Rizal and the Dragon

One of the most common vandalism done during high school was to place an infamous mustouche on Rizal. This was because one of the most popular gossip about Rizal was that he was the father of an Austrian who would later on become Der Furher of the Third Reich, Adolph Hitler. Who had started this rumor no one can tell but it was there. Almost as persistent as the portrait Rizal in an overcoat. There are probably more people know about it than people who knew about the retraction controversy or Rizal’s essay on the laziness of Filipinos or his prediction about the country a  century after his time. 

For most of us Rizal is the National Hero. But do we know Rizal beyond Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterisimo and Mi Ultimo Adios ? Or do we just accept him as the National Hero who was shot in Bagumbayan?
If he was not shot that fateful day would we know him? Do we know him now?
If Rizal had lived beyond Bagumbayan one of the people in Filipino Society and The world would probably know him because of dragons.

During Rizal’s exile in Dapitan, he was able to do a number of things that he probably would be unable to do one because he had the time and two because he was in Mindanao. 

Rizal became a school master and he started a school where he developed his own curriculum his own O.B. Rizal.  And with his students, Rizal the naturalist began collecting the several specimens of flora and fauna or plants and animals of Mindanao. 

At that time he had one of the largest private collection of sea shells in the country. His collection had around 340 shells composed of more than 200 species. 

Rizal and his students collected a big number of birds, insects, butterflies, shells, snakes, and plants, most of which he sent to Europe, mostly to Director A.B. Meyer of the Anthropological and Ethnographic Museum of Dresden in Germany. 

For instance, in October 1893 , Rizal sent Meyer the following : twelve snakes; one sea horse; two scorpions ; and a number of butterflies.

In exchange Meyer paid Rizal in kind : Meyer sent back scientific books and journals; artificial eyes; microscopes and surgical equipment. 

And Rizal kept on sending specimens to Europe. But it was not only volume or amount of specimens he and his boys sent that mattered. Mindanao was not yet fully explored at that time and there were several scientific gems found in the treasure Rizal and his students to Europe. Naturalists and biologist praised the rare specimens discovered by Rizal and company. Now one way naturalist and biologist honored people was by adding their names to the scientific name among them can be found the following:

The Beetle Apogonia rizali HELLER 1897;
The Fungus Beetle Spatholmes rizali;
The rare frog Rhacophorus rizali Boettger,1899;

And the Dragon: the  flying Dragon : the Draco Lizard or Draco Rizali. Here is a specimen and picture of the dragon collected by Dr. Edward Harrison Taylor on March 11, 1923,

Link to see the Draco Lizard

The flying dragon are tree lizards that only come down from the trees to lay their eggs. And they got their name from their ability to glide. This is because they can extend their ribs and skin flaps to form wings. 

Rizal being Rizal a Renaissance Man was not limited to teaching and biology. His interest in geography and archeology were also important since he was able to make contributions to that body of knowledge about the Philippines. 

In a letter (written in Spanish by Rizal and translated by scholars into English for us ) to his Austrian friend Ferdinand Blumentritt, Rizal speaks of his life in Dapitan. Buying land and becoming farmer naming the trees he has on his land. He also mentions the weather how it is more personally more agreable than Manila; his inability to practice medicine ;  and how he missed civilized life :
“I am very far from the incessant and indefatigable life of civilized Europe where everything is discussed, where everything is placed in doubt, and nothing is accepted without previous examination, previous analysis – the life of the societies of linguistics, ethnography, geography, medicine, and archaeology… ”

He does mention though Nature
“…But on the other hand, I am nearer nature, I hear constantly the song of the sea, the murmur of the leaves, and I see the continuous fluttering of the palms stirred by the breeze.”

I would like to think that based on what Rizal and his students have done that in fact Rizal had found a way to appreciate the Nature and Culture of Dapitan and Mindanao and at the same satisfy his thirst for knowledge and discovery … Becoming the Rizal without the overcoat or Rizal and the Dragons of Dapitan.

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91 Responses to Rizal and the Dragon

  1. Neil Abanador says:

    It’s interesting to be curious about what other key roles Rizal would play in the country if he wasn’t shot in Bagumbayan. This idea actually paves way to other perspectives on how we should see Rizal far from the mere identity of being a national hero of patriotism that we basically know.

    But whether or not shooting Rizal did materialize, one couldn’t separate him from all his significant contributions in other fields, especially in the natural science realm, that yet to be explored in the Philippines before and these contributions would at least still meet the requirements of becoming a hero – a contemporary hero to be specific. With the rapidly changing views or ideas we’ve had right now, being a hero doesn’t just lie on the perspective of nationalism. Some people may become heroes of science or philosophy. In this case, Rizal might have been a hero of the biological community in the Philippines instead for his numerous discoveries of new species that might be useful to understand more the complexity of life.

    In today’s time, one might not need to fight in a war or let blood stream just to be claimed as a hero so long as the noble act he/she did in his/her respective field had significance influence and tremendous impact to people’s lives.

    Abanador, Neil Christian
    STS X2

  2. Jeffrey Barbadillo says:

    Jose Rizal, with his exile in Dapitan, knew that he should not waste any time as the Spaniards would not easily let him go. He was so wise to use all of his riches and the money he won from the Manila lottery to buy a land where he built a school.
    It was so amusing how Rizal value education to a point where he used his own riches to share knowledge and seek more of it. To emphasize, that even in those times, he was able to show his love not only for poetry where most of us know him, but also for science with all those discoveries he made.
    How can I doubt Rizal with his greatness? That even under such circumstances, he was able leave a legacy. And with his works, he proved that his love for the country was not only up to words and paper.
    Education is what we, the youth, need. And seeking more and more knowledge is what we should hunger. For Rizal believes in the youth, as the hope of our land.

