|Dr. Jose P. Rizal
The Philippines’ national hero. Born in Calamba, Laguna, on June 19, 1861. Published his masterpiece Noli Me Tangere in Berlin(Germany) in 1887 and his second novel El Filibusterismo in Ghent(Belgium) in 1891. His two novels stirred the conscience of his people. He contributed various literary works to La Solidaridad. For his leadership in the reform movement and for his incendiary novels, Rizal was arrested and later killed by musketry in Bagumbayan, Manila, on December 30, 1896. His execution was the last straw for other Filipinos who called for a bloody revolution against Spain.
José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda Quintos (June 19, 1861 – December 30, 1896, Bagumbayan), was a Chinese Filipino polymath: a poet, writer, artist, intellectual, and educator. He was a nationalist and the pre-eminent advocate for reforms in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era. Rizal’s 1896 court-martial and execution made him a martyr of the Philippine Revolution. He is widely considered the most prominent Filipino and a national hero. Since Philippine Independence, the anniversary of Rizal’s death has been commemorated as a national holiday.
Born to a wealthy family, Rizal earned a Bachelor of Arts at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila. He enrolled in both the schools of Medicine and Philosophy and Letters at the University of Santo Tomas. Then he traveled to Madrid, Spain to continue studies at the Universidad Central de Madrid, earning the degree of Licentiate in Medicine. He attended the University of Paris before completing his second doctorate at the University of Heidelberg. Rizal was conversant in at least ten languages. His most famous works were his two novels, Noli me Tangere and El filibusterismo. These social commentaries on the Philippines formed the nucleus of literature that both inspired dissent among peaceful reformists and spurred the militancy of armed revolutionaries against the Spanish regime.
Rizal founded La Liga Filipina (The Philippine League), a civic organization working to reform Spanish colonial rule. Rizal proposed institutional reforms by peaceful means, but the extent of his support for outright revolution has been subject to scholarly debate. Scholars agree that his political leadership and unjust execution by the government were major inspirations for the Philippine Revolution, led by Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo.
José Rizal’s parents, Francisco Engracio Rizal Mercado y Alejandra II (1818–1898) and Teodora Morales Alonso Realonda y Quintos (1827–1911), were prosperous farmers who were granted lease of a hacienda and an accompanying rice farm by the Dominicans. Rizal was the seventh child of their eleven children, namely: Saturnina (1850–1913), Paciano (1851–1930), Narcisa (1852–1939), Olympia (1855–1887), Lucia (1857–1919), Maria (1859–1945), José Protasio (1861–1896), Concepcion (1862–1865), Josefa (1865–1945), Trinidad (1868–1951) and Soledad (1870–1929).
Rizal was a 5th-generation patrilineal descendant of Domingo Lam-co (Chinese: 柯仪南; pinyin: Ke Yinan), a Chinese entrepreneur who sailed to the Philippines from Jinjiang, Quanzhou in the mid-17th century. Lam-co married Inez de la Rosa, a Sangley / Chinese native of Luzon. To free his descendants from the Sinophobic animosity of Spanish authorities, Lam-co changed the surname to Spanish. He chose Mercado (market) to indicate their Chinese merchant roots.
In 1849, Governor-General Narciso Claveria ordered all Filipino families to choose new surnames from a list of Spanish family names. José’s father Francisco adopted the surname “Rizal” (originally Ricial, “the green of young growth” or “green fields”), suggested to him by a provincial governor and friend of the family. The name change caused confusion in his business affairs, most of which were begun under his old name. After a few years, he settled on using “Rizal Mercado” as a compromise, but often went by the original “Mercado”.
Jose Rizal’s earliest training recalls the education of William and Alexander von Humboldt, those two 19th century Germans whose achievements for the prosperity of their fatherland and the advancement of humanity have caused them to be spoken of as the most remarkable pair of brothers that ever lived. He was not physically a strong child, but the direction of his first studies was by an unusually gifted mother, who succeeded, almost without the aid of books, in laying a foundation upon which the man placed an amount of well-mastered knowledge along many different lines that is truly marvelous, and this was done in so short a time that its brevity constitutes another wonder.
When the son José Rizal Mercado enrolled at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, he dropped the last three surnames at the advice of his family. From then he used “José Protasio Rizal”. Rizal refers to this when he writes: “My family never paid much attention (to our second surname Rizal), but now I had to use it, thus giving me the appearance of an illegitimate child!” This enabled him to travel freely and disassociated him from his brother Paciano, who had gained notoriety by his ties to Filipino priests sentenced to death as subversives. From early childhood, José and Paciano advanced ideas of freedom and individual rights which infuriated the authorities.
As Rizal, José won distinction in poetry contests, due to his facility with Spanish and other foreign languages. He began to write essays critical of the Spanish historical accounts of pre-colonial Philippine societies. By 1891, the year he finished his El filibusterismo, his surname of Rizal had become so well known that, as he wrote to a friend, “All my family now carry the name Rizal instead of Mercado because the name Rizal means persecution! Good! I too want to join them and be worthy of this family name.” José Rizal’s activism brought his family unwelcome attention by colonial authorities.
