Rizal honored with many names but none like the ‘Tagalog Christ’



Sunday, Dec. 30, is the 116th anniversary of the martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal. It is also the centennial of the transfer of the remains of the national hero from Binondo to his monument in Luneta, now called Rizal Park.

Rizal was executed in Bagumbayan at exactly 7:03 in the morning of Dec. 30, 1896. An hour later, a wagon from San Juan de Dios Hospital carried the corpse to the Paco Cemetery where it was secretly buried in an unmarked grave.

In the afternoon of the same day, Narcisa, a favorite sister and confidante of Rizal, found her brother’s grave after a long search. She asked the guards to allow a marble slab to mark the site. Inscribed on the marker were the letters “RPJ,” Rizal’s initials reversed to deflect attention.

On Aug. 17, 1898, four days after the Americans took control of Manila following a mock battle with the Spaniards, Rizal’s remains were exhumed and taken to Narcisa’s house. The remains were cleaned and placed in an urn, which stayed with the Rizal family in Binondo until 1912.

On Dec. 29, 1912, the urn containing Rizal’s remains was taken to the Ayuntamiento de Manila for a one-day expression of public respect. With fitting processional ceremonies, the remains were finally laid to rest, on Dec. 30, 1912, in the base of the rising monument to the national hero at the Luneta. That monument was completed and inaugurated exactly a year later.

These events have opened the floodgates of mystique and honors that, to this day, continue to explain Rizal’s contribution to Philippine history. Rizal has been called, among other expressions of admiration, la conciencia viva Filipina (the living conscience of the Filipino), un caballero sin tacha (a gentleman without blemish), the Quijote-Hamlet of the Philippines, Ama ng Bansang Pilipino (Father of the Filipino Nation), el hombre mas importante no solo de su pueblo, sin toda raza Malaya (the most important man not only of his country but of the entire Malay race), un Espartaco immortal (an immortal Spartacus), San Jose Rizal,  and el Demoledor  de Imperios  (the destroyer of Empires).

The Tagalog Christ

None, however, compares in glory and raises more questions than the appellation the Christlike martyr or the “Tagalog Christ.”

It was Miguel de Unamuno, Spanish philosopher and writer, who characterized Rizal’s execution as Spain’s disgrace and who, in 1907, was the first to call Rizal the Tagalog Christ.

The comparison between the lives of Jesus the Christ and Rizal the Christlike hero has been well delineated by Austin Coates, a Rizal biographer. He said: “(T)he parallel between the two lives is inescapable in the impressions each conveys of a man sent into the world to fulfill a purpose for which he was aware  that everything must be sacrificed, as also he was aware that it might be required of him that he be killed as part of that purpose.”

For both Jesus and Rizal, life on earth was a summon and submission to a call. From the beginning, both knew or had intimations of a mission they had to fulfill, the redemption of mankind from sin in the case of Jesus and the redemption of his people from oppression in the case of Rizal.

Both taught love as the moral foundation of the redemptive process. “Love one another as I have loved you,” Jesus said. “Only love can work wonders; only virtue can redeem,” Rizal declared. And both, in life and in death, embodied love that was selfless and unconditional.

Nothing could deflect both from the pursuit and fulfillment of their mission. When Joseph and Mary lost the 12-year-old Jesus in Jerusalem after the Passover feast, they found Him in the temple conversing with the elders.  Informed by His parents that they were greatly worried, Jesus calmly said that they should have known that He was about “(his) father’s business.”

Similarly the teenager Rizal, acting against his wishes because he loved the beautiful Segunda Katigbak of Lipa, pulled himself away from romantic passion in obedience to a voice heard from within to follow instead the path of sacrifice and mission.

Final act

Both Jesus and Rizal were aware that death would be the ultimate demand and final act of their redemptive purpose.  One day as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, He said to his disciples: “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and hand Him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and He will be raised on the third day.” During His agony in the garden of Gethsemane, He prayed that the sacrificial cup pass from Him “yet not as I will but as You will.”

On June 20, 1892, in Hong Kong, prior to his second return to the Philippines, Rizal wrote two letters, his Testamento Politico. In them, he confided that his decision to go back exposed him to certain death but, having given it much thought, he had to obey his conscience in order to free many from unjust oppression. And on Oct. 9, 1896, he was again returning to the Philippines after being placed under arrest while on his way to serve as volunteer doctor for the Spanish Army fighting Cuban rebels. Calmly Rizal wrote in his diary: “May God’s will always be done … Oh Lord. Thou art my hope, my consolation! Thy will be done and I am only too ready to obey it.” They were all virtual preparations for death whose bidding he had foreseen and now wished to fulfill.


