I visited the new monument dedicated to José Rizal located just in front of Calamba’s city hall yesterday and was surprised to find a monument made with great reverence, historical enthusiasm and respect!
I’ve seen my share of Rizal monuments around the country. This one was obviously well planned unlike the other ones. In the past all municipalities were encouraged to put up Rizal monuments in front of their administrative buildings. The goal was to heighten nationalist awareness but this ended up producing some of the most utterly ridiculous Rizal monuments. A lot of doesn’t even resemble the hero! But they sure are interesting to look at.
This over emphasis on Rizal as the prime hero has obscured local heroes. People that locals could connect with easier because they share the same hometown are glossed over in exchange for more popular heroes like Rizal. Like the case of Antonino Guevara, a Muntinlupa resident considered as one of the “initiators of the revolution”. No one in Muntinlupa has ever heard of him. But go to our city hall and you’ll see a small bronze statue of Rizal.
I was talking with the Spanish scholar Señor Gomez last night and he made an interesting point when he said, “we’re all told to imitate Rizal’s example from grade school. Everything but his language and his ‘spanishness’ —he was, from all indications, a poor Tagalog speaker. No one even bothers to read him in his original writing.” We forget that he intended to be studied and to be read in Spanish, otherwise he would have never used it.
All my life I struggled to understand Rizal’s work. It was only later in life that I realized that if I was to get anycloser to understanding his writings I would need to learn how to read Spanish. And so I did and was amazed how different the story reads. Reading Rizal’s work and letters made me understand that Spanish is a Filipino language that he intended for it to flourish, not brought down. So it was a tragedy that his very image would later be used to abolish Spanish.
This new Rizal park south of Manila is accessible and has a great view of Mount Makiling. The monument’s facing Mount Makiling is a great detail. I feel that the right people were consulted during the planning stage of the project. There’s no doubt that Mt. Makiling, for RIzal, symbolizes his hometown of Calamba. Interesting is that Calamba’s claim to fame for having the tallest Rizal monument didn’t last that long. A 26th foot goldish monument where Rizal is portrayed as an escrimador was built somewhere in Sta.Cruz, Laguna.
I have not posted anything for the month of May. This was the result of office work and my return to training in jiu jitsu. Day off’s was spared for training but of course, I have to find time to travel and write here. There’s no excuse for not doing this.