January 3, 2013 in Featured
By ARTHUR L. ALLAD-IW
In my short visit to Madrid, Spain in November 2012, I requested my new found friends to bring me to the historical landmarks related to the life and studies of Dr. Jose P. Rizal, the Philippines’ national hero. The visit to these places was actually done after I attended an international conference and finished a meeting with international human rights’ group local chapter in that area – the Amnesty International.
I explained my interest to visit these landmarks as I teach history at the Easter College, Baguio City. To expound and substantiate on the stay of Rizal in Madrid would, in my mind, be appreciated by my students if I can share my experiences.
Just after our evening meeting in their office near the ruling party office downtown of Madrid on November 22, my new friends Ivan Forero and Angeles Aguayos brought me to the down town area where we visited political landmarks, the seat of the political power in Madrid. A walk led us to Calle Manuel Hernandez Gonzalez where we stood infront of the place where Rizal had stayed.
The place is presently numbered 696532154. The place was a meeting place for Rizal and his Filipino compatriots in Madrid, who during their time, had been active at raising issues affecting Filipinos. In Spanish, the marker states: “En este lugar el heroe nacional Filipino Dr. Jose Rizal de kunia con sus compatriotas para la elaboracion de su actividad conjunta en favor de las reformas libertarias para Filipinas.”
(In this place the Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal met with his compatriots in the preparation of their joint activity in favor of the libertarian reforms in the Philippines). When Rizal was in Madrid, he was a member of the Masons and the Circulo Hispano – Filipino.
In the same street, we entered a bar. In my thoughts, I wondered if Rizal had been in the place during his time for his social night life with his compatriots. In Madrid, bars usually are full late night till early morning, I learned from my Spanish speaking friend Forero.
The next morning was a systematized visit to the other landmarks, as my flight would be at 5 PM. Ivan brought his car and with Angeles picked me up at my Confortel Hoteles. Our destination: the university where Rizal finished his courses in medicine, and Philosophy and Letters.
In Gregorio F. Zaide’s book on Rizal, the name of the school attended by Rizal is Unibersidad Central De Madrid. I had been asking where the school is but I received the negative answers – in Spanish. I learned that Universidad Central De Madrid was the name of the school since 1881. In 1970, it reverted to its original name – the Universidad Complutense De Madrid. It is one of the oldest schools in Europe founded by the Spanish monarchy. Today, the school has 10,000 staff members and a student population of 117,000.
The largest university. Ivan brought us to the old building of the Facultad De Farmacia or Department of Pharmacy of the Unibersidad Complutence and at the back was the Facultad De Medicina or Department of Medicine. These two departments – with its old buildings still intact and maintained – are where Rizal spent his classes since 1882 up to his graduation. He graduated a medical course here after finishing Philisophy and Letters.
I learned from my friends that privatization of public instituions like hospitals and Complutence are being proposed. And the proposal was not acceptable to the people due to perceived negative effects.
I surveyed the wide campus. And I remembered my history about when Rizal was attending his classes here, he joined student demonstrations – a manifestation of the liberal democracy in Europe during that time. Rizal learned the principles of democracy in his time when he was in that university, I realized.
As a former colonizer of the Philippines, Spain recognized the Philippines national hero. At the Avenida de Islas Filipinas, a monument of Rizal – comparably better than those in the Philippines – stands. While the monument is exposed to the natural weather conditions of Madrid, I can say it is one of the most spacious, clean and strategic Rizal monuments I have ever seen. On both sides of the monument were markers which contained his work “My Last Farewell” – both in Spanish and Tagalog.
As Rizal worked for the awareness of the Filipinos for their rights, particularly on their liberty, the monument is utilized too by Madrid-based groups to urge Philippine government to address present issues. My new friends told me that they conducted an activity in the area where they called Pres. Noynoy Aquino to act on the disappearance of activist James Balao, who until now remains disappeared.
Like in Rizal’s time where anti-Spanish activists were monitored, the group said a person they identified as one from the Philippine Embassy took their pictures from his parked car.
From these visits to the historical landmarks in Madrid related to Rizal, the struggle of Rizal for the liberty of the Filipinos continues. Like Bonifacio who gave flesh to Rizal’s struggle, the Filipinos too are still fighting for the realization of these aspirations – both for individual and collective rights.# www.nordis,net