During the last 24 hours of Rizal’s life, he was meeting visitors in his cell in fort Santiago, Where he is secretly finishing his farewell poem. He is also destined to die for his beloved country which he called “Pearl of the Orient Seas” in his poem and “Pearl of the Orient” in an article “Unfortunate Philippines” in The Hongkong Telegraph on September 24, 1892.
Last Hours of Rizal
At 6:00 A.M. of December 29, 1986, Captain Rafael Dominguez, read the death sentence to Rizal who would be shot at the back by a firing squad at 7:00 A.M. in Bagumbayan.
At 7:00 A.M., Rizal was moved to the prison Chapel where he was visited by Father Miguel Saderra Mata and Father Luis Viza, a Jesuit teacher.
At 7:15 A.M., Rector Saderra left. Rizal Reminded Fr. Viza of the statuette of the Sacred Heart of Jesus which he had carved as an Ateneo student. Fr. Viza then gave the statuette to Rizal. Rizal happily received it and placed it on his writing table.
At 8:00 A.M., Fr. Antonio Rosell arrived to relieve Father Viza. He and Rizal had breakfast together. Lt. Luis Taviel de Andrade came and Rizal thanked his services.
At 9:00 A.M., Fr, Fedirico Faura arried and reminded Rizal that he would someday lose his head for writing the Noli.
At 10:00 A.M., Fathers Jose Vilaclara (Rizal’s teacher at Ateneo) and Vicente Balayuer9Jesuit missionary in Dapitan) visited Rizal. After them, Santiago Mataix, a Spanish journalist for the newspaper “El Heraldo de Madrid,” intervied Rizal.
From 12:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M., Rizal was left alone in his cell where he finished his farewell poem and hid it inside his Alcohol cooking stove, which was given to him by Paz Pardo de Tavera( Wife of Juan Luna) in Paris in 1890. At the same time, Rizal wrote his last letter to Proffesor Bluementritt in German where he told him that he would leave a book for Bluementritt as a remembrance.
At 3:00 P.M., Father Balaguer dicussed with Rizal about his retraction of the Anti-Catholic ideas in his writings and membership in Masonry.
At 4:00 P.M., Rizal’s mother arrived. Trinidad entered the cell and Rizal gave him the alcohol cooking stove which contains Rizal’s farewell poem. After the departure of Doña Teodora and Trinidad, Fathers Vilaclara and Estanislao entered the cell, followed by Father Rosell.
At 6:00 A.M.,Don Silvino Lopez Tuñon, Dean of Manila cathedral, came.
At 8:00 P.M. was Rizal’s last supper. He informed Captain Dominguez that he forgave his enemies, including Military judges.
At 9:30 P.M., Rizal was visited by Don Gaspar Caestaño, the fiscal of the Royal Audiencia of Manila. At 10:00 P.M. of December 29, the draft of the retraction sent by the anti-Filipino Archbishop Bernardo Nozaleda was submitted by Father Balaguer. But Rizal rejected it which led Father Pio Pi, Superior of the Jesuit Society in the Philippines, to prepare a shorter retraction.
The retraction was controversial. And a debate between two hostile groups of Rizalists is futile and irrelevant. Futile in the sense that no amount of evidence can convince the Masonic Rizalists that Rizal retracted and the Catholic Rizalists that Rizal did not retract. As a famous saying goes: “For those who believe-on justification in necessary; for the skeptics, whose criterion for belief is not in their minds but in their wills-no justification is possible.” It is likewise irrelevant because it does not matter at all to the greatness of Rizal. Whether he retracted or not, the fact that he was the greatest Filipino hero.
At 3:00A.M. of December 30, 1896, Rizal heard Mass, confessed his sins, and took Holy Communion.
At 5:30 A.M., Josephine Brackmen, Accompanied by Josefa, arrived. Josephine, with tears in her eyes, bade him farewell. Rizal embraced her for the last time, and before she left, Rizal gave her a last gift- a religious book, Imitation of Christ by Father Thomas a Kempis, Which he autographed: “To my dear unhappy wife, Josephine.”
At 6:00 P.M., Rizal wrote his last letter to his beloved parents as the soldiers are getting ready for the death march at Bagumbayan.
Death March at Bagumbayan
Bagumbayan is the place where Rizal’s execution happened. Rizal walked calmly with his defense council, Lt. Luis Taviel Andrade and two Jesuit priests Fathers March and Vilaclara. He was dressed up elegantly with his black suit, black derby hat, black shoes, white shirt, and black tie. Rizal’s arms were tied behind him elbow to elbow, but the rope was quite loose for him to move his arms.
