Today marks another commemoration of the martyrdom of the Philippines’ national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.
And being the country’s national hero, you can never escape his name and image almost everywhere you go, from the streets you traverse to the matches you use.
Then again, he is THE national hero so there’s not much one can do about that.
That principle will also apply whenever we come to see him standing in front of some town plaza or municipal/city/provincial hall in his trademark long black overcoat and, sometimes, holding a book or two on his chest as if he was about to sing the National Anthem.
This particular monument of Rizal however, takes the cake for having a “unique” representation of him.
Located at the plaza of San Juan (the one in Metro Manila, that is) the monument depicts Rizal in an awkward fashion, standing up straight with his arms somewhat straight as well but having his left arm show his palm. Not a normal position as you can see when you are supposed to just stand straight.
Looking closer though, it actually was depicting (or trying to depict) Rizal in those moments before his execution, revealing his arms actually tied up, an SOP for those about to be executed by a firing squad as punishment for opposing Spanish rule in the country. (at least that’s what I know)
But still, it still gives off a feeling of awkwardness and puzzlement in a number of ways.
First I find it intriguing for the sculptor of this monument to have Rizal portrayed in this fashion, being tied up and all as opposed to the standard of him just standing up straight, maybe holding a pen or a book. Not that there’s nothing wrong with Rizal’s portrayal in monument, per se. But the way it looks is so “unnatural” and may be considered demeaning to a national hero with regards to the manner he was portrayed.
But what gets my goat even more is how this monument defied history and logic. Like how does one manage or bother to be tied up at the back but is still holding a hat on one hand. That alone is already defying documented history on Rizal before his execution. You can refer to this picture below:
As you can see, Rizal was clearly wearing his hat before being shot. How can you remove your hat if you’re tied up. Come to think of it, why even bother taking off your hat if you’re going to be shot in a few moments anyway?
Note to artists and sculptors: if you’re going to portray Rizal in martyrdom, I would personally rather see this type of depiction, for dramatic effect:
The folks behind the Rizal Martyrdom Light and Sound Show at Rizal Park have also made an extra effort by adding some detail (which may be gruesome to some)
Without meaning any offense to Christians and Muslims who honor the One who just celebrated His birthday, this imagery does give off a somewhat Christ-like vibe. After all, Rizal is considered by some as the Filipino Christ in a nationalistic and (in some cases) religious context.
Then again, it could just be me nitpicking at a monument too much. To which, I make just a little apology there.
On a personal note, allow me to say thank you for all who visited and appreciated the work I have done over this past year. Your continued support has helped continue on my path as I continue to roam this urban jungle to bring to you more sights, sounds, and stories onwards to the next year and beyond.
© The Urban Roamer