» Arts & Culture

Bringing Rizal back to Europe

The Jose P. Rizal Traveling Museum opens in Brussels ahead of the national hero’s 151st birth anniversary.

Publication Date : 17-06-2012


The Jose P. Rizal Travelling Museum opened in Brussels over the weekend, ahead of the commemoration on Tuesday of the 151st birth anniversary of the country’s national hero, also the most renown overseas Filipino.

The event commemorating the life and works of Dr. Jose Rizal  (1861-1896) was arranged by one of the most active advocates overseas of the hero’s teachings—the Knights of Rizal, which today has chapters in Belgium, Germany, Australia,  Kingdom of Bahrain, Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and the United States, and many other parts of the world.

The travelling museum (June 16-19), is set up at the Philippine Embassy in Brussels. The event also premiers “Rizal the Hero,” a 30-minute documentary on Doctor Rizal, his studies in Madrid and travels through Europe and America; his role in the propaganda movement against Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines; his return and imprisonment; and finally, his martyrdom in Bagumbayan in 1898.

Sir Dominiek Segaert, Area Commander of the Knights of Rizal in Belgium, said the exhibit will feature real clothes, books, letters as well as replicas made by Filipino fashion designer John Ablaza.  The travelling museum will be opened by Philippine Ambassador Victoria Bataclan and Antonio Guansing, Regional Commander of the Knights of Rizal in Europe.

A statement by the organisers said the Jose P. Rizal Travelling Museum was originally launched on April 3, 1998 in Cebu City in line with the celebration of 100 years of Philippine Independence.

The project was undertaken by the University of Southern Philippines in Cebu City, Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission Cebu City and the Philippine Centennial Movement. It has traveled in 16 port cities in the Philippines and was also mounted in Chicago in the US.

It will be the first time the museum will be launched in Europe-where Doctor Rizal went to study medicine, and where he wrote his famous novels—Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. There are monuments of the Filipino hero in Spain, France, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, Australia, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Peru, China and Singapore, among others.

On June 19, the Knights, whose mission is to keep the memory of the hero alive, will lay wreaths at monuments or otherwise commemorate his birth anniversary on June 19 in various parts of the world. In Canada it will be held at the Earl Bales Park in Toronto, according to an announcement posted on Munting Nayon, an online Filipino magazine in the Netherlands.

According to historian Ambeth Ocampo, it would be inaccurate to call Rizal the first OFW (overseas Filipino worker). There were many Filipinos who worked on the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade centuries before Rizal was born, he noted.

But Ocampo writes that “the OFW connection is quite relevant because Rizal’s letters to his family and friends reflect homesickness, longing and self-sacrifice that many OFWs endure today.”


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