Commemorating Rizal on Rizal Day

By: Marie Claire Lagrisola

Though the year 2022 is ending and you are very much excited to close this tiring but ever-eventful year with a nice dinner with your spouse and your family, a nice beach trip, or perhaps just a slow day of binge-watching your favorite current Netflix family-friendly show, it is also important for us, Filipinos, on the important day of December 30. If you have not been informed yet, December 30 is marked a national holiday. What important day could take place at the last minute of the year? Well, it is no other than Rizal Day next week. Do not forget to mark that in the calendars of your condo in Las Pinas. Why? Why is it so important?

What to Know About the Day of Our Philippine National Hero

Every 30th of December of every year, Filipinos celebrate the last hurrah of our national hero, Jose Rizal, who was executed the same day in 1896. As the day of Rizal’s death, it is also a public holiday to remember not only Rizal’s life but also his works both as a writer and as a hero. Emilio Aguinaldo, the first president of the Philippines, celebrated the first-ever Rizal Day ceremonies two years later of the death of Rizal.

José Rizal is arguably the greatest hero in the history of the Philippines as his works inspired the revolutionary forces to fight against the Spanish colonizers.

Back in 1898, the remains of our late hero were exhumed from the cemetery of Paco and transferred to the hands of the Rizal family under the request of his sister, Narcisa. During that same year, specifically on December 20, the first President of the Republic of the Philippines declared December 30 of the same year the very first Rizal Day. It is a day of mourning for the death of Rizal and many other fellow brave countrymen who fought and died during the corrupt rule of the Spaniards.

How About Going to Rizal Park in Manila This December 30?

Just a few wiggles away from your condo in Las Pinas, you and your family can totally show your respects next week to our ni Dr. by taking a visit to the Rizal Shrine. With a whole lot of history of Rizal shrine itself, you can definitely be in touch with the culture and rich history of our country just by roaming the grounds of Luneta Park.

Back in 1901, specifically on that year’s September 28, the Philippine government of that time approved Act No. 243 which enables a portion of the land of Luneta Park to be dedicated to our hero. This is why it is also called Rizal Park in Manila. During the time of the construction of the Rizal monument, the area was also known as Bagumbayan.

Not only the Rizal monument is a reminder, and perhaps a motivation, to fellow Filipinos to maybe take the leap of risking it all for the Philippines, but it is also served as the so-called mausoleum to house the hero’s remains. Additionally, the monument in Rizal Park was also helped built through the effort of his family, especially his brother named Paciano who raised funds for the construction of this Rizal shrine.

The design of the Rizal National Monument in Luneta came about due to a competition held after the passage of Act No. 243. The initial winning design was that of Professor Carlos Nicoli of Carrara, Italy. However, because of various reasons, such as his inability to post a 20,000-peso bond for the construction of the monument, his design was never used. Instead, the design of the second placer, Dr. Richard Kissling of Zurich, Switzerland, was adopted.

In 1912, Jose Rizal’s remains were transferred from his family’s custody to the base of the monument, during which a ceremony was conducted. A year after the transfer, Rizal’s monument was unveiled. This was the 17th anniversary of his death.

People have thought that the monument was built on the very spot Rizal was executed. After all, Rizal’s execution took place at Bagumbayan as well. However, many historians of the 1930s have said that the action execution did not take place on that spot but just a few meters away. To take note of it, a diorama and a marker of the said correct spot of the fall of Rizal are there for you and your family to stare at in awe.

Jose Rizal, Ever the Literary Lad

Who knew that just a piece of literature could start something as important as the Philippine Revolution?

Jose Rizal, ever worthy of the national holiday, showed how a pen can indeed be mightier than a sword. Historians agree that because of his words through his Noli Me Tangere, the revolutionary forces were more eager to fight for the freedom of the Philippines. His literature played a key role in freeing the Philippines and our ancestors from Spanish colonial rule. His words have always been echoed til then, during recent years, and certainly, in the future may it be in the education of the Philippines, in theater, and in fellow literature.

To wrap this all up, have a last glimpse of Rizal through the last lines of his last written poem entitled “Mi Ultimo Adios” (My Last Farewell). Here is a recent English translation of his beloved poem:

Goodbye, my parents, brothers—pieces of my soul;

Friends of my childhood in the house now lost,

Be thankful that I rest from the restless day.

Goodbye, sweet foreigner, my friend, my delight!

All that I love, farewell. To die is to rest.

Indeed, there are so many historical sites near your condo in Las Pinas. This is a given because our Filipino ancestors have gone through a lot that you and your family may not even know about. This is why it is important to visit such places as the Rizal monument, and to remember national days so that we will never forget the sacrifices our countrymen had done for us.

May we also do the same for future Filipinos?

Read more: Celebrate Philippine Independence Day in Your Own Way

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