    Barbadillo, Jeffrey R.
    STS X2

  3. Andrea Sebastian says:

    We have studied the life and works of Rizal ever since we were a child. We all knew him as our great national hero and as the author of Noli me Tangere and El FIlibusterismo, but actually most of us do not know or even have the slightest of idea on what are his other contributions especially in the field of science.
    After reading this I have realized how great and amazing Rizal really is. It shows that despite being captured in Dapitan for his exile, he still able to managed to contribute a lot to our society by sharing his discoveries. Come to think of it, if he can do all of these things despite being captured. What more if he was free during that time right?
    Rizal’s contribution in different fields like science, geography, literature and many more truly shows that he is really a Renaissance man and that despite having some controversies we should still be proud of him.

  4. Lyka Serrano says:

    I have long held great respect for Dr. Jose Rizal’s struggles against injustice and persecution through which he was able to lead the Philippines to freedom and independence.

    As I read through this article, I have come to discover many more things that are admirable about this man. Within the limits of the circumstances in Dapitan, he was still able to contribute to the society.

    Truly, Jose Rizal was a man of many talents and interests. For a man who lived only 35 years, his achievements are numerous and remarkable.

    Serrano, Lyka Eilene S.
    STS X2

  5. Jose Rizal is known for his political works and his unusual way of fighting through literature. On the other hand, he was also known as a doctor, though a few only he knows that he is a licensed ophthalmologist. A known jack-of-all-trades, it was a revelation that he soared somehow high in the field of biology and zoology.

    His natural curiosity sprang at an early age and his quench for knowledge is real that we can infer this to the search for knowledge, youth, nowadays, do. It is amazing to quote that grades nor numbers are important, but the learning and satisfaction itself. It is delightful to know that in spite of the individualism that sprang at that time, he still showed value on collective good. For one, he can keep all the things he collected for his own. But then, he chose to let others check it for future use.

    On the other hand, the call NATIONAL HERO has been redefined as Rizal embodied it. He had become a hero not just for fighting for the sentiments of the Filipinos, but helping the future of the next generations clear, full of knowledge, and equipped.

    Manuel, Reiou Regie
    2012 – 00094
    STS X2

  6. Shiela Rabaya says:

    What has always amazed me about Rizal is the fact that he was able to dabble on a lot of fields even if he only lived a relatively short life. Admittedly, the focus of my admiration has been on his nationalistic pursuits but my eyes are now slowly opening to how admirable his scientific pursuits also were. I can’t even comprehend how he was able to contribute both to the academe and to the nation, although I know that these two domains do not necessarily have to be entirely set apart from one another. Rizal, after all, is famous for using words rather than swords in his fight for reform. Knowing that Rizal was part of the discovery of several species just adds to my list of things to admire about him. He truly serves as an example on the extent of the human capacity.

    I also know, however, that we cannot truly know Rizal now because written accounts can never capture the reality of him. This makes me wonder about the rumored retraction statement and if Rizal had other flaws that may truly affect his position in a high pedestal right in front of our eyes.

    Shiela Rabaya
    STS X2

  7. Mary Angelene Emiliana Cruz says:

    When someone mentions Rizal, the ideas that come to mind are usually his novels,his profession as a writer and doctor, and of course, a hero.But seldom is it heard that Rizal was also a scientist,where biology is one among his many fields. For me, knowing Rizal as a person with varied interests, is one interesting way to see Rizal in a different light. It exposes the different facets of his personality and genius,showing us a tiny glimpse of his mind,besides his literaray and political ideas.

    Being in the field of Biology myself, I understand how great of a contribution it is to science when new species are discovered,even more so when one discovers species in previously unexplored areas. Not only did Rizal give importance to learning established fields of study, but he also contributes to existing bodies of knowledge.For me, this shows just how much Rizal values knowledge and education.

    What strikes me the most in this article however, is how much Rizal wanted to impart his knowledge. Having gone to other countries and having seen how much more developed they are
    compared to the Philippines, he yearned the same advancement for the Filipinos. He wanted that one day, the Filipinos would become intellectually enlightened like the rest of the world. He wanted to educate the people so much that he used the money he won in the lottery to build a school for the people. I realized that even in exile, Rizal utilized his knowledge from different fields to improve the lives of the Filipinos.

    In a society where the Spanish wanted to keep the indios ignorant, Rizal fought back by educating them.
    In a time when most indios only consumed what the church taught, Rizal opened their minds to reality.
    That if indios are not yet ready to fight with guns and swords,can we fight back with knowledge?

    As is the case with Rizal,to whom much is given,much is expected.I realized that this should resound more strongly to us UP students,”mga Iskolar ng Bayan”;we who have an obligation to give back to the Filipino people who have given us our education. Rizal has once again inspired me to do my best in biology(as he has done), so that one day,in my own little way,I may also give back to the Filipino people.

    Cruz,Mary Angelene Emiliana

  8. Susan Sim says:

    The Rizal who we know today is a product of stories in books and other media. Ultimately, we know him as the National Hero; he died, wrote books, and was killed because of the consequences of publishing these books. Media has given us the image and the story and from that we created our own versions of Rizal. Due to his title, though, we fail to see his other accomplishments such as what was mentioned here: the discovery of various animal species in Mindanao, the ideas on the improvement of the education system, and other contributions in geology and archaeology. On another note, having noticed this gives him more charisma as a hero and him being a national hero actually gives the discovery more weight.

    Toward the end of the post, Rizal said what it was like in Europe: “…where everything is discussed, where everything is placed in doubt, and nothing is accepted without previous examination, previous analysis…” This gives us some insight on how Filipinos were that time in terms of science. It would be good if we ask and doubt things, if we are more curious and better yet, if we try to answer the questions through rationality. Going back to Rizal, have we asked why is it that he always has the iconic mustache? Is it enough that we know how, why, when, and where he died? What else is there? Have we answered enough questions, scratched enough off of our list of the ideal characteristics of a Filipino that can we really call him a national hero?

