Jose Rizal....writer, doctor, linguist, leader and hero
There was so much to see and learn that I can't write about it all at once....so am going to break it down into bite size pieces....today - 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...
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....