Archive for the 'Dr. Jose Rizal' Category

Rizal and the dog inside the execution photo 12/30/1896

Focus on the sitting dog in the middle of the picture of the December 30, 1896 execution.  An eye ball account from a 20 year old witness, “Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a small dog appeared and ran in circles around Rizal’s fallen body, barking and whimpering. (This incident would much later be the subject of our talk in our quarters. To some of my comrades, it was an omen of a coming misfortune.)”
This is more than interesting trivia to me. The unleashed dog awakens the sleeping Filipino nation. barking and brewing the historical revolution in the cradle. Hilarion Martinez’s narration was published in the Sunday Times Magazine on December 25, 1949 when he was already 72 years old.
Another enhanced version:

“Then suddenly, as if if from nowhere, a small dog appeared and ran in circles around the body of Rizal, barking and whimpering. The Capitan Militar de Sanidad, or medical officer, knelt before the fallen man, and felt his pulse. Looking up, the medical officer beckoned a member of the firing squad to come forward and give the body the ‘tiro de gracia’: a shot done at close range. I thought I saw a faint haze rise from Rizal’s coat, but it might have been a wisp of morning mist. Seeing the body before me, I felt faint. I wanted to see the face of the man for the last time. Rizal lay dead on the dewy grass. The day had started and little- did I realise that I was gazing on the face of the greatest malayan of them all, that I was witnessing history in the making.”

“When I saw him. I know he was Jose Rizal. He was of regular built, unshaven and quite pale perhaps on account of his confinement, but was visibly composed and serene. Amidst the silence, Rizal began to move his head very slowly up and down, his lips moving as if in prayer. Then the commanding officer, by means of means of a saber, signalled the firing squad to aim. The saber dropped and there was a simultaneous crackle of rifle-fire. Jose Rizal wheeled in one last effort and toppled forward with a thud;his face turned toward the sky and his derby hat thrown forward. He fell facing the bay.”

What exactly immediately happened with the body of Rizal that day reminded me of José Martí (1853-1895), the Cuban patriot. Just one year earlier,May 19, 1896,  he was killed in the battle against Spanish troops at the Battle of Dos Ríos,  The Spanish took possession of the body, buried it close by, then exhumed the body upon realization of its omen. They are said not to have burned him because they were scared that the ashes would get into their throats and asphyxiate them. He is buried in Cementerio Santa Efigenia in Santiago de Cuba. Many have argued that Maceo and others had always spurned Martí for never participating in combat, which may have compelled Martí to that ill-fated suicidal two-man charge. Some of his Versos sencillos bore premonition: “No me entierren en lo oscuro/ A morir como un traidor/ Yo soy bueno y como bueno/ Moriré de cara al sol.” (“Do not bury me in darkness / to die like a traitor / I am good, and as a good man / I will die facing the sun.”) Maybe the two Masons compared notes on May 1888 when the two were in Manhattan.
Hilarion Martinez’s complete account at the age of 72 of Bagumbayan Field:

“It was six o’clock in the morning of December 30, 1896, when we woke up at our quarters at the corner of Sta. Potenciana and Magallanes Streets, in Intramuros, to attend the execution of Jose Rizal, about which we had already been briefed the day before. We were theLeales Voluntarios de Manila, a semi-military organization under the command of Capt. Manuel Leaño. Our immediate officer was a youthful Spanish lieutenant named Juan Pereira. I was twenty years old then, and a member of the drum corps.

We marched out of Intramuros through the Puerta Real, or where Nozaleda (now General Luna) Street out through the walls on the south, clad in our camamo uniforms and with our cajas vivas(or drums) strapped around our waists. We proceeded to what is now Padre Burgos Street, under an overcast sky and in a chilling December morn.

