Jose Rizal: When Dying Exalts Freedom

JOSE RIZAL IN GERMANY along with OTHER FILIPINOS -circa 1880s (Photo courtesy of
JOSE RIZAL IN GERMANY along with OTHER FILIPINOS -circa 1880s (Photo courtesy of
RIZAL ON FACEBOOK?!!! (Photo courtesy of
RIZAL ON FACEBOOK?!!! (Photo courtesy of

The Event

I was one of the spectators, mostly were peasant women, along with his wife. In tears. The news came like a plague at the old Bagumbayan park. A traitor will die this morning, December 30, 1896. Soon, a man of medium height, with arms bounded on his back walked serenely among the throng of people who were all focused at him. He faced the west side of the plaza reciting ‘Mi Ultimo Adios’. Then, a soldier in command gave the order to the members of the firing squad. “Preparen... Afunten…Fuego!” Then a series of gunshots were heard. The man in black slowly faced the east side of the plaza as his frail body hit the ground. Then, silence…


How many times did you see the life of Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, being played upon your very eyes, through movies or theater plays? Are you deeply moved? Have you ever wonder what if that event didn’t influenced the decisions of Filipino leaders during that time paving the way for a revolution against the Spanish government? For sure, many pages in our history will never reach the apex of our existence: FREEDOM.

So many heroes die for our country, but Rizal’s stature stood above them all.

Remembering Rizal

To us Filipinos, Dr. Rizal, is our greatest hero. His life, works and heroism are still revered or respected by every Filipino; reliving the courage of the man that became the catalyst for freedom. He’s the flame that ignited the emotions of our ancestors to rebel against the Spanish government.

Because of this development, he’s the one blamed for letting the Filipino people be awakened to the harsh realities of life during those times…injustices and oppression. His valiant weapon…the pen, that became the cause of his death sentence in front of his countrymen.

Rizal, born on June 19, 1861 was the seventh sibling of the Rizal family in Calamba, Laguna. Albeit born in a middle-income and big family, it didn’t deprived him of acquiring education. He considered his mother as his greatest teacher, because at the age of three, he was able to read and write fluently. He’s basically an inquisitive person that he absorbed everything he could learn from his parents, siblings, relatives, teachers and books that he perused.

Incidents, no matter how small, were narrated in history books featuring Rizal. Details of these peculiar events proved to have some justifications why Rizal as the hero-in-the-making during his childhood.

I still can recall the “Story of the Moth and the Lamp”. The young Jose Rizal was always wondering why the moth was always attracted to the light of the lamp that often caused its death. Later on, in the final stage of his life, we will know the essence of dying for the sake of his country.

During his trip in the river via motorboat, Rizal lost one of his pair of slippers. The next thing he did was to throw the remaining half of the pair for the reason that it can be of help to the finder.

Rizal’s flair in writing started when he was eight year old. His first poem, “A La Juventud Filipina” (To The Filipino Youth) taught us to be loyal in our country. He always believed that the “ youth is the hope of the Fatherland.”

Education is very precious during Rizal’s time. Endowed with natural talent, he excelled in every subject. During his Ateneo days, he’s the “sobresiliente” or top of his class.

But there were setbacks that hindered Rizal’s concentration in his studies…the worsening situation in the political and economic aspects of the country under the Spanish rule. Many indios (that’s how Spaniards called us during those times) were accused as traitors to the Spanish government. With a hidden agenda in mind, Rizal and other Filipino students and scholars went to Spain to broaden their studies.

Rizal, being gifted in many tongues were often invited in many gatherings of Filipinos and other events in Spain. The likes of Marcelo H. del Pilar, Graciano-Lopez Jaena, Juan Luna and other young Filipinos admired the charm of Rizal . They talked about the problems of their home country, Philippines, that paved the way to publish the newsletter called “La Solidaridad” (The Solidarity). They wrote under pseudonyms or aliases to evade being caught while criticizing the rules and policies of Spanish regime. This newsletter was branded as the “propaganda of the Katipunan”, the movement created by Andres Bonifacio, the Great Plebeian.

What triggered those Katipuneros to openly revolt and led the uprising in the whole archipelago against the Spaniards are the two novels written by Rizal, the Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) and the El Filibusterismo (The Filibuster). The two noveels clearly showed the situations of the Filipinos in the hands of the Spaniards. This greatly angered the government that made Spanish officials decide to put Rizal to death.

The Legacy

A total man. National Hero. The Pride of the Malay Race. Many accolades were given to Jose Rizal, being one of the nation’s symbols. Even, a child can proudly answer who’s the pride of our nation. Many statues honoring him were built in and outside the country…the vivid and concrete honors given to the most remembered hero of the land.

Why was the credit all given to him when our independence is in question? Critics will agree that Rizal is never a monopolizer. There were other Filipinos who are heroes in their own rights but can never equal Rizal’s magnitude. How about Datu Lapu-Lapu, who’s the first to revolt against the Spaniards and even killed the famous explorer Ferdinand Magellan? Why not Andres Bonifacio who was the “Father of the Katipunan”?

Truly, we can compare the bravery of Rizal and Bonifacio. The former, an educated, cool man while the latter, an elementary dropout due to his poor economic status but a very intelligent and aggressive man. Once, these two great men of our history met and talked about revolution. Rizal said “revolution can be realized through peaceful ways” while Bonifacio argued that “it should be through radical ways.”

That was more than a century ago, and I settled my doubts about those little incidents between the two. Revolutions create heroes at the expense of their lives. Fighting for freedom revealed a crystal-clear fact: “The pen is mightier than the sword.” We can kill thousands of enemies through arms or swords but only the pen can write the nation’s history to FREEDOM.

