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A Simbang Gabi Postscript

The Death Anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal and Its Relevance to the Christmas season

By Sir Alwyn Galela, KCR, Cleveland Chapter
December 11, 2017


Events that were to transpire on December 1896 were the culmination of a lifelong work of unselfishness and nobility that would lead to unity against evil. It is almost sacrilegious that the day after Christmas, a celebration of the birth of the Savior, was the beginning of the end for Dr. Jose Rizal. It was the day of his mock trial by a military court under Governor-General Camilo G. de Polavieja. The verdict was already predetermined- death by firing squad!

I wonder what could be going on Dr. Jose Rizal’s mind Christmas of 1896? Did he know that he was going to be sentenced to death? Or was he hopeful that he would be exonerated and live to see the Philippines as a province of Spain?

Did he think of past Christmases to cheer him up? Did he think of the 1891 Christmas, 5 years ago, in Hong Kong with his family reunited? His mother, father, brother and sisters were all present to enjoy Christmas Eve together. Or was he reminiscing the 1888 Christmas in London that was spent with the Beckett Family that led to his brief fling with Gertrude Beckett? Or was he reminiscing the 1886 Christmas in Berlin that was spent with Maximo Viola who lent him money to publish Noli? All good memories of Christmases past.

Rizal was good to cherish past Christmases that brought him joy and happiness. Spain, at the end of the century, was in no good mood and wanted to make a political statement. In 1896, the Cuban Revolution just got a big financial boost from the upcoming power- the US. Spanish imperialist power was in peril. As the Philippine revolt was gaining momentum in Cavite, Morong and Bulacan, Rizal was to be made an example of the wrath that awaits revolutionaries regardless of his relationship or lack thereof with the Katipunan.

As one historian puts it, “(at) 6:30 A.M., a trumpet sounded at Fort Santiago. The soldiers aligned formations and moved to their designated place for the execution. Rizal was dressed in black suit, a black derby hat, black shoes, white shirt and a black tie. One of the priests blessed him and offered him a crucifix to kiss. Rizal reverently bowed his head and kissed it. Then he requested the firing squad commander that he’d be shot facing the firing squad but his request was denied. Unwillingly, Rizal turned his back to the firing squad and faced the sea. Rizal was not afraid to die”.

Thus, this Christmas, as Filipinos and/or, especially to my KOR brothers, let us reminisce the beauty that life has to offer. Let us think and appreciate our precious children, our life partners/spouses, our family and friends. Let us remember that no matter what tomorrow will bring, no one can take away the beautiful memories of Christmases past. Merry Christmas to all. NOM.

    Add a Comment

    Remigio P Panlaqui
    Ottumwa  IA
    Wed 20th December 2017

    I personally congratulate you Alwyn for your patriotic spirit: your ways of demonstrating the ideals and virtues of our beloved national hero  your way of espousing his love of country and humankind through being an officer in the Knights of Rizal in Ohio  and through ways of living your life exemplifying the virtuous life of Dr. Jose Rizal. Mabuhay ka at Mabuhay ang lahat ng dumadakila sa mga ginawa at kabaynihan ng ating Pambansang Bayani. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas

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