As we rounded the corner of P. Burgos and General Luna Streets, we got a glimpse of thecuadro, a square formation of about ten companies of Filipino and Spanish soldiers. The former occupied the inner portion of the quadrangle, while the latter were at the rear. This formation was strategic because the Filipino soldiers’ position with-in the cuadros ignified that the Spanish authorities wanted Rizal to die in the hands of the Filipino soldiers. If the latter disobeyed the command to fire upon Rizal, the Spanish soldiers positioned at the rear would fire upon them.

There were civilian spectators, too. The side of the cuadronear the bay was open.

As we approached the quadrangle, we saw some Spanish military officers earnestly talking in low voices. Rizal was not yet anywhere to be seen. Not having had a glimpse of the man before, I began to wonder what he looked like. I remembered what my mother had told me about Rizal: that he was so learned that he could not be poisoned by anybody because he always carried with him his own spoon and fork, by means whereof he could detect whether his food was poisoned or not; that many other legends had started to be woven around him; and that he was fighting for the cause of his country and countrymen.

Soon the small crowd heard the muffle sound of our approaching vivas(or drums) draped with black cloth during execution ceremonies. A slight commotion broke out at the right end of the cuadronear the bay as some soldiers with fixed bayonets entered, followed by a man in black suit, his elbows tied from the back, on his head achistera(or black derby hat), on one side a Spanish officer and on the other a Jesuit priest.

When I saw the man, I knew he was Rizal.

A group of Spanish officers who were standing nearby opened into amedia luna(i.e., a semicircular formation). Then a Spaniard (we would learn later he was Lt. Luis Andrade, one of Rizal’s popular Spanish defenders and sympathizers) affectionately shook the latter’s hand. When Rizal was near the center of the quadrangle, themayor de la plaza, a colonel, announced at the bandillo:‘En el nombre del Rey, el que se levante la voz a favor del reo sera ejecutado’(In the name of the King, he who raises his voice in fovor of the criminal will be executed).

A deep silence enshrouded the whole assembly.

The commanding officer accosted us and gave us this injunction: ‘Should Rizal attempt to speak aloud, beat your drums so hard as to drown his voice’.

I looked at Rizal. He was regularly built, unshaven, and quite pale, perhaps as a result of his detention. But he was visibly composed and serene. A Jesuit priest approached him, prayed, and blessed him.

Then a colonel approached Rizal likewise, as the commanding officer ordered us to move two paces backwards. The firing squad, composed of six Filipinos, came forward and took our former position behind Rizal.

I saw Rizal exert effort to raise his right hand, which was tied at the elbow, and take off his chistera.” (the darby hat)

My heart beat fast, and as in all other executions I had witnessed before, I felt tense and nervous. Amid the silence, I saw Rizal move his head very slowly up and down, his lips moving as if he was praying.

Then the commanding officer raised his saber – a signal for the firing squad to aim. Then he dropped his saber to a fuego position. The simultaneous crack of rifle-fire shattered the stillness of the morning. Jose Rizal exerted one last effort to face his executioners and toppled down with a thud, his face towards the sky and his derby hat thrown ahead. He fell dead at his feet in the direction of the bay.

Many of the reos or offenders had been caused to kneel and be hoodwinked before they were shot on the head. But Rizal was spared that humiliation.

Suddenly, as if from nowhere, a small dog appeared and ran in circles around Rizal’s fallen body, barking and whimpering. (This incident would much later be the subject of our talk in our quarters. To some of my comrades, it was an omen of a coming misfortune.)

Then the capitan militar de la sanidad (i.e., medical officer) stepped forward, knelt before the fallen man, and felt his pulse. Looking up, he beckoned to a member of the firing squad to come forward and give the final tiro de gracia (i.e., another close-range shot to the heart), probably to ensure that Rizal could not come up with the miracle of life anymore. I thought I saw a faint haze from Rizal’s coat, but it might have been a wisp of morning mist. Seeing the body of the fallen Rizal in front of me, I felt very weak.

The officers began to show animation again. They fell in formation and marched to the tune of the Spanish national air, the paso doble Marcha de Cadiz.