    It is better if by admiring him, we use his ideas and together aim for a more progressive nation – a country more competitive and proud. He was interested in learning and discovering things. And since he became a hero, we could use his character to build the idea of a Filipino that is geared towards helping his country and his culture. We have made for him quite a grand reputation, and what for but to make him a goal – the ‘ideal’ Filipino: one who utilizes what he has and does not waste time, one who is always curious and always tries to try and discover new things, and one who inspires others to do the same.

    SIM, Susan April P.
    STS X2

  9. Hanna Camille Aguilon says:

    Ever since we were young, we’ve known Dr. Jose Rizal as our national hero and as the author of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. But what some of us don’t know is that Dr. Jose Rizal also had contributions to the field of science besides being a doctor. Even though he was in exile in Dapitan, he was able to make great use of his time by starting a school and imparting his knowledge. He was also able to contribute much to biology through his discoveries and collection of flora and fauna specimen. He showed us that no matter what circumstance we’re in, there is always an opportunity to learn and achieve great things.

    Rizal is truly admirable and there is definitely more to him than being a national hero.

    Hanna Camille Aguilon
    STS X2

  10. As a history major, not only do I know that Rizal was a propagandist, a doctor and a prolific writer during his time, I also know that he is also one of the great scientists of his generation. But my respect for Dr. Jose Rizal grew when I learned that not only did he discover new species of animals during his exile in Dapitan, he sent them to his friends in Europe in order for them to study more about the newly discovered creatures. Some people might question why Rizal sent the animals to Europe instead of sending it to Manila, they might accuse Rizal supporting Europeans instead of Filipinos. But I laud Rizal for doing this because he knew that sending his discoveries to his friends in Europe was for the better because they would able to study the species more proficiently unlike the Spanish who might not give much importance to his works.

    With his accomplishments, I can say that Rizal was a natural born scientist and was destined to be a scientist as he was growing up. The title of being the national hero of our country might refer to his martyrdom which inspired our forefathers to revolt against our tyrant colonizers, but even if he was not able to do this, I am pretty sure that he will still be regarded as one of the most iconic figures in history because of the contributions he gave to science and this I think is one of the most impressive yet unsung accomplishments Rizal gave to our country.

    Jules Guevarra
    2013 – 72786
    STS X2

  11. Jt Regalado says:

    Before I entered UP, I only knew Rizal as the national hero who got shot at Bagumbayan. I wasn’t really aware of the other aspects of his life. When I took PI 100, I learned about the part of his life that weren’t that heroic, even how he was chosen as our national hero. Reading this article discuss some of the scientific aspect of his life, sheds more light as to what kind of a person Rizal is for me. True, he was genius, he can speak many languages and he was a doctor, but knowing about what he did during his exile in Dapitan made me realize that he also had a lot to offer for science, aside from him being a doctor.

    Rizal was chosen as our national hero by the Americans because of his timid and mild attitude as compared to the fierce Bonifacio and his heroic death as compared Marcelo del Pillar’s. I was questioning the fact whether he should be considered our national hero since the Americans could have chosen him for the FIlipinos to follow to make them stop revolting during that time. However, reading about Rizal’s establishment of his school in Dapitan and how he taught the children with his own curriculum, all the while, collecting different species of flora and fauna with his students made me doubt him lesser. I can say now that he isn’t just our national hero because of his heroic death but he also helped the next generation by teaching them and by his efforts for science.

    Timothy Justine V. Regalado
    2010 – 08786
    STS X2

  12. Joash Surio says:

    Rizal truly was the Filipino Renaissance Man. I could never have imagined that beyond his works in politics and literature, he had also made great contributions to the Scientific Community.

    If he had been able to live his full life (regardless of the Retraction’s validity), the Philippines we know of would probably be different but better in many ways. We would have had a learned and very influential man who loves his country beyond his own life. He would probably not be celebrated as the National Hero but nonetheless; his greatness is undeniable. I believe that his pure love for his country and of education will have propelled the country further and inspired more than his death.

    Personally whether the Retraction is his or not, it is of little consequence and if it was indeed his. It only shows his humanity and does not take away anything from what he has done. Jose Rizal is still my National Hero.

    Surio, Joash
    STS X2

  13. rachelpaulma says:

    I have come to know Jose Rizal through his books and for him being the national hero. But of course other stories from his childhood like the famous story of the moth and his love affairs are also quite interesting. However, Rizal being a naturalist had never been given much importance. I had been to Dapitan last year and I could say that it was memorable. Though today the place is not as beautiful as before. That time that we came there we were the only tourists (maybe because of the bad weather). We explored the place and we were able to see the dam that he created as well as the bahay-kubo where he used to stay. We did not enter his house because there were some Rizalistas inside and we might bother them. But seeing the changes that Rizal did to develop Dapitan was truly remarkable. It is actually my first time to be in a class where his scientific works and not his literature was given importance. It is refreshing and has given me a new perspective to know Rizal not just for being a hero but also a Naturalist.

  14. John Paul Niño Sanglay says:

    Para sa akin, si Rizal ay isa lamang sa mga pambansang bayani ng bansa. Walang batas ang opisyal na nagtatakda na si Pepe nga ay isang pambansang bayani. Parang isinilang na lamang ito sa kamalayan ng mamamayang Pilipino at kumalat na parang kuro-kuro na naging katotohanan. Bilang tinaguriang bayani, dapat lamang natin bigyang pugay ang mga nagawa niya sa bayan, aralin ang kanyang mga akda at buhay, matuto sa mga pagkakamali at tagumpay, at higit sa lahat, ipagpatuloy ang labang kanyang sinimulan. Ang mga intriga tulad ng retraksyon, pambababae, at pagiging anak si Hitler ay hindi na dapat paggugulan pa ng panahon ng makabagong henerasyon. Siguro nga masaya ito pagnilayan na mistulang personalidad sa telebisyon si Rizal pero ang mas kinakailangan natin ay ang pag-unawa sa kanyang mga nilahad na problema ng bansa noon na akma pa rin hanggang ngayon at kumuha ng inspirasyon sa kanya. Gamitin natin si Rizal bilang baga na magpapaalab pa lalo ng kamalayan ng kasalukuyang Pilipino upang makamtan ang tunay na kalayaan ng Pilipinas.

