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Rizal books and writings on display in Washington, D.C.


MANILA, June 18 (PNA Feature) -– Even in far-away America, Filipino-Americans in Washington, D.C. and nearby states are commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal with the display of his books and writings at the Asian Division of the Library of Congress in Washington starting June 17 until June 27.

In an e-mail to the Philippines News Agency, Ms. Grace Valera, director of the Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC), said that the Rizal exhibit is courtesy of the Philippine Embassy to perpetuate the memory of Dr. Rizal.

Among Rizal’s works on exhibit are his famous novels “Noli Me Tangere" and "El Filibusterismo."

Valera said that also on display are reproductions of some of Rizal’s poems and various mini-portraits, his 100 letters to his parents, brothers, sisters and relatives published by the Philippine National Historical Society (PNHC) in 1959, and original handwritten plates with corresponding translations from Spanish to English.

Jose P. Apostol, PNHC editor, noted that “Rizal gave instructions to his sisters Maria in December 1882 that all letters in Spanish that began with ‘Mis queridos padres y hermanos’ be sequestered because in these he tells all that has happened and will further explain their contents if and when he returns home.”

Also included in the exhibit is a frontispiece photograph signed by Rizal, appendices that include a letter dated December 25, 1896 on the letterhead “Josefina” to Trinidad Rizal, and a separate document titled “Description of My Life" dated 22nd February 1897, both reportedly authored by Josephine Bracken, Rizal’s wife, in two different handwritings with the latter signed “Josephine Bracken de Rizal A Widow.”

The Washington exhibit also includes the life and labors of Rizal, Philippine Patriot, a study of the growth of free ideas in the trans-Pacific American territory, sketches and portraits illustrated by the foremost hero in different stages of his life, and the story of "Mariang Makiling," a folktale written by Rizal himself.

Rizal was born in Calamba, Laguna on June 19, 1861. His father was Francisco Engracio Rizal Mercado and his mother was Teodora Morales Alonso Realonda.

At the age of 3, Rizal learned the alphabet taught by his mother; at 5, he learned how to draw sketches; and at 8 wrote his first poem entitled “Sa Aking Mga Kababata.” At 16, he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Ateneo Municipal de Manila with an average grade marked “excellent.”

Rizal pursued his college study, taking up Philosophy and Letters at the University of Santo Tomas and simultaneously took up courses on surveyor and expert assessor at Ateneo and became a full-fledged surveyor at 17 in 1877, but was not granted a license because he was a minor. He was given the license four years later.

In 1878, he took up medicine at the University of Santo Tomas but stopped when Filipino students were being discriminated upon by their Dominican tutors.

Rizal went to Spain in 1882 to continue his studies at the Universidad Central de Madrid. Two years later, he obtained his degree in medicine in 1884 and a year later finished his course in Philosophy and Letters.

Even at his young age, Rizal spoke 22 languages such as English, Spanish, Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Malayan, Portuguese, Russian, Sanskrit, Tagalog, among others.

Rizal was a genius as he was an eye doctor, artist, writer, architect, businessman, cartoonist, educator, economist, ethnologist, scientific farmer, historian, inventor, journalist, linguist, musician, mythologist, nationalist, naturalist, novelist, poet, propagandist, psychologist, scientist, sculptor, sociologist, and theologian.

His books "Noli Me Tangere" and "El Filibustirismo" exposed the arrogance and despotism of the Spanish clergy.

Rizal was arrested and imprisoned by the Spaniards and was wrongly charged with rebellion, sedition and of forming illegal association. He was convicted in mock trial and sentenced to die by musketry on December 30, 1896 at the prime of his life at 35 at Bagumbayan Field in Luneta in Manila, now called Rizal Park. (PNA Feature) scs/RBC/rsm

By Ben Cal

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