As in previous executions, we members of the drum corps filed past the body to view it for the last time. When I heard to command “Eyes left”, I did not shut my eyes as I had done at the sight of the several roes whose heads were blown off by rifle-fire. I really wanted to take a close look at the man one last time. He lay dead on the dewy grass. The day had already progressed, and little did I realize then that I was gazing at the face of the greatest Malayan, and that I was witnessing history of in making.”

Hilarion Martinez was, indeed, lucky to have lived in historic times. He subsequently joined the Philippine Revolution. During the Filipino-American War, he was a member of the “Batallon de Manila” under General Pantaleon Garcia and Col. Rosendo Simon. He distinguished himself in several engagements, so that he was promoted later to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. In an assault on the American cavalry stationed in the church of Tondo, he was captured and imprisoned for about eight months in Intramuros and later in Cavite, where he was released shortly after the cessation of hostilities.

Taking Liberty with Rizal – Valentine’s Edition

Navy Liberty in the French Riviera is among the best I have experienced. I remember going there when Cannes was still unknown, nor the place called Villefrance, after DeGaulle pulled out of NATO because of France’s love and hate against the United States. One summertime, I looked up the periscope from Gulf Juan, scanning the beach and my usual taking Liberty with our hero and the French Connection and the love songs of  Whitney Houston. Elevating the Periscope I can see the train running on the mountain side and rewinding back my memory, many summers ago.
On July 1, 1887, Rizal rode the train along the French Riviera from his Italian journey and was treated with much amiability by an American couple who invited him several times to dine and drink with them
They brought fruits for Rizal before saying good bye in Monaco. “. . . aboard the train from Marseilles; he (Rizal) swears he will never forget the American couple on the Euro rail to Monaco. The man, a banker, was nondescript’ but his wife had blue eyes and ‘ a smile as chaste as a Christian virgin’s’. One thing he had not lost was his eye for the girls.  As Leon Guerero (First Filipino) would later write:
“We shall hardly see each other again,” Rizal said when they parted.
“Who knows?” the Christian virgin replied. “I should certainly hope so.”
“I am in the hands of fate.”
“Really? I believe it, “she said, and waved to him as the train pulled out.
Rizal was never lost in the words of Shakespeare, but he was merely smitten in brief passing fascination. He  was on his way home to the Philippines to his childhood sweet heart, Leonor Rivera  the real life Maria Clara of his novel but more of Shakespeare ‘s Romeo and  Juliet tragedy .  She prevented Rizal from falling in love with strangers in his travels.  Rizal was coming home to reclaim the love of his life.
Unfortunately, the affair was doomed in the very beginning. He was boarding in his uncle’s house in Intramuros just starting college,  when he met just the  11 years old Eleonor. She was a “pretty woman with a high forehead, soft and wavy hair, almond eyes, small and pensive mouth, and engaging dimples. She was described as a talented, mature, and intelligent lady. She played harp and piano and had a charming voice. She could write and read Spanish. The puppy love blossomed into secret love letters written in different languages including English.  Hidden communications because Leonor’s mother was against Leonor pen pal lover. Friendly spies of Rizal informed of her activities from Camiling to Dagupan.  They were also distant cousins.
Rizal went back to Manila via Suez Canal on August 3, 1887. He tried visiting Leonor; but his parents did not allow him to go to Dagupan.  By then travel to Dagupan was on the fast track, but without a word of anger or even a protest, he bowed his head and said, “Very well, father, I will not go.”
A year later, Rizal, the fugitive his country, was on his way to America. The American lady in Marseilles closer, but just distant memories on his long railroad travel from San Francisco to New York.
Leonor  immortalized in Noli Me Tangere made Rizal the subversive in the eyes of Spanish authority. The mother fearing safety succeeded in convincing her daughter to forget the young Bohemian rebel. Some wrote that the mother even persuaded Eleonor that Rizal was only interested in Dr Blumentritt daughter. Leonor was forced to marry Henry Kipping, an English engineer working on the Manila railroad to Dagupan. She agreed and she would never sing again for her mother. The engagement broke Rizal heart on the chugging sound of locomotion, the pair of a long iron tracks always abreast, reaching final station would  never touch. The greatest love was on the wrong track, Noli Me Tangere always on an arm’s length.
 Rizal wrote to his friend Blumentritt, “The first hammer-blow in the railway has fallen on me!”
He had political explanation; “I do not blame her for preferring Englishman is a free man, and I am not.”
A year later, Rizal, the fugitive his country, was on his way to America in 1888. The American lady in Marseilles just  distant memories on his long railroad travel from San Francisco to New York. He saw the beautiful statue in the harbor, the gifted  Lady Liberty from France. The lady became the symbol of freedom and liberty.
Rizal boarded across the Madison Square Park. He has a view of the famous MSG before it moved uptown at 34th Street.  The lover was not only genius but possessed legendary physical prowess.
Maybe his athletic attributes could be enough to play the point guard for the Knickerbockers.   😉