    Magandang balikan muli ang pagtingin kay Rizal bilang isang alagad ng medisina at agham. Sa kanyang pagkakatapon sa Dapitan, mas nakita natin ang isang bayaning humuhugot ng pagbabago mula sa aspetong teknikal para sa isang ordinaryong mamamayan, ang pagiging siyentista. Bilang naturalist, pinamalas ni Rizal ang kanyang pagkausisa sa kalikasan sa pagkakatagpo at pagdokumento ng mga nahanap niyang halaman at hayop sa Mindanao na pinadala niya pa sa Europa. Maiwawangis ko si Rizal siguro sa mga aktibistang siyentista at propesor sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas. Sila ay mga propersyonal na hindi lumilimot sa kanilang tunay na papel sa bayan. Hindi lamang napapako ang kanilang kaalaman sa laboratoryo, ospital, o silid-aralan kundi ito ay sumasabog sa kaisipan at sinusunog ang mga balakid na nagpapabulag sa pagkaignorante ng mga mamamayan.

  15. Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Who is this man?

    He is the NATIONAL HERO of the Philippines. We all know that this man have done great things fighting for our country. He opened the minds and hearts of the Filipinos to fight for independence and freedom.

    Maybe some of us just know him by his name or as a national hero. And to tell you honestly, I am also one of these. After I have read this great article, I felt like I just do not really know who this man truly is. It was really surprising that this man also contributed in the field of science, not just once, but many times. During his exile in Dapitan, he was able to contribute to our society by his great discoveries of various species. He did share his gift of intelligence not only to the Philippines, but also to the whole world.

    He is also notable for being an ophthalmologist, journalist, novelist and visual artist, but with all of these, we can also consider this man as a great scientist.

    Lampa, Princess Anne Clare A.
    STS X2

  16. I was educated to the knowledge that Jose Rizal is undeniably a hero of our country because of his great works that inspired his fellowmen to act towards the attainment of freedom but little did I know that Rizal also mastered different facets of science and was also able to have great contributions in this field. I guess that Rizal is really more than the man we know. He is not just this effective writer who signaled a revolution that one hasn’t forgotten but he is also a silent and dedicated scientist who proved that Philippines is a very bountiful country when it comes to ecological biodiversity. Before reading this article, I only knew that Rizal is a doctor and a writer and a hero but now I’ll already be adding another information that just swelled up my honor and pride to also be a Filipino like Jose Rizal.

    Lizette Frances P. Cruz
    STS X2

  17. Jairo Elysse D. Singian says:

    National hero, doctor, writer, poet, and revolutionist – these are some of the words, which are commonly attached to the name of Jose Rizal. However, most of us do not know that he is also a great scientist. We only know him by his famous poems and novels.

    This article and the other lessons I learned in PI 100 and STS deviated from the usual Rizal that we know. They revealed his other side. Despite being exiled in Dapitan, he looked at the brighter side of this situation and has found a way to learn new things. Indeed, Rizal is more than just the face we see in a one-peso coin. He has done countless contributions in our society not only in the field of literature but also in the field of science.

    I really have a high respect for this man. He should serve as an inspiration to the youth of today. There are really no excuses in achieving greatness.

    Singian, Jairo Elysse D.
    STS X2

  18. Joselle Agas says:

    Ever since Rizal’s time, the country has always had a way of making his heroic act so prevalent that we put his face on the smallest value of a coin. This is to make sure that every person in this country, even the poorest of the poor, will figure out who this person is and his contribution to the Philippines.

    But maybe, we have gone overboard. Maybe we have put Rizal too much on a pedestal. Because, clearly, as the article said, most Filipinos don’t know Rizal as more than the hero who died in Bagumbayan. Because of this, we are not fully highlighting his best features like Rizal’s being a naturalist. Even when he’s a doctor, he still managed to value the nature and accepted it as a consolation for not being in the environment where he’d rather be, just like what is said in the letter.

    As a Creative Writing major, I have looked up to Rizal not as a hero but as a writer who managed to live in the right century and maximized his talent to eradicate what he thought was injustice. And for me, it can be heroic. However, I focus more on the part where Rizal, being the writer that he is, cannot really afford not to write about condition of his country, despite knowing that it will bring him trouble. It’s just what art does. For me, things like that enter your soul and don’t leave you alone until you express those ideas.

    Being citizens of the Philippines, at some point in our lives, we have put (and still putting) Jose Rizal on a pedestal. And why shouldn’t we since he’s the national hero? However, this has some consequences. It might push us into thinking that we cannot have the same mindset as Rizal had. By not disclosing the other sides of Rizal (for example, naturalist), we can only see him from a single angle. And what is the consequence? He might not appear as human to us. And because of this, we fail to connect to him from human to human and connect to that spirit of his that has, despite all theories, served the country in one way or another.

  19. Ian Obusan says:

    One question was constantly thown about in my PI 100 class last sem: Sino ka ba, Jose Rizal?’ Aside from being a reference to Gary Granada’s musical about the hero, it reflected how Rizal takes on many personas. The irony lies here: Many of us still perceive the hero as a one-dimensional man despite the diverse roles he’s played in history. Although we acknolwledge his alleged capability of womanizing, we picture him as a blameless hero. Several cults in provinces even consider him god. He is also considered the messiah bringing healing to the blind — literally as an opthalmologist and surgeon. He is the voracious reader students should aspire to be. I guess what we seek is an objective way of looking at the hero. We put Rizal on a pedestal; flawless. This begs the question: Is being human a bad thing? Because personally, I think acknowledging his imperfections make him within our reach. He becomes the Rizal of the masa. Through this, aspiring to become Rizal-like is possible.

