Lean crowd attends Rizal Day rites in Malaybalay

Only around 250 people, mostly city government employees and Boy Scouts who joined a jamboree at the capitol grounds, were around to witness the program.

The city employees witnessed the program as one of them circulated an attendance sheet.

Jamboree organizers decided to include the Rizal Day rites as part of their activities, Rodrigo Gacang, Apo Macote Elementary School principal, said.

Gacang read a piece explaining why Rizal was made a national hero.

He told MindaNews children are taught about the life and works of Rizal and other heroes in the Social Studies subject. "We put emphasis on Rizal and the other heroes even if there is no specific subject in the elementary level on heroes," he said.

A 61-year old Manobo woman from Damulog town in southern Bukidnon recited Jose Rizal's "Mi Ultimo Adios" (My Last Farewell), and the Boy Scouts gave the national hero a salute and scout clap after his story was read.

Manobo elder Conchita Magtagbo recited the Spanish and English versions of Rizal's famous poem.

But the Boy Scouts told MindaNews they did not know what the poem was all about.

"We want to know more about him," a school boy from Barangay San Martin, said.

Magtagbo said she was supposed to recite the poem in Filipino but that she had run out of time. She said she did not know if the poem was translated to Cebuano or Manobo Binukid.

She said schools should give more time to sharing the stories of the country's heroes to the children. "We should not give room for the youth to be ignorant about our past," she said in the vernacular.

Rizal, a native of Calamba, Laguna, was killed by a firing squad early morning of December 30, 1896, a few days after he was pronounced guilty of inciting to rebellion.

The Spanish colonial government accused him of inciting the Filipinos to rebel through his writings.

Rizal's execution became a rallying point in the 1896 Revolution against Spain which gave birth to a short-lived republic under General Emilio Aguinaldo. Unknown to the Filipinos, Spain ceded the country, including Mindanao and Sulu archipelago, to the United States in the Treaty of Paris of 1898.

It was the Americans who later chose Rizal as the Philippine national hero over Katipunan founder Andres Bonifacio whom they viewed as “too radical”. (Ed.)

Malaybalay City Administrator Rolando Daniot led the traditional wreath-laying rites with members of the Knights of Rizal after the 38-minute program which started at 7:09 a.m. No prominent city and provincial government official was announced to be present.

Former Malaybalay mayor Edilberto Mamawag joined other members of the Knights of Rizal in the wreath-laying.

Members of the local police honored Rizal with a 21-gun salute after a city government employee sang Josh Groban's "You Raised me up" for the invocation
and the singing of the national anthem.

Curious passersby stopped by a shed in the park to listen to the program for a few minutes.

"I have learned from the radio and TV that today is Rizal Day, but I don't know what to do to take part," Henrick, 34, a carpenter, said.

Marcela, 36, a single mother, said it is important to celebrate Rizal Day to honor his heroism and to "remind us to be brave like heroes, too". (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)