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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