    Rizal the shapeshifter shows how we make sense of him, depending on our time and context. His significance is measured by what the generation deems important. I guess this is a healthy way of constantly knowing our nartional hero. Heck, it might be an endless pursuit. But an unbiased vision of the hero is needed to make his persona whole.

  20. Eunice Brandares says:

    This film has the most unusual take on Rizal’s life that I have ever encountered. Usually, films about Rizal would revolve around his life and novels – those with answers, not those in questions. And it’s unusual in the sense that the film was about two people investigating and making a film about Rizal and not pushing through it. The investigators (as I call those two people) are right, though. Rizal’s life is too much complicated for it to become a film.

    Here’s my take on some of the issues in the film. (All these are just in my opinion. Speculations, if you may.)

    On Friar Balaguer:
    The man’s a lunatic. That’s just how I see him, or that’s how the film made him look like. Balaguer kept on saying that Rizal retracted, and yet cannot show the proof. And he kept on telling the investigator that Rizal retracted (or so the investigator thinks, since all investigations made in the film are a figment of their imaginations and of what they know). Balaguer even mentioned that Rizal requested a lot of confessions and masses from them, so many that the whole story seemed like a huge lie. And it is (or so I think).


    On Josephine Bracken:
    This is the first time I’ve ever seen Josephine Bracken negatively. When discussed in the past, I’ve always feel apathetic towards Bracken. Rizal had many women in his life, and for me, Bracken is only one of them, albeit the last. In the film, it tackled a little more about Bracken and her relationship with Rizal (a little more than what was usual, in terms of History classes). The speculation about Bracken being a tool of the friars to make Rizal change his mind and retract was casually brought up in the other History classes that I’ve had – both in high school and in the university. However in this film, there was a sentiment of aversion towards said woman – be it in the form of Rizal’s sisters, or in the investigator’s point of view. It made me think of what was real and what was made up (or speculated, at least in the minds of the investigators). Was she really in love with Rizal or did she just seduce him, acting like a spy for the friars, to make him retract?


    On the issue of retraction:
    First and foremost, would it really matter whether or not the retraction was real? Would it really change the course of history if Rizal truly wrote the retraction? I guess it would change the opinion of other people in regards to him fitting the role of Philippine’s National Hero. But would it really change history? Would the Katipunan have not push through with the revolution? Does it really matter?


    On the issue of whether or not Rizal wanted the revolution to push through (Reformist vs Separatist):
    I would not delve into this debate, because it will cause a lot of strong opinions to rise. I’m just gonna say two things.

    1) Rizal on his letter to Blumetritt (1887):
    “It will never come. The peaceful struggle must remain a dream, for Spain will never learn from her earlier colonies in South America. Spain does not see what England has learned in North America. But in the present circumstances, we want no separation from Spain; all we demand is more care, better instruction, better officials, one or two representatives, and more security for ourselves and our property. Spain can still win the Philippines for herself forever, if only Spain were more reasonable.”

    (This was 5 years before the foundation of La Liga Filipina; and the same year as the publication of Noli Me Tangere)

    2) In the Dapitan Interlude, From Dr. Pio Valenzuela’s “Memoirs of the Katipunan and the Philippine Revolution”, Rizal said:
    “This I do not approve. A revolution without arms should never be started against an armed nation. (…) As soon as you obtain arms, start the war against Spain right away; do not bother about me for I will know how to get out of here by any craft with the help of the Moros. When it comes to the redemption of the country, you must not look behind for just one man.”

    “We returned to his house and while there he asked me to secure a revolver – for him which he needed, I got out my revolver from my trunk and gave it to him. He was pleased with it.” – Dr. Pio Valenzuela



    The Katipuneros idolized Rizal. They even made him their leader, with or without his consent. Whether Rizal did not agree to being the leader, and/or he did write the retraction, I think it would have not mattered. The Filipinos would eventually revolt, be it at the same time or a few years later. Every single event, all the hardships and inequality they have been through, all the pain and sacrifices they have made, all the people who suffered and was killed without justice, they were all leading to revolution one day. Maybe Rizal was just in the right place at the right time. He became the trigger for Filipinos to act sooner rather than later. Whatever the case may be, the revolution would still happen. It was inevitable – for a country, like ours, who suffered a lot of injustice under the regime of colonizers.


    The whole movie seemed pointless in the end, since the investigators/directors did not make a film after all. But their journey towards their conclusion of Rizal’s life being too complicated to be made into a film, albeit full of speculations and no proper answers, makes the viewer think about these things and reflect on their view of Rizal.

    In the end, who is Rizal?


    Eunice Brandares
    STS X2

  21. Mary Angeline A. Fernandez says:

    This article presented a different persona of our known national hero Jose Rizal. For me, it is interesting to know that aside from being a poet, novelist and ophthalmologist, Rizal has a different side that scientists would be interested to to discuss. As I read this article, one thought that came to my mind was the fact that Rizal found a way to make himself busy with intellectual things that would soon contribute to science specifically Biology despite living in a far flung area. In his letter where he mentioned to Blumentritt that he missed the civilized life in Manila, but he more appreciated and became close to nature in his stay in Dapitan. This made me think that some of the people nowadays would choose to be in an urban area instead of rural ones because of the civilization, modern way of living, instant accessibility to their needs and technology. It is saddening to know that we are getting more dependent to technology and would not imagine how life would be if we, just like Rizal, would be sent in a remote place. If only we are like Rizal who would find a way to contribute to knowledge even though we have limited means, our society would get more developed and richer in intellectual aspects.

