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The Rizal Fountain in Wilhelmsfeld

The Ullmer’s fountain shipped here to become the Rizal fountain.

In Wilhelmsfeld, away from the distractions of the busy German towns, Rizal finished his Noli. Ullmer hearing the news of a Filipino doctor that was executed in Bagumbayan contacted the German consul in Manila asking if that was the guest that stayed with them. The consul confirmed that he’s the same guy. Rizal in a note to some of the Ullmer mentioned that he’ll probably never see them again. He was right. (The copperplate dedication below the iron marker is erroneous, it says ” 155 years”, should be “150 years”)

The long and cold educational field trip in Wilhelmseld for me ironically, ended here, in Luneta, in some forgotten ground that no one bother to see except bums and underage student lovers. This fountain was in Wilhelmsfeld until the Germans thought it a good idea to bring it here in the 60’s as a gift. It was recently repaired (unveiled by no less than Noynoy Aquino) for the 150th year of Rizal’s birthday.

Although they call it Rizal fountain, it was actually the drinking fountain in Ullmer’s rectory. The guy wasn’t the only one drinking from it. Even birds drank and bathed on it. Someone from the town hall told me that “part of the house” of Ullmer was sent to the Philippines “a long time ago”. At first I thought it was really something that belongs to the house; like a window, a door or a furniture. I was surprised to hear that it was a stone drinking fountain.

These are fountains connected to aqueducts or in Wilhelmsfeld’s case, springs. At the end of 19th century these drinking fountains became purely decorative.

Before Wilhemsfeld, I didn’t even know that a fountain installed in the house of the good pastor existed, later uprooted and moved to Luneta in the 60’s. I’ve visited the park, since I was a kid, countless times but for some strange reason this object has escaped my curious attention. Now there it is, the final piece that concludes the Wilhelmsfeld visit a few months ago.


The Rizal Manifesto

Having visited Rizal’s reconstructed house in Calambâ recently (biking all the way there from Muntinglupà!), I became interested again in the circumstances that led to his execution. I reread “The Trial of Rizal” (a book almost forgotten today) and saw some interesting facts that are often glossed over by our history teachers.

For example, not many are aware that those witnesses who testified against Rizal were all Filipinos — not a single Spaniard pointed an accusing finger. This could be trivial to some but nonetheless an illustration of how the trial was conducted. These witnesses signed a written affidavit confirming that they acted on their free will. Of course, we could no longer determine if they were forced or they willingly provided the information.

There are lots of questions revolving around that historic trial.

Were they pinning Rizal down so he could take the fall? They say that all great movements need a martyr to believe in…

It is not conspiracy theory; Rizal made some enemies in his years as a propagandist. He was admired and envied. In his trial, he even mentioned names that he considered hostile against him. The peaceful man that he was, he chose to retire and begin a new life. But his past haunted him. Powerful forces were out to get him. And they did get their quarry.

Rizal was aware that his name was being used not only to solicit funds but also as some sort of a head figure for the Katipunan. His family had warned him about it. And this concerned him gravely. Fearing that such an activity would result to loss of lives, he requested the governor general that he be permitted to publicly denounce it. On 11 December 1896 (a few weeks before his death sentence), he wrote a manifesto to address the issue:

”Fellow countrymen: Upon my return from Spain I learned that my name was being used as a rallying cry by some who had taken up arms. This information surprised and grieved me but thinking that the whole affair was finished, I refrained from commenting on something that could no longer be remedied. Now, rumors reach me that the disturbances have not ceased. It may be that persons continue to use my name in good or in bad faith; if so, wishing to put a stop to this abuse and to undeceive the gullible, I hasten to address these lines to you that the truth may be known. From the very beginning, when I first received information of what was being planned, I opposed it, I fought against it, and I made clear that it was absolutely impossible.  This is the truth, and they are still alive who can bear witness to my words. I was convinced that the very idea was wholly absurd — worse than absurd, it was disastrous. I did more than this. When later on, in spite of my urgings, the uprising broke out, I came forward voluntarily to offer not only my services but my life and even my good name in order that they may use me in any manner they may think opportune to smother the rebellion. For I was convinced of the evils which that rebellion would bring in its train, and so I considered it a privilege if at whatever sacrifice I could ward off so much useless suffering. This is also of record.

“Fellow countrymen: I have given many proofs that I desire as much as the next man liberties for our country; I continue to desire them. But I laid down as a prerequisite the education of the people in order that by means of such instruction, and by hard work, they may acquire a personality of their own and so become worthy of such liberties. In my writings I have recommended study and the civic virtues, without which no redemption is possible. I have also written (and my words have been repeated by others) that reforms, if they are to bear fruit, must come from above, for reforms that come from below are upheavals both violent and transitory. Thoroughly imbued with these ideas, I cannot do less than condemn, as I do condemn, this ridiculous and barbarous uprising, plotted behind my back, which both dishonors us Filipinos and discredits those who might have taken our part. I abominate the crimes for which it is responsible and I will have no part in it. With all my heart I am sorry for those who have rashly allowed themselves to be deceived. Let them, then, return to their homes, and may God pardon those who have acted in bad faith.”