Genealogical research has found that Rizal had maternal Spanish, Japanese and Filipino ancestry in addition to Chinese (sangley). Both his paternal great-grandfather and grandfather married Chinese mestizas. His maternal great-great-grandfather (Teodora’s great-grandfather) was Eugenio Ursua, a descendant of Japanese settlers. He married a Filipina named Benigna (surname unknown). Their daughter Regina Ursua married Atty. Manuel de Quintos, a Tagalog sangley mestizo from Pangasinán. Their daughter Brígida de Quintos married a Spanish mestizo named Lorenzo Alberto Alonso. They were the parents of his mother, Teodora. Because of this, Rizal and his siblings were technically considered Tornatrás.
At three, he learned his letters, having insisted upon being taught to read and being allowed to share the lessons of an elder sister. Immediately thereafter he was discovered with her story book, spelling out its words by the aid of the syllabary or caton which he had propped up before him and was using as one does a dictionary in a foreign language.
Rizal’s first teacher was Celestino Aquino Cruz of Biñan, Laguna. In 1872, Rizal went to Manila to study at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila. He was one of nine students in his class declared sobresaliente (outstanding). He continued his education at the Ateneo to obtain a land surveyor and assessor’s degree. He also studied at the University of Santo Tomas in Philosophy and Letters. Upon learning that his mother was going blind, he enrolled at the university’s medical school to specialize in ophthalmology. He did not complete the program, and claimed Spanish Dominican friars discriminated against Filipino students.
Without his parents’ knowledge and consent, but secretly supported by his brother Paciano, Rizal traveled to Europe for graduate education. By May 1882 he was studying at the Universidad Central de Madrid, where he and earned the degree, Licentiate in Medicine. His education continued at the University of Paris and the University of Heidelberg, where he earned a second doctorate. In Berlin, based on his work, Rizal was inducted as a member of the Berlin Ethnological Society and the Berlin Anthropological Society under the patronage of pathologist Rudolf Virchow. In April 1887 he delivered an address in German before the group on the orthography and structure of the Tagalog language. He wrote Heidelberg a poem, A las flores del Heidelberg (To the Flowers of Heidelberg), which expressed his hope for better understanding between East and West.
At Heidelberg, the 25-year-old Rizal completed his eye specialization under the renowned Otto Becker. While later exiled in Dapitan, he performed cataract surgery on his mother and other patients. From Heidelberg, Rizal wrote his parents: “I spend half of the day in the study of German and the other half, in the diseases of the eye. Twice a week, I go to the bierbrauerie, or beerhall, to speak German with my student friends.” He lived in a Karlstraße boarding house, then moved to Ludwigsplatz. There, he met Karl Ullmer, pastor of Wilhelmsfeld. He stayed at Ullmer’s home, where he wrote the last few chapters of Noli Me Tangere.
Rizal’s multiple skills were described by his German friend Adolf Meyer as “stupendous.” Rizal was a polymath with a wide variety of skills in different areas. He was an ophthalmologist, sculptor, painter, educator, farmer, historian, playwright and journalist. Besides writing poetry and fiction, Rizal practiced, with varying degrees of expertise, in architecture, cartography, economics, ethnology, anthropology, sociology, martial arts, fencing and pistol shooting. He joined the Freemasons during his time in Spain and became a Master Mason in 1884.
 Romantic attachments
As a regular diarist and prolific letter writer, Rizal recorded many of the details of his life. His biographers, however, have faced the difficulty of translating his writings because of Rizal’s habit of switching from one language to another. They drew largely from his travel diaries which included his later trips, home and back again to Europe through Japan and the United States, and finally, through his self-imposed exile in Hong Kong.
This period of his education and travel included liaisons with those whom historians refer to as Rizal’s “dozen women”, even if only nine have been identified. They were Gertrude Becket of Chalcot Crescent (London), wealthy Nelly Boustead of the English and Iberian merchant family, last descendant of a noble Japanese family Usui Seiko, Segunda Katigbak and Rizal’s first cousin, Leonor Rivera, with whom he had an eight-year romantic relationship. The others were: Leonor Valenzuela (Filipino), Consuelo Ortiga (Spanish), Suzanna Jacoby (Belgian), and Josephine Bracken (Irish).
His European friends kept even doodlings on pieces of paper. In London, during his research on Morga’s writings, Rizal became a regular guest in the home of Reinhold Rost of the British Museum. The Ullmer family and the Blumentritts claimed they saved buttonholes and napkins with sketches and notes which they ultimately bequeathed to the Rizal family, who made them part of his memorabilia.
