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Monday, December 29, 2008

Rizal Day

A holiday celebrated every December 30 in the Philippines in honor of the death of a hero named José Rizal who was killed on December 30, 1896. Dr. José P. Rizal (full name: José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda) (June 19, 1861 – December 30, 1896) was a Filipino polymath, nationalist and the most prominent advocate for reforms in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era. He is considered the Philippines' national hero and the anniversary of Rizal's death is commemorated as a Philippine holiday called Rizal Day. Rizal's 1896 military trial and execution made him a martyr of the Philippine Revolution.
The seventh of eleven children born to a wealthy family in the town of Calamba, Laguna. Rizal attended the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree sobresaliente. He enrolled in Medicine and Philosophy and Letters at the University of Santo Tomas and then traveled alone to Madrid, Spain, where he continued his studies at the Universidad Central de Madrid, earning the degree of Licentiate in Medicine. He attended the University of Paris and earned a second doctorate at the University of Heidelberg. Rizal was a polyglot conversant in at least ten languages. He was a prolific poet, essayist, diarist, correspondent, and novelist whose most famous works were his two novels, Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. These are social commentaries on the Philippines that formed the nucleus of literature that inspired dissent among peaceful reformists and spurred the militancy of armed revolutionaries against 333 years of Spanish rule. He was known as a hero, author, and an eye doctor. As a political figure, Rizal was the founder of La Liga Filipina, a civic organization that subsequently gave birth to the Katipunan led by Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo. He was a proponent of institutional reforms by peaceful means rather than by violent revolution. The general consensus among Rizal scholars, however, attributed his martyred death as the catalyst that precipitated the Philippine Revolution. Rizal was implicated in the activities of the nascent rebellion and in July 1892, was deported to Dapitan in the province of Zamboanga. There he built a school, a hospital and a water supply system, and taught and engaged in farming and horticulture. Abaca, then the vital raw material for cordage and which Rizal and his students planted in the thousands, was a memorial.
Moments before his execution by a firing squad of Filipino native infantry, backed by an insurance force of Spanish troops, the Spanish surgeon general requested to take his pulse; it was normal. Aware of this, the Spanish sergeant in charge of the backup force hushed his men to silence when they began raising '¡vivas!' with the partisan crowd. His last words were that of Jesus Christ: "consummatum est",--it is done.
He was secretly buried in Paco Cemetery in Manila with no identification on his grave. His sister Narcisa toured all possible gravesites and found freshly turned earth at the cemetery with civil guards posted at the gate. Assuming this could be the most likely spot, there being ever no ground burials there, she made a gift to the caretaker to mark the site "RPJ." A monument, with his remains, now stands near the place where he fell, designed by the Swiss Richard Kissling of the famed William Tell sculpture. The statue carries the inscription "I want to show to those who deprive people the right to love of country, that when we know how to sacrifice ourselves for our duties and convictions, death does not matter if one dies for those one loves – for his country and for others dear to him."

1 comment:

DJB Rizalist said...

Thanks for this post on Jose Rizal.

Please join the conversation we are having over at Filipino Voices on the occasion of Rizal Day and the issue brewing around it. "As the Catholic Taliban Sing Hallelujah".

We'd love to hear your opinions and insights.