February 2, 2022 “The Philippine National Hero’s Chinese Ancestry: Issues and Controversies”

Wednesday February 2, 12 noon – 1:30 pm, via Zoom
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Faculty Dialogue
Understanding China Series Event 7:

“The Philippine National Hero’s Chinese Ancestry: Issues and Controversies”

Jose Rizal was a patriot and visionary whose literary masterpieces exposed societal injustice under Spanish rule and the oppression of Filipino people by the Church. Yet his Chinese ancestry has always been surrounded by controversy. In the Philippines, courses focused on Rizal do not discuss his heritage; and the general attitude toward the idea that Rizal is Chinese is one of disbelief and denial. This presentation will discuss factors giving rise to misconceptions about Rizal’s ancestry in the context of 19th century Philippines, and its implications in today’s society. At the heart of this issue is the anti-Chinese bias that has been perpetuated over the centuries. I draw upon Craig Austin’s Lineage, Life and Labors of Jose Rizal: Philippine Patriot, Nick Joaquin’s A Question of Heroes, Alfonso O. Ang’s (a.k.a. Tu Yiban) Rizal’s Chinese Overcoat, as well as writing by scholars like Ambeth Ocampo and John Schumacher, and offer insights on how the misinterpretation of Ibarra’s character in Rizal’s major novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, have contributed to the controversy. My aim is to inform about Rizal’s Chinese ancestry as a way of confronting and rejecting anti-Chinese attitudes.

Recipient of the 2015 Regent’s Medal for Excellence in Teaching, Pia Arboleda is Associate Professor and Chair of the Indo-Pacific Languages and Literatures Department. She holds a Doctor of Arts degree in Language and Literature, a master’s degree in Filipino Language in Literature, and a Bachelor of Science in Commerce and Marketing from De La Salle University. Prior to joining UH, she served as Visiting Professor at Osaka University and Assistant Professor at University of the Philippines Baguio. She is currently the Director of the Center for Philippine Studies. Ming-Bao Yue is Associate Professor of Modern Chinese Literature in the Department of East Asian Languages & Literatures, and currently Director of the Center for Chinese Studies.

Co-sponsored by the UH Mānoa Center for Philippine Studies.