Monday, October 03, 2005

Jose Rizal....writer, doctor, linguist, leader and hero

As I mentioned earlier I spent yesterday exploring Intramuros, the old walled city that spawned today's sprawling metropolis of Manila....

There was so much to see and learn that I can't write about it all at am going to break it down into bite size - Jose Rizal.

Jose Rizal is the Philippine national hero and has also been given the moniker...."The first Filipino'. He studied at the university of Manila and then sailed for Europe, starting in Madrid to continue his studies....he returned to Asia and practised medicine including some time spent in Hong Kong.

He was a prolific writer of letters and essays and he penned two published novels... Noli Me Tangere (1887) and El Filibusterismo (1891) which portray Philippine life under colonial Spanish rule. I have started reading El Filibusterismo but it is up against two other books at the moment so is suffering a little...

Rizal's nationalist fervour eventually led to his arrest by the Spanish authorities, he was tried, charged with sedition and in the early morning of 30th December 1896 he was executed by firing squad at Luneta Park on Manila Bay.

As the day of his execution came closer Rizal penned his last piece, a poem entitled Mi Último Adiós - My Last Farewell. It really is a beautiful piece of poetry.(English translation). Here are just two verses...

Farewell, beloved Country, treasured region of the sun,
Pearl of the sea of the Orient, our lost Eden!
To you eagerly I surrender this sad and gloomy life;
And were it brighter, fresher, more florid,
Even then I’d give it to you, for your sake alone.

I die when I see the sky has unfurled its colors
And at last after a cloak of darkness announces the day;
If you need scarlet to tint your dawn,
Shed my blood, pour it as the moment comes,
And may it be gilded by a reflection of the heaven’s newly-born light.

Fort Santiago is where Rizal was held captive until his execution and this is where an excellent museum about Rizal has been set up.

In the fort area is a small exhibition of Rizal's furniture (including some pieces that he had in Hong Kong), plus you can see the original document of his final poem, a mock up of the cell where he was kept incarcerated and the converted chapel where he spent his last night before his execution.

Rizal's Hong Kong business card

The museum is excellent, well presented and very thought provoking. The mock up of his cell is also excellent with illuminated quotes around the wall.Unfortunately the statue of him before he started his walk to his place of execution makes him look more like Charlie Chaplin...and the brass footprints leading from his cell through the fort...just stop by the ticket counter into the fort...I heard two visitors asking each other if he had been shot there?, I understand that it is not really feasible to have the footprints go all the way to Luneta park, however a little sign with an explanation may be a good idea.

The park areas within the fort are beautiful and very well maintained.

Quotes from the walls of the mock up of his cell

The real cell cannot be shown as the building in which it was destroyed during the Second World War (below).

the Chaplinesque statue of Rizal in the cell where he spent his last night alive.

The footprints that follow Rizal's last walk through the fort...I followed them from start to finish, even the bright day light and the sounds of the children playing did not dispel the almost ethereal sense of fear as I followed the prints...I was quite glad to reach the end and step out of the fort...

Rizal really was the most incredible writer and his words put me into a very pensive mood yesterday....from what he wrote it becomes crystal clear the level at which the Philippines has shouldered the colonial burden...the Spanish, the Japanese, the Americans and the British have all had a foothold in the Philippines...not easy for any nation.

Reading back over this I haven't done Rizal justice in describing his life and vast number of achievements....this is a fairly bad excuse...but I have had a rather crappy day...both apartments I had lined up (an heir and a spare) both fell through, my shipment allegedly arrives on Thursday...and pathetic though this sounds I miss my moggies....


Anonymous Miguk said...

Rizal was a true genius and that he is not well known outside of the Philippines is a crime.

I am sorry to hear of your housing troubles. I will be moving to Manila in December and hope to not have any issues. Probably easier since my wife was a previous local (although we haven't lived there for 20 years). I have always enjoyed the Philippines and hopefully you will too after things settle down.

9:53 am  
Blogger carlosceldran said...

Actually, the footprints do lead to Luneta. Some parts have been paved over with asphalt, but the footprints go past the cathedral, out the postigo gate, onto roxas boulevard then to the park.

And as for apartments, have you tried Alexandria on Meralco Avenue or considered the options of townhouses in the Valle Verde area? I assume you need to be near Ortigas. Some townhouses on Ortigas Avenue (near C5) are just as cheap as apartments (and just as spacious). And most definitely allow pets.

2:07 pm  
Blogger Madame Chiang said...

obviously I was being very unobservant...I left the fort and walked down the road past the Cathedral to Casa Manila...and didn't see them!!! Blind as a bat!!!

Thanks for the suggestions on the apartments...the hunt continues...

2:54 pm  
Blogger expat@large said...

My fantastic Filipina ex-maid, The Mouse, gave me hard-back editions (not 1st, not signed!) of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo for my birthday three years ago.

Wasn't she sweet?

God I miss her. Sigh. What a cook!

11:58 pm  
Blogger Lee said...

hello there!
I stumbled onto your page when I searched for "Jose Rizal Quotes" and boy am I glad I found you!! I am doing a book project based on Jose Rizal. My assignment is to capture his essence in the form of a book. What layouts does he deserve, what materials should I use and things like that are things I have to tackle. I'm almost done, but I'm out of quotes! Can you dig up your old photos from your visit to the museum and send me some of the other quotes that are in the mock up cell? I'm going to send my book to print very soon, by Saturday, so if you could get back to me asap, I'd appreciate it greatly! Thank you SO much!

11:27 am  
Anonymous Rolland said...

What namely you are writing is a horrible mistake.
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10:06 am  

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