Rizal descendant Anton Azurin: A sense of pride and responsibility (Part 2)

Descendants Anton and younger brother Matteo enjoy playing basketball with each other. Photos courtesy of Paolo Azurin

By Cristina DC Pastor

The FilAm (TF): How exactly are you related to Jose Rizal?

Anton Azurin (AA): I am a sixth generation Rizal, although I am not directly related to Jose Rizal, as he died without any children. Instead, I am descended from his lone brother Paciano, who served as a general in the Philippine army and would often take care of his brother when they were children.

TF: When did you find out you were related? What was your reaction?

AA: I found out early on when I was very young, and I felt honored and grateful to be related to one of the biggest influences of our country.

TF: Now that you know how important a person he is, how do you feel?

AA: I feel a sense of pride being related to him, but also a sense of responsibility. Rizal is an inspiration, not only because of his heroism, but also his relatability. Being related to Rizal shows me that he was just a normal person, not much different from me, and so I too, can also make an impact on the country, albeit in smaller and different ways.

TF: Do your classmates and teachers know? Do they treat you differently?

AA: Majority if not all of my friends, classmates and teachers don’t even know that I am related to Rizal, and I personally do not feel they need to. Being related to someone important doesn’t mean one should be treated differently. After all, even as a relative of Rizal, I still have my own responsibilities, and my lineage should not impact them. As a descendant, the most I can do is strive to embody his traits in the best ways I can.

The Azurins on a family vacation: Parents Paolo and Apple and brothers Anton and Matteo

TF: Do you feel it is a burden being a descendant? Or would you rather be just a regular guy?

AA: Being a Rizal is less of a burden and more of an obligation to serve one’s country. A Rizal must live up to the name, even by simply being a good citizen. More importantly, a Rizal must inspire others to love and serve the country the best they can. Anyone can do these things for our country, but as a Rizal, we must set the example for others.

TF: If he were alive, what do you want to talk to him about?

AA: If he were alive, I’d simply thank him for everything he’s done for the Philippines. In his love for our country, he put his life on the line to criticize the abuse that had plagued his home for many years. Although it may have led to his death, he inspired countless people to do the same. Without him, the Philippines may not even exist today.

TF:  Have you read Noli and Fili? 

AA: Yes, I have read both Noli and Fili, as well as a few of his shorter stories. In my opinion, his writings are very enjoyable to read, as they often delve into societal problems that one can find every day, while also maintaining an entertaining storyline. In addition, these books are also considered the spark that led many to revolt against the Spanish Occupancy, which is the primary reason Rizal is considered our national hero.

Brothers goofing around. ‘Rizal was just a normal person, not much different from me.’

TF: What do you think is Jose Rizal saying when he said the youth is the ‘hope of the future?’

AA: Our country is constantly evolving and changing. Every day new problems arise in the blink of an eye. The youth are the most important part of our country because all these burdens will eventually rest on their shoulders. As a member of the youth, I must do my part to make our country a better place for everyone, as we, as the future of our country, are a source of hope that things can and should get better.

TF: He talked of ‘Malansang isda’ referring to people who do not give worth to where they come from? Any thoughts?

AA: The saying “Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika ay higit sa hayop at malansang isda” simply tells us that we must love our country and our language. Being a Filipino is something everyone must take pride in at all times.

TF: He was killed by firing squad. How did that make you feel? 

AA: Despite being a Rizal, I never met him personally so I don’t feel that much emotional attachment to him. However, his death is still very important. He showed that true heroism, bravery and love for one’s country can overcome death itself. And in some way, his death brings his story full circle, as he was executed for his country, just as the Gomburza, the very people who inspired him as a kid, did. He, along with the many heroes like him, make me proud to be a Filipino.

© The FilAm 2023

Part 1: The special brotherly bond between Jose Rizal and Paciano 

Leave a Reply