Several of the spectators lining the street from Fort Santiago to Plaza del Palacio in front of the Manila Cathedral. A vast crowd gathered at Bagumbayan to witness how a martyr dies.
At the Bagumbayan field the spectators crowded a huge square formed by soldiers where the cavalcade entered the square, and Rizal walked serenely to the place where he was told to stand at a grassy lawn at the shore of Manila Bay, between two lamp posts.
Martyrdom of a Hero
Rizal indeed, firmly clasped his hands in parting despite the fact that his arms were tied. One of the priests blessed and offered him a crucifix to kiss. Then, he requested the commander of the firing squad to shoot him facing the squad, but it was denied for the captain ordered to shoot him at the back.
Dr. Felipe Ruiz Castillo, a Spanish Military Physician was amazed when he found out that the pulse rate of Rizal was normal showing that he was not afraid to die.
Exactly 7:03 in the morning when Rizal died in the bloom of manhood, he fell on the ground dead with face upward facing the morning sun.
At the age of 35 years, 5 months, and 11 days, Rizal died describing in his farewell poem (3rd stanza): “I die just when I see the dawn break.
Through the gloom of night, to herald the day:
And if color is lacking my blood thou shalt take,
Pour’d out at need for thy dear sake,
To dye with its crimson the waking ray.”
It is also interesting to note that fourteen tears before Rizal’s execution, he had predicted he would die on the 30th of December when he was just a medical student in Madrid Spain.
Aftermath of a Hero-Martyr’s Death
At the time when Spain’s firing squad killed Rizal, The Spaniards- residents, Friars (Jesuits not included), corrupt officials exulted with sadistic joy. After the execution, the Spanish spectators shouted “Viva España!” “Muerte a los Traidores”,(Long live Sapin! “Death to the Traitors!”) The Spanish band played gay Marcha de Cadiz.
Cecilio Apostol, the greatest Filipino epic poet in Spanish, aptly rhapsodized: “Rest in peace in the shadows of oblivion,
Redeemer of a country in bondage!
In the mystery of the grave, do not cry,
Heed not the momentary triumph of the Spaniard
Because if a bullet destroyed your cranium,
likewise your idea destroyed an empire!”
By his writings, the Filipino nationalism awakened and paved the way for the Philippine Revolution. He proved that “The pen is mightier than the sword” and deserves history’s salute as the national hero of the Philippines.
Alcocer acrose and delivered a long speech summarizing the charges against Rizal and urge the court to give the verdict of death to the accused. The Spanish spectators applauded niosily Alcocer’s petition for the sentence of death. After the prosecuting attorney finished his spirited harangue, Defence Consel Taviel de Andrade took the floor and read his eloquent defence of Rizal. He ended his de fence with a nobel, but futile, admonition to the members of the military: “The judges cannot be vindictive; the judges can only be just” When Lt. Taviel de Andrade took seat, the court asked Rizal whether he had anything to say. Rizal then read a supplement to his defence wich he wrote in his prison cell. In his supplementary defence, he further proved his innocence by twelve points: 1. He could not be guilty of rebelion , for he advised Dr. Pio Valenzuelain Dapitan not to rise in revolution. 2. He did not correspond with the radical, revolutionary elements. 3. The revolutionists used his name without his knowlegde.
If he were guilty he could have escaped in Singapore. 4. If he had a hand in the revolution, he could have escaped in a Moro vinta and would not have built a home, a hospital, and bought lands in Dapitan. 5. If he were the chief of the revolution, why was he not consulted by the revolutionist? 6. It was true he wrote the by-laws of the Liga Filipina, but this is only a civic association ——— not a revolutionary society. 7. The Liga Filipina did not live long, for after the first meeting he was banished to Dapitan and it died out. 8. If the Liga was reorganized nine months laters, he did not know about it. 9. The Liga did not serve the purpose of the revolutionist, otherwise they would not have supplanted it with the Katipunan. 10. If it were true that there were some bitter comments in Rizal’s letters, it was because they were written in 1890 when his family was being persecuted, being dispossessed of houses, warehouse, lands, etc. and his brother and all his brothers-in-law were deported.
11. His life in Dapitan had been exemplary as the politico-military commanders and missionary priests could attest. 12. It was not true that the revolutionwas inspired by his one speech at the house of Doroteo Ongjunco, as alleged by witnesses whom he would like to confront. His friends knew his opposition to armed rebellion. Why did the Katipunan send an emissary to Dapitan who was unknown to him? Because those who knew him were aware that he would never sanction any violent movement. Polavieja Signs Rizal’s Execution. On December 28th, Polavieja approved the decision of the court-martial and ordered Rizal to be shot at 7:00 o’clock in the morning of December 30 at Bagumbayan Field (Luneta).