“The entrance to Cebu is beautiful. We could see the whole district of San Nicolas.” These were some of the words which the great valiant hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, wrote on his journal when the steamship España he was boarding docked in today’s Malacañang sa Sugbo on August 2, 1896.
He was traveling to Manila after his exile in Dapitan and was on his way to Spain then Cuba to work as a military doctor. It can be recalled that before his coming, this ship also docked in the ports of Dumaguete City. Sadly, this planned trip didn’t come into realization as he was arrested for rebellion, sedition, and conspiracy.
Despite his limited time in Cebu, Dr. Jose Rizal was still able to treat patients with eye ailments. Some of them were Jaime Enriquez of San Nicolas and Doña Victoria Rallos of Colon Street. He then set sail at eleven in the morning wherein he mentioned that he saw Mactan Island where Magellan was killed and saw dolphins there.
Today, on his 158th birthday, the Philippine national hero remains alive in the hearts and minds of many Cebuano for his efforts towards independence through his writings against the Spanish friars – Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. This can be seen in the largest collection of his works outside Luzon here in Cebu in the University of the Philippines Foundation Rizaliana Museum which is located at Mabini Street, right beside the Cathedral Museum. Here we can see a great number of artifacts, writing collections, nude painting, medals, wardrobes (including undershirts, winter coats), sketches, postcards, and even a bloodstained flag of the KKK which was believed to have been given to him as an honorary member of the underground revolutionary movement. Some of these were donated by the national hero’s sister, Trinidad, when she visited USP in February 11, 1951. It was accounted that Trinidad’s daughter actually taught in the same school and even married the University Vice-president Escolastico Duterte.
To keep his memory alive, Google search engine also gave tribute to Rizal on their doodle wherein they described the hero as someone whose love and devotion for the country through his novels, essays and articles inspired a revolution. This was profoundly emphasized on the feather quill pen placed together with him which symbolized the use of written word as a revolutionary tool and magnifying glass on the other side to represent his profession as an ophthalmologist.
In addition to this, Cebu City’s 24-hours open library was also named after the hero – Rizal Library and Museum. A statue of the national hero with a book spread on his lap while reading to two children sits on the second floor patio connotes that despite the city continuous progress, the hero remains at the background guiding, inspiring more young people to keep learning and becoming the hope of the motherland.