Dr. Jose Rizal: Liberty in New York City

The Statue of Liberty in the Hudson River greeted our Navy ship to New York City fifty years ago.  My eyes eagerly scanned the New York skyline as I was waiting for the Liberty Call announcement.  The panoramic view from the water was incredible, I would swap it to a view of the water as I stepped ashore, Liberty Call, Liberty Call…..
Manhattan Island is a liberty paradise for any sailor. In just few hours, I would be staring at the bottom of my beer glass, feeling refreshed, a common experience for sailors after few days at sea.  A few more glasses were enough to rewind my memory back to another time in the same zone.  “Bottoms up” easily put me in the mode for taking more liberty of my past life.
Over a century ago in the spring of 1888, Lady Liberty first stood on the harbor, joining the Brooklyn Bridge as an icon of New York.  I met Dr Jose Rizal on my liberty tour in Mid-Manhattan.  Other icons I encountered include the first equestrian George Washington monument historic in Union Square in 1856 and another statue located in Greenwich Village.  These were part of the landscape near Madison Square Park where Rizal lived.
Rizal said: “Was in New York; big town, but there everything is new. I visited some memorials to Washington, the great man who, I think, has no equal in this century.”
I was surprised to hear his admiration to the revolutionary George Washington rather than Jefferson. Rizal would distance himself from violent revolutions. Rizal has many gifts however; he supplemented his numerous writings with almost instamatic sketches of the places he visited. At the time, the Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883 and became the longest suspension bridge in the world.  The architecture remains a marvelous sight in East cityscape. Charles Adams Platt, a prominent NY etcher, painted the Bridge in 1888, but I have been looking for the copy of the rough sketches by Jose Rizal.  It took me years, and I finally found a copy of his sketch.
I sober up as I saw the Gothic twin towers and steel suspension cable. I drove over this bridge many times as I lived in Brooklyn  later in my life. It is the same as it was when Rizal left in New York onboard the City of Rome, the Titanic ocean steamer of the 1880s.
The portrait is worth thousands of words without language to understand or speak. “The City of Rome” is said to be the second largest ship in the world. On board the ship they published a periodical at the end of the voyage. “There I became acquainted with many people, and as I carried a yo-yo with me, the Europeans and Americans were astonished to see how I could use it as a weapon of offense. . . I was able to speak to all of them and understand them in their own languages.”

He has many gifts, and I was fortunate to have his company on my Cinderella Liberty excursion in the Big Apple. There will be more port of calls, let me share it with you.

