If you ask any Pinoy kulturati the question who is the country’s foremost resource on Jose Rizal, he or she will most likely say its Ambeth Ocampo. Ocampo has written many books on the National Hero including “Rizal Without The Overcoat,” and “Makamisa: The Search for Rizal’s Third Novel.” The historian is known for making Rizal a relatable figure to contemporary audiences, and for making the act of learning about Philippine history an enjoyable undertaking.
Which is what he does essentially in a video we chanced upon while going through our Facebook feed. In a more than three-minute YouTube feature, Ambeth answers the question: What if Rizal were alive in Lockdown 2020?
He would be blogging, says Ambeth—or maybe even vlogging?—because he was basically a communicator. While others would keep diaries and lock it up somewhere safe, Rizal would be like most of us today, announcing our opinions, our achievements, our lunches to the world. But maybe JR would be a little less of an oversharer.
The doctor would also probably be a frontliner, says Ambeth, touching on the pandemic. He would probably also be innovating, maybe finding better solutions to the problems that concern our health system. “His school in Dapitan was actually an innovation and a reaction to what the schools were like,” says Ambeth.
Finally, if Rizal were alive today, would he be a plantito? Well, he knew the names of the plants in his backyard, says the historian, including plants we don’t know of anymore! Of course, he will be the knowledgeable plantito—as opposed to many of us just mindlessly collecting to fill the void in our houses. And our hearts. Kidding.
The video feels like the beginning of a series. Which we think is a great idea—a natural progression for Ambeth who started with books and has branched out to lectures. But according to the lady who posted the link, veteran newspaper editor Thelma Sioson San Juan, the video is a project in a workshop involving a loose group of private individuals—put together by Ernie Lopez—trying to figure out how to communicate history to the young. The video was written and made by Manet Dayrit and Ella Evangelista Martelino. So it might actually be the beginning of something quite important, and something quite cool. We already can’t wait for the next installment.
Banner image from Wikimedia Commons. Painting from Lineage, Life and Labors of José Rizal, Philippine Patriot, by Austin Craig (1909).