Much of what we know about our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, came from textbooks or things we’ve been taught in school. Some Filipinos remember him by his two great novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Others may be familiar with his famous sayings such as, “Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika, daig pa ang hayop at malansang isda.” But for the greater majority, Rizal only happens to be an image on a one peso coin or a monument in Luneta Park.
Who was Jose Rizal really? Was he just the literary genius that history made him to be? Was he always the freedom fighter pinned against Andres Bonifacio at the height of the Spanish colonial period? What activities did he enjoy? What kind of person was he? Was he just like you and me?
Check out the following accounts and get to know Jose Rizal, the man.
Rizal was stingy
In Rizal Without the Overcoat, Ambeth Ocampo narrates how Rizal asked all guests in a New Year’s potluck party to pay their share of the champagne bill. People thought it was a joke until Rizal passed his hat around.
During his many travels, Rizal would always ask the front desk in the hotel where he planned to stay how much the rate was with and without breakfast. Most often, he opted for the latter to save money for his other purchases.
In his book, First Filipino, Leon Ma. Guerrero relates how Rizal survived on a budget of 50 pesos a month while he was in Europe. He had once written his sister Maria that he had not taken a bath for months because “it was really expensive.”
Rizal loved tuyo
Ambeth Ocampo devotes an entire chapter of his book to Rizal’s favorite foods. For breakfast, he liked hot chocolate, a cup of rice, and sardinas secas or tuyo. Lunch was ayungin or silver perch. His cook in Dapitan remembers that Rizal normally had three types of viands. The first was local food such as sinigang or paksiw. The second was Spanish, and the third, he described as “mestizo.”
Rizal also enjoyed pancit, lanzones, and mangoes. He drank his water with ice, didn’t like wine but drank beer so as not to call attention to himself while in Europe.
Rizal was sometimes a proud man
Ocampo also relates that while Rizal was in Europe, there were times when he would run out of money to buy food as his allowance from the Philippines arrived late. Since he didn’t want his landlady to know he had no money, Rizal would go out during mealtimes and walk around town to pass the time, angered by such small misfortunes. It was only after mealtime that he would return home when everybody assumed he had eaten.
Rizal vowed never to buy anything from the Chinese
Rizal had an unfortunate disagreement with the sari-sari store owner at the Dapitan Stocking Market of 1896. Priests had decreed that women should attend mass in shoes and stockings. To observe the decree, women came in men’s socks bought for three reales a pair from a Chinese merchant. To take advantage of the demand, and to compete with the Chinese merchant whom he thought had exploited the natives (Filipinos), Rizal had two dozen socks sent to him by his sister. Unfortunately, the trend ended when he was ready to sell; and while the merchant had sold most of his stocks, Ocampo says, Rizal had “nearly 10 years worth left.”
Allow your students to learn the relevance of our national hero’s life in these modern times by discovering more about him yourself.
Rizal was a gym buff
To compensate for his small stature, Rizal did weight-lifting exercises to improve his physique. This fact was confirmed when cement barbells were later discovered in his Dapitan home.
Similarly, Leon Ma. Guerrero noted that as a child, Rizal was made fun of by Pedro, another student in school. Rizal was never quarrelsome but in this instance, he challenged Pedro to a fight and surprisingly, won.
Rizal was interested in science
During Rizal’s exile in Dapitan, he explored the jungles and coasts of Mindanao with his young pupils. He inspected various specimens of insects, birds, lizards, snakes, frog shells, and plants, and sent these specimens to the Dresden Museum in Europe in exchange for scientific books and surgical instruments.
Some of the rare specimens Rizal discovered were named after him. These included a flying dragon (Draco Rizali), small beetle (Apogonia Rizali), and a rare frog (Rhacophorus Rizali).
WHAT RIZAL SAID
These accounts show us how much Rizal was like many of us. However, his life and works
reveal that a person, as long as he has a clear vision and a strong will, can accomplish his desired goal. As then-senator Richard Gordon said during the commemoration of Rizal’s 148th birthday, “Jose Rizal showed us that even if we were colonized by foreign nations, we can refuse to be bound by them, by having a vision and strengthening our values. He showed that Filipinos could excel and compete with the best.”
Let’s take a look at some of Rizal’s words which, Gordon claims, have made him “the first Filipino to break the walls in his mind.” As a reaction to what our colonial rulers had fed Filipinos then, Rizal’s thoughts ignited the Filipinos’ fight for freedom. These same words continue to guide us through various aspects of human life today.
On love for country and the Filipino language
•Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika, daig pa ang hayop at malansang isda.
•While a people preserves its language; it preserves the marks of liberty.
• I love my country, the Philippines, because I owe her my life and happiness, and because
every man should love his country…
• There you have the country; love her as she deserves to be loved.
“His life and works reveal that a person, as long as he has a clear vision and a strong will, can accomplish his desired goal.”
On law and government
• There can be no tyrants where there are no slaves.
• All men are born equal, naked, without bonds. God did not create man to be a slave; nor did he endow him with intelligence to have him hoodwinked, or adorn him with reason to have him deceived by others.
• The tyranny of some is possible only through the cowardice of others.
• Treat the people well, teach them the sweetness of peace so that they can love it and maintain it.
• The youth is the hope of our future.
• Without education and liberty, which are the soil and the sun of man, no reform is possible, no measure can give the result desired.
• Youth is a flower-bed that is to bear rich fruit and must accumulate wealth for its descendants
• Where are the youths who will dedicate their innocence, their idealism, enthusiasm to the good of the country?
On life and work
• Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.
• A tree that grows in the mud is unsubstantial and good only for firewood.
