Rizal Day was commemorated yesterday with the traditional laying of floral wreaths in the hero’s monuments in Cebu and other parts of the country.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama led the commemoration of the 166th death anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal at the monument in City Hall.
In Mandaue City, Mayor Jonas Cortes led the event in the Heritage Plaza after a morning mass at the St. Joseph National Shrine and a reenactment of the hero’s death by 27 public school teachers.
In Manila, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III led solemn rites at the Luneta Park marking Rizal’s martyrdom by firing squad and centennial of the transfer of his remains from Binondo to the Luneta Park.
Aquino said the double celebration challenged Filipinos “to forge unity in the face of differences.”
As “Bayan Ko” played, the President, Dr. Maria Serena Diokno of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and Armed Forces Chief General Jessie Dellosa walked from a platform to the monument, as two soldeirs carried the wreath.
Standing before the monument, Aquino gave a salute as gunfire filled the air. Rizal’s descendants, Amelia Garcia Yulo, Victor Reyes, Malou Villaroman, Marlene Jacinto and Gemma Cruz-Araneta, among others, stood close by.
Shortly after, a funeral dirge was played.
At 7 a.m., as a large crowd gathered around Rizal Park as the President hoisted the flag in the Independence flagpole in front of Rizal’s monument.
Joining him were Vice President Jejomar Binay Jr., Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, Diokno, Dellosa, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Reghis Romero II, supreme commander of the Order of the Knights of Rizal; and Santiago Gabionza Jr.
It also marked the 100th anniversary of the transfer of Rizal’s remains from his sister’s home in Binondo to the Luneta Park, where they were interred at the base of the monument on Dec. 30, 1912.
“For his memory’s sake, we continue to respond to the challenge of the times: how to weave unity in spite of differences? How to inflame concern for others and flag? We hope that we will be more determined in paddling toward the same direction to achieve the full potential of our National Language,” Aquino said.
Before dawn Sunday, in a reenactment of the funeral march from Narcisa’s house, an urn containing a piece of bone from Rizal’s spine was transported on a motorized caisson and escorted by the Knights of Rizal from Binondo to Luneta.
The bone was part of Rizal’s spinal column which was shattered by a bullet during his execution on December 30, 1896.
After his execution, Rizal’s remains were clandestinely interred in Paco Park. After exhumation in 1898, these were kept by the Rizal family until December 30, 1912, when these were interred in the foundations of the monument./Reports from Jucell Marie P. Cuyos and Inquirer