    Mary Angeline A. Fernandez
    STS X2

  22. Nicole Danielle Alolod says:

    What astonishes me the most about Rizal is the fact that even though he has lived for only a few years, barely reaching late thirties, he has nonetheless made countless achievements in life. I know him mostly because of his works Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, and the fact that he is considered as the national hero of the Philippines, but these are just mere details that practically everyone is fully aware of, as they have been taught to us ever since our first year of learning the Philippine history.

    I also only know so few details about his career as a doctor, teacher, and alleged womanizer, and all the more about his major contributions to the biological society. I really applaud him for making great use of his time of exile in Dapitan, how he was able to accomplish and discover so much despite his current predicament. While any other person put in his situation would have underwent a state of panic and irresolution, he followed his sense of adventure and explored the unfamiliar region he was thrown into.

    Had he not been shot in Bagumbayan on that faithful day decades ago, and had he not been proclaimed as the country’s national hero, we would still nevertheless know of his name, for as said earlier, Jose Rizal is truly a remarkable and gifted man.

    ALOLOD, Nicole Danielle, E.
    STS X2

  23. Keren Jenner Mariano says:

    Ang buhay ni Rizal, hindi man pampelikula ay kahit kailan ay palagi namang napapanahon kumabaga sa ibang salita’y kayang sumunod sa trend sa bawat panahon . Kahit sa kulturang popular ay hindi nakatakas si Jose Rizal. Ang kanyang ulo sa piso, ulo sa t-shirt, ulo sa posters at kung si Rizal ma’y buhay sa ating panahon, malamang sa malamang ang ulo niya ilalagay din sa profile picture ng kanyang FB. Ano nga bang klaseng ulo si Rizal? Gaano na ba talaga kahalaga ang utak ni Rizal para sa bawat isa?

    Dr. Uliman, identidad ni Rizal na binuo ng Dapitan ang siya pa lang magdadala sa kanya sa pagiging diyos. Ang kanyang kakayahan sa paggamot, siyensiya at iba pa ay itinuturing na mga himala na diyos lamang ang nakakagawa. Talagang nakakayamot at nakakalungkot ang pagkatapon kay Rizal sa Dapitan, ngunit sa halik na magmukmok ay ginamit niya ang katahimikan at kapayapaan ng lugar upang makagawa ng mapayapa at mapagpalayang akda, gawain at iba.

    Isang malaking hamon ang buhay ni Jose Rizal. Alam niya kung paano tahiin o ikonekta ang kalikasan, lipunan at siyensiya. At sa loob ng Dapitan, ang pagmamahal sa kanyang bayan, sa kalikasan at lipunan ay lalong umigting at nag-apoy sa loob ng mga pagkakataon na iyon.

    Paghanga kay Rizal!

    MARIANO, Keren Jenner Q.

  24. Charmaine Anne Collado says:

    I have always been fond of researching and inquiring beyond what was discussed inside the classroom ever since I was in grade school. My curiosity of digging deeper often led me to “research” using the internet, a reliable source I had considered when I was a kid, to know more regarding what I was interested about particularly the Rizal and Bonifacio issue whenever Philippine History was discussed. Therefore my numerous questions and research about Rizal and Bonifacio’s individual lives and stories.

    Now, studying in the college where reliable sources and studies are used in analyzing Philippine history oftentimes about Rizal, I find it interesting and fulfilling to see so many perspectives about Rizal. This specific article, albeit its contents already familiar with me, introduces to me another character of Rizal. Rizal being appreciative and being an admirer of nature is one of his personas most of the time given not attention to.

    I think Rizal was truly a remarkable man where in his time, where technology has not yet reached its prime, has found a genuine admiration for nature and its importance. He was not perfect in terms of being a hero though many would perceive him in their minds as the educated who was always in upright posture wearing overcoat. I think that Rizal would have made a mark in the Philippine history had he lived his life fully and die of natural circumstances.

    COLLADO, Charmaine Anne L.
    STS X2

  25. Benson Chan says:

    The one thing that I admire the most about Dr. Jose Rizal is his endless pursuit of knowledge. He wrote his first poem at the age of 8, and since then has not stopped in practicing and refining his writing skills. He took up medicine in the University of Santo Tomas in order to treat his mother. He continued his studies oversees in Europe. Even when he arrived back in the Philippines, he has not stopped his pursuit for more knowledge and was known to be a big advocate of education as a way to improve the living conditions in the Philippines. This did not change even as he was exiled to Dapitan. He made the most of his exile by continuing to learn new things.

    Chan, Benson
    STS X2

  26. Kevin Mata says:

    To be honest, this is the first time that I’ve learned about Rizal’s discoveries in the field of science. It is very interesting to know his discoveries since what we’re only taught in high school are his life and his literary works. I further believe that his teachings are good foundations of science not only here in the Philippines but also in the whole world. Moreover, it was admirable that his works are rewarded by the people where he share his work. This is a testament that scientific discoveries can truly benefit the society. These discoveries were also a way for Rizal to gain his prominence during his time and up to now.

    Lastly, I really appreciate Rizal’s effort to thrive for knowledge continuously and his selflessness in sharing his learnings to his fellowmen. Thank you, Dr. Jose Rizal!

    Mata, Kevin L.

  27. Diego Rodriguez says:

    Rizal is known to us all as a hero, because of his being shot a Bagumbayan, and how this inspired even more people to stand-up for the country.This is known as his greatest contribution to most people, and someone would even doubt him saying without this moment, Rizal might have been nothing.

