Jose Rizal: The words of this Philippine hero live on

Published December 29, 2022, 6:59 PM

by Alexa Basa

  • Rizal grew up to be skilled in both arts and sciences, and is better known as the author of his novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.
  • Rizal also contributed to La Solidaridad, a newspaper that pushed for reforms. His famous essays in the newspaper were the Sa Mga Kadalagahan Sa Malolos, Bulakan, Filipinas Dentro De Cien Años (The Philippines Within a Century), and Sobre La Indolencia de los Filipinos (On the Indolence of the Filipinos).
  • Other written works of Rizal are Mi Retiro (My Retreat), Mi Ultimo Adios (My Last Farewell), and an annotated edition of Antonio de Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas.
  • The country continues to pay tribute to his heroism through the many monuments, shrines and places that are named after him.
  • No one can miss Rizal in a regular day in the Philippines, starting with his face on the one-peso coin, a main avenue in any city or town named “Rizal Street,” major sports venues, university, elementary and high schools, even hospitals that carry his name.
PHILIPPINE HERO – Dr. Jose Rizal, who used nonviolent means for advocating reforms, was executed by a firing squad on Dec. 30, 1896 after being convicted of rebellion, sedition, and conspiracy. (Photo by Library of Congress website/Manila Bulletin file photo)

Jose Rizal, a Philippine hero who stood up against Spanish colonizers by choosing the pen and not the sword to fight injustice, is the focus of tributes as the nation commemorates his 126th death anniversary on Dec. 30, a non-working holiday.

Rizal’s life was short. At the young age of 35, Rizal was executed by a firing squad on Dec. 30, 1896 in Bagumbayan after he was found guilty of rebellion, sedition, and conspiracy.

I first “met” Rizal through a small, thin book that I read when I was a kid. The book—titled Talambuhay ng mga Bayani—tells the short biographies of Filipino men and women who contributed to the country’s independence from Spanish colonizers. I learned the story about the hero from a summary of his life from his birth to death. I was very young then and I remember trying to memorize the details, especially his complete name.

Rizal (Jose Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda) was born on June 19, 1861 in Calamba, Laguna. He was the seventh among 11 children—two sons and nine daughters—of Francisco Mercado and Teodora Alonso.

RIZAL MONUMENT -The Rizal monument stands at the Rizal Park, more popularly known as Luneta Park, in Manila.  (Manila Bulletin File Photo)

He grew up to be skilled in both arts and sciences, and is better known as the author of his novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.

Rizal also contributed to La Solidaridad, a newspaper that pushed for reforms in the country. His famous essays in the newspaper were the Sa Mga Kadalagahan Sa Malolos, Bulakan, Filipinas Dentro De Cien Años (The Philippines Within a Century), and Sobre La Indolencia de los Filipinos (On the Indolence of the Filipinos).

Among Rizal’s popular written works are Mi Retiro (My Retreat), Mi Ultimo Adios (My Last Farewell), and an annotated edition of Antonio de Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas.

Rizal’s written works are proof that the pen and paper are powerful tools to influence opinion and to bring reform as they inspired people to take action. He chose the pen as a peaceful way to advocate reforms without causing bloodshed.

Rizal’s talent and skills exceeded what is expected from one person. Aside from being a writer, Rizal was an “architect, artist, businessman, cartoonist, educator, economist, ethnologist, scientific farmer, historian, inventor, journalist, linguist, musician, mythologist, nationalist, naturalist, novelist, opthalmic surgeon, poet, propagandist, psychologist, scientist, sculptor, sociologist, and theologian,” according to joserizal.ph website.

The country continues to pay tribute to his heroism through the many monuments, shrines and places that are named after him. No one can miss Rizal in a regular day in the Philippines, starting with his face on the one-peso coin, a main avenue in any city or town named “Rizal Street,” major sports venues, university, elementary and high schools, even hospitals that carry his name. There have been many essays and stories published about him, and films and television shows produced about his life.

In Manila, Rizal Park, popularly referred to as Luneta Park, is the main venue for family gatherings, festivals, shows, exhibits, and dozens of tree planting activities held every so often to celebrate any occasion.

It is also at Rizal Park where a 12.7-meter monument stands with honor guards 24-hours a day.

Near that monument, in a small corner of Rizal Park is the site of where the national hero was executed on Dec. 30, 1896.  A diorama of the execution showing Rizal and the soldiers stand in that plot of land to remind locals and foreigners of our hero.

If you want to pay your respects to our hero today, visit Rizal Park.

 
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