What Filipinos remember about Jose Rizal

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Ballescas - The Freeman

Since his 1896 execution in what is now Luneta, it would be interesting to know if Filipinos remember Rizal today and if they do, what about Rizal they remember.

How many know that he was 7thof 11 children? That he knew his alphabet at 3 and learned how to read at 5 with the help/support of his mother?

For sure, many Filipinos may remember his birth date (June 19, 1861) and his execution (December 30, 1896).

Jose Rizal or Jose Protasio Rizal is a shortened name he started to use in Ateneo rather than this full name -José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda.

Many Filipinos may also remember hisoutstanding achievements: he was a very bright student who loved to learn.

From the Ateneo Municipal de Manila,heobtained a land surveyor and assessor's degree and at theUniversity of Santo Tomas, he finished Philosophy as a pre-law,

He earned a Licentiate in Medicine from the Universidad Central de Madrid and at 25, completed his eye specialization at Heidelberg from the renowned professor, Otto Becker.

There are those who remember Jose Rizal as a polyglot, having mastered 22 languages and as a polymath, easily bridging science/art, masteringvarious skills/subjects - an ophthalmologist/sculptor/painter/educator/farmer/historian/playwright/journalist, a poet/creative writer and dabbled in architecture/cartography/economics/ethnology/ anthropology/sociology/dramatics/martial arts/fencing /pistol shooting.

Most Filipinos are familiar with Jose Rizal whose statues are located all throughout the country.

Beyond his achievements, do Filipinos, however, remember him most/best for his sacrifices- his patriotism and martyrdom?

We certainly hope so. We fervently pray so.

Noli Me Tangere(1887) and El Filibusterismo (1891) are among his most famous works for which he was “prosecuted as the inciter of the revolution and for which he was eventually tried by the military, convicted, and executed in 1896, December 30 in what people know now as Rizal Park in Luneta.

Yet even before these two famous novels, he already wrote and published about the importance of individual rights and freedom, especially rights for the Filipino people.

Do Filipinos remember these from his Ultimo Adios/his farewell to the Filipino people?

“Farewell, my adored Land, region of the sun caressed, Pearl of the Orient Sea, our Eden lost, with gladness I give you my Life, sad and repressed;

And were it more brilliant, more fresh and at its best, I would still give it to you for your welfare at most.

On the fields of battle, in the fury of fight, others give you their lives without pain or hesitancy, The place does not matter: cypress laurel, lily white, scaffold, open field, conflict or martyrdom's site, It is the same if asked by home and Country.

I die as I see tints on the sky b'gin to show, and at last announce the day, after a gloomy night;

If you need a hue to dye your matutinal glow, pour my blood and at the right moment spread it so, And gild it with a reflection of your nascent light!

My dreams, when scarcely a lad adolescent, my dreams when already a youth, full of vigor to attain, were to see you, gem of the sea of the Orient, your dark eyes dry, smooth brow held to a high plane without frown, without wrinkles and of shame without stain.

My life's fancy, my ardent, passionate desire…to die to give you life, 'neath your skies to expire, And in your mystic land to sleep through eternity!

If over my tomb some day, you would see…a simple humble flow'r amidst thick grasses, bring it up to your lips and kiss my soul so, I may feel on my brow, warmth of your breath, a whiff of your tenderness.

And should a bird descend on my cross and alight, let the bird intone a song of peace o'er my site.”

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