Other parallels

There were also parallels between Jesus and Rizal shortly after their births. As was the custom of the Jews, the infant Jesus was brought to the temple to be consecrated to the Lord. The devout Simeon and, a little later, the widow Anna, upon seeing the child in the temple spoke about His redemptive mission. When Rizal was brought to the church for his baptism, the Filipino priest noticed the child’s unusual head and told his mother to be careful as the boy would someday be a great man.

Both Jesus and Rizal were innocent victims, their guilt unproved against them, and their deaths instigated by men of the cloth. It was the chief priests, led by Caiaphas, who conspired to get Jesus nailed to the cross. And it was the Spanish friars who conspired to get Rizal shot in Bagumbayan. The conspiracies to put Jesus and Rizal to death bore the insolence and predisposition of the conspirators who wanted to get the heads of their victims regardless of proof of guilt or innocence.

‘Consummatum est’

Other parallels between the two lives were evident in the immediate period before their deaths. On Nov. 3, 1896, Rizal, after his third return to the Philippines, was transferred to Fort Santiago. There he drew a scene of the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane with the following inscription: “This is but the first station.” He had prayed that he would preserve his tranquility before his death. And when he finally fell in Bagumbayan, that fateful morning of Dec. 30, 1896, his pulse was normal, his countenance serene, and his last cry, as was that of Jesus’, was “Consummatum est!”

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  • tarikan

    I think (pardon me just my honest opinion) both Jesus & Rizal failed in their respective wishes/missions on earth. For Jesus: the world especially in His hometown is far from peaceful. Internecine wars in the Middle East, brothers killing brothers. For Rizal: The Philippines, thanks to her politicians, has really gone to the dogs. The youth of Rizal had brought the Philippines nightmares instead of the promised dreams. 

    • batangpaslit

      naka dagdag pa nga sa arguement ni Austin Coates dahil pareho ang resulta ng panawagan nila eh….kabaliktaran ang labas

    • anu12345

       May kalalawigan si Rizal na naging presidente.

    • windhawl

      I disagree, Jesus Christ served His purpose and fulfilled the mission. it is the man who failed Him.
      for Rizal, it is to enlighten or open the eyes of the world of the reality to what is happening in the Philippines. for sure he doesnt want to end Filipino revolution just what he described in his noli me tangere and el filibusterismo, but we cant deny that their are filipino traitors and unprepared, puny, and scattered revolution.
      unfortunately, rizal will never be a saint in the eyes of the Catholic Church, for during his time he was against the tyrant that has the backing/blessing of the Catholic Church

      • ApoNiLolo

        No way will he be canonize by the RCC. But to the Rizalista – he is god! >: D

      • windhawl

        exactly the point. he will never become a saint because only those who became saint are those who rally behind the “righteous” path of the church.
        which in their time, a church that backs Spain to conquer a country in the name of God to take away the gold and make other race slaves. which makes you wonder, even when their ideology differs the Catholic’s methodology is the same with Muslims. 

        good thing… only God has the last say who can be called Saints. for only He who knows what is known and unknown, what is written and not written.

      • tarikan

        What “fulfilled” the mission? Jesus’ mission on earth was to bring peace. You see wars everywhere even His hometown, as I said, is far from being peaceful. What do you mean by man failed Him? He is too powerful, He can bend the man’s wishes for crying out loud. There’s no saying “NO” to God. His wishes are our command. What He wants He gets. As for Rizal: What I meant was the succeeding generations after Rizal’s revolution should have made the country ranked among the top in the area if not in the world. After the revolution, the Filipinos started fresh and pure but politicians of later years screwed it up. You know who I mean. Rizal must be turning in his grave to see the kind of leaders we have today.

      • windhawl

        there is this great gift God gave when He created Adam and Eve, its called “freedom of choice”. but just like what uncle Ben said to Peter Parker “with great power comes with great responsibility.”
        unlike Spiderman who became a superhero, man choose to became a villain. Jesus came to this world so man can realize what we’ve lost, that there is more great things in heaven, that all the things man created are all temporary but still man choose to make their own path, therefore, man failed Him.
        i wish there would be more Rizal in this time, who would inspire people to rally together for the good of the country. 
        but just to be clear, I would to tag Rizal as the “Tagalog Christ” for the Bible sited that there would be only one Christ and that his name is not Jose Rizal.

  • tra6Gpeche

    Being called “Tagalog Christ” by Miguel de Unamuno, must be one of the reasons why the Spanish Friars were obsessed on killing Dr. Jose Rizal. They were so jealous of Dr. Rizal’s character, world class disposition and great originality.