Lady Liberty 125th & Rizal 150th Anniversary

On an island on the entrance of the New York Harbor stood the copper colossus that celebrated its 125th anniversary last Friday, October 28th. The towering Lady Liberty is the symbol of America, she is score and five years younger than Dr Jose Rizal. An estimated 3.5 million people visit Liberty Island every year. On average, 204 people climb to the crown of the mother of exiles every day.
On this 150th Rizal anniversary, he wrote his date with the famous lady.
We left New York on 16 May 1888, Wednesday, at 9:30 in the morning. The crowd waved white handkerchiefs, mingling with the numerous red ribbons of the hats and neckties. Some were crying. We saw the Brooklyn Bridge. The Statue of Liberty rises majestically on the island. It produces a most beautiful effect. Many passengers came on board.
Few days earlier, Saturday, May 12.On board train from Chicago he wrote, We shall arrive at the English territory in the afternoon, and we shall soon see Niagara Falls. We stop for some time to see the points that are beautiful; we went at the side below the Falls; I was between two rocks and this is the greatest cascade I ever saw. It is not, so beautiful nor so fine as the fall at Los Banos; but much bigger, more imposing and could not be compared with it. The cascade has various falls, various parts. We left the place at night. There is a mysterious sound and persistent echo.
Sunday, May 13. We wake up near Albany. This is a big city. The Hudson River which runs along carries many boats. We crossed over a bridge. The landscape is beautiful; and it is not inferior to the best in Europe. We are going along the banks of the Hudson. They are very beautiful, although a little more solitary than those of the Pasig. There were ships, boats, trees, hills; and the major part is cultivated. The Hudson is wide. Beautiful ships Sliced granite rocks were paved along the railroads. Some points widely extended. There were beautiful houses between trees. Day fine. Our grand transcontinental trip ended on Sunday, May 13, at 11:10 A. M. We passed through various arches in tunnels.– the Art Age, 75 W. 23 Street.
Originally, the statue was supposed to be an Egyptian peasant girl that would have stood at the entrance of Egypt’s then-new Suez Canal, historians say, but plans would later evolve into the Roman goddess that would instead adorn New York harbor. Had the original plan happened, Rizal would have seen this peasant girl in Egypt. He passed the Suez Canal five times in his lifetime, his last journey on October 1896 when he was recalled to Manila for his final martyrdom.
He even sketched Suez Canal but I am looking for the other famous New York icon that he saw in New York. He penciled the oldest suspension bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge connected the island of Manhattan to Long Island in 1883.
Webcam has just been installed, Lady Liberty is going high tech on his 125th birthday. You can now get virtual panoramic view of the island online but this is what 27 years old- Dr Jose Rizal witnessed in the Spring 1888. The Lady was just on her second year in America.

Canovas and Rizal – A connection?

There are certain events that might alter the course of history, and there are heroes and villains who often inspire these events.
Just over seven months after Jose Rizal’s execution in Manila, on August 8, 1897, the prime minister of Spain was assassinated.

Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times front page edition on August 10.

Golli says it was to avenge the Barcelona Anarchists and Don Rizal.

He confessed that he killed Senor Canovas to avenge the Barcelona anarchists, and the insurgent leader, Don Jose Rizal, who was executed at Manila, Philippine Islands, on Dec. 30 last, as an instigator of the Philippine rebellion. Dr Rizal denied that he was a rebel leader, but he admitted that he had drawn up the statutes of the Philippine League (Aug 10, 1897)

In June 1896, a bomb was thrown at the Corpus Christi procession in Barcelona. The anarchist group was blamed and hundreds of alleged revolutionaries were jailed at the Montjuic Fortress. Prime Minister Canovas ordered the cruel repression and torture. Many prisoners died, but some survivors might have shared time with Jose Rizal when he was held at Montjuic by Spanish authorities. Governor General Eulogio Dispujol of Barcelona paid Rizal a visit. Dispujol was the same Spanish military governor who sent Rizal to Dapitan and was now the military governor of Cataluña. He was arrested on his way to Cuba where he was volunteering as an Army doctor. His request was initiated by Governor Blanco and signed by the Spanish War Minister, Azcarraga. He was briefly imprisoned at the Montjuic Castle and brought back to a ship bound for Manila, where he faced the court martial. Governor General Polavieja succeeded Blanco on Dec 13 and oversaw the military trial and Rizal execution on Dec 30, 1896. In another news report, Golli expressed regret that he did not kill Polavieja, for having caused the murder of Rizal.