• It is a useless life that is not consecrated to a great ideal. It is like a stone wasted on the field without becoming a part of any edifice.
• A man without will of his own is a man without personality.
Such words are powerful. They mirror the kind of man Rizal was and the values he stood and fought for. Hence, it is important to make Rizal more known to the youth, as it would expose them to the values of nationalism, integrity, and faith in people. The use of Rizal words as instructional materials can help students realize his relevance today. He is after all, a symbol of hope. He is a model that students can imitate. His words bring them to a recognition of their own gifts which may be used to contribute to our nation’s development.
See the activity “What Rizal Said” in Creative Classroom on the back cover page, and follow the mechanics suggested below:
- Each day at the beginning of class, pick out a news topic of issue from the previous day or week. Paste the news clipping or picture of the issue on the second cartolina as described in Creative Classroom.
- Briefly discuss the news item or issue with the class. Then pick out quotation of Rizal from the first cartolina labeled ‘What Rizal Said’ With the students, relate quote to the news item or issue previously discussed to show Rizal’s relevance today.
- Using Rizal’s words as guide, ask students how they would respond to the social issue.
- Give students small label cards and ask them to write their response on it.
- Collect label cards and choose around three to five responses you deem best. Read these out in class and affirm students who wrote them. Let them paste their label cards on the third cartolina labeled “How do I respond today?.”
- Allow the class to express their opinions on how the selected responses mirror Rizal’s views on the chosen quote.
- Do the same thing twice or thrice a week.
- After a month, divide class into groups and challenge them to a song, poetry, or essay writing contest. Using one quote from Rizal and their own response, the song/poem/essay they write should show how they have derived inspiration from Rizal on what they can become.
Where in the world are Rizal’s monuments?
Every year on his birthday (June 19) and his execution (December 30), Rizal’s heroism is commemorated at Luneta Park where a monument stands in his honor. The monument recognizes his love for country and his martyrdom. The monument aims to help Filipinos rediscover their identity as well as regain their sense of responsibility.
But apart from the one at Luneta Park, there are other monuments around the world that pay tribute to Rizal, recognizing different traits that have endeared him to so many. Let’s take a look at these monuments.
China – This monument, an exact replica of the Manila monument, recognizes Rizal’s Chinese ancestral roots. Built in Jinjiang, it symbolizes the strong bond of friendship between the Philippines and China. The monument aims to show Rizal’s great interest in different cultures.
Australia – This monument was built through the initiative of a group of Filipino-Australians and their friends. A fitting tribute to Rizal’s heroism, it recognizes Rizal’s short but meaningful life.
- Hawaii – This monument was a project of the Kauai Filipino Community Council. It recognizes the value of Rizal’s teachings and the importance of inculcating them in the minds and hearts of our people so they may strive to follow them.
- Chicago – The unveiling ceremony of the Dr. Jose Rizal Monument in Chicago was held on June 19, 1999. The legacy of Rizal is not only for migrant Filipinos but for the children of Filipino-Americans who would appreciate his life and teachings for generations to come.
- Washington – This memorial pays tribute to Rizal as a Filipino patriot who, during his short life, made lasting contributions to medicine, political and social reform, engineering and a large number of other disciplines.
- Mexico – A lot has been written about the Rizal monument being given the name “Motto Stella” (Guiding Star) by Swiss sculptor Richard Kissling (1848-1919). Rizal’s monument reminds every Filipino of the values and principles he stood by and which we are encouraged to follow.
- Peru -Inscribed on the bust of Rizal are the words: “Dr. Jose P. Rizal, Heroe Nacional de Filipinas, Nacionalista, Reformador Political, Escritor, Linguistica y Poeta, 1861-1896.” He is considered the “Pride of the Malay Race” being the first Asian to advocate Western ideas of social and political liberalism.
- Spain – Rizal spoke fluent Spanish apart from other languages and this monument recognizes his love for learning. The memorial is a reminder of the time spent in Spain where he studied medicine at the Universidad Central de Madrid, to cure his mother’s failing eyesight—a testament of his love for his parents.
- Germany – It was in Germany where Rizal found the tranquility that triggered great emotions and insights to complete his novel Noli Me Tangere. This book, an expression of Rizal’s love for freedom, created great impact on the Filipinos’ fight for freedom from Spanish colonial rule.
The list of monuments above may be used in the classroom to make students aware of the different Rizal memorials found around the world and to inspire them to emulate the many characteristics that have endeared Rizal to so many people, both here and abroad. To do this, see the activity of the same title described in Creative Classroom, and follow the mechanics suggested below:
- Draw students’ attention to the world map on the classroom wall and point out the countries where the different monuments of Rizal are found.
- Ask students “What is a monument? What is it for? What characteristics of Rizal does each monument represent?”
- Focus on one monument a day. Briefly discuss its significance and the trait of Rizal that each one represents.
- After all monuments have been discussed, ask students which trait of Rizal’s they can imitate and practice in their everyday life.
- Provide students with a checklist and ask them to monitor how they are able to practice this trait on a daily basis.
- Affirm students who show diligence in the practice of the trait every week.
- At the end of one month, choose the top three students who kept their pledges and honor them with the “Rizal of the 21st century” award during a school assembly.
Rizal: A Symbol of Hope
Rizal’s words of wisdom and his many monuments around the world only prove that his memory lives. Like any ordinary Filipino, he desired to see his country be free, develop, and progress. He found a cause he could give his life to and he worked towards it using the gifts he was endowed with.
This is what Rizal is all about. When there is a lack of role models today for young people to look up to, we find Rizal to be that model. He is our symbol of hope: A hope that our country could still redeem itself; a hope that all Filipinos discover their country, fall in love with it, and will their life to serving it.