December 30, 2009

Rizal Day – Philippines

Jose Rizal is a national hero in the Philippines, and the anniversary of his death is marked by a public holiday.

Rizal was a writer who worked for freedom of his country from Spanish rule by institutional reforms and peaceful means. When the Spanish rulers executed him, however, he ended up inspiring the Filipino revolution that ended in their secession from the Spanish empire.

(Unfortunately, the Filipinos were not yet free and independent; instead, Spain ceded the country to the U.S., and Filipinos had to continue their struggle for independence against a new ruler.)

Rizal is considered a “polyglot,” which means that he could speak many languages—ten, to be exact. He is also considered a “polymath,” which means that he was learned in many areas. (You can probably tell that poly- means many.)

Rizal studied surveying, medicine and philosophy and earned degrees—including two doctorates!—in Manila (Philippines), Spain, France, and Germany. He was an ophthalmologist, sculptor, painter, educator, farmer, historian, playwright, journalist, poet, and novelist, and he dabbled in architecture, cartography, economics, ethnology, anthropology, sociology, linguistics, dramatics, martial arts, fencing, and pistol shooting. (Source: Wikipedia.)

His last words

Rizal was idealistic and dignified even through his military trial and martyrdom. He wrote a poem on the last day of his life, and he hid it in the stove in his prison cell, knowing the stove would be given to his family. In front of his guards, but in English, Rizal told his sisters, “There is something inside it,” thereby ensuring that the poem would be found.

The poem was untitled, but many refer to it as “Mi Ultimo Adios,” or “My Last Farewell.” According to Wikipedia, it could be the most translated patriotic “goodbye” in the world:
“Aside from the 35 English versions and interpretations into 46 Filipino languages, this poem has been translated into at least 38 other languages: Indonesian, Bengali, Bulgarian, Burmese, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Fijian, French, German, Greek, Hawaiian, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Igbo, Italian, Japanese, Javanese, Korean, Latin, Māori, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Sanskrit, Sinhalese, Somali, Tahitian, Thai, Tongan, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese, Wolof, and Yoruba.”
Color a map and flag of the Philippines. Notice that the country is made up of many islands. But the coloring page doesn't show ALL the islands—there are more than 7,100 of them!

Do Filipino-inspired crafts. There are four ideas here.

Languages of the Philippines

Just growing up in the Philippines, you get to be a bit of a polyglot. That's because there are two official languages (Filipino and English), at least 8 other “co-official” languages, and about 170 languages altogether!

For more than 300 years, Spanish was the official language of the country. When free public schools were mandated in 1863, they were taught in Spanish, and when Jose Rizal was writing his works in Spanish, it was spoken by 60% of the population (as their first, second, or third language). After the Spanish-American war, when America occupied the Philippines and imposed English as an official language, Spanish gradually declined. (Source: Wikipedia)

Some of the important regional languages are Bikol, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Ilokano, Kapampangan, Kinaray-a, Maguindanao, Maranao, Pangasinan, Tausug, and Waray-Waray. Tagalog is the regional language that is the basis for the official language, Filipino.

Listen to some Tagalog phrases at this website.

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