What's so significant about Rizal's death that we celebrate it a full thirty days after Bonifacio's birth? Does this signify anything at all?
Is Rizal's death more important than his birth in June? I understand why we celebrate Bonifacio's birth instead of his death because, by commemorating his untimely death at the hands of traitors such as Arroyo's great great ancestor Major Makapagal, we will be opening a can of worms.
Bonifacio was betrayed by the ascendant elite who want to wrestle the leadership of the revolution from the middle class represented by the Supremo. His death marked the change in the complexion not only of the revolutionary struggle, but also, marked a paradigm shift in the philosophical world view of the entire organisation. Bonifacio's death would also re-ignite passions and open old wounds and reveal the unsavory legacy of such big names now as the Paternos, the Aguinaldos, the Makapagals, the Aquinos and the like---all traitors of the True Revolution but now, enjoying some semblance of respect for their alleged roles in the revolution.
Rizal's death is significant for three reasons: one, it further add fuel to the Katipunan revolt. It served as fodder which led to the "defining moment" of decisive strategic victory in 1899. (Let me disabuse your minds: contrary to public view, Rizal's death did not trigger the Katipunan revolt. The Katipunan has already declared a revolt prior to Rizal's execution). Two, Rizal's martyrdom became a "cause" instead of just merely an "incident". His stature in society lent credence to the blossoming revolutionary struggle thereby attracting other sectors to the Katipunan. His execution showed the elite that it's existence is being threatened by the true-blooded Spaniards who did'nt even considered those half-breeds as equals. And lastly, his death was perceived as an "omen", a "fulfillment of a prophecy", which, all the more even enjoyed more publicity since it was done at the turn of a century. It was both an historic and propitious moment. Propitious in the sense that it further fueled fears of a millenarian end and the cause of a New Beginning for the country.
Yet, by celebrating his death rather than his birth, we are sending a message that his demise has been far more important to us that the legacy of his successful life. Rizal's death will not be as controversial, as monumentally important or as significantly tremorous where it not for his popular works. Culturally, we Filipinos celebrate our birthdays more than Halloween, but in this case, we put greater importance to Rizal's death rather than his birthday. What kind of paradigm are we really following here? Or what sociological viewpoint do we want to stress? Are we then dismissing Rizal's contributions to the medical field and now recognizing that, apart from Noli and Fili, Rizal's legacy in imparting new ideas in those fields which he so took part of, are miniscule compared to this contemporaries? Are we then, indirectly saying that, apart from his death, truly, Rizal is no more than a mere eye doctor who happened to have many girlfriends and wrote two novels and who came from a perfumed life but who elected to live a Spartan one because of his previous experience at the hands of two politically incorrect Spanish officers? Had he not died in Bagumbayan, will we ever even look at him as a hero?
Probably not, because at that time, the Katipunan has already succeeded the La Liga Filipina as the ascendant revolutionary organisation. Bonifacio already launched the revolt prior to Rizal's death so it is not historically accurate to say that Rizal's death led him to revolt. No. Rizal's death just crystallized the united front against colonialism. It just lead to a realization of the elite of the futility of further supporting the foreign power and the importance of seizing leadership of the blossoming revolt from a middle class millenarian believer to a Republican.
Rizal's death just signified the beginning of a leadership shift of the revolution from the masses to the "enlightened" caciques who were fighting a different cause, far, far different from the "cause" of the masses. Prior to the ascendancy of the Pinoy elite clique to the Katipunan leadership, the "cause" of the masses can be described as "agrarian" based. When leadership changed hands with the demise of the Supremo, the "cause" changed from "agrarian" to "nationalism" or even another abstract concept as "Republicanism".
The paradigm shift is premature since the previous Katipunan concept has not been distilled as yet by the masses who supported it. But since the change has been abrupt, it also affected the very nature and conduct of the revolutionary struggle. Worse, the Katipunan was infiltrated by the caciques which further weakened the entire struggle. That explains why, after nearly in victory over the Spanish, the movement was weak when the Americans came. Precisely because the support structures were absent during the arrival of the new conquerors. And what are these structures? The masses serve as the Katipunan structures. But since, there was a disjunct between "cause" and "prevailing belief", the structures crumbled. This, historically, is what Rizal's death really signified.