MANILA, Philippines—A piece of Jose Rizal’s spinal bone that was hit by a bullet during his execution in 1896 will be exhibited in a symbolic interment on the 116th anniversary of his martyrdom on Sunday.
President Aquino will lead the centennial commemoration re-enacting the transfer of Rizal’s remains from his sister’s house in Binondo, Manila, to his monument in Luneta Park.
“We encourage everybody to participate and feel the historical moment of laying Rizal to his final resting place,” said Reghis Romero II, supreme commander of the Order of the Knights of Rizal, which spearheaded the program together with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.
“This is the 100th year of the transfer and decent burial of Rizal and it is significant for all Filipinos to know his sacrifice in bringing liberation to the Filipino people,” Romero said.
The spinal bone will be placed in a replica of the ivory urn containing Rizal’s bones, which was buried at the base of his monument in 1912 in a memorial service led by the Knights of Rizal and the Masonic Lodge of the Philippines.
The urn will be carried in a motorized caisson and members of the Knights of Rizal will escort it wearing a copy of their 1912 uniform accompanied by the music played at that time.
Around 7,000 students, soldiers, policemen and government employees, including Rizal’s descendants, have committed to join the procession, which will converge in Luneta from three assembly points at 4 to 5 a.m.: Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo; Fort Santiago in Intramuros; and the Manila Hotel.
The public is also invited to join the procession and wear white “to symbolize the purity of Rizal.”
The Knights of Rizal is mandated by a charter to inculcate the teachings of the national hero and encourage Filipinos to emulate him in words and deeds.
The proponents of the charter explained that if these actions were carried out, social discipline, civic virtues and love of justice would be fostered in the country.
“Let Rizal’s life and martyrdom influence and guide the destiny of the nation. Let this future generations live the Rizal way,” the explanatory note stated.
Rizal’s body was dumped in an unmarked grave in the old Paco Cemetery after his execution. Through his sister Narcisa’s persistence, his burial place was found and marked with a marble cross with his initials in reverse.
Narcisa secretly marked the site so that the Spanish authorities would not transfer and hide Rizal’s body to avoid public veneration.
Years later, Rizal’s remains were transferred in an ivory urn made by sculptor Romualdo Teodoro de Jesus in Narcisa’s house in Binondo, where their mother Teodora was also staying.
In an old photo obtained by the Knights of Rizal, Doña Teodora was seen cradling the urn containing Rizal’s bones. She was said to have shown the remains to visitors while reciting Rizal’s poem “Mi Ultimo Adios.”
Romero said foreigners would cry even though they didn’t understand Spanish because of the evident anguish of a mother who lost a son.
Unfortunately, Doña Teodora died before Rizal’s remains were given a proper funeral in 1912.