Jose Rizal's Life c/o 10279385

Fast Facts about Jose Rizall

Date of birth: June 19, 1861

Place of birth: Calamba, Laguna, Philippines

Date of death: December 30, 1896 (aged 35)

Place of death: Bagumbayan (now Rizal Park), Manila,Philippines

Major organizations: La Solidaridad, La Liga Filipina

Major monuments: Rizal Park Manila

Alma mater: Ateneo Municipal de Manila, University of Santo Tomas, Universidad Central de Madrid,  University of Paris, Ruprecht Karl University of Heidelberg

Jose Rizal and his novels

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Comments 22 comments

travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

Truly, Jose Rizal is not only the Philippinés'national hero but the Pride of the Malay Race.

There's an interesting story about the friendship of Jose Rizal and Jose Maria Panganiban of Bicol. JOMAPA as he was fondly called by his peers, memorized the two novels of his friend in order to evade being caught by the Spanish militia during those times.

Not only that, the first monument of Rizal was erected in Jomapa's hometown, Daet, Camarines Norte.

thesailor profile image

thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas Author

I'm sure, you know your history, travel man. Thanks for the additional story about JOMAPA.

louie 6 years ago

i want to know what is the reason why dr. jose rizal was trying to face the shooters during his execution... pls.. send me your good answer.... this is my email ad: pls. e mail me... tnx a lot

thesailor profile image

thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas Author

According to history, Rizal didn't wanted to be branded as a traitor so he tried facing the gunmen when the shooting started. Traitors were often shot on their backs. Thanks for giving your e-mail. I'll do it, soon.

Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman 6 years ago

The Controversy raised by the Catholic Hoaxers over the study of Rizal's novels is painfully saddening. Dr. Rizal is not only of the Philippines but also of the whole world. The Philippine government should take the stringent measure to stop the Catholic propaganda that Rizal is a past now. Rizals can never be past. The Philippine Rizal is alive-still living in the hearts of billions of people of the world.

thesailor profile image

thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas Author

Jose Rizal mirrored what happened during the reign of @Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman: Thank you for your very nice comment>Spanish regime in our country. Whether they admit it or not, those hoaxers will just gnaw their teeth because the truth about past was clearly revealed through those two controversial novels. It's our gift to the world; to know that Filipinos exist and we have our own history, too.

gloria maricon 6 years ago

very nice!!!!!!!!!!!!

love it..

thesailor profile image

thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas Author

@gloria maricon: Thanks for being nice, too!

trishaleigh 6 years ago

because he want to proved to the Spaniards that the Filipino's don't fear to them.And doctor Rizal want freedom for the Filipino's.

thesailor profile image

thesailor 6 years ago from Seven Seas Author

@trishaleigh: Thanks. Truly, Filipinos are hospitable but when provoked (suppressing our rights and freedom) it burst into a flame of united voices to be free from tyranny.

Psalmist4M profile image

Psalmist4M 5 years ago from the Shelter of His Wings

Captivating and insightful. Thank you for sharing this moving story of the legacy of Jose Rizal. Truly thought provoking.

thesailor profile image

thesailor 5 years ago from Seven Seas Author

Psalmist4M, thanks for the concise comment. O June 19, 2011..our nation will celebrate his 150th birth anniversary. His works are timeless, and continue to inspire our youth (all of us) and other nations as well.

Recently, the government of Spain exhibited the works of Rizal through La Solidaridad.

Good move, and we appreciate it.

azhirmae 4 years ago

Early in the life, Rizal saw if not himself felt the humiliation of his co-Indios in the hands of the Spaniards, would you say that these where mere incidents as they were firm up his resolve to fight for political reform later on? What role would analysis of situation play?

thesailor profile image

thesailor 4 years ago from Seven Seas Author

@azhirmae: Those factors triggered the nationalistic ideals of Rizal to have and pursue the proper identity of his country, not a mere colonized nation of Spain.

If I were him, I would do the same in order to stop the tyranny my forefathers experienced in the hands of the Spaniards.

Jack Burton profile image

Jack Burton 4 years ago from The Midwest

My wife's grandfather was at the plaza when Jose Rizal was shot.

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jess2005 4 years ago

do you think after spanish regime, our country got the freedom, rizal want to all filifino's @ as i observed there's still father damaso in the church , guardia civil in our government

thesailor profile image

thesailor 4 years ago from Seven Seas Author

Really, Sir Jack? I hope your wife's grandfather did relate what really happened during that saddest moment in the country during the Spanish regime.

thesailor profile image

thesailor 4 years ago from Seven Seas Author

Thank you for noticing our country's present situation,jess2005. We have all the freedom in life these days, although it has always limitations. There will be always Padre Damaso inside the Church and Guardia Civil in our government as recent events are paralleled to what happened way back Hispanic times.

We shouldn't view our regained freedom by always comparing it to our past,though. We should move on and support the present governance that aims to eradicate severe cancer (political upheavals and more) in our society.

Jack Burton profile image

Jack Burton 4 years ago from The Midwest

Sailor... never met my grandfather in law as he died long before I met my wife. However, he was very close to her and shared many wonderful stories as she helped him out in the rice patties.

thesailor profile image

thesailor 4 years ago from Seven Seas Author

Thanks, Sir Jack. It's been a pleasure hearing you share your thoughts on this hub. Regards to your Filipina wife, too. :)

Timoteo Alfonso Francisco Villamor 3 years ago

I love this, very insightful ! Yet I have a question, there was a time when Jose Rizal truly admire our Hispanic cultural heritage, and looking through our recent history, do you think it's right to demonize the Spaniards (in the Post-WWII era) and to downgrade our Hispanic cultural roots?

dp 3 years ago

i want to know if rizal wanted Philippines to be ruled by an elite? or so called the spaniards

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