“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust (French novelist, essayist and critic, 1871-1922)
I am based in the province of Laguna and, since my travels depend on the health status of my soon-to-be 96-year-old mother, I have time to look around this province and marvel at its uniqueness and beauty. Here is one such record/beauty: did you know that the province of Laguna, in the Philippines, has two of the tallest Rizal monuments in the world? Yes, you read it right, not only in the Philippines but in the world! Bet you did not know that! Well then, read on to know more about it and be proud of such man-made attractions in our very own country!
Dr. Jose Rizal is generally regarded as the (unofficial) national hero of the Philippines (this statement will be tackled in another blog), and there are almost 120 monuments to honor him in the Philippines, to name a few: Cagayan de Oro City (Cagayan de Oro), Calamba (Laguna), Catbalogan (Samar), Daet (Camarines Norte), Dapitan City (Zamboanga del Norte), Iloilo City (Iloilo), Jolo (Sulu), Luneta/Rizal Park (Manila), Sta. Cruz (Laguna), Tacloban (Leyte), and Villasis (Pangasinan).1, 2
While there is no law in the Philippines that orders every town to build a monument for Rizal, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) requires that, if at all, such monuments are to be built in front of a prominent building, plaza, or park, and the statue has to be life size.3
There are also various sculptures, statues, monuments of Rizal found worldwide that recognize his intelligence, heroism, and significant scientific and literary contributions in Andorra2, Bern (Switzerland), Brussels and Ghent (Belgium), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Heidelberg (Germany), Hong Kong, Jinjiang, Fujian (China), Lima (Peru), Litomerice (Czech Republic), London (England), Madrid (Spain), Mexico City (Mexico), New South Wales (Australia), Paris (France), Rome (Italy), Singapore, Tokyo (Japan), Toronto, Ontario (Canada), Alaska, California, Chicago, Florida, New Jersey, Seattle, Texas, Washington (USA), Wilhelmsfeld (Germany), and Vienna (Austria), to name a few.4
To-date, the tallest monument of Dr. Jose Rizal in the world is in the Laguna Sports Complex, Barangay Bubukal, Sta. Cruz, Laguna, Philippines. Erected during the term of Laguna Governor Jeorge Ejercito Estregan,5 it is unique because it depicts Rizal as a sportsman, the only one of its kind in the world!4
The tallest Rizal monument in the world (2014-present) Laguna Sports Complex, Barangay Bubukal, Sta. Cruz, Laguna, Philippines
For foreigners, it is worth knowing that Rizal was a polymath, a person who is an