President Rodrigo Duterte called on the Filipino people, particularly the youth, to take inspiration from Rizal’s life story and emulate the principles that made him the country’s greatest hero.
The President made the statement as the Philippines would mark the 122nd anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal’s martyrdom today.
Duterte will commemorate the death anniversary of Rizal in Davao City’s Rizal Park.
In his statement, the President said the Filipino people reminisce and honor the martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal, whose ultimate sacrifice awakened the entire Filipino race from its peonage to a colonial master for more than 30 decades.
“The legacy of Rizal’s life and death is a walking testament to a person’s magnificent and consuming love for his country that sparked a leap for freedom and an assertion of national dignity. More than one century has passed since his execution in Bagumbayan, but his influence on our nation’s evolution remains relevant today as it was 122 years ago,” Duterte said.
In commemorating Rizal’s death anniversary, Duterte asked the people, to take a leaf from one of his immortal legacies and a truism that it is a useless life that is not consecrated to a vision and fulfillment of a great ideal.
“In these challenging and crucial times, we need equally courageous and principled Filipinos, stripped of apathy and selfishness, to become modern-day heroes to sustain our fight for freedom from all the ills of society,” he said
“Jose Rizal’s martyrdom should propel us to rise to the challenge of the times and unchain ourselves from our stupor of indifference and race to the finish line of genuine change and prosperity,” the President said.
Elsewhere in the country, in the Camarines Norte capital of Daet, continues to celebrate Rizal’s anniversary of martyrdom, with its distinction as the first town to unveil the first Rizal Monument in the republic on Dec. 30, 1898.
Situated at a river park, construction of the 20-foot stone pylon began on Oct. 30, 1898, way ahead of the decree issued by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo on Dec. 20 declaring Rizal’s death anniversary as “a national day of mourning” for the hero and other victims of Spanish rule.
The monument was built through the financial contributions of the townsfolk of Daet and neighboring towns, led by Lt. Colonels Antonio Sanz and Ildefonso Alegre of the revolutionary army under Gen. Vicente Lukban’s command.
Composed of a three-tiered stone pylon, its square base surmounted by a two-level triangle, with the last one tapering off to an apex.
On top is an eight-rayed sun, a five-pointed star and the dedicatory phrase “A Jose Rizal”. But unlike other later landmarks built in his honor, it does not bear his statue.
Based on historical accounts, the base contains a time capsule containing the list of contributors to the construction of the monument.
Inscribed on the square podium are Rizal’s popular novels—Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, and Morga, an annotation of Antonio de Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas, an authoritative book on the early history on Spanish colonization.
In a unique twist of fate, the monument used coral stones taken from the old prison where hundreds of Filipino freedom fighters were tortured and executed by the Spaniards in the aftermath of the Daet Revolt in April 1898.
Interestingly, a memorial pedestal for the said martyrs was put up a few steps away from Rizal’s many years later.
The monument’s overall design is largely attributed to Sanz, a Spanish military officer who defected to the Filipinos after the declaration of Philippine independence.
It is also a widely-accepted belief that its appearance is influenced by Freemasonry because of its pronounced Masonic features, and the fact that Rizal, Sanz and Aguinaldo were Masons.
Masonic historian Reynold Fajardo wrote in their periodical Cabletow, “the monument is unquestionably Masonic, the base is a square and is surmounted by a triangle; on the sides of the triangle may be seen the five-pointed star and at the top used to be the all-seeing eye.”
Today, Camarines Norte and the town of Daet, along with the local chapters of the Order of the Knights of Rizal and Masonic lodges, hold a joint wreath-laying ceremony at 7:03 a.m., the exact time of the national hero’s execution at the Bagumbayan, now Luneta, in Manila.
This is followed by commemorative events which vary annually, and included in previous years a street theater reenacting Rizal’s martyrdom, essay-writing and oratorical contests, and socio-civic activities.
In 2013, the book titled “The First Rizal Monument, Nationalism and the 1898 Daet Uprising” authored by historian Prof. Danilo Gerona was launched by the Bicol Historical Research Center and the Knights of Rizal as part of the annual observance.
Supported by then Daet Mayor Tito Sarion, the book is a product of years of intensive research to serve as the definitive resource material on the historical landmark and the bloody Daet Revolt, a forgotten chapter in the Philippine Revolution.
According to Camarines Norte cultural officer Abel Icatlo, who oversees the annual commemoration rites, the First Rizal Monument is a source of pride for the townsfolk and all Bicolanos.
He noted that the province had introduced the Bantayog Festival in recent years to mark its founding anniversary, in honor of Rizal.
Held in April, the festivity features replicas of the monument being paraded around Daet, alongside the street dancers from the various municipal contingents.
The Knights of Rizal member pointed out that these gestures, then and now, were a testament to the people’s reverence for the national hero and his ideals although he never set foot in Camarines.
“The monument reminds us of the greatness of the Great Malayan, and failure to visit it when in Daet would be a tragedy of monumental proportions,” he said. With Bernard SupetranREAD: Rizal as icon in performing arts
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