Monday, April 20, 2015

Rizal In Madrid - A Filipino Travel Experience

When my friend Ace went to Spain, I asked him if he went to where Rizal stayed (because I am a fan of the national hero). He said he’ll be there on his free time. So, after doing some research, I sent him a brochure from Rizal’s Madrid Walking Tour. I was actually surprised and thankful when he posted the photos and info on his Facebook last week of February, 2015.

Here's the itinerary, 10 Spots for Rizal in Madrid:

10. The Rizal Monument

I call it "Luneta in Madrid". - Ace Christian M. Dilag

Built in 1996, it is a replica of the Rizal monument at the Luneta in Manila. The original monument was designed by a Swiss sculptor, Richard Kissling, and was one of the major winners in a contest during the American regime in the Philippines.

During the Rizal birth centennial in 1961, some countries honored Rizal with markers and monuments. Heidelberg, Germany where Rizal spent some time in the 1880s, erected a modest but elegant statue in his honor, for making that city famous through his poem entitled “To the Flowers of Heidelberg.” Mexico City built a replica of the Rizal monument at the Luneta in their famous boulevard called Paseo de la Reforma. At that time, Spain refused to honor the Philippine hero because of the sentiment then that he was a traitor.

Times have changed though. In a new spirit of broadened friendship between Spain and the Philippines, as well as a liberal view of why the latter launched a revolution, Rizal’s position has been elevated. Spain itself is honored by Rizal’s presence here, for it is in this country that he developed his sensitivities and his scientific, artistic and literary skills — in Madrid, the heartland of the Empire. (Source: Philippine Embassy in Madrid)

9. Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando

At the same time that Rizal was taking courses in medicine, he went to the nearby Escuela de Bellas Artes de San Fernando and took five hours of painting lessons under Carlos de Haes. He likewise enrolled at the Facultad de Derechos, (UCM) but his brother dissuaded him from continuing the course. Rizal’s interest in law was in line with the desire for political autonomy in the Philippines, but his interest in the humanities overtook all other interests. He transferred to the Facultad de Filosofia y Letras, and worked towards a humanities course which he finished in June 1885. This faculty was then located at Calle Bernardo, the building housing it then is now occupied by the Ministerio del Justicia. (Source: Philippine Embassy in Madrid)

8. Calle Ventura de la Vega (Formerly Calle Baño), 15

This was the residence of D. Pablo Ortiga y Rey, vice president of the Consejo de Filipinas and the headquarters of Circulo Hispano Filipino. In a letter to this family dated October 10, 1882, Rizal mentioned having boarded here from 1883 (autumn) to August 1884, apparently on a temporary basis since the following entries would indicate that he had other places of residence in Madrid.

The association (CHF) was organized as a forum for Filipino students to discuss Philippine affairs. It sponsored regular bailes to raise funds for the association. It published a magazine financed by Juan Atayde, a Philippine-born Spaniard. Among those with whom Rizal discussed Philippine issues were the Paternos — Pedro, Maximino and Antonio — and Gregorio Sangciangco y Goson who made deep impressions on Rizal. The latter wrote El Progreso de Filipinas which said that a plan for agriculture, commerce and industry could usher in improvements and progress in the Philippines. The association did not last long, as Rizal wrote to his family on January 29, 1883, that it disbanded upon his suggestion apparently due to lack of sufficient interests of the members. The residence had another attraction for Rizal aside from being the venue of political discussions. The daughter of the owner, Consuelo Ortiga y Rey caught Rizal’s fancy. However, Consuelo was torn between Rizal and de Lete. Rizal even gave Consuelo poems, musical pieces from Paris and guimaras, a kind of textile from the Philippines. The guimaras gift was acknowledged by Consuelo through de Lete, which seemed to have put an end to Rizal’s illusions about her love, his first derrota or defeat as he wrote in codes in his diary. (Source: Philippine Embassy in Madrid)

7. Hotel Inglés

In 1884, this was the venue of the banquet in honor of Luna and Hidalgo where Rizal gave a speech urging the Filipino youth to follow in the footsteps of the two. 