In 1890, Rizal, 29, left Paris for Brussels, as he was preparing for the publication of his annotations of Antonio de Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas. There he lived in the boarding house of the two Jacoby sisters, Catherina and Suzanna. They had a 16-year-old niece, ce also named Suzanna (“Thill”). Historian Gregorio F. Zaide states that Rizal had “his romance with Suzanne Jacoby, 45, the petite niece of his landladies.” Belgian Prof. Slachmuylders, however, believed that Rizal had a romantic involvement with the younger woman, Suzanna Thill, instead of the elder, Suzanna Jacoby. Rizal’s Brussels’ stay was short-lived, as he moved to Madrid, leaving the young girl a box of chocolates. She wrote to him in French: “After your departure, I did not take the chocolate. The box is still intact as on the day of your parting. Don’t delay too long writing us because I wear out the soles of my shoes for running to the mailbox to see if there is a letter from you. There will never be any home in which you are so loved as in that in Brussels, so, you little bad boy, hurry up and come back.” (Oct. 1, 1890 letter). Slachmuylders’ group on 2007 unveiled a historical marker commemorating Rizal’s stay in Brussels in 1890.
José Rizal’s most famous works were his two novels, Noli Me Tangere and El filibusterismo. Due to their symbolism and criticism of Spanish friars and the Catholic Church, the two novels angered both the Spaniards and the hispanicized Filipinos. Ferdinand Blumentritt, a Sudeten German professor and historian, was one of Rizal’s first critics, reacting to his work with misgiving. Blumentritt was the grandson of the Imperial Treasurer at Vienna in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire and a staunch defender of the Catholic faith. This did not dissuade him, however, from writing the preface of El filibusterismo after he had translated Noli me Tangere into German.
Rizal finished Noli Me Tangere in Berlin, on March 29, 1887. Rizal had no money to publish his book and was trying to survive by eating one meal a day, consisting mainly of bread and coffee. When later he told his old friend Fernando Canon about this “dark period”, he said:
With Viola’s funding, Rizal was able to get Noli printed a few weeks later. He sent one of the first copies to Blumentritt. In the accompanying letter, Rizal said: “I have not wept over our misfortunes, but rather laughed at them. No one would want to read a book full of tears…The incidents which I have related are all true and have actually occurred. I can prove this statement…” He had bound copies boxed and sent to friends in Barcelona and Madrid. Using a ruse to disguise the books as merchandise, Rizal sent them to friends in the Philippines.
Also written in Spanish, El filibusterismo is the sequel to Noli. Rizal began the novel in October 1887 while practicing medicine in Calamba. In London (1888), he made several changes to the plot and revised a number of chapters. Rizal continued to work on his manuscript while in Paris, Madrid, and Brussels, finally completing it on March 29, 1891 in Biarritz. It was published the same year in Ghent. A compatriot, Valentin Ventura, learned of Rizal’s predicament and offered him financial assistance. Even then Rizal was forced to shorten the novel quite drastically, leaving only thirty eight out of the sixty four chapters of the original. Inspired by what the word filibustero connotes in relation to the circumstances in his time, and with spirits dampened by the execution of the three priests, Rizal aptly titled the second part of the Noli, El filibusterismo. To honor the trio, he dedicated the book to them: “To the memory of the priests, Don Mariano Gomez (85 years old), Don Jose Burgos (30 years old), and Don Jacinto Zamora (35 years old). Executed in the Bagumbayan Field on the 28th of February, 1872.” As Blumentritt had warned, this dedication led to Rizal’s prosecution as the inciter of revolution and eventually, to a military trial and execution. The government’s attempt to suppress dissent did not work, however, and Rizal’s execution fueled resistance.
As the leader of the reform movement of Filipino students in Spain, Rizal contributed essays, allegories, poems, and editorials under the pen names Dimasalang and Laong Laan to the Spanish newspaper La Solidaridad in Barcelona. His writings expressed liberal and progressive ideas, and were an appeal for equal rights for Filipinos. He shared the same sentiments with members of the movement: that the Philippines was battling, in Rizal’s own words, “a double-faced Goliath–corrupt friars and bad government.” His real interest, however, was in writing historical articles based on ancient Spanish sources, to show the Filipinos the high level of their culture at the time of the Spanish contact. As he began to publish under his own name, he urged the same on del Pilar, so they would show the Spaniards that they were not afraid to defend their positions.
However, the vigilance of the Spanish authorities in the Philippines, the indifference of Spain towards the Philippine demands, and the apathy among the Filipinos themselves in Barcelona and Madrid, made it difficult for the movement to pursue their goals. Del Pilar, on the other hand, wanted Rizal to refute some of the racist and demeaning articles appearing in Spanish newspapers. The Spanish academician Vicente Barrante, in his study of Tagalog theater, attributed everything of value in Tagalog culture to Spanish influence, and put down the idea that anything of value could come out of the Tagalog race. Although Rizal often accommodated del Pilar’s requests to refute Spanish detractors, he did not care what Spaniards thought or said about the Philippines. He had seen enough of Spanish culture and manners to compare them unfavorably not only with those of other European countries but especially with those of his people. Rizal urged del Pilar to make sure that the newspaper reached the Philippines. His commentaries reiterate the following agenda:
The colonial authorities did not favor such reforms, even though they were supported by Spanish intellectuals like Morayta, Unamuno, Margall and others. After his break with del Pilar, Rizal decided to leave Madrid. Although he was elected responsable or president of the student group, he declined and left immediately in January 1891.
