The Enlightened in the Filipino Hearts

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A reaction paper to: Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco

Ilustrado, aside from being written by a Filipino author, is a novel full of the culture and characteristics of a true Filipino, despite having the protagonists being raised up in other countries. After all, having the culture of a Filipino doesn’t necessarily mean that one had to be reared in the motherland.

First of all, Ilustrado had masterfully depicted how Filipinos loved the idea of having something to be learned. Though not explicitly said, the book actually had some interesting insights about life that would make us all thinking. One of these lessons is the frequent parent-child relationship that comes tearing apart at the start of the novel. It was when Miguel Syjuco had run away from his grandparents. But, as with the parable of the lost son, parents really do cannot resist their children, and would welcome them with open arms if they come back with repentance (the same as when Miguel had returned home. If I remember, his grandmother had become excited and met him with open arms. Proof: “The two of them struggle up to meet the child whom they thought they had lost. He [Miguel] is unable to find the words he practiced. He discovers he would not need them after all.” Ilustrado, page 289)

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The next characteristic of the novel is the isolation. Even from the prologue, it is evident that Crispin Salvador had been an exile due to his beliefs and boldness regarding his writings – an isolation that had caused Crispin to become what he had become: a determined author against the black aspects of the country, despite being lonely about his being an exile.

The last characteristic present in the novel is the affirmation of nationalism. We Filipinos have a tendency to write what we hear about, or what our society is. Writing is like our own gateway to freedom, though sometimes we are being hindered by others who are against the writings. And through this writings, people who read it can be informed and so reformed about the society, and we, as countrymen, become one in heart and goal: to go against the matters that hinder our society from the bright future awaiting.


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