Filipinos mark 150th anniversary of hero's birth

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 June, 2012, 12:00am

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Today the Filipino community in Hong Kong will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of their country's national hero, Dr Jose Rizal.

Rizal was the most prominent advocate for reform in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era. He is regarded as the foremost Filipino patriot and is listed as such by the Philippines' National Heroes Committee.

Rizal lived in self-imposed exile in Hong Kong from December 1891 to June 1892. He lived with his family at 2 Rednaxela Terrace, Mid-Levels. Rizal used 5 D'Aguilar Street as his ophthalmologist clinic, which was open from 2-6pm Monday to Friday.

These locations and others will form part of a seven-act street play and tour of seven 'Jose Rizal Spots' in and around Central.

The play is written and directed by Lakbay Dangal, and Carlos Celdran will portray Rizal at each spot depicting the many facets of the Filipino hero's life.

The tour will begin at 10am at Rednaxela Terrace near the Shelley Street escalator before moving on to other locations.

The day will also be a celebration of all things Filipino, which will take place at Chater Garden after the Rizal Tour is completed. This will include singing and interpretive dance. Booths will also be set up to help Filipinos in Hong Kong with such issues as migrant awareness and legal aid.

'We're inspired by Jose Rizal, who is the national hero of the Philippines, and this day is very important to us. This is the 150th anniversary of his birth, so we have decided to do something very special,' organiser Sonia Zerrudo said.

Rizal was a polyglot, conversant in 22 languages. He was a prolific poet, essayist, diarist, correspondent and novelist whose most famous works were his two novels, Noli me Tangere and El filibusterismo. These social commentaries on Spanish rule formed the nucleus of literature that inspired peaceful reformists and armed revolutionaries alike.

His execution by the Spanish in 1896 is a date marked annually as Rizal Day, a Philippine national holiday, and was one of the causes of the Philippine revolution.