A hero’s footprints

A life-size statue of Rizal sculpted by Julie Lluch with a backdrop of old Europe is a favorite selfie backdrop

Rizal’s mind, heart, and soul lives on all over the country

Formative years in Calamba

By Kim Ferrer

There was a huge tree that caught my attention as we arrived at the gates of Rizal Shrine in Calamba, Laguna. The shrine was almost packed that Tuesday morning,
mostly with young people. The curator of Rizal Shrine, Zarah Escueta, said that most of the visitors are millennials probably because they are required by their schools.

“It is important for the youth to know the value of commitment, the importance of family and strengthening one’s patriotism and personal sacrifice to ensure the good of the country. These are values that we hope would be inculcated in the young when they visit Rizal Shrine,” Escueta said.

The 3,704-sqm compound is a modernized museum that recaptures the era of Rizal’s childhood and his travels across the world. It has six galleries located inside a bahay na bato and at a building beside it.

The shrine houses several visual artworks, facsimiles, photographs, replicas and authentic artifacts from Rizal’s younger days to the national hero we now know as Dr. Jose Rizal.

As a young boy
The light green painted on the exterior of the house is a reference to their family name coined from the Spanish word “ricial,” which means “field.” On the first floor are collections of stories about his siblings and a depiction of Pepe sitting on the lap of his mother, Teodora Alonzo, while she reads a story to him.

The authentic ledger book used by the family for their businesses is also on display along with Rizal’s birth certificate, drawings, and writings.

In the middle of the house is a grand staircase going to the second floor where one can find one of the most prized pieces of the museum: Teodora’s Singer sewing machine that’s placed inside the room of Rizal’s sisters.

Also on the second floor is the formal dining area where one can see a collectionof authentic family dinnerware stored in an antique cabinet.

From the dining room, an access door opens to the azotea where visitors can find traditional bathrooms and a wooden pail hung above the well that served as the family’s primary water source.

As a travelling man

Beside the bahay na bato is a building where galleries 5 and 6 can be found. These galleries focus on Rizal’s travels from 1882 to 1892. Gallery 5 features Rizal’s travels in Europe and a look back into the process of writing one of his famous novels, Noli me Tangere.

The highlight of the gallery is a life-size statue of Rizal sculpted by Julie Lluch with a backdrop of old Europe, a favorite selfie backdrop.

Meanwhile, the sixth gallery traces back the stories of Rizal’s return to Europe and to the Philippines, the peak of his propaganda activities and the stories about the creation of his novel, El Filibusterismo.

At the shrine’s lawn, one can see an example of an iconic bahay kubo. In the middle of the lawn are bronze statues of young Rizal and Tagpi, his dog, created by Dudley Diaz in commemoration of the centennial celebration of Rizal’s death. This is also where the remains of Rizal’s parents, Teodora and Francisco, are buried.

As a millennial trying to reconnect with our National Hero, the tour gave me a chance to discover what made Dr. Jose Rizal who he was. We came across to the colossal tree again as the tour finished. I entered the gates full of questions and now they were answered. His verses, words, and hardship were seeds that bore the fruit that everyone is now enjoying: Independence. Manila Bulletin News.