Before dawn on Sunday, a funeral procession made its way from the old Rizal home in Binondo, Manila, reenacting Rizal's burial for the first time, 116 years after his martyrdom.
Dressed in 1920s attire, members of the Order of the Knights of Rizal reenacted the transfer of the remains of Rizal from Binondo to the site of the Rizal Monument in commemoration of Rizal’s 116th death anniversary.
Rizal was only given a state funeral 16 years after he was executed in Bagumbayan in 1896. "Matagal ring hindi siya nabigyan ng isang official and state funeral. Napakamakabuluhan para sa atin, kung 'di sa sambayanang Pilipino," Gemma Cruz-Araneta, great-granddaughter of Rizal's sister Maria, said in a report on Balitanghali on Sunday.
A replica of the urn containing Rizal's mortal remains was borne on a military caisson, trooped by six black horses, and accompanied by Knights of Rizal and Members of the Grand Lodge of Masonry.
Rizal family members, soldiers, government employees and officials converged from three assembly points, Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo; Fort Santiago; and the Manila Hotel.
"This is the centennial commemoration of the transfer of the urn containing the mortal remains of Dr. Rizal. It is a special event not only for the Knights of Rizal who took the lead of leading the transfer but also for all the Filipino people who were there,” Knights of Rizal Supreme Commander Reghis Romero II said in a previous report.
The urn was brought to the Rizal monument in Luneta Park, where a symbolic interment was held.President Benigno Aquino III led the flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies shortly after 7 a.m. The rites included a 21-gun salute in tribute to the national hero.
Victor Reyes, a great-grandson of Rizal's sister Saturnina, said dying is not necessary to become a hero.
"Hindi na kailangang mamatay para maging bayani ngayon. Sumunod sa mga batas trapiko, maliliit na bagay kung lahat tayo gagawa ng ganun, magpakabayani tayong lahat," he said on Balitanghali.
After Rizal's execution, his mother Doña Teodora begged to be given her son's body, Asuncion Lopez Bantug, granddaughter of Rizal's sister Sisa, wrote in her biography "Lolo Jose: An Intimate Portrait of Rizal."
She wrote that Narcisa had ordered a coffin for her brother, but when it was sent to the Luneta after the execution, nobody could tell them where the body had been taken. After searching all over, from the city cemetery at Paang Bundok, where Rizal had expressed a wish to be buried, to several suburban graveyards, Narcisa found her brother's freshly dug grave at the Paco Cemetery.
She asked the guards to place a marble plaque designed by Doroteo Ongjungco with Rizal’s initials in reverse — “RPJ.” "The family feared that a more explicit tombstone might prompt the authorities to remove the body and hide it elsewhere, to prevent any public veneration of the Rizal grave," Bantug wrote.
The remains were exhumed on August 17, 1898, four days after the Mock Battle of Manila when the Americans took over the city. The remains were then brought to Narcisa’s house, where they were washed and cleansed. They were then placed in an ivory urn designed by Romualdo Teodoro de Jesus.
"This urn was venerated in frequent public ceremonies during the 1900s, when Rizal began to be honored as the National Hero of the Philippines," the biography said. The urn stayed in Narcisa's house on Estraude Street in Binondo, Manila until 1912.
On December 29 of that year, the urn was transferred in a procession headed by the Knights of Rizal to the marble hall of the Ayuntamiento de Manila, where it stayed overnight with the Knights on guard.
On the morning of December 30, 1912, the urn was brought in a solemn procession to Rizal's final resting place at the base of the national monument, which was inaugurated on December 30, 1913.—...