Jose Rizal "Pure Indonesian" and Asian Hero According to Indonesia's Tan Malaka

Jose Rizal national hero of the Philippines and the first Asian nationalist
For most Filipinos, Jose Rizal is a figure who had a lasting impact on shaping the socio-political scenario of the Philippines during the late 1800s. Decades after his death, however, his influence will persist beyond Philippine borders and would be considered by some non-Filipinos as the universal hero of a liberated Asia.

Indonesian founding father Tan Malaka is one of those who upheld Rizal with high regard and thought of him, alongside Andres Bonifacio, as among the ‘founding icons’ of a united Greater Indonesia (a political conception of a united Malay world). Malaka viewed the Philippine Revolution as the inspiration behind future uprisings within the larger Malaya (encompassing East Timor, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, and Indonesia), which was then ruled by colonial powers such as Great Britain and the Netherlands.

According to the scholar Ramon Guillermo in his study of Rizal and Bonifacio, "Tan Malaka considered Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio as "pure Indonesians" because the Philippines is included in what he calls "Indonesia Raya" (Greater Indonesia)." He describes Rizal and Bonifacio as "native Indonesians," as he thought that Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines were once a single nation before the colonizers arrived.
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Malaka was not the only one to show admiration for Rizal. During World War 2 when the Japanese empire was starting to lose its foothold over its "Indonesian territory", the Japanese initiated Indonesian nationalism and independence in exchange for support in the name of a "united Asian front" so, in order to influence public opinion, the Japanese then manufactured Malay-centered and anti-western propaganda. Among one of those pieces they chose for distribution was Rizal’s “Mi ultimo adios”, which was then translated into Bahasa Indonesia. The poem resonated with the Indonesian people and is said to have been recited before engaging in battle for their own war for independence.

The influence of Rizal in the Philippines is deep and transcends the common conception that his cause has little influence in present-day South-east Asia. Nonetheless, the works of non-Filipinos regarding Rizal as the universal hero of a liberated Asia reveals the true extent of Rizal's influence in Asia, and through those same works, we get to see Rizal in a different light.

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