Rizal has created different characters and written letters and articles that manifested the capability of ideologies to incapacitate freedom and robotize people through their families and its influence to their everyday material practices.
Some of the characters Rizal created in his novel Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo that showed the family as an oppressor of freedom are Sisa, Padre Florentino and Donia Pia.
Sisa and her Family
Sisa is a passive wife to her husband and a loving mother to her children, Crispin and Basilio, in Jose Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere”. She has a very irresponsible and worthless husband who abuses her, her children and their little resources. Despite of these abuses, Sisa tends to just ignore her husband and accept her faith as a poor wife. Her passiveness as a wife is presented in Noli Me Tangere’s Chapter 16 entitled Sisa wherein she did her best to find money and ask for food to cook her sons’ favorites because they will be coming home from the church after quite some long time and she wanted it to be special. Her husband went home before her sons and ate everything that she cooked for her children, and left again. Despite of what happened, Sisa just cried and did or said nothing to her husband.
Dapatwat, sinamang-palad na umuwi ang bana, inubos ang kanin, ang tapang baboy-damo, ang hita ng pato, limang tuyo, at mga kamatis. Hindi kumibo si Sisa, bagaman waring siya ang kinakain (Rizal, 2011, p. 101).
This showed that Sisa did not even fight for her freedom as a wife to tell her husband what she likes or does not like. Sisa did not react or confront her husband despite of his wrongdoings. Sisa was enslaved by her husband, and in this sense, this is how women become slaves of their families, particularly of their abusive husbands, because they did not even fight for their own welfare as a woman, as a mother, and as a part of the family.
Even Basilio, one of Sisa’s son, said that it should be just him, his brother and her mother living together, away from his good-for-nothing father, but Sisa did not entertain this idea. She even cried when she discovered that her husband is not included in Basilio’s dream about their future. This shows that no matter how oppressed she is by her husband, she still chooses to be with him, even until in the future, and she indirectly insists it to her son. She teaches her son to tolerate oppression like what they experience from her husband, and from the friars, which should not be the case.
When Sisa could not bear all the misfortunes that she was experiencing anymore, and that all of her prayers to compensate her lack of action were not answered, she lost her sanity. Instead of doing progressive actions to lead her son Basilio to confront her husband and find her missing son Crispin, she just became crazy for all she did was thinking and praying for them without doing anything. In this sense, she indirectly hindered the plans of Basilio to improve their lives, which is also the same with her suppressing the freedom of Basilio to change their lives. Basilio respected and loved her mother so much that he did not do anything that would sadden her, like going against the friars and his father. He even suppressed himself for the name of his family, especially his mother Sisa.
Padre Florentino and his Mother
Padre Florentino is a priest in Jose Rizal’s “El Filibusterismo”. When he was a teenager, he wanted to be famous around the world, and he has a lover. He actually never wanted to become a priest but his mother forced him to become one just because his mother is a good friend of an archbishop. Because of her mom forcing him to become a priest, he gave up all of his dreams and went to the seminary to become a priest. This is narrated in this passage:
…hindi siya kailanman nakadama ng hilig o bokasyon ng saserdote. Ngunit dahil sa ilang pangako o panata ng kaniyang ina, napilit siya nitong pumasok sa seminaryo makaraan ang di-kakaunting paglalaban at matitinding pagtatalo. Mabuting kaibigan ng arsobispo ang ina, may bakal na kalooban, at matigas tulad ng lahat ng mga banal na babaeng nagpapalagay na sila ang nakauunawa sa kalooban ng Diyos (Rizal, 2011, p. 17-18).
This situation showed how the family, particularly the mother, dictates ones’ children’s future by removing their freedom to pursue what they trully desire. In this context, it showed that no matter how much Padre Florentino hated to become a priest, he was still subjected by his mother’s command that he must become a priest. In this way, the mother has propagated and forced the ideology of the Catholic church into her son.
Donya Pia as a Mother
In Jose Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere,” Donya Pia is Maria Clara’s mother and Kapitan Tiago’s wife. She was not able to have any babies with Kapitan Tiago not until she was raped by Padre Damaso. The rape incident gave way for Maria Clara’s birth, which also caused Donya Pia’s death.