Upon his return to Manila in 1892, Rizal formed a civic movement called La Liga Filipina. The league advocated moderate social reforms through legal means but was disbanded by the governor. At that time, Rizal had already been declared an enemy of the state because of the publication of his novels.
Wenceslao Retana, a political commentator in Spain, slighted Rizal by a reference to his parents. After Rizal challenged him to a duel, Retana learned that his rival was a better swordsman and promptly apologized. Retana became an admirer and wrote the first biography of Rizal to be published in Europe. Rizal’s painful childhood memories of his mother’s treatment at the hands of the civil authorities explained his reaction to Retana. (The incident stemmed from Retana’s repeating an old accusation that Rizal’s mother Teodora tried to poison the wife of a cousin. She had claimed she only intervened to help. In 1871 without a hearing, church prelates approved orders for Teodora to be imprisoned in Santa Cruz. She was humiliated by being forced to walk the ten miles (16 km) from Calamba. After two-and-a-half years of legal appeals, she gained release.)
In 1887 Rizal wrote a petition on behalf of the tenants of Calamba, and later that year led them to speak out against the friars’ attempt to raise rent. In response to their litigation in the case, the Dominicans’ evicted all the tenants, including the Rizal family. General Valeriano Weyler directed the buildings on the Rizal farm to be torn down. Weyler’s motives in this matter do not have to be surmised, for among the (formerly) secret records of the government there exists a letter which he wrote when he first denied the petition of the Calamba residents. It is marked “confidential” and is addressed to the landlords, expressing the pleasure which this action gave him. Then the official adds that it cannot have escaped their notice that the times demand diplomacy in handling the situation but that, should occasion arise, he will act with energy. Just as Weyler had favored the landlords at first so he kept on and when he had a chance to do something for them he did it.
Finally, when Weyler left the Islands an investigation was ordered into his administration, owing to rumors of extensive and systematic frauds on the government, but nothing more came of the case than that Retana, later Rizal’s biographer, wrote a book in the General’s defense, “extensively documented,” and also abusively anti-Filipino. It has been urged (not by Retana, however) that the Weyler regime was unusually efficient, because he would allow no one but himself to make profits out of the public, and therefore, while his gains were greater than those of his predecessors, the Islands really received more attention from him.
For hours the elder brother had been seated at a table in the headquarters of the political police, a thumbscrew on one hand and pen in the other, while before him was a confession which would implicate José Rizal in the Katipunan uprising. The paper remained unsigned, though Paciano was hung up by the elbows till he was insensible, and then cut down that the fall might revive him. Three days of this maltreatment made him so ill that there was no possibility of his signing anything, and he was carted home.
It would not be strictly accurate to say that at the close of the nineteenth century the Spaniards of Manila were using the same tortures that had made their name abhorrent in Europe three centuries earlier, for there was some progress; electricity was employed at times as an improved method of causing anguish, and the thumbscrews were much more neatly finished than those used by the Dons of the Dark Ages.
Rizal did not approve of the rebellion and desired to issue a manifesto to those of his countrymen who had been deceived into believing that he was their leader. But the proclamation was not politic, for it contained none of those fulsomely flattering phrases which passed for patriotism in the feverish days of 1896. The address was not allowed to be made public but it was passed on to the prosecutor to form another count in the indictment of Rizal for not esteeming Spanish civilization.
 Exile in Dapitan
In July 1892, days after he founded La Liga Filipina, Rizal was arrested and deported to Dapitan in the province of Zamboanga (a peninsula of Mindanao). He was implicated in the simmering rebellion because of his association with Bonifacio and his men, who founded the militant group Katipunan.
In Dapitan Rizal supervised the building of a small hospital and a water supply system. He opened a small school in his house, where he taught boys farming and horticulture skills, and led them to plant thousands of abaca plants. The students also were taught English, an uncommon practice when Spanish was the language of instruction and government. Among the students were boys who grew up to become successful farmers and government officials. One, a Muslim, became a datu, and Jose Aseniero, who was a student of Rizal’s during the life of the school, became Governor of Zamboanga.
In Dapitan, the Jesuits, led by his former professor Sanchez, tried to convince Rizal to return to Catholic practice. As others joined in the appeal, Rizal commented in a letter to Pastells:
His best friend, professor Ferdinand Blumentritt, wrote regularly to keep him in touch with European friends and fellow-scientists. Their stream of letters, written in Dutch, French, German and English, baffled the censors and delayed their delivery. Rizal’s four years of exile had coincided with the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution. The Court that tried Rizal believed this coincidence suggested his complicity in the Revolution. Rizal condemned the uprising, although the members of the Katipunan made him honorary president and used his name as a war-cry.
