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Today is the birthday Dr. Jose P. Rizal. THE Filipino Hero.
The only conferred National Hero, in fact, of the many declared Filipino heroes who helped shape (read: mainly fought and died for) our country.
Deservingly so. He was the kind of man who excelled in many things, a Renaissance man of sorts, doctor, inventor, writer, linguist, artist, etc. But his great contribution to the Filipino struggle for independence from Spain were his novels Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) and El Filibusterismo (The Filibuster). Ideas see shape revolutions. Even if his "cause" was really not for Philippine independence per se (disclaimer: my own redux.) but for it to "officially" become a "province" (of sort) of Spain, have proper "representation" to the mother government and all the perks that come with it: better services, education, and whatnot for the people. And he didn't approve of THE "armed struggle" though in his second book, the El Fili, he expressed, through his protragonist, a "change of heart" and he did, too, via later writings (and letters to friends, etc.), too. But such was the power of his writings, he became a symbol of the revolution.
The man Rizal may have been not, but the idea Rizal was. The Spanish acknowledged it, by imprisoning him (easy target, non-revolutionary that he was), sent him to exile in a far off south Philippine town, and then subsequently sentenced him to death. Rizal was shot to death in a firing squad on December 30, 1894. This was his farewell poem.
Mi Ultimo Adios***
José Rizal, 1896
Farewell, beloved Country, treasured region of the sun,
Pearl of the sea of the Orient, our lost Eden!
To you eagerly I surrender this sad and gloomy life;
And were it brighter, fresher, more florid,
Even then I’d give it to you, for your sake alone.
In fields of battle, deliriously fighting,
Others give you their lives, without doubt, without regret;
The place matters not: where there’s cypress, laurel or lily,
On a plank or open field, in combat or cruel martyrdom,
It’s all the same if the home or country asks.
I die when I see the sky has unfurled its colors
And at last after a cloak of darkness announces the day;
If you need scarlet to tint your dawn,
Shed my blood, pour it as the moment comes,
And may it be gilded by a reflection of the heaven’s newly-born light.
My dreams, when scarcely an adolescent,
My dreams, when a young man already full of life,
Were to see you one day, jewel of the sea of the Orient,
Dry those eyes of black, that forehead high,
Without frown, without wrinkles, without stains of shame.
My lifelong dream, my deep burning desire,
This soul that will soon depart cries out: Salud!
To your health! Oh how beautiful to fall to give you flight,
To die to give you life, to die under your sky,
And in your enchanted land eternally sleep.
If upon my grave one day you see appear,
Amidst the dense grass, a simple humble flower,
Place it near your lips and my soul you’ll kiss,
And on my brow may I feel, under the cold tomb,
The gentle blow of your tenderness, the warmth of your breath.
Let the moon see me in a soft and tranquil light,
Let the dawn send its fleeting radiance,
Let the wind moan with its low murmur,
And should a bird descend and rest on my cross,
Let it sing its canticle of peace.
Let the burning sun evaporate the rains,
And with my clamor behind, towards the sky may they turn pure;
Let a friend mourn my early demise,
And in the serene afternoons, when someone prays for me,
O Country, pray to God also for my rest!
Pray for all the unfortunate ones who died,
For all who suffered torments unequaled,
For our poor mothers who in their grief and bitterness cry,
For orphans and widows, for prisoners in torture,
And for yourself pray that your final redemption you’ll see.
And when the cemetery is enveloped in dark night,
And there, alone, only those who have gone remain in vigil,
Disturb not their rest, nor the mystery,
And should you hear chords from a zither or psaltery,
It is I, beloved Country, singing to you.
And when my grave, then by all forgotten,
has not a cross nor stone to mark its place,
Let men plow and with a spade scatter it,
And before my ashes return to nothing,
May they be the dust that carpets your fields.
Then nothing matters, cast me in oblivion.
Your atmosphere, your space and valleys I’ll cross.
I will be a vibrant and clear note to your ears,
Aroma, light, colors, murmur, moan, and song,
Constantly repeating the essence of my faith.
My idolized country, sorrow of my sorrows,
Beloved Filipinas, hear my last good-bye.
There I leave you all, my parents, my loves.
I’ll go where there are no slaves, hangmen nor oppressors,
Where faith doesn’t kill, where the one who reigns is God.
Goodbye, dear parents, brother and sisters, fragments of my soul,
Childhood friends in the home now lost,
Give thanks that I rest from this wearisome day;
Goodbye, sweet foreigner, my friend, my joy;
Farewell, loved ones, to die is to rest.
***Modern English translation by Edwin Agustín Lozada
Reading his death poem on his birth anniversary. Exactly.
I'm blowing virtual candles for Gat Jose Rizal.