Rizal 111




I need to fill in some amount of writing about my trip to Madrid such as a trip to Segovia, El Rastro market, and the vibe of the city. But this one cannot wait before I hit the sack. December 30, 2007 marks the 111th death anniversary of Jose Rizal, who at one point in his scholarly life, walked on this part of the world.

One place of interest in Madrid, at least for Filipinos, is a Metro station called Islas Filipinas. For what reason the train stop is named after my country I can only guess. From this point, a few hundred meters and several lefts and rights lead you to Calle Santander where a smaller replica of the Rizal Monument in Luneta is found. In my case, with the company of two pretty Madrileñas, we had to ask three residents. The first one was an old man who I thought knew the area like the back of his hand, but ended up giving us the wrong directions. The second was a middle-aged guy who corrected our not-so-golden compass. The third was the boyfriend of Alba’s friend whom we had to call. Your typical Madrileño or Madrileña may not exactly know who he is, but ask around and they should be able to give you the general direction to the location of the statue. Just say you’re looking for this monument near the golfing range, and for sure they could recall that they have driven around or passed by this bend on their way to the nearest tapas bar.

It might be a twist of fate that I visited a place of Rizal’s commemoration on the anniversary of his execution and on the land of his executors. As I shared the signficance of Rizal in our history to the two Madrileña maidens who were with me, they asked in half-jest why the commemorative plaque doesn’t say anything why or how he died. We found that funny, but at the same time thought-provoking. Our president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, visited Madrid early this month and inked some agreements with the Spanish government. Wikipedia mentions that Spanish will be adopted as an official language again next year, in addition to Filipino and English. Spain is investing millions in biofuels in the Philippines. What all these mean, you be the judge. For now I won’t give a reason, lest I would like to hear a Por que no te callas!

***

I will be flying to Belgium tomorrow to celebrate the New Year with former colleagues at NEDA who are also studying on a scholarship in Antwerp. It will be a gathering of some European scholarly sorts. Four are based in Belgium, one in the Netherlands, and yours truly in Germany. There are a couple others who unfortunately, for one reason or another, cannot make it.

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