Near the end of his exile, Rizal met and courted an Irish woman named Josephine Bracken, the stepdaughter of a patient. He was unable to obtain an ecclesiastical marriage because he would not return to Catholicism and was not known to be clearly against revolution. The Church claimed that Rizal eventually signed a retraction of his politics and married Bracken on the eve of his execution. She is the only person Rizal named in the poem “Farewell, sweet stranger, my friend, my joy…”, in stanza 14.
 Last days
Main article: Philippine Revolution
By 1896, the rebellion fomented by the Katipunan, a militant secret society, had become a full-blown revolution. A nationwide uprising led to the first proclamation of a democratic republic in Asia. To dissociate himself, Rizal volunteered and was given leave by the Spanish Governor General Ramon Blanco to serve in Cuba to minister to victims of yellow fever. Blanco later presented his sash and sword to the Rizal family as an apology. Before leaving Dapitan, Rizal issued a manifesto disavowing the revolution and declaring that the education of Filipinos and their achievement of a national identity were prerequisites to freedom.
Rizal was arrested en route, imprisoned in Barcelona, and sent back to Manila to stand trial. He was implicated in the revolution through his association with members of the Katipunan. During his passage to Manila, Rizal was unchained; he had many opportunities to escape but refused to do so.
A court-martial was convened for Rizal’s trial in the Cuartel de España. He was charged with in rebellion, sedition, and conspiracy in a court-martial. No trained counsel was allowed to defend him, but he was given a list of young army officers from whom he could select his defense. He picked a familiar name, Luis Taviel de Andrade, brother of Jose Taviel de Andrade, Rizal’s traveling companion during his visit to the Philippines in 1887–88.
The judge advocate charged Rizal with founding an illegal society, alleging that La Liga Filipina‘s goal was to commit rebellion. The second charge was Rizal’s alleged involvement in the existing rebellion. The prosecutor asked for the death penalty. In the event of pardon being granted by the Crown, he asked that the prisoner remain under surveillance for the rest of his life and pay 20,000 pesos for damages. Governor General Ramon Blanco, who was sympathetic to Rizal, had been forced out of office. The friars had placed General Camilo de Polavieja in his stead. To Polavieja, pardon was not an option. The parallel proceedings in the military trial and execution of Francisco Ferret in Barcelona in 1909 caused worldwide indignation and was covered in numerous articles in the European and American press. Rizal’s case, however, was not as widely known because Manila was too remote and the government censored the news.
Rizal’s last poem, undated and believed to be written on the day before his execution, was hidden in an alcohol stove. It was given to his family with his few remaining possessions, including his final letters and bequests. Within hearing of the Spanish guards, Rizal told his sisters in English, “There is something inside it”, referring to the alcohol stove. It had been given to him by the Pardo de Taveras and was to be returned after his execution. He followed this instruction with another: “Look in my shoes,” where he had hidden another item. When Rizal’s remains were exhumed in August 1898 under American rule, they found he had been buried without a coffin, and not in the ground for the “confessed” Catholic faithful. Whatever had been in his shoes had disintegrated. In his letter to his family he wrote: “Treat our aged parents as you would wish to be treated … Love them greatly in memory of me … December 30, 1896.”
In his final letter to Blumentritt, Rizal wrote, “Tomorrow at 7, I shall be shot; but I am innocent of the crime of rebellion. I am going to die with a tranquil conscience.” He reassured Blumentritt that he shared his ideals to the very end. He also bequeathed a book to his ‘best and dearest friend’ which Rizal had bound in Dapitan. When Blumentritt received it, he broke down and wept and cried with the feeling of lonelinees inside him .
Rizal had to walk from Fort Santiago to the place of execution, then Bagumbayan Field (now called Luneta). His arms were tied tightly behind his back, and he was surrounded by a heavy guard. The Jesuits accompanied him. Rizal’s request to face his executioners was denied, as it was beyond the power of the commanding officer to grant. Rizal said he did not deserve such a death, for he was not a traitor to Spain. He was promised that his head would be respected. Without a blindfold and erect, Rizal turned his back to receive the bullets. He twisted a hand to indicate under the shoulder where the soldiers should aim so as to reach his heart. As the volley came, he turned and fell, face upwards, thus receiving the shots which ended his life.
Moments before his execution, with a backup force of Spanish troops, the Spanish surgeon general requested to take his pulse: it was normal. Aware of this, the Spanish sergeant hushed his men to silence when they began raising “¡vivas!” with the partisan crowd. Rizal’s last words were, “Consummatum est” (It is finished). These were among the Seven Last Words of Christ, as gathered from the Gospel accounts. This sentence appeared in the Gospel of John (John 19:30) of the Bible.
The government secretly buried Rizal in Paco Cemetery in Manila, where they placed no identification on his grave. When his sister Narcisa toured all possible gravesites, she found freshly turned earth at the cemetery and civil guards posted at the gate. Assuming this was the most likely spot, as there had never been ground burials before, she made a gift to the caretaker to mark the site, “RPJ”, Rizal’s initials in reverse.