After clearly dismissing any involvement in the planned uprising, wanting his countrymen to avoid its evils, Rizal laid out plans on what he saw as the proper approach and focus so that civil liberties and eventual freedom can be achieved. Sadly, these “prerequisites” were totally forgotten by the generation of leaders who had succeeded him.

The manifesto cannot be any clearer and articulate than how it was written by Rizal. He was a revolutionary, yes, but he never wanted a bloody one. In his view, it was not only costly in terms of lives but was self-defeating. His was a revolution of the mind.

What’s striking about the document is that it was written weeks before his execution. It was apparent to him that, after the discovery of the Katipunan,  a mass revolt was soon to follow and that his death would most likely ignite it. What I find fascinating about Rizal is that he was a gifted psychic. Although he defended himself well against the accusation leveled against him, he knew that he would end up in Bagumbayan. He predicted this years even before he was implicated in the rebellion (Bagumbayan was mentioned five times in Noli Me Tangere)! This clairvoyance probably made it easier for him to accept his fate.

A closer examination of the trial documents will show that Rizal was actually innocent on the charge of rebellion. Aside from testimonies and letters, there was nothing solid that can pin him down for initiating the rebellion. He had proven that there was no link between his La Liga Filipina and Andrés Bonifacio’s Katipunanother than some of those who were with him during the founding of his group (which, according to him, “died stillborn”) who later got involved or joined Bonifacio’s group altogether.Curiously, however, the words Liga and Katipunan mean the same thing in English: “league”.

Now I can understand why we were kept away from such documents. They were protecting Rizal’s reputation of being the prime mover of independence. I believe there’s no need to hide such historical lessons. After learning what he was fighting for, personally, he even became greater than he ever was. His revolution goes beyond winning wars — he wanted a revolution of the mind, to see our fellow Filipinos as part of our selves. The Rizal who was sentenced to death wanted us to dedicate ourselves to the civic and social betterment of the Filipino nation.

Violence can never be justified in Rizal’s revolution.


The Anda Circle and Simon de Anda

One of my favorite story in our history is that of Simon de Anda. So fascinated by his life story that I started using his surname as my internet alias. He fought against his countryman’s abuse and has made many enemies along the way. He reminds me of another Basque, the first Bishop Salazar, who stood up and criticize injustice against the natives.

The “oidor” who proclaimed himself governor after his fellow Spaniards, yielded the key of Manila to the British when they came knocking at the door.

Philippine was British  for the next three years. Could you just imagine us being British subjects? if this occupation lasted beyond those short years, removing the Spaniards out of the islands, we would be speaking English before the Americans came.

I was reminded of Simon de Anda’s loyalty and sacrifice to his country when I was walking around Intramuros last week. It was raining. I was walking around the place with an umbrella on the left hand and a camera on the other. I came to look for the lone standalone tribute (a bust of his, damaged during WWII, can be found on the wall of the church of Sta. Cruz. This was made to honor him for reclaiming Manila from the British on the Church’s plaza) to the Spanish governor. I was surprised to see the monument and the Anda Circle, not maintained well, still standing.

con amor reconstruido…con amor reconstruido…

It was reconstructed after the war. I believe it was toppled during the so called “liberation” of Manila. The days when the city suffered massive casualties reaching up to one hundred thousand deaths. Aside from civilian deaths, the other victim was Intramuros, where it lost much of its historic buildings. After the war, out of seven churches, only one was left standing. The first to be founded inside the walls, the church we call now as San Agustin.

For those not familiar with the area, Anda Circle is located on the Manila South Harbor vicinity. The area is where government offices like DPWH, Customs and the Ports Authority are headquartered. Other popular buildings in the area are that of the Philippine Red Cross, Manila Times and Knights of Rizal. Not far from the Harbor and the Piers is the squatter colony called Baseco. The bridge that connects this side of Manila to the suburbs of Tondo and Binondo is Del Pan. I’m somewhat familiar with this part of Manila because my father worked in the piers when I was still a small boy. Even then, I would be in awe at those enormous walls of Intramuros. And I will always ask my parents to take me to see the bay and the river. I could remember even then, the neighborhoods were crammed full and garbage was already a problem. Then there’s Luneta for play, resting and picnic. Such was life in the early 80’s when we still call Manila home.

A town in Bohol, called Anda (formerly Quinale a barrio of Guindulman), was named after the governor in 1875 by Goberbador General Jose de Malcampoy Monje. A rear admiral, who became governor. He was given the title of count of Jolo and vizconde de mindanao for his efforts in that part of the colony.

It is unclear why the new town was named after Governor de Anda. It is possible that the naming of that town after the brave Spaniard was to celebrate  the coming centennial of his death anniversary. Simon de Anda died in 1776.


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