An ever-increasing number of visits to my wife's home country (more about my travels in the Philippines)

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First Burial Place of Jose Rizal, Paco Cemetery, Manila

I have come to admire "The Great Malay," Dr. Jose P. Rizal, the Philippines' greatest national hero. I have been slowly reading his works; I have read one print biography and one online, and several biographical articles; and I have walked the route from his place of incarceration to his place of execution, where the Spanish authorities--on charges of insurrection--took his life on the morning of December 30, 1896.

In the picture above, the effigy stands in the space where Dr. Rizal was incarcerated; the steps indicate the path to the execution ground.

He is fascinating, multi-talented, and multi-faceted. An unchallenged national hero for over a century, and yet riddled with ambiguities. There are even messianic sects, such as the Rizalistas, who believe he will come again to save the Philippines in her hour of greatest need.

Anyway, in my research I had learned that the monument in what is now Rizal Park, near his execution site, was not his original resting place. In fact, the Spaniards had spirited his body away and buried it in secret to prevent a cult of martyr-worship.


Borrowed from Chapter XI here

But friends of the family discovered the location: formerly a cemetery, these days known as Paco Park. They paid a worker to mark the grave with Dr. Jose Protasio Rizal's initials in reverse, as seen above. (There's an interesting account of a "local" man helping some Spanish researchers locate the park here and here.)

The Paco area adjoins Malate (where we were staying), so we set off on foot. Soon, however, my companions (my wife Lila and our friend Adam) declared "this is ridiculous" and we hailed a cab. (I didn't argue with them.)

The park itself is beautiful, atmospheric. The curved walls encrusted with old crypts give an odd, comforting feeling.

And the round Chapel of St. Pancratius is like the jewel in the lotus.

The (alleged) former site of Dr. Rizal's burial is well-marked, and well worth a visit.

19 comments:

  1. i want to go there..!

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    1. It's really beautiful and peaceful.

      How did you find my page? Were you doing research for something? I get a lot of visitors here, and I don't know why it's so popular!

      Thanks,
      James

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    2. i like it too

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  2. I also read somewhere that Rizal's body was buried directly. That is, no coffin or whatsoever. He was simply put in the grave and covered with dirt. Donya Teodora went around to ask that she be given her son's body but only the current mayor of the City of Manila at that time was moved.

    It also took a very long time before Rizal's body could be transferred to Luneta. They had to wait after the Spanish rule until it could be dug up and given a proper burial.

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    1. Thanks so much for the info. Fascinating details...

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  3. Kristoffer Bambi BambalanJanuary 5, 2013 at 6:44 AM

    Thanks for the information james! I have always wondered what Paco Cemetery looks like.. I will surely bring my family there to visit the original place of burial of our national hero..

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    1. Hi! Have you been to Paco Park yet? How did you like it?

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  4. Life of Dr.Jose Rizal are very great my favorite part of life of Dr.Rizal is His Masonic Life And His Life In Europe. :)

    -jude.balgos@yahoo.com

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    1. Hey, Jude! Thanks! I'll have to look into the Masonic stuff...

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  5. mae_goco@yahoo.comMay 28, 2013 at 1:27 PM

    Am his forever fan...i've admired him since my school days, in one of our subjects, we always read his novels: Noli Mi Tangere & El Felibusterismo....the ist one means in english is: "No Touch" & the second one means : ....??? Dont procrascinate?? i 4got...but i've read it & its seems really interesting...through out my highschool we've read his novel, as i recall...Noli & El Feli is the story of his life himself...he seems calm at 1st but the 2nd war earned the rage of our filipino brothers that lead to revolution...he had awaken their hearts & soul that no man should be ever be a slave....so my thanks to YOU james that you honor our hero Jose Rizal...with me & my batchmates 83' St. Mary's Academy...our heartful of thanks....

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    1. My pleasure! And thank you for your kind words. I've read both of the books (in English). They're wonderful! And I plan to try reading them in the original Spanish someday.

      I still hope to go to Laguna and other sites from his life, perhaps after my wife and I move to Angeles, Pampanga. More adventure!

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  6. We went to this place when i was in high school in our educational field trip. This is indeed a great place to reminisce how great Rizal is. For those who have not visited this place, go there and be amused by his story :)

    BTW thanks for this information. This is big help on our thesis project..

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    1. Glad to be of help. I have lots of pages on the Internet, and this is the #1 visited. His influence lives on!

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  7. rizals grave has never been found since now

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  8. hey. this is a cool post. I wanted to write about Rizal on my blog and some "googling" led me to your page. The links were helpful too. Mabuhay :)

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    1. Glad to help. It's by far the most popular page on my entire site!

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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