Scavenger hunt: Jose Rizal edition
Do you love scavenger hunts? If you happen to be traveling abroad and would like to ignite the Filipino spirit in you, try looking for the markers of Jose P. Rizal.
Our country’s national hero is so admired that even foreign entities recognize his place in history. You’ll be surprised to learn that many tiny markers are scattered across Europe and Asia, paying homage to this modern Renaissance man.
As we celebrate Rizal’s birthday this coming week, let us try to remember the adventures that shaped the hero. Each place he went to in his short life contributed to the stories that he made, which in turn sparked the Philippine Revolution. If you can, check out these places abroad to be reminded of one Filipino’s journey to struggle and fight for his country more than a hundred years ago.
If you are traveling through Heidelberg or Wilhelmsfeld in Germany, you’ll be delighted to find numerous markers commemorating Jose Rizal.
Upon the young Rizal’s arrival in Heidelberg in 1886, he studied the German language, practiced ophthalmology and trained under established doctors.
One of Rizal’s former boarding house, an apartment fronting the University of Heidelberg, remains well-preserved. A bronze marker has been erected at the façade of this structure. The plaque notes that Rizal not only lived in the building, he also wrote the poem, “A los Flores de Heidelberg” here during his stay.
At the university itself, a marker commemorates his training days at the Augen Clinic, the university eye clinic. Under the tutelage of Dr. Otto Becker, Jose Rizal worked here from February to August 1880.
At Wilmhelsfeld, a plaque with gold letters was installed in the 100-year-old home of the German Pastor Ullmer who had Rizal as a house guest in 1886. The house was where Rizal wrote the last chapters of his novel, “Noli Me Tangere.” Right outside the house, a street was named after our national hero.
From Germany, Jose Rizal traveled to Switzerland with his friend Maximo Viola on June 2, 1887. His first stop was the city of Schaffhausen, which is famous for Rhine Falls, the largest waterfalls in Central Europe.
The Hotel Muller, which accommodated Rizal during his stint in the city, now bears the plaque that states, “Jose Rizal was here.” It was installed by then Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland, Tomas de Castro, on Dec. 20, 1961.
After Schaffhausen, Rizal and Viola then went on to Bern, the federal capital of Switzerland. They stayed at the Hotel Schweizerhof, which remains one of the best hotels of the country to this date. In 2011, Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland Leslie J. Baja, led the installation of a Rizal marker at the hall of the hotel.
Lastly, Geneva bears a marker of Jose Rizal that was installed in 2010. The plaque was installed at the Pension Bel-Air of 3 Rue de Rhone, commemorating the stay of Rizal in the city.
Jose Rizal stayed in London from May 1888 to March 1889.
He went there to study the English language. Upon his arrival, he stayed first at the home of Dr. Antonio Ma. Regidor. Not long after though, he found a boarding house at No. 37 Chalcot, Crescent, Primrose Hill.
On a weekly rent of 2 pounds, he stayed here with the Beckett family. In 1983, the Greater London Council erected a plaque at the front of the house, announcing to passers-by that Rizal once lived there.
In addition, Rizal wrote the “Letter to the Young Women of Malolos” in London. The letter praises the actions of women from Malolos who defied a Spanish priest and established a school to teach themselves how to use the Spanish language.
Together with his family, Jose Rizal lived in Hong Kong from 1891 to 1892. There, he practiced ophthalmology and rented a home. His former clinic now accommodates the Century Square Building in D’ Aguilar Street. Nevertheless, a small plaque with Chinese and English texts commemorate the area even if the building no longer exists.
He rented a home for his family at the nearby Rednaxela Terrace from December 1891 to June 1892. The area bears a plaque as well, installed by the Antiquities Society.
These are just some of the numerous countries Rizal visited. Many more markers exist, some of them located in Paris, Austria and Spain. Beyond travel, Jose Rizal sought to fight Spanish oppression in the foreign countries he lived in. Despite his nomadic lifestyle, he never forgot his land of birth.
This coming June 19, let us remember to say a prayer for the hero who traveled the world but who seemed to have never left home. He might be long gone, but Jose Rizal’s legacy will continue to shine in various parts of the world.
He touched lives in the past, but the markers celebrating his memory would continue to remind people of the future how much one man can do to change the world.
Sources: Gina McAdam; WES1947, Eugene Alvin Villar, and Underwaterbuffalo via Wikimedia; londonremembers.com; “Rizal in London” by Arvin Dela Cruz et.al.; “Rizal in Switzerland” by Jose A. Fadul (2013) lifestyle.inquirer.net