Monday, August 8, 2011

Revisiting Rizal's Last Days

The Fort Santiago gate
Rizal the doctor
I was supposed to spend the day with some UP professors in Corregidor.  But since it has been raining for the past week, we decided to postpone the trip to the island at the mouth of Manila Bay and instead sketch the Spanish ruins of Fort Santiago.  After all, most of us have not been back there for quite some time, some even since our grade school years. We were aiming to absorb the details of the old structures and get a refresher on the old Spanish architecture inside the fort and also Intramuros.
Rizal's death, painting at museum lobby
Rizal the writer
Through the stone walls
Fort Santiago is still a place worth visiting, mainly to rediscover a part of our culture and history.  It is after all a very important icon of that era which ignited our own national independence.  It is where our national hero, Jose Rizal, spent the last remaining days of his life.  His time there ultimately led to penning his 'Mi Ultimo Adios', which fired up the revolution and resulting to freedom from four centuries of Spanish rule. But apart from this, it is a mirror of how Filipinos lived in the 19th century behind the formidable walls. We were after the latter reason when we opted to sketch in Fort Santiago. But when we arrived there, we got a crash course on Rizal instead.
The ruins and the museum
Rizal in his cell
Immersion in exhibits
What we were after was to sketch the details of the ruins, particularly the stone gate across the moat. But upon entering the gate we were reminded that this place is a shrine to the martyrdom of Rizal. It was impossible to miss the marked steps, following Rizal's path on his way to the Bagumbayan execution. The Rizal museum was also there housing the memorabilia and the interactive displays. How it was presented is conducive for visitors to tour and immerse themselves into the exhibits.  I particularly liked how they highlighted the strong words of Rizal reminding me that more than being an hero, doctor, artist, linguist etc, he is a writer. His writings were already embedded in history, but in here they are literally etched and immortalized into the walls of the shrine.
The etched writings of Jose Rizal on the walls
His words are all over the wooden floor
Rizal's lit words
Our impromptu Rizal lesson was also timely as a few months ago, his 150th birth anniversary was commemorated and I personally did not attend any of the events or festivities.  Revisiting Fort Santiago somewhat gave me and probably my companions a renewed perspective of our national hero. We are not like Rizal as we are not geniuses or exceptional writers.   But we could do our share by passing on nationalism and excellence in what we know best.  It gave us the added inspiration to do a good sketch of Fort Santiago and better hone our skills, for us to hopefully better impart to our students. It made us look forward to our next adventure, Corregidor perhaps, to further learn more about another part of Philippine history.


mutant_onionoid said...

*Correction: "150th" Anniversary :)

metscaper said...

Thanks. Typo.