By Anna Valmero
MANILA CITY, METRO MANILA— National hero Dr. Jose Rizal is a model for the Filipino youth for his exemplary values, most noted of which is his love for country.
Jenny Jacobo, a sophomore high school student, and her mother Naty went to Rizal Park to pay homage to the Laguna-born hero and commemorate his 150th birthday.
From their hometown in Cainta, Rizal, mother and daughter braved the rains last weekend to see Rizal’s iconic monument in Luneta Park, previously called Bagumbayan.
Jenny said it was her first time to visit Rizal Park and to see the monument and the huge bronze statue of Rizal as he was shot by a nearby firing squad composed of Filipino soldiers belonging to the Spanish army on December 30, 1896 at 7:03 in the morning, according to the statue’s historical plate.
“I have been wanting to visit Luneta not because it is famous but to retrace the final steps of Rizal in this place and how he fought for his ideals of Filipino independence brought by his love for country,” Jenny said while reading the English translation of the poem “Mi Ultimo Adios (My Last Farewell or Ang Huling Paalam).”
The Luneta administration charges no fees for visitors of the monument and statues dedicated to the martyrdom of Rizal during public holidays dedicated to the hero, said lights operator Mario Escrupolo.
Heavy rains slightly decreased the expected number number of visitors to the park this year and those who paid their visits are really interested in knowing who was Rizal before, including tourists who hired local guides to explain Rizal’s story, Mario added.
Jenny said Rizal is his inspiration for getting good grades at school and to strive for excellence in every pursuit. When she graduates, she added she wants to work in the country and build a business that can help poor communities.
Noted historian Ambeth Ocampo said Rizal should be admired for his strong love for country and Filipino pride. He noted that Rizal wrote a full manuscript explaining the delicacy tuyo and daing (dried fish) after reading how Spanish historians described that Filipinos eat rotten fish with a strong smell.
To correct the misconception, Rizal wrote on the same book a long footnote explaining that tuyo and daing are made by sun-drying fish marinated in brine, a natural preservation technique since refrigeration technology was not available then, added Ocampo.
Yuchengco Museum curator Jeannie Javelosa said that aside from his works and martyrdom, Rizal should also be admired for his discipline to keep educating himself. Upon knowing he is a sickly boy, Rizal also made sure he would exercise to keep his body in shape, Javelosa said.
(The Yuchengco Museum hosted an exhibit titled “Rizalizing The Future” in line with Rizal’s 150th year birth anniversary)
“Rizal was a disciplinarian and we Filipinos should not forget this. It is through this discipline and focus that Rizal, the ordinary man, was able to do things extraordinarily,” she added.
During his travels abroad, Rizal remembered his country and his patriotism inspired the novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, which reawakened the sense of nationalism among Filipinos. In his novels, Rizals asked his countrymen to have courage and to contribute for the betterment of the Philippines, added Javelosa.
“After 150 years, are we embodying the values of Rizal? I think we should ask the question ourselves. As Rizal always tried to talk about change and transformation in each and everyone of us so that our country can be good and great again once everyone of us transforms,” said Javelosa.
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