What Is the Interpretation of Jose Rival’s Poem, “Through Education Our Motherland Receives Light?”

Filipino poet Dr. Jose Rival’s work “Through Education Our Motherland Receives Light” posits that a well-rounded education is the key to fixing problems in the Philippines and affecting positive social and political change. Rival employs personification throughout the poem, giving human qualities to the idea of education. Referred to as “her” throughout the work, education becomes like a powerful being capable of changing a person and a nation.

A celebrated Filipino political and social activist, Rival wrote the poem in 1876 at the age of 15, while the Philippines were under rule by the Spanish government. This was a time of great political unrest in the Philippines, when national pride was low and the masses often turned to violence in opposition to perceived oppression. Rival spurned tendency toward violence, and instead embraced the more pragmatic ideology that education provides the answer to the problems of the nation.

In “Through Education Our Motherland Receives Light,” education is portrayed as a torch lighting the darkness or the morning sun casting out the shadows over a land. This is to suggest that those who seek a well-rounded education, who seek the light of education, are illuminated and empowered, illuminating and empowering all those who seek her light. In a time where many felt oppressed, Rival offered that the power or light of education is endless, that it cannot be taken away.

Education is offered as an answer to unite the people, instill pride in the people and provide the tools needed to make positive changes in the nation. Rival explains that all science and art are born of education, that education is capable of bringing security and peace to lands. His words encourage readers that through knowledge, even barbarous savages can rise to heroism.