    But with how he acted at Dapitan shows a different side of Rizal. Personally, seeing him during those days would be an amazing sight. We would imagine how bored people in prison would be, since they would not know what to do with their time. But Rizal managed to be as productive as he could possibly be. Aside from what was mentioned here, I was also told that he was able to create a board game. He was able to do so many things for the benefit of other people, with his free time, while I on the other hand would just choose to sleep. This is a trait of Rizal that I wish to have, to constantly be productive and resourceful.

    So if would not be our National Hero, he would definitely by a national scientist. He may not inspire the people to be part of the revolution, but he can inspire us in other ways, similar to how I want to be just like him in the aspects or resourcefulness and productivity.

    Outside the serious parts, I’d just like to share a vandalism of Rizal that I have seen. Back in my grade school, there is a statue of Rizal sitting on a bench, reading a book. No matter how many times it would be repaired, students would cut his fingers to make his hand form a dirty-finger pose. To this very day whenever I visit, Rizal still has the same pose the students would find very funny.

    Rodriguez, Diego Ros M
    STS X2, Group 13

  28. Denise Meghan A. Dado says:

    When we watched Bayaning Third World in STS class, I was struck by what the two directors told their image of Rizal – that if he did not die, he would not have been declared a hero. He would have just grown old and he would have been forgotten. On the one hand, I can understand how the two directors came to this conclusion. It is, after all, a theme we often find in different forms of media and different mediums of information. It is even a common theme in young adult fiction novels – the main character or “bida” is only as valuable as his/her death is memorable or symbolic. Killing someone memorable and beloved by the peoples strikes something inside of them. It awakens their desire for change or freedom. In this sense, some individuals (several of them our own national heroes) are considered more valuable dead than alive. I think that a lot of people view Rizal in this way.

    Learning of Jose Rizal’s other contributions to the world, to science and technology, such as the species he discovered and studied makes me glad because it contradicts the notion that Rizal was more valuable dead than alive. If he had not been shot and killed, sure, he would have grown old and maybe even senile. But that does not mean that he would not have been important anymore and would not have any further contributions to society. When people believe that Rizal’s death was necessary in ensuring his place in history, they are wrong. His death was not the peak of his value as a human being and as a Filipino. I think that more people should be made aware of the species of animals and plants that he analyzed and found. Maybe then others will realize that Dr. Jose Rizal solidified his title as a Filipino icon long before he died.

    Denise Meghan A. Dado
    STS X2

  29. Denise Meghan A. Dado says:

    DISCLAIMER: I am rewriting and reposting my comment because earlier as I was submitting my original one, my internet got cut off and I don’t know if it got sent at all. Anyway.

    When we watched Bayaning Third World, I was struck by what two of the main characters (the directors) told Rizal, or their image of Rizal anyway. They said that if he had not died, he would have merely grown old and been forgotten. As harsh as that may sound, I can understand how they came to that conclusion. It is, after all, a theme often used in different forms of media and various mediums of art or information. Even most young adult fiction novels contain this idea – that the hero/heroine or the “bida” is only as valuable as his/her death is memorable or symbolic. Dying, or rather, being killed, especially when it is for a cause, tugs at the heart strings a little differently than simply passing away of old age. The underlying context of what the two directors told Rizal in the film may be that he had to die. His death was necessary to awaken something in the Filipinos. His death was a catalyst for the already ongoing revolution. Personally, I do not agree with this notion.

    And it is for that reason that I was very happy to learn about Rizal’s activities in Dapitan. I never knew that he spent his time studying specimens and even discovering new species. I suppose the fact that this aspect of Rizal’s life is not well-known or advertised serves as further proof that we did not, DO not know much about Jose Rizal after all. I think that people need to made aware of these contributions to society that he made. People seem to think that the peak of Rizal’s value to the Filipino was in his writing of Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. And while yes, these are arguably the most influential written works in Filipino history, I think that it is essential to know that Rizal did other things too – discover the flying dragon for instance. Perhaps people will then realize that even if Rizal had not been killed, even he had grown old and senile (although I honestly cannot imagine Rizal without a sharp mind, even at the age of 97), he would not in any way have lost any value or significance. Perhaps people will then see that with additional contributions to society in the field of science and technology, Rizal earned his title as a Filipino icon long before he was shot in Bagumbayan.

    Denise Meghan A. Dado
    STS X2

  30. Catherine Ann Esteban says:

    To numerous Filipino people, Rizal is simply the’ National Hero of the Philippines. And by some means, it is upsetting to know and intuit that people’s knowledge on Rizal and on Philippine history is very much limited and incomplete. Rizal’s name is all over the place and often we assert and declare that we already know everything about him when in fact we know so little about him. We identify and recognize him as our national hero, we are aware of when and where he was born and shot, we are familiar with few of the novels he wrote and nothing more. There are several things and facts we have not learned yet about this great patriot as most of us are induced to bury him by the flurry of social media trends and technological innovations.

    Esteban, Catherine Ann
    STS X2

  31. Charisse Jane H. Chavez says:

    Rizal’s life is really interesting. There are so many things to learn not only to his works but also to his life. I like the way the movie present our national hero’s life. They didn’t just accept that his greatness but actually challenge it. There is an issue about his retraction which is really problematic specially in the movie. If he really retracted, does it mean he is not the hero we always believed? I don’t know, but his works are really valuable in today’s life. Just because he was exiled that didn’t stop him from learning. He continued to search for new knowledge, that itself was a rebellious act. An important lesson I learned is to question things, to be curious and to search for the answer.

    Chavez, Charisse Jane H.
    2013 79264
    STS X2

  32. Rosette J. Sabiniano says:

    I never knew this side of Dr. Jose Rizal – so fascinated with ecology that he was able to discover a number of species in the flora and fauna, and this was despite the fact that he was an exile and was very worried of his own country and existence. However, this was not shockingly new because, as mentioned in the article, he was a Renaissance man – he knew a lot, a versatile mind.