A national monument
Main article: Rizal Park
A monument with his likeness was erected near the place where he fell. It was designed by the Swiss Richard Kissling, who made a famed sculpture of William Tell. The statue was inscribed with the following: “I want to show to those who deprive people of the right to love of country, that when we know how to sacrifice ourselves for our duties and convictions, death does not matter if one dies for those one loves—for his country and for others dear to him.”
 Retraction controversy
There is controversy on whether Rizal actually wrote a document of Retraction which stated: “I retract with all my heart whatever in my words, writings, publications and conduct have been contrary to my character as a son of the Catholic Church.” That his burial was not on holy ground led to doubts about his retraction. Then there is no certificate of the marriage of Rizal with Josephine Bracken. Those who deny the retraction also point to this line in “Adiós”: “I go where there are no slaves, no hangmen or oppressors, where faith does not kill,” which anti-retraction proponents refer to the Catholic Church. Also, there is an allegation that the retraction document, said to have been found by a Catholic priest in 1935, was a forgery. After comparing the document with 6 writings of Rizal, Ricardo Pascual concluded that it was not in Rizal’s handwriting. Senator Rafael Palma, a former President of the University of the Philippines and a prominent Mason, argued that a retraction was not in keeping with Rizal’s character and mature beliefs. Palma called the retraction story a “pious fraud.” Others who deny the retraction are Frank Laubach, a Protestant minister, Austin Coates, a British writer, and Ricardo Manapat, director of the National Archives.
On the other side of the debate are leaders of the Catholic church, and historians who cite principles of historical evidence, e.g. Austin Craig, Gregorio Zaide, Nick Joaquin, Ambeth Ocampo, and Nicolas Zafra of UP who called the retraction “a plain unadorned fact of history.” They stress that the Retraction document was deemed authentic by Rizal expert Teodoro Kalaw (a 33rd degree Mason), and “handwriting experts…known and recognized in our courts of justice”: H. Otley Beyer and Dr. José I. Del Rosario, both of UP. This side argues that there were 11 eyewitnesses when Rizal wrote his retraction, signed a Catholic prayer book, and recited Catholic prayers, while a multitude saw him kissing the crucifix just before his execution. According to Rizal’s great grandnephew, Fr. Marciano Guzman, his 4 confessions were certified by 5 eyewitnesses, 10 qualified witnesses, 7 newspapers, and 12 historians and writers including Aglipayan bishops, Masons and anti-clericals. One witness was the President of the Supreme Court of Spain at the time he made his notarized declaration and was esteemed by Rizal for his integrity.
Retraction supporters see in it Rizal’s “moral courage…to recognize his mistakes,” his reversion to the truth of Christianity and thus his “unfading glory,” and a return to the “ideals of his fathers” which brings his stature as a patriot to the level of greatness. On the other hand, Senator José Diokno stated: “Surely whether Rizal died as a Catholic or an apostate adds or detracts nothing from his greatness as a Filipino… Catholic or Mason, Rizal is still Rizal: the hero who courted death ‘to prove to those who deny our patriotism that we know how to die for our duty and our beliefs’.” 
 “Mi último adiós”
Main article: Mi último adiós
To follow literary tradition, the title should be “Adiós, Patria Adorada” (literally “Farewell, Beloved Country”), the first line of the poem. It first appeared in print not in Manila but in Hong Kong in 1897, when a copy of the poem and an accompanying photograph came to J. P. Braga who decided to publish it in a monthly journal he edited. There was a delay when Braga, a Rizal admirer, wanted a good reproduction of the photograph and sent it to be engraved in London, a process that took over two months. It finally appeared under ‘Mi último pensamiento,’ a caption he supplied and by which it was known for a few years. If Rizal wrote “Adios” on the eve of his execution, Balaguer’s account would have been too elaborate that Rizal would have had no time to write it. The exact date when the poem was written has never been determined.
Six years after his death, when the Philippine Organic Act of 1902 was being debated in the United States Congress, Representative Henry Cooper of Wisconsin recited an English translation of Rizal’s valedictory poem and at the end asked the question, “Under what clime or what skies has tyranny claimed a nobler victim?” The final version of the bill was signed into law in 1916. Full autonomy was granted in 1946—fifty years after Rizal’s death.
 Josephine Bracken
Josephine Bracken promptly joined the revolutionary forces in Cavite province, making her way through thicket and mud, and helped operate a reloading jig for Mauser cartridges at the arsenal at Imus. The short-lived arsenal under the revolutionary general Pantaleón García had been reloading spent cartridges again and again and the jig was in continuous use, but Imus was under threat of recapture that the operation had to move, with Josephine, to Maragondon, the mountain redoubt in Cavite. She witnessed the Tejeros Convention prior to returning to Manila and was summoned by the Governor-General, but owing to her stepfather’s American citizenship she could not be forcibly deported. She left voluntarily, returning to Hong Kong. She later married another Filipino, Vicente Abad, a mestizo acting as agent for the Philippine firm of Tabacalera. She died in Hong Kong in 1902, a pauper’s death, buried in an unknown grave, and never knew how a line of verse had made her immortal.