    • batangpaslit


    • ApoNiLolo

      I’m afraid your speculation is wrong. The parallelism was thought of two decades after Rizal’s death.

      • tra6Gpeche

        You are correct, kabayan. I should just have said that the Spanish Friars wanted Dr. Jose Rizal dead because of his character, world class disposition and great originality. That is without mentioning what have said by de Unamuno after 2 decades of Rizal’s death. My error in phrasing my opinion. Thanks!

  • Palparan


    Utot mo Rizal! Si Bonifacio ang tunay na bayani… Ang kasabihang “the pen is mightier than the sword” ay para lang sa mga ugok na tulad ni Rizal…

    Mabuhay Gat. Andres Bonifacio!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • mucho_cheapo

      While I respect Andres Bonifacio, he can never compete with Rizal or in modern tactical warfare..Hindi na uso yung sugod ng sugod, patay kung patay Sa ngayong panahon, kailangang mautakan mo ang mga kalaban.Manipulation, deceit, double crossing, spying, changing allies are some of the pre-requisites to win the battle. Tingnan mo ang nangyari kay Gat Andres, tinepok ng mga tauhan ni Emilio Aguinaldo. Masaklap ang nangyari sa kanya. Enemies from within ang pumatay sa kanya. He should have known about the conspiracy brewing against him.

      • Palparan

        kaya di umaasenso ang Pilipinas dahil sa mga traydor tulad ni Aguinaldo at sa mga duwag tulad ni Rizal…

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Abdul-Rashid/100004367910013 Abdul Rashid

       Palpakan, you should do more research.Bonifacio was all guts and no brain. Rizal did discourage the revolution because he did not want blood shed. We are no match to Spain’s military dominance.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/DNFA2RCM3OLDRV2W2ZCHO3NFIQ Jamil

      how can Bonifacio be the national hero wherein the hero of Bonifacio and the Katipunan was Rizal

  • PhoenixPoliticalParty

    Katotohanang maraming pagkakahawig sa dalawa.

    At sa huling sinulat ni JPR inihambing niya ang ating bansa sa halamanan ng Eden, o ang paraiso:

    Sa sarili kong salin:

    “Paalam, Bayan kong pag-ibig ng buhay
    Kung saan ang araw laging kasintahan
    Inang bayang hiyas ng dagat silangan
    na sarili naming Edeng napawalay.”

  • Komen To

    “It was Miguel de Unamuno, Spanish philosopher and writer, who characterized Rizal’s execution as Spain’s disgrace and who, in 1907, was the first to call Rizal the Tagalog Christ.”

    After Rizal, our super intelligent and very famous leaders brought the Philippines to where we are now today. Are they to blame? Or the people who either voted for them in public, or who are in the position to stop the corrupt officials but never stopped them. Let us not allow Rizal’s death be in vain. He inspired Bonifacio and many others. Except that in the process, those who had a taste of loose change, of minor privileges, from the leaders and conquerors sold the nation at our cost. Mga talangka at makapili sa lipunan, nagkalat pa rin…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Abdul-Rashid/100004367910013 Abdul Rashid

    Both Jesus and Jose had twelve disciples and both were murdered by (Pharisees) priests (friars) and the only thing different is Jose never rose from the dead. And in reality the institution that was behind the death of our most beloved hero still is coming out clean. She is able to paint herself blameless in spite of her actual participation. We should take note that the king of Spain was very much under the influence of the church in Rome. The evil Church. This is what makes it the work of the friars.

  • serapious

    Happy”Rizal”new year dayz. Filipinos, we are all noble freedom loving people…as Rizal said, Calvary reflected in the Philippines,The glorious JRAM’s- Lord Jesus the filipino people, saint dimas Rizal, saint hestas Aquinobonifacio, saint judas Marcosaguinaldo… saint caiphas neckodimus cardinal sin, saint felix manalo the richman..saint peter bishop piamonte,..,saint mary corazon de gloria amen,saint joseph estrada, saint paul senator enrile, the thorn crown cj corona..the cross to conquer the crimes/corruption…2013 we start our glorious millinnium “filipino redemption” all we are in the above..find yourself…as a corrupt nation we are all evil-sinners, as glorious nations we are all live’ng saints…Filipinos, we are all noble freedom loving people..”God is Love “Glorious Republic of the Philippines,
    “toto”serapio camposano for governor of iloilo panay-philippines america nations all yunity- capital of global peace…. INRI CIA ALLAH…

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