the Masons in the 19th century, the group had the aims of upholding rational thought over blindly following religion. And while Rizal may not be a militant atheist, as he was still able to civilly debate issues concerning faith, this aim would entice him to join the group.

  6. Instead of comics, Rizal would be busy creating memes.

    Rizal Day not Birthday

    Rizal created a number of comic strips, ranging from a version of “Matsing at Pagong” published in Trubner’s Record in 1885 to a panel about a man farting. While he may be still doodling if he were living today, we’re willing to wager that he’d have much more fun messing around with a meme generator, especially to critique the ills of today’s society. Heneral Luna memes by Admin Pepe, anyone?

  7. You might actually bump into him at Route 196 or The Collective.

    Hipster Rizal

    He’d be hanging out with the rest of Solidaridad, chugging down beer while discussing art, politics…and that cute girl at the other table.

  8. He’d be a pro at watching out for promo fares and couchsurfing (or booking via Airbnb) across Europe.

    How else could a student afford to travel across the world? With a very limited budget, Rizal would have no choice but to rely on seat sales to get around, and couchsurfing or Airbnb for his accommodation. Besides, that’s how he met many of the women linked to him: he met Gertrude Beckett while boarding in the Beckett household in London; Nellie Boustead is the daughter of his host in Biarritz, France; Susan Jacoby and her sister owned the boarding house he stayed at in Brussels. Who knows, the Rizal of 2015 may be a backpacker discovering love while on the road.

  9. Or he would have met girls through Tinder.

    His profile would read:

    Currently swiping in Madrid
    “It’s necessary to have wished for death in order to know how good it is to live.” — Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo.
    Ophthalmologist looking for great conversations. Proud Filipino.

  10. His farm in Dapitan would eventually grow into a booming social enterprise.

    Rizal Shrine in Dapitan

    During his exile in Dapitan, Rizal not only practiced medicine. He also designed an irrigation system, established a small school, and eventually owned several hectares of farmland. It’s on this farmland that he’d teach the folks of the town about the farming methods he learned from his travels around Europe; the farm would eventually supply all-organic produce for Visayas and Mindanao.

Special thanks to Joey dela Cruz for some of the ideas in this post!