Polavieja faced condemnation by his countrymen. Years after his return to Spain, while visiting Girón in Cataluña, circulars were distributed among the crowd bearing Rizal’s last verses, his portrait, and the charge that Polavieja caused the loss of the Philippines to Spain.
Attempts to debunk legends surrounding Rizal, and the tug of war between free thinker and Catholic, have kept Rizal a controversial figure. In one recorded “fall from grace” he succumbed to the temptation of a “lady of the camelias”. The writer, Maximo Viola, a friend of Rizal’s, was alluding to Dumas‘s 1848 novel, La dame aux camelias, about a man who fell in love with a courtesan. While the affair was on record, there was no account in Viola’s letter whether it was more than a one-night event and if it was more of a business transaction than an amorous affair.
 Views on revolution
Others present Rizal as a man of contradictions. Miguel de Unamuno in “Rizal: the Tagalog Hamlet”, describes him as “a soul that dreads the revolution although deep down desires it. He pivots between fear and hope, between faith and despair.” His critics assert this character flaw is translated into his two novels where he opposes violence in the Noli and appears to advocate it in the Fili. His defenders insist this ambivalence is trounced when Simoun is struck down in the sequel’s final chapters, reaffirming the author’s resolute stance, Pure and spotless must the victim be if the sacrifice is to be acceptable.
While Rizal always favored reforms by peaceful means, it is debated whether he approved of non-peaceful means as well. In Fili Rizal has Father Florentino say: “… our liberty will (not) be secured at the sword’s point … we must secure it by making ourselves worthy of it. And when a people reaches that height God will provide a weapon, the idols will be shattered, tyranny will crumble like a house of cards and liberty will shine out like the first dawn.”
The Katipunan member Pio Valenzuela was sent to Dapitan by Andres Bonifacio to seek Rizal’s opinion on an armed revolution. Valenzuela subsequently gave differing accounts of Rizal’s opinion, which has proved problematic for Filipino historians. In his earliest testimony, given to the Spanish authorities after he took advantage of an amnesty shortly after the outbreak of revolt, Valenzuela claimed Rizal had condemned an armed uprising outright.
However, in later years Valenzuela retracted this and claimed Rizal had only disapproved of a premature armed revolution, because the Katipunan was ill-prepared and ill-equipped to wage war on the Spanish authorities. Valenzuela claimed Rizal had recommended that the Katipunan get the support of rich and influential people, including his friend Antonio Luna who was educated in military science and tactics. Valenzuela also said Rizal was in favor of even a premature armed uprising as a last resort if the Katipunan was discovered by the authorities. Historian Teodoro Agoncillo reasoned Valenzuela had lied to save Rizal from the charges he was eventually convicted for. Before his execution Rizal issued a statement condemning the uprising as ridiculous and barbarous, and called for the ending of hostilities. While this has been interpreted as his final stance by some, Mi último adiós has been proposed as his final word on the issue. Therein he wrote (as translated by Austin Coates):
Rizal’s advocacy of institutional reforms by peaceful means rather than by violent revolution makes him Asia’s first modern non-violent proponent of political reforms. Forerunner of Gandhi and contemporary of Tagore and Sun Yat Sen, all four created a new climate of thought throughout Asia, leading to the attrition of colonialism and the emergence of new Asiatic nations by the end of World War II. Rizal’s appearance on the scene came at a time when European colonial power had been growing and spreading, mostly motivated by trade, some for the purpose of bringing Western forms of government and education to peoples regarded as backward. Coinciding with the appearance of those other leaders, Rizal from an early age had been enunciating in poems, tracts and plays, ideas all his own of modern nationhood as a practical possibility in Asia. In the Noli he stated that if European civilization had nothing better to offer, colonialism in Asia was doomed. Such was recognized by Gandhi who regarded him as a forerunner in the cause of freedom. Jawaharlal Nehru, in his prison letters to his daughter Indira, acknowledged Rizal’s contributions in the Asian freedom movement. These leaders regarded these contributions as keystones and acknowledged Rizal’s role in the movement as foundation layer.
Rizal, through his reading of Morga and other western historians, knew of the genial image of Spain’s early relations with his people. In his writings, he showed the disparity between the early colonialists and those of his day, with the latter’s atrocities giving rise to Gomburza and the Philippine Revolution of 1896. His biographer, Austin Coates, and writer, Benedict Anderson, believe that Rizal gave the Philippine revolution a genuinely national character; and that Rizal’s patriotism and his standing as one of Asia’s first intellectuals have inspired others of the importance of a national identity to nation-building.
Although his field of action lay in politics, Rizal’s real interests lay in the arts and sciences, in literature and in his profession as an ophthalmologist. Shortly after his death, the Anthropological Society of Berlin met to honor him with a reading of a German translation of his farewell poem and Rudolf Virchow delivering the eulogy.