…nadama ni Donya Pia ang pagiging ina. Ngunit ay! Katulad niyong mangingisdang binanggit ni Shakespeare sa Macbeth na huminto sa pag-awit nang makapulot ng kayamanan, naglaho kay Donya Pia ang saya, naging napakamalungkutin, at hindi na siya nakita pang ngumiti. Sumpong lamang ng naglilihi, sabi ng lahat, pati ni Kapitan Tiago. Isang lagnat ng kapapanganak ang tumapos sa kaniyang mga kalungkutan… (Rizal, 2011, p. 42)
Until Donya Pia died, she did not reveal to anyone that she was raped by the Spanish friar Padre Damaso. Instead, she just kept it as a secret all by herself, and suffered alone. As a mother, she has chosen to keep the oppression all by herself without doing any active action to at least counter it. She did not inform anyone about the sexual harassment, not even her husband, and in this sense, she did not elevate the consciousness of her family that the Spaniards have abused her, and probably, might abuse some other people, too.
With regard to Rizal’s other writings, he questioned how parents control their children’s ideology as they instill and maintain the Filipino-suppressive ideologies of the friars that were rampant during their colonization.
Letter to the Young Women of Malolos
Rizal said in his letter that women should be like Spartan women who have heroic hearts and minds. He said that they should be women with honor and power towards just. He said that the Filipino women must teach their children the importance of honor, responsibility, their countrymen and their land.
Teach your children to guard and love their honor, to love their fellowmen, their native land, and to perform their duties. Tell them repeatedly to prefer death with honor to life with dishonor (Rizal, 2011, p. 63-64).
But what Rizal observed in the country is that Filipino women were demoralized and enslaved. In this sense, if the women, who will be mothers, are weak and blinded by ideologies, then their children will be enslaved, too. He said that even Filipino women have all the capabilities to remove their chains of slavery, they are still brainwashed to not do it so that the oppression and slavery will be passed down from generation to generation from the family nurtured by the woman.
Important indeed are the duties that women must fulfill in order to relieve the country of her sufferings… everybody knows the power and prudence of the women in the Philippines. Hence they blind them, chain them, weaken their spirit, so sure are they that so as the mother is a slave, all her children can be enslaved also (Rizal, 2011, p. 61).
Rizal said that mothers educate their daughters with false consciousness that is in favor of the oppression of freedom. He said that instead of mothers teaching their children ways to emancipate and contest the rule of the oppressors, they teach them ignorance and they become devices that suppress and hinder their children’s freedom towards the truth and the just.
It is no longer the highest wisdom to bow the head to every unjust order, the highest good ness to smile at an insult, to seek solace in humble tears. You have found out that God’s command is different from that of the priests, that piety does not consist of prolonged kneeling, long prayers, large rosaries, soiled scapulars, but in good conduct, clean consience, and upright thinking. You have also discovered that it is not goodness to be too obedient to every desire and request of those who pose as little gods, but to obey what is reasonable and just, because blind obedience is the origin of crooked orders and in this case both parties sin (Rizal, 2011, p. 57).
Rizal has presented these material practices in his works to show how the family as an ideological state apparatus has subjected the Filipinos to undermine their own freedom. In the context of the family, it is the parents who have conditioned the children to inculcate ideologies that suppress their freedom, such as blind faith and passiveness to authority.
In Rizal’s “The Indolence of the Filipinos” published in Jose Rizal: Political and Historical Writings (2011), he said that the ideologies of repression attack Filipinos when they were still young. He made a point that the Filipino children are the ones who are conditioned by these ideologies to obey authority and never question it so that when they grow up, they won’t be a threat to the Spaniards because they are stripped off of their capability to critically think and question the colonizers and their ideologies.
Since childhood they have learned to act mechanically, without knowing the purpose, thanks to the exercise imposed upon them very early of praying for whole hours in an unknown language, of worshipping without understanding, of accepting beliefs without questioning, of imposing upon themselves absurdities, while the protests of reason are repressed (Rizal, 2011, p. 260).