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The quest for Rizal

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Genius has no country. It blossoms everywhere. Genius is like the light, the air. It is the heritage of all. – Dr. Jose P. Rizal during a toast to the artists Juan Luna and Felix Hidalgo in Madrid, Spain (25 June 1884)

Our quest for Rizal started in the morning of May 10, 2010 — our third day in Madrid and election day.  So while the people in the Philippines were busy electing their heroes, we were trying to search for our (Philippines) hero’s statue in the big, bustling city of Madrid. It was not an easy task. Rizal’s statue was not to be found in any of the major plazas in the city. He is also not mentioned in the guide book we carried.

With the help of a Madrid map, we were able to find a metro station leading to an avenue named, “Avenida de Filipinas”, so we thought, that could be the place where Rizal is to be found.

Avenida de Filipinas and Islas Filipinas metro station as shown on Google maps

This thought was further confirmed by filipinas working in a vegetarian restaurant in Plaza de la Paja where we had dinner the night before. So we started our quest of the day in search of the metro station and the said avenue…

On the way to the Islas Filipinas metro station…

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Outside the station, on the Calle de Guzman El Bueno side…

The Avenida de Filipinas is quite a long one, well, at least for first-timers. So if you are in Madrid searching for Rizal and are taking the metro station, make sure you get out of the Guzman El Bueno side so you do not have to walk those extra steps.

Avenida de Filipinas as shown on a street board...
Avenida de Filipinas as shown on a street board…

Just when you thought you have lost Rizal, do not stop looking. His statue will be found at the corner of Avenida de Filipinas and Calle de Maestro Jesus. It is to be likened with the statue in Luneta — holding a book on the left hand and wrapped in trenchcoat (to prove that he’s learned or that he is a traveler?).

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After a long search, a well-deserved picture!

Some may find it strange that I looked for Rizal’s statue in Madrid. I’m sure that if a Filipino saw us taking pictures in the Rizal monument, he/she would have said, “Pinay ito.” (“This is a Filipina.”) Or they must have said, “Di pa nagpunta sa Luneta!” (“She should have just went to the Luneta!”)

I also admit not having been a Rizal fan myself. He’s brilliant all right, but I’m far from being a Rizalist. But for reasons that I still am not fully aware of, one of my main objectives in Madrid was to find his statue.

For one does not have to be a a Rizalist to be aware that Rizal was not proclaimed a hero for nothing. His works lit the fire of patriotism and ended the more than 300 years oppression (333 years to be exact) from Spanish authorities. His status as national hero has been questioned time and again, for compared to Andres Bonifacio, he didn’t really pick up the sword. He studied, rubbed elbows with the elite, learned Spanish and wrote his novels in the said language to show what was really happening in the Philippines then.

For reasons I still don’t know, I looked for Rizal in Madrid and felt good finding him. Maybe I am a budding Rizalist. Or maybe, it’s just the Filipino in me that says, “andun ka na din eh.” (“You were already there.” [implying that you should make a visit]) #

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9 thoughts on “The quest for Rizal

  1. Emy and I love our History class because of Rizal, i would also like to thank our Professor for his passion and obsession of Rizal. Thanks for this article.

  2. This is very informative..added knowledge, especially for Filipinos who are planning to visit Madrid. I attended the Rizal Studies class during my college days(ang tagal na nun, heheheh) & it's really interesting.
    Chad, may be that Rizalist in you eventually came out when your love for your country was being questioned. I love the way you sighted Rizal as an example on that write-up.

  3. Gee!! That… Lees verder’s one hell of a quest you did! I’m proud of you! Chato’s right – this is very informative and people who are planning a trip to Madrid and wants to see Rizal’s statue will not have a hard time finding it if they just read your article.

    Umm.. Jose Rizal our national hero? Up to now I’m still questioning myself who should have really been our country’s hero – Jose Rizal or Andres Bonifacio? Perhaps the Americans picked Rizal because he is the silent type and fought the Spanish colony by pen and paper. He believes that we will eventually get our independence but never through violent means. Andres Bonifacio on the other hand is the aggressive one and believes that it is only through revolution (using arms and weapons) that Filipinos will get the full freedom they’ve dreamed of. The Americans at that time then decided that it’s better to make Rizal us our country’s hero. They are probably afraid of the outcome if the Filipinos will look up to Bonifacio as the hero. Whether it should have been Rizal or Bonifacio, I’ll stop questioning myself for a moment. We might need another article for that 🙂

    Why did they decide to put Rizal’s statue in Madrid? Is it because he studied in Madrid? Is it because he loves Spain so much and never said bad things about Spain? Whatever their reason is, let’s be proud that other countries are paying respect to our national hero.

    Rizal also has a plaque here in San Francisco (New Montgomery Street) just two blocks away from my workplace. At first I’m not sure what it is. I thought its just one of those regular plaques until I saw tourists (mostly Filipinos) taking pictures of it and posing beside it for a souvenir picture. I got curious so I decided to read what’s in the plaque and I was surprised to find out that it’s about Jose Rizal. Although I’m also not a fan of Rizal my heart leaps that moment and felt proud that I’m Filipino just like Rizal. Every time I passed by that corner at New Montgomery Street, I can’t help but stopped for a while, look at the plaque and smile.

    Yes, I may not also be a Rizalist but he makes me proud of my country. I’m glad of the works and sacrifices he did for our country’s freedom. But while we are praising Rizal for the works he had done let us not also forget that Andres Bonifacio did the same thing – sacrificed himself for our country’s freedom.

  4. No doubt Rizal & Bonifacio are equally great heroes of their time…I wonder who will be the heroes of the present generation? 🙁

  5. haha wow! cool, i have something in my mind.. what is the reason that Rizal have a monument in Madrid?? it been interesting

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