    This contribution of Rizal in the academe was not given emphasis in all history books that I’ve encountered in the primary and secondary education. I think, this should always be mentioned in the primary and secondary education because this might inspire the students to be as passionate as Rizal towards nature. We all knew that he was a very influential figure in the past, in the present, and definitely, in the future. His love of nature, just like his love of country, might touch the students’/readers’ heart, and thus follow this passion.

    Maybe, for the longest time, this love of nature is what we are lacking. Maybe this passion of Rizal towards nature is what we need to save the unimaginable flora and fauna from extinction and destruction that Pope Francis’ Laudato Si is talking about. Maybe, just maybe, once again, love could save everything.

    Sabiniano, Rosette J.
    STS X2

  33. Tricia Ann Dapogracion says:

    The life of Rizal was truly an interesting and entertaining story to read. Ever since he was young, he was gifted with a very curious mind that led him to a life filled with knowledge, as well as adventure, that brought him both happiness and pain.

    This entry just made me feel more amazed at our national hero, Rizal, in so many ways. While others would spend their time grieving about their hopeless situation, he spent in by writing poems, letters, and even appreciating nature and its hidden treasures. I can’t help but be at awe at his capability of immersing himself in different fields of science and arts, and mastering all of it. More importantly, all of his hobbies and interest were not just self-serving. As mentioned in the article, his discoveries in Mindanao had led to appreciation of the said land by scientists from different countries. And because of it, Mindanao and other places of the Philippines had garnered interest of the people. Whether it was accidental or not, Rizal was able to showcase what the Philippines have and what its people can offer. In whatever it was that he did, he did it for the love of his country. That’s we, us the future of the country, should try to continue or contribute to what he has started.

    Dapogracion, Tricia Ann L.
    STS X2

  34. Maria Beverlyn Caparas says:

    What i find most interesting about this article is how it highlights Rizal as a naturalist, since this is an aspect of our national hero that is often forgotten. Rizal is known to be someone whose academic knowledge extends to different disciplines, and the field of science is one of them. Before STS, I didn’t know that Rizal actually actively searched for different animal species during his stay in Dapitan and when he was in Mindanao. Despite being renowned for his writings that reflect Filipino society up to now, Rizal’s desire to discover more of the natural sciences is just as commendable.

    Personally, I think it would be great if more students were aware that Rizal was not just confined to being a writer and a national hero. There seems to be some prejudice that those engaged in science would not be too interested in the arts, and vice versa. Showing the different sides of Rizal, as both a writer and a naturalist, could give students a wider perspective on how science and the arts can be connected. After all, science is connected to society, and society is affected by science.

    Caparas, Maria Beverlyn G.
    2013 – 68058
    STS X2

  35. Joan Pauline A. Siena says:

    Before I enter the university, I am one of those people who barely know our national hero beyond the books we were required to study in high school. Even though I was part of the play we did in high school about Rizal, the things I know about him are few. But I know I’m not the only one.

    I think the problem lies in the way our textbooks introduce Rizal. They focus more on him being a writer rather than a scientist who had made a lot of discoveries in biology. Being able to do something for the revolution in the country is one thing, but being able to do something grand in the field of science recognized internationally? That is definitely something. I just hope textbook writers also give light to that side of our national hero, because for me, it is bigger than writing controversial novels that expose the dirty business of one of the social institutions in the 19th century Philippines.

  36. I honestly did not know about this thing about Rizal. In high school, he was viewed as a great poet, writer, a national hero, and a doctor that everyone seems to look up to. But this, Rizal being a naturalist, was never mentioned in the books that I have read. It is quite interesting to know the reason why most writers of textbooks about Rizal did not care to mention about the other things that he do. Also, I think Rizal can be viewed here as someone who enjoys little things that matter to him, just like other human beings enjoying simple things that have such indescribable impact to their lives.

    Camiling, Alain Zedrick S.
    STS X2

  37. Gabriel Ureta says:

    To a student who never really paid much attention to Rizal, it was very surprising for me to learn about all the things he has done in Dapitan. I always assumed that the only notable event that occurred during his exile was his affair with Josephine Bracken, and all his days were spent unproductively since he can no longer be a part of the country’s politics.

    Apart from knowing Spanish, English, German (and few other foreign languages), being an artist (painter, sculptor, writer), doctor (ophthalmology at that) and being well traveled, he was also a competent scientist. I guess the boredom of Dapitan made him make full use of his time, and I even learned that his full schedule includes farming in the morning, teaching in the afternoon and studying/ reading in the evening (all the while treating patients that were visiting him). The older I get, the more I am impressed by our national hero. It might have been because Rizal was so notable that his name became too common in a way, and that because from birth we are told about how amazing he was that to a point it made him feel ordinary. But every now and again, you learn new things about him that truly proves that he really was a “Renaissance man”.

    Gabriel Ureta

  38. Mary Lois Roque says:

    Dr. Jose Rizal? Doctor? Writer? Scientist? Genius? Our National Hero?

    Before, I don’t really see the point of making him our National Hero. Maybe because my knowledge about him is not really deep (or I just really don’t care).

    Rizal is not known as a Physical fighter but his way of fighting for Our Country is trully amazing. (Ika nga sa libro ni Coates patungkol kay Rizal ay isang dinamita ang Noli Me Tangere at El Filibusterismo). Patriotic and compassionatr as he was ever since, he wanted to save his fellowmen from discrimination and brutal treatment. That’s why he proved that pen is mightier than sword.

    And Rizal’s practice of many sciences here and abroad made him noted scientist. Like for example, he was able to collect numerous species of birds, insects, butterflies, shells, and plants. Bearing all these things in my mind, it seem that we can justly appreciate Rizal’s love of science and his martyrdom as the greatest contribution to the freedom of thought ever given by any one man to the Filipino people.

    Roque, Mary Lois

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