Rizal descendants mark national hero's 162nd birth anniversary

By Pot Chavez

June 19, 2023, 8:40 pm

<p><strong>NATIONAL HERO</strong>. The Philippines' national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, who was born in Calamba, Laguna on June 19, 1861. The country on Monday (June 19, 2023) marked his 162nd birth anniversary.<em> (PNA file photo)</em></p>

NATIONAL HERO. The Philippines' national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, who was born in Calamba, Laguna on June 19, 1861. The country on Monday (June 19, 2023) marked his 162nd birth anniversary. (PNA file photo)

CALAMBA CITY, Laguna – Local and national officials on Monday took part in a wreath-laying ceremony commemorating the 162nd birth anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal.

Calamba Mayor Roseller Rizal, Senator Francis Tolentino and Laguna Governor Ramil Hernandez led the ceremony which was also attended by several prominent descendants of the national hero.

In his speech, Mayor Rizal said he is proud that the City of Calamba showcases to the whole country, in a deep and colorful way, the townsfolk’s gratitude for “his exceptional life, a short but significant life he spent in achieving the freedom of our beloved country."

"Every year whenever this day comes, we, Calambeños, lead the celebration of the anniversary of the birth of our compatriot and great hero, Gat Jose Rizal," said Mayor Rizal in his speech.

Mayor Rizal underscored that despite the different programs being implemented over the years, the people of Calamba are “models in valuing the golden lessons that were bequeathed by the preceding generations.”

"He [Jose Rizal] was the one who said, 'I do not write for this generation. I am writing for other ages, the generation which interprets these writings will be an educated generation. They will understand me and say 'not all were asleep in the night time of our grandparents'," he added.

The mayor is the great-great-grandson of Patricio Rizal, who is said to be the half-brother of Jose Rizal. Two other Rizals, Sisenando and Taciano, also served as mayors of the city.

Meanwhile, Tolentino said the birth of Dr. Jose Rizal “began drawing our path towards the ideal of independence in the Philippines.”

Tolentino explained that his proposal for foreign doctors to enter the country is due to the shortage of doctors in recent years.

“If Dr. Jose Rizal went to another country for treatment, why cannot we accept other foreign doctors to fill the shortage here in our country even for a short time,” Tolentino said in an analogy.

Tolentino recalled that Dr. Jose Rizal studied ophthalmology to treat his mother Teodora's eyesight, and likewise “wanted to open the eyes of the Filipinos to the brutality of the Spaniards and arouse their patriotic feelings.”

“Perhaps not only body pain that Dr. wanted to cure. Jose Rizal, also perhaps he wanted to heal the wound of history, the wound of slavery, the wound of the Filipino society that was then blinded and lost hope of liberation,” he said.

"In our current time, the call to all of us is to love the country, be a modern hero, be a defender of freedom... The fight is for rights, order, unity, and cooperation. This includes the fight against malnutrition, the fight on how we can help our senior citizens with their illnesses," Tolentino said.

He also urged the youth to take positive efforts in community-building as Dr. Rizal referred to them as the “hope of the nation.”

The celebration also highlighted the presentation of the piece, "Hindi Ako si Sisa" performed by Christine Deña, a student of Calamba Institute, which aimed to show the importance of looking back at history to show the real struggles in today’s time.

Other descendants of Dr. Jose Rizal from different lineages -- Maria Racquel Torres Manalastas (Narcisa Rizal); Paolo Antonio Azurin (Paciano Rizal) and Maxine Cruz (Maria Rizal) -- as well as former Tourism Secretary Gemma Cruz-Araneta, Vice Governor Karen Agapay, provincial board members, city department officials and representatives from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines and the Department of Health were also present in the celebration. (PNA)