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Museo ni Rizal: A glimpse of Rizal’s final days

JOSE Rizal’s death was, without doubt, not in vain.
by Joyce Remo

JOSE Rizal’s death was, without doubt, not in vain.

The tragic demise of “national hero” Dr. Jose P. Rizal significantly contributed to the blossoming social awareness amidst the Philippine revolution.

Rizal was a multifaceted political activist who was well-known for his novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo and other political writings that inspired the national revolt and eventually led to his public execution.

In 1898, the first president Emilio Aguinaldo declared December 30 as national mourning day to commemorate the life and contributions of Rizal, along with all the casualties of the Spanish colonial reign in the Philippines.

Today, the Philippines marks the 126th anniversary of his martyrdom and remembers his works and sacrifice that helped shape the fate of the country. 

Museo ni Rizal in Fort Santiago

The Museo ni Rizal inside Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila commemorates the final days of the so-called Philippine national hero. The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) administers the museum. 

According to the Intramuros administration, this shrine reaffirms Rizal’s significance in the country’s history and “how his death served as the inspiration in the struggle for Philippine independence.”

The establishment

The brick barracks, where the museum is located, was established in the 16th century. However, it was ruined during the Battle of Manila in 1945.

This barracks served as Rizal’s prison for 56 days until his execution in 1896. 

The building’s right wing was reconstructed in 1953 to serve as a museum and as a shrine dedicated to Rizal. It underwent renovation in 1998 for the Philippine Independence centennial and was later modernized in 2014.

A virtual walkthrough of the Rizal Museum

The Museo ni Rizal in Fort Santiago offers a virtual trip through Rizal’s final days in his prison cell. Museum-goers can see first-hand the national hero’s belongings, from his clothes, paintings, sculptures, to his furniture.

Upon entering the establishment, visitors will be welcomed by a visual summary of Rizal’s life, from his education, works, expeditions in Europe, to the aftermath of his death.

In photo: A wall containing photographs that narrate the significant events in Rizal’s life.

In photo: Some paintings and photographs that honor Rizal’s contributions to the revolution.

The museum also shows the exact prison cell where Rizal spent his days before his public execution in Rizal Park, formerly known as Bagumbayan. There is also a replica of the Filipino activist to help guests visualize his imprisonment.

In photo: A replica of Rizal writing inside his prison cell.

Aside from photographs and paintings, the museum also showcases some of Rizal’s pieces of clothing, such as his overcoats.

In photo: Some of Rizal’s coats with a quote from Ambeth Ocampo’s book titled “Rizal Without the Overcoat.”

Museo ni Rizal also displays photographs of Rizal taken in Europe and the Philippines.

In photo: A museum visitor checking out framed portraits of the national hero.

Meanwhile, museum guests can also view exclusive documents and objects of Rizal. It also displays a replica of his sculptures, novels, and his last writing, Mi último adiós.

In photo: A piece of Rizal’s vertebra where bullet hit Rizal.

In photo: A photograph of Rizal’s skull 

In photo: Replications of some sculptures made by Rizal

In photo: A replica of the original cover of Rizal’s first novel, Noli Me Tangere

Museum-goers have been paying a visit to Museo ni Rizal to commemorate his life and death. Similar to other museums, Museo ni Rizal is closed during Mondays but is accessible to the public from Tuesdays to Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

In photo: Museum visitors examining the displayed personal items of Jose Rizal.

Is Rizal the Philippine National Hero?

Although Rizal was not officially declared as national hero as per the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Vera Files noted “that Rizal is the country’s national hero is reflected even in most, if not all, school textbooks and references across all grade levels.”

Republic Act No. 1425 also requires institutions to offer subjects teaching the life and works of the Filipino nationalist in all public and private schools, colleges, and universities and referred to him as “the national hero and patriot.”

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