Just recently, Rizal was honored with the inauguration of the “Sala Jose Rizal” room the famous Montjuich Castle, atop a hill in Barcelona, which served as military prison. It was part of Rizal’s sesquicentennial celebration this year around the world.  It is interesting that an Ilocano patriot and another Mason, Isabelo de los Reyes, suspected of revolutionary activities was imprisoned in Bilibid on January 1897. His writing similar to Rizal that revolution could wait by exposing friar and corruption.  The arrival of a new  governor in Manila replacing the ruthless Governor-General Polavieja saved his execution but deported him to Spain. He was imprisoned at the Montjuic where he later wrote:

I repeat that the so-called anarchists, nihilists, or as they say nowadays, Bolsheviks, are the true saviours and disinterested defenders of justice and universal brotherhood…. I took advantage of the occasion to put into practice the good ideas I had learned from the anarchists of Barcelona, who were imprisoned with me in the infamous Castle of Montjuich.

The harsh treatment of the Montjuic prisoners might have unleashed the uprising against the Spanish monarchy. The reason for the assassination of Canovas by the Golli might be on the advice of another doctor, Dr Ramon Betances. Just like Rizal, Betances was also was familiar with martial arts, gun, and fencing. He might have provided the training to the assassin and mentioned Rizal on his discussions with Golli.  The assassin’s original targets were the members of the Spanish royal family, but upon the advice of Dr Betances, Canovas was assassinated instead. Betances coordinated support for the pro-independence movement in the Philippines while in Paris but there was no record of meeting Rizal.  He might have obtained a copy of Rizal’s valedictory poem of Ultimo Adios from his Mason friend in Hongkong.  He provided Rizal’s final masterpiece to the Puerto Rican insurgents’ propaganda movement against Spain.

Antonio Canova was immediately replaced in interim by Marcelo Azcarraga, the University of Santo Tomas (UST) law graduate just like Isabelo De Los Reyes. Azacarraga is not only Filipino by definition of the original term being born in Manila but his mother has Bikol blood. He was the thirteenth Prime minister of Spain following the restoration of the Spanish monarchy.  The loss of Canovas upon the Conservative Party became speculation among the Spanish press but General Azcarraga has acquired great popularity through his skill in organizing the country’s resources for Cuba and Philippine campaign. The Liberal Spanish faction prevailed over the conservative after Canova’s assassination. Sagastas recalled Gov Weyler and replaced the Cuban butcher with Governor Blanco.  Ironically, Blanco was the governor who tried to save Rizal from the Canovas’s administration heavily influenced by the cleric in Manila.  The same Weyler expelled the Rizal family from the farm in Calamba that the Dominican friars wanted out. This was Madrid’s desperate move to save the Spanish empire from growing insular unrest and the impending signs of the little splendid war coined by John Hay.

US President Wm McKinley sent condolence to Madrid through his ambassador to London, John Hay. On September 6, 1901 he suffered the same faith when he was shot in Buffalo, NY by Leon Csologosz, an anarchist. By that time John Hay was already the Secretary of State having successfully negotiated the Treaty of Paris. The former Lincoln’s White House intern would be involved in the three famous assassinations in history.  Mckinley died of his gunshot wound, and John Hay would inform Theodore Roosevelt on a telegraph on September 14.  The American empire only accelerated to the 20th century

On the 20th of August 1897, the Italian assassin, Michelle Angiolillos, the avenger of Rizal’s death was summarily sentenced to death. Having at no time during his trial nor during the days leading up to his execution shown any sign of remorse, Angiolillo then walked calmly to his execution by strangulation at the garrote.

Several days later, at a New York celebration of Michele Angiolillo’s heroic actions, the Italian anarchist Salvatore Pallavencini emphatically declared the anarchist position thus: “The man who killed Cánovas was a martyr to the cause of humanity and progress. Anarchists think it is better to kill a ruler who is a tyrant than to have a revolution in which thousands have to die because of his acts.”

My estimation why Dr Rizal might not be in favor of a bloody revolution.