The Philippines will be commemorating the 117th anniversary of national hero Dr. Jose Rizal’s martyrdom this December 30. The day is a national holiday as indicated in President Benigno Aquino III’s Proclamation 459, which he signed last year. Read The Filipino Scribe‘s report about Proclamation 459 here.
Rizal Day falls on Monday, which means there will be a rare five-day weekend as 2013 comes to an end. Notice the following:
December 28 and 29 2013 – Saturday and Sunday, respectively
December 30 2013 – Rizal Day
December 31 2013 – Special non-working day (last day of the year)
January 1 2014 – New Year’s Day
Rizal’s elevation as the country’s national hero has been the subject of intense debates for several decades now. In his controversial essay “Veneration without Understanding,” historian Renato Constantino argued that Rizal cannot be the country’s national hero since it has been the the practice elsewhere in the world that whoever leads the struggle for independence becomes “the principal hero of his people.”
He also repeated the argument that it is the Americans who were responsible for the selection of Rizal for the said honor, disregarding the fact that Filipinos have begun commemorating his martyrdom even before he was officially pronounced as a national hero.
Journalist Armando Malay wrote a rebuttal titled “Veneration with Understanding” to Constantino’s work, proclaiming: “A man becomes a hero, or a national hero, not because he leads a revolution – but because he is admired for his achievements and noble qualities, and considered a model or ideal.” Read more on that in this link.
PS: This year also marks the centennial anniversary of the Rizal Monument in Manila. Created by Swiss sculptor Richard Kissling, the monument was first opened to the public on December 30, 1913 – Rizal’s 17th death anniversary. Visit this link for more information. Thanks for one of our readers for pointing this out.