6. Calle Manuel Fernández González (Formerly Calle Visitación), 8, 4th floor, Room 4

This was his place of residence from May 1883 to June 17, 1883 before Rizal left for Paris for a vacation. Situated in the old part of Madrid close to the Plaza Sta. Ana and right behind the Teatro Español, it stood near the corner of c/ Echegaray (formerly c/ del Lobo), where he criticized his fellow residents for engaging in idle discussions day after day. He lived here with Eduardo de Lete and Ceferino de Leon. By their agreement, they did not allow gambling (juego de azar) in their quarters. (Source: Philippine Embassy in Madrid)

5. Viva Madrid (Restaurant)

Another hangout famous for its beautiful murals of azulejos or glazed tiles where Rizal used to take his light meals with wine, this was likewise the favorite place of Graciano Lopez Jaena who had the reputation of being “a man of the world and of wine.” A marker proudly exhibited in the establishment mentions its association with the Filipino community in Madrid at that time.

The place would tell us that it was not “all work and no play” for our national hero. We can imagine him and his friends spending hours in some afternoons sipping wine while admiring the beautiful women passing by. Rizal would even say that he had spent two pesetas and 90 centimos for a baile at the El Excelsior, perhaps a nearby cabaret for the public as was the style of the time. (Source: Philippine Embassy in Madrid)

4. Calle Atocha, 43

La Solidaridad used this place as its office of publication. Founded in 1889, the newspaper was the voice of the Filipino community in Spain in its struggle for recognition by the Spanish government, of their desire for autonomy. Before his decision to return to a place near the Philippines (Hong Kong), Rizal might have frequented this place to check on the progress of the publication of his essays, the most famous of which was his La Indolencia de los Filipinos. The essay was in response to the then popular Spanish notion that the lack of progress in the Philippines was due to the laziness of the colonial subjects. Rizal asserted that there were factors beyond human control, such as the Philippines’ hot, humid and tropical weather, that would explain the supposed laziness of the Filipinos. And in any case, Rizal said, the Filipinos were no worse than the Spaniards who were lazy relative to the Germans and the Dutch of northern Europe. Having debunked the Spanish assertions, Rizal then proposed measures that would make the Philippines progressive, adopting in particular the suggestions of his fellow student, Gregorio Sanciangco y Goson – build railroads, adopt modern agricultural technology and solve the problem of land ownership for the Philippines to attain progress. (Source: Philippine Embassy in Madrid)

3. Calle Amor de Dios, 13-15

The place of his residence from September 12, 1882 to May 1883, when he first arrived in Madrid. Rizal was prepared to lead a spartan life since he had a limited allowance of 50 pesos a month further reduced to 35 pesos when the Rizal farm was affected by bad harvests. There was also a constant increase in rent being imposed by the Dominicans from whom the Rizal family rented the farm. In this Madrid house, Rizal lived with Vicente Gonzalez, an old friend from his Ateneo de Manila days and a guy whom he fondly called Marques de Pagong. The house could have been chosen out of convenience since it was near the university and the atelier in which Rizal’s interest in the arts developed into fine form. He could therefore save on transportation costs. There was a piano and four big mirrors that created lasting impressions on Rizal. (Source: Philippine Embassy in Madrid)

2. Ateneo de Madrid

Although not an educational institution but an exclusive club for men of letters and science, the Ateneo contributed to the professional development of Rizal. It was here where he regularly attended theatrical presentations, music and poetry recitals and book launchings. He was in attendance when Ramon de Compoamor delivered his best poetry in 1884. It was also at the Ateneo where he studied English under the tutelage of Sr. Schüts. At one time, Rizal was presented to the Principe de Baviera, then presiding over the meeting. (Source: Philippine Embassy in Madrid)

1. Congreso de los Diputados (Formerly Las Cortes Españolas)

Rizal and his friends lobbied in this building for the recognition of the Filipinos' right to autonomy and for the equal rights with Spanish citizens.

Photos by: Ace Christian M. Dilag
Text and info: Ace Christian M. Dilag and Philippine Embassy in Madrid

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