By JULES VIVAS

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Dr. José Rizal, perhaps the most famous Filipino and national hero of the Philippines, celebrated his 159th birth anniversary on June 19. Aside from his birth date, we also commemorate the heroism of Rizal on Dec. 30, the day he died for the country. His name is synonymous to the word bayani, in fact, he is the standard of what heroes should be—those who have a concept of nation, who wish and struggle for national freedom and progress. The truth, however, is that a revolution is never ending and his sacrifice was only the beginning. We cannot aspire to be free only to fall back into bondage. If we want real national progress to happen we must emulate the polymath and be heroes ourselves. Whenever we pay homage to Rizal, we are reminded of what heroism means, and so we should honor him each and every day.

His face, name, and works are recognized almost everywhere, and this is not an overstatement. Reach into your pockets or purse and you’ll see him on a coin. His life and writings are even mandated to be part of school curriculums through Republic Act 1425, otherwise known as the Rizal Law.

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Today, we have statues of Rizal in nearly every municipality, town, and city plaza around the archipelago. He also has countless stone, granite, or bronze monuments in many places around the world, in venues he had traveled to or places with a Filipino community—his monoliths are erected in continents like Asia, Europe, North and Latin America. Suffice to say, Rizal’s fame goes way beyond the country, but all over the globe. The list of places where his memorials stand is too long, since various countries acknowledge him for his significant scientific and literary contributions, influence, achievements, intelligence, and above all else his heroism. In the mid-1990s, in a regional conference held in Kuala Lumpur, he was declared as “Asia’s Renaissance Man.”

Here are some of Rizal’s most important memorials in the Philippines and around the world.

Motto Stella, Manila

Photo by Carlito Scholz

Photo by Carlito Scholz

The Motto Stella (Latin for “guiding star”), commonly known as the Rizal Monument at Rizal Park in Manila was inaugurated on Dec. 30, 1913. The monument consists of a standing bronze sculpture of our national hero, with an obelisk set on a stone base within which his remains are interred. It is honored by a four-man ceremonial guard from the Philippine Marine Corps 24 hours a day.

Unang Bantayog ni José Rizal, Bicol

Photo from Wikipedia

Photo from Wikipedia

The construction of a memorial marker started on Dec. 30, 1898, two years after the death of Rizal and in compliance with a decree of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo to observe the said date as a national holiday in the “Free Philippines.” The 20-feet three-tiered stone pylon in Daet, Camarines Norte was erected in February 1899, antedating the monument in Luneta by 14 years. Made through the financial contributions of the townsfolk of Camarines Norte and the Bicol region, it was designed by a Mason named Sanz, while the entire undertaking was led by Ildefonso Alegre of the Republican Army and Lt. Colonels Antonio Sanz.

Piazzale de Manila Rizal Statue, Rome

Photo from Memorias de las Viejas Filipinas

Photo from Memorias de las Viejas Filipinas

Through the combined efforts of the Philippine Embassy to the Holy See and Josephine Bantug, a descendant of Rizal’s sister Narcisa, a statue was built at the Piazzale de Manila Rizal in 2011. Rizal came to Rome on June 27, 1887, touring several sites, from Milan, Florence to the Vatican City over the course of his three-day stay in Italy. The national hero was enamored of the Italian capital. “I will give up visiting the other cities. If I had one more year, I would spend it all here… Ancient Rome allures me exceedingly,” he wrote.

Parque Santander Replica of Rizal Monument, Madrid

Photo from the Philippine Embassy in Madrid

Photo from the Philippine Embassy in Madrid

In 1996, a replica of the Rizal Monument at Luneta was constructed at the corner of Avenida de las Islas Filipinas and Calle Santander in Madrid as a marker of the 100th year of Philippine independence from Spain. The capital of Spain has been a pivotal place in the life of Rizal, as he studied medicine at Universidad de Madrid, wrote for La Solidaridad that was at the time based on Calle Atocha, and met with his fellow Ilustrados at Viva Madrid.

Rizal Bust at Hibaya Park, Tokyo

Photo by Yoshiaki Miura

Photo by Yoshiaki Miura

A bronze bust of Rizal is located at Hibiya Park, near the historic Imperial Palace. It was put up along a trail within the park in 1998. Historians say that the bust stood at the site of the Tokyo Hotel, where Rizal stayed in February and March 1888 before going to Europe. It was during this visit that he fell in love with a woman called Osei-san, later identified as Seiko Usui.

