In my previous posts, I mentioned how I tend to look for things related to home and how thrilled I get when I do spot those things. Must be hereditary. My mom tries to befriend every Pinoy she meets when out of the country. Or at least engages them into a small chat. Or “Hi!”s. Scary. Okay, so maybe not everyone.
Two months ago, as we were strolling along the banks of Singapore River near Asian Civilizations Museum, we stumbled upon this bronze marker for our national hero.
Not knowing anything about it prior, we were ecstatic. I mean, how many more were like us, clueless until the discovery? It was like finding an easter egg a week before Easter (Easter Sunday really was a week later.).
The marker reads:
Jose Rizal Mercado, more commonly known as Jose Rizal, is a revered national hero of the Philippines and considered the father of modern Philippines.
He was born on 19th June 1861 in the then Spanish colony, and was the 7th of 11 children of a rich land-owning father and highly educated mother.
Rizal was a brilliant student and acquired his first degree at the age of 16. In May 1882, when he was 21 years old, he left for Spain to study medicine. His first stop on his wasy to Spain was Singapore, which was the first foreign land he visited.
Singapore was then a thriving British post-city and he found it buzzing with people and economic activity. He visted numerous churches and temples around today’s Bras Basah area and was impressed by the Botanical Gardens as he was also a keen botanist. He was to visit Singapore on four other occasions. In his visits here, except for the last visit when he was held a prisoner in a ship, he stayed at the Hotel de la Paix which was located at the site of today’s Peninsular Hotel on Coleman Street.
Rizal is remembered best for his two novels, Noli Me Tangere (The Social Cancer), (1987) and its sequel, El Filibusterismo (1891). Together, the two books exposed the excesses and abuses of Spanish colonialism in the Philippines and generated a sense of national identity and consciousness among Filipinos.
Rizal used his writings to struggle for equality between the Spanish and Filipinos through peaceful means, Unfortunately, he was not successful in this attempt. His peaceful call for a more open and just society was rejected by the colonials. He was executed on December 30th 1896, at the age of 35, implicated in acts of sedition, treason and instigating a poular revolt that he never supported.
Rizal’s sacrifice was not in vain; his death became a rallying point against colonial domination. Filipinos declared their independence from Spain on 12th June 1898.
A quick check with wiki told us that the painting was by Fabian de la Rosa while the bronze bust relief at the other side of the marker was by Guillermo Tolentino (Sorry no pictures for this, my Maxtor portable hard disk went wonky and I was only able to save a couple of files). “This marks his visits to Singapore (1882, 1887, 1891,1896).”
The marker is also included in Singapore’s Heritage Trails. If you enlarge one of the pictures in the webpage, which I couldn’t recall seeing at the site, Jose Rizal is noted as the First Overseas Filipino. Um, okay…
Well, Happy Independence Day peeps. And do take note that Rizal’s 150th Birth Anniversary is next week. A lot of activities are already happening across the Metro. They just need us to find them.