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Ambeth Ocampo reveals doctors’ plan to study Jose Rizal’s brain size |

Arts and Culture

Ambeth Ocampo reveals doctors’ plan to study Jose Rizal’s brain size

Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo -

MANILA, Philippines — Brain size only accounts for nine to 16% of overall intelligence, according to studies like that of Scientific American. 

Still, a group of doctors wanted to study National Hero Jose Rizal’s brain size to determine if it has correlation to his superior intelligence, historian and Ateneo de Manila University professor Ambeth Ocampo told in an exclusive interview in Ayala Museum last Friday.

“2002, I received a delegation of doctors from PGH (Philippine General Hospital) and they asked permission to exhume the skull of Rizal,” Ocampo recalled.

Ocampo, however, vetoed the planned examination for several reasons. 

First, it was because nobody knows the exact location of Rizal’s remains under the Rizal Monument in Luneta Park, Manila.

“Sabi ko, it’s buried under the monument and we do not know where exactly he is, ‘di ba? So ano ‘yun, bubungkalin natin?”

When asked why the doctors wanted to excavate Rizal’s skull, the doctors told Ocampo that they wanted to know Rizal’s brain size.

When Ocampo asked how the doctors would measure the National Hero’s brain size, he was “horrified” with the process.

“I was horrified because they said, 'We will bore a hole in the top of the skull, and then we’ll pour monggo seeds inside.' Then they’ll fill it up with monggo, then they’ll put it in a beaker so they could get the volume, so they could approximate how big his brain was.”

Though the proposal seems promising because it could lead to a new discovery, Ocampo believes that after over a century underground, Rizal’s skull and remains have become very fragile to handling and more so, hole drilling — that is if they are still intact.

“Of course, I looked at them and said, ‘I will not allow you to pour monggo seeds in Rizal’s skull,’ so sabi ko, ‘Go away!’ So they left,” Ocampo shared what he told the doctors.

Ocampo went viral last week for revealing a picture of fragments of what were believed to be parts of Rizal’s brain. — Video by EC Toledo

RELATED: Ambeth Ocampo shows Jose Rizal's brain fragments kept in a bottle

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