Rizal Statue at Rizal Park, Heidelberg

Photo from Wiki Commons

Photo from Wiki Commons

An effigy of Rizal at Wilhemsfeld in Germany was created by Filipino sculptor Anastacio Caedo. It was unveiled on Sept. 2, 1978. The plaza called Rizal Park, and the statue, were dedicated to the national hero by the people of Heidelberg. Invited by a protestant pastor named Karl Ullmer, Rizal stayed at the small German town of  Wilhelmsfeld for three months where he wrote the final chapters of Noli Me Tangere. His visit started a long friendship that eventually led to the declaration of Wilhelmsfeld as the sister city of Rizal’s hometown, Calamba, Laguna.

Rizal Shrine in Jinjiang city, Fujian

Consul General Julius Caesar A. Flores with Deputy Director General, Jinjiang Overseas Chinese, Taiwanese and Foreign Affairs Bureau (OCTFAB) Su Zhihong, lays wreath at Rizal Shrine on 06 July 2018 in commemoration of Rizal’s 157th Birth Anniversary in Jinjiang City, Fujian. Photo from the Department of Foreign Affairs

Consul General Julius Caesar A. Flores with Deputy Director General, Jinjiang Overseas Chinese, Taiwanese and Foreign Affairs Bureau (OCTFAB) Su Zhihong, lays wreath at Rizal Shrine on July 6, 2018 in commemoration of Rizal’s 157th birth anniversary in Jinjiang City, Fujian. Photo from the Department of Foreign Affairs

In 1999, then-President Joseph Estrada and then-Chinese Ambassador Fu Ying laid the foundation for the memorial. In 2003, the construction of the Rizal shrine began. It was completed the same year. It stands at 18.61 meters tall, based on the year the national hero was born. This memorial was built to honor Rizal’s Chinese ancestry, as he was the 22nd generation descendant of the first generation Ke family whose roots are in Shang Guo village in Jinjiang. His great-great grandfather was Domingo Lameo, or Ke Yi Nan in Chinese, who migrated to the Philippines.

Rizal Busts in Czech Republic, Prague and Litoměřice

Rizal’s bust in the city of Litoměřice. Photo from Archive Stockinger

Rizal’s bust in the city of Litoměřice. Photo from Archive Stockinger

Filipino sculptor Jose Giroy installed a bust of Rizal at the foyer of the Czech National Bank headquarters in Prague in 2018. The sculpture was the brainchild of Czech National Bank vice-governor Vladimír Tomšík, to commemorate Rizal’s first visit in the country with his friend Maximo Viola.

Another memorial lies in the city of Litoměřice, 64 kilometers northwest of Prague, where lived Rizal’s fellow academic and great friend Ferdinand Blumentritt, a Filipinist, champion of Philippine studies, and adviser to Rizal’s El Filibusterismo. The friendship between the two men began when Rizal learned of Blumentritt’s study of Tagalog. The last letters Rizal wrote before his execution was for his closest friend Blumentritt, whom he addressed as “dear Brother.” Litoměřice is also home to the museum Blumentritt and Rizal’s Bastion and Parkany Jose Rizala, a park on a hill overlooking what used to be the train station where Rizal and Blumentritt first met.

Statue of Dr. Jose Rizal at Rizal Park, Sydney

H.E. Ma. Hellen B. De La Vega, Philippine Ambassador to Australia, leads the wreath-laying ceremony in commemoration of the 122nd Anniversary of the Martrydom of National Hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal 30 December 2018 in Rizal Park, Campbelltown, New South Wales. Photo from the Embassy of the Philippines Australia

H.E. Ma. Hellen B. De La Vega, Philippine Ambassador to Australia, leads the wreath-laying ceremony in commemoration of the 122nd anniversary of the martrydom of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal December 30, 2018 at Rizal Park, Campbelltown, New South Wales. Photo from the Embassy of the Philippines Australia

Esteemed sculptor Eduardo Castrillo donated a five-meter-tall statue of Rizal now situated at Rizal Park, Rosemeadow, Campbelltown City. The statue was unveiled on Oct. 26, 2013. The national hero never visited Australia but two of his descendants currently reside there, namely, Isaac Reyes, the great-great-grandson of Rizal’s eldest sister Saturnina, as well as Josephine Quintero, the great-granddaughter of Rizal’s youngest sister Soledad.

Rizal Bust at Rizal Park, Lima

Photo from the Presidential Broadcast Staff-Radio Television Malacañang

Photo from the Presidential Broadcast Staff-Radio Television Malacañang

In 2008, then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo unveiled the bust of Rizal at the center of the newly renamed Rizal Park in La Molina district. This public park in Peru was the first to be named after a national hero of a foreign country. Rizal was also the first foreigner to have a monument erected in his honor in Peru.

Made of bronze, the bust was designed by a Czech sculptor Libor Piszlac who hails from Litoměřice, and was donated by a German tourism consultant and passionate admirer of Rizal, Hans Gunter Schoof who is married to a Filipino woman from Bohol.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/06/21/the-monumental-rizal/)