A nation forms and transforms its national identity though its symbols that embody its historical and cultural heritage. Nowhere is this more patent in the way the Philippines and the Filipino people have kept alive the memories of Dr. Jose P. Rizal, the Philippines’ national hero.
It was on December 30, 1898 on Rizal’s second death anniversary that the Filipino people could properly commemorate and pay their respect to Rizal as they celebrated the First Philippine National Heroes’ Day. In the morning, the first monument-an obelisk with a mythical sun- to honor Rizal was unveiled in the province of Camarines Norte in the Bicol region.
In the evening, in the presence of Rizal’s mother, sisters, and brother invited as guests of honor, together with distinguished members from the government, business, and military sectors, the first all-Filipino social society, Club Filipino, unveiled a bust cast in bronze in the likeness of Rizal was received warmly by all those present.
The unveiling was followed by songs and poetry to honor Rizal: a prelude to Cavalleria was played, his poems, including My Last Farewell and My Retreat, were declaimed, and his Song of Maria was sung. And as the guests joyously and proudly left, the national anthem was played.
During the American occupation of the Philippines, Rizal Day and Rizal’s Birthday celebration was permitted even as the new colonizer banned that display of the Philippine flag.
On the tenth anniversary of Rizal death on December 30, 1906, a speaker exclaimed that every nation had its day of honor and that for the Philippines that day was December 30, 1896. And on that day, Rizal’s sacrifice was still vivid in the minds and hearts of the people.
By the time Rizal’s fiftieth death anniversary was commemorated in 1946, the Philippines was again free from foreign control as it gained its freedom from the United States. In 1956, Rizal’s writings including the uncensored copies of his novels became required readings in school.
Today, Rizal, who paid the ultimate price with his life to free the Filipino people, is considered as an Asian Renaissance Man for his intellect and humanism.
BACKGROUND OF THE AUTHOR
The author of the Book, “In Excelsis: The Mission of Jose P. Rizal, Humanist and Philippine national hero”, is not just a writer but also a photographer and lecturer who began her career since 1973. She has written several and various genres of books such as socio-political events, culinary history and cuisine, art and aesthetics, sociology, humanities, cultural environment development and values regeneration. She stayed as a former president of the Board of Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum in Manila, and she is highly regarded in the Philippine museum sector for her Filipino language text for museum exhibitions with English adaptations. She also has won several awards for her works such as “The Governor-General’s Kitchen: Philippine Culinary Vignettes and Period Recipes, 1521-1935”, which won National Book Awards 2006 and Gourmand Awards for books 2006-2007, “Household Antiques and Heirlooms”, which won National Book Award, Art, 1983, and much more. She is currently staying as Chair of Social and Human Sciences Committee Philippine National Commission for UNESCO. She always strives hard to develop Philippine culture not because of her position as “someone who introduces one’s country,” but because of her passion towards her beloved motherland, Filipinas.
On June 19, 1861, after a difficult delivery, Teodora Alonso gave birth to Jose Rizal before midnight during a full moon. When he was baptized, the parish priest advised his mother to guard his head for he would be a great man someday. Jose Rizal, or Pepe as he was known when he was young, spent his childhood in his playhouse surrounded by native Philippine fruit trees where birds abound. He had a pony, a dog, and a rabbit for pets. Even as a young boy, he showed interest...