RIZALizing the Future

I must admit: Jose Rizal is not my favorite Filipino hero. For that slumbook question, my answer is reserved for Emilio Aguinaldo. I guess it’s because 1) the street I grew up in is named after him, and 2) who doesn’t love a man in uniform? 😉

But this year marks the 150th birth anniversary of my country’s national hero, and the government so kindly declared June 20th a non-working holiday. So as my way of thanksgiving, I trooped over to Yuchengco Museum (first time there, check!) for their RIZALizing the Future exhibit.

From the photo above (with Bust of JPR by Anastacio Caedo in the foreground), the exhibit’s reason for existence is to inspire its visitors to put into action the many admirable qualities of Rizal we’ve only been forced to read about, study, and memorize in school. Quite literally, it aspires to verbalize Rizal’s inspiring persona.

The young Jose Rizal or “Pepe”

For a lukewarm Rizal fan like me, that seems to be a tall order. But going through the halls of Yuchengco Museum, I was blown away by the many works from different artists that were inspired by Jose Rizal.

Portrait of Jose Rizal

One example (above) is this rare painting by Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, one of the country’s most prominent painters and Rizal’s contemporary. I like this one because even if Hidalgo is often credited as an Impressionist, this one reminds me of the Renaissance way of painting – the way Rizal was lit and depicted in this portrait. It seems fitting for me to think of this, especially since Rizal can be called a Renaissance Man.

Bencab, Rizal (detail)

Indeed, the exhibit reminds us in every hall how much a Renaissance Man Jose Rizal truly was. It’s no secret that he also dabbled in the arts himself, having made sketches, paintings, and sculptures of a variety of subjects (some of which are on display).

Postcards of sculptures by Rizal

He was a man who loved to read and study, having written many discourses on science, poems about his passions, and of course, the two novels that cemented his status, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.

Second to the last stanza of Mi Ultimo Adios

It’s no wonder many people suspect Rizal was some sort of mutant cyborg (depicted here by JP Cuison).


Also well documented are Rizal’s many romances. Below is a rendition by BenCab of Jose and Leonor Rivera, his onetime lover and first cousin.

Rizal & Leonor’s Letters

He makes muses out of these women, like this sculpture he made of Josephine Bracken.

Jose and Josephine were said to be married, but it still can’t be confirmed. (How showbiz!)

Napoleon Abueva, Rizal & Josephine

At the center of the exhibit is a cool installation that invites visitors to meditate and reflect on everything you’ve seen about Rizal.

Tony Gonzales & Tes Pasola, Suspended Garden

I initially thought that the exhibit’s mission to RIZALize sounds presumptuous and, well, corny. But if RIZALizing the future means having citizens who are passionate about God and country; who always immerse themselves in different disciplines; who love to read and write; who honor their parents, siblings, friends, and lovers; then by all means, let’s all contribute to make sure this happens!

Team Manila, Rizal Shades

RIZALizing the Future will be on exhibit until October 29, 2011. I strongly suggest you check it out because of the wealth of items and artworks on display. Go to their official website for more details.


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