The Taft Commission in June 1901 approved Act 137 renaming the District of Morong into the Province of Rizal, and Act 346 authorizing a government subscription for the erection of a national monument in Rizal’s honor. Republic Act 1425 was passed in 1956 by the Philippine legislature that would include in all high school and college curricula a course in the study of his life, works and writings. The wide acceptance of Rizal is evident in the towns, streets, and parks in the Philippines named in his honor. Monuments were erected in Toronto, Madrid  Wilhelmsfeld, Germany, Jinjiang, Fujian, China,
, Singapore, Chicago, Cherry Hill Township, New Jersey, San Diego, Seattle, U.S.A.,, Mexico City, Mexico, Lima, Peru,Litomerice, Czech Republic , New South Wales, Australia . Several titles were bestowed on him: “Pride of the Malay Race,” “the First Filipino”, “Greatest Man of the Brown Race,” among others. The Order of the Knights of Rizal, a civic and patriotic organization, boasts of dozens of chapters all over the globe  .
A plaque marks the Heidelberg building where he trained with Otto Becker while in Wilhelmsfeld. A smaller version of the Rizal Park with his bronze statue now stands and the street where he lived was renamed Rizal Strasse. A sandstone fountain was built in Pastor Ullmer’s garden which was then donated to the Philippine government and moved to the Rizal Park in Manila.
A two-sided marker bearing a painting of Rizal by Fabian de la Rosa on one side and a bronze bust relief of him by Guillermo Tolentino stands at the Asian Civilisations Museum Green. This marks his visits to Singapore in 1882, 1887, 1891, and 1896.
A Rizal bronze bust was erected at La Molina district, Lima, Peru, designed by Czech sculptor Hanstroff, mounted atop a pedestal base with 4 inaugural plaque markers with the following inscription on one: “Dr. Jose P. Rizal, Héroe Nacional de Filipinas, Nacionalista, Reformador Political, Escritor, Linguistica y Poeta, 1861–1896.”
 National hero
After his death, Rizal was heralded by Katipunan leader Bonifacio as a hero (Tagalog: bayani) of the Philippine Revolution and December 30 was proclaimed by Aguinaldo as a national day of mourning. Rizal was also promoted as a hero by the American colonial administration following the Philippine-American War.
Today, Rizal is generally considered the greatest Filipino hero and often given as the Philippine national hero, yet he has never been explicitly proclaimed as the (or even a) national hero by the Philippine government.
Besides Rizal, the only other Filipinos currently given implied recognition as national heroes are Bonifacio and Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. While other historical figures are commemorated in public municipal or provincial holidays, Rizal, Bonifacio and Aquino are commemorated in public nationwide (national) holidays and thus are implied to be national heroes.
The fact that Rizal never held a gun or sword in his fight for freedom leads to doubts about his ranking as the nation’s premier hero, with others who believe in the beatification of Bonifacio in his stead. In his defense, the historian Rafael Palma contends that the revolution of Bonifacio is a consequence wrought by the writings of Rizal and that although the revolver of Bonifacio produced an immediate outcome, the pen of Rizal generated a more lasting achievement.
 Rizalismo (religion)
Hero worship of Rizal, further fueled by his execution, morphed into a religious cult in some remote areas of the country. The decade after his death saw the proliferation of groups such as the Iglesia Sagrada ng Lahi and the Banner of the Race Church, which claimed him a sublimation of Christ. Worship rituals included elements of Folk Christianity, combined with Philippine mythology and Roman Catholicism. Most believers included the rural poor, numbering 300,000 at one time.
 Rizal in popular culture
Rizal’s novels were depicted in cinema and won two FAMAS Awards in the Best Story category: for Gerardo de Leon’s 1961 adaptation of his Noli me Tangere and the movie version of El filibusterismo the following year, the only person to win back-to-back FAMAS Awards posthumously. Both novels were translated into opera by the composer-librettist Felipe Padilla de Leon: Noli me Tangere in 1957 and El filibusterismo in 1970; and his 1939 overture, “Mariang Makiling”, was inspired by Rizal’s retelling of the Maria Makiling legend. Rizal’s idealized woman in the Noli and Fili, Maria Clara, is the inspiration in Juan Hernandez’s “Canto Patriotico de Maria Clara” and Jerry Dadap’s “The Other Maria Clara”. Rizal’s poems were also set to music: “Kundiman”, “Sa Aking Mga Kabata”, and “Sa Magandang Silangan” are part of the Philippine Madrigal Singers discography.
Films that chronicle Rizal’s life include the 1998 documentary-drama Jose Rizal  which won more than 70 local and international film awards. In 1997 a movie portraying his life while in exile in the island of Dapitan, titled Rizal sa Dapitan, won the best actor and actress trophies. A comedic re-interpretation of Rizal called Bayaning Third World, portrayed by Joel Torre and directed by Mike de Leon, was released in 2000.. He is celebrated in the music genre. Among them are Angel Pena’s “Homage to Rizal”, Ernani Cuenco’s “Jose Rizal March”, and Felipe de Leon’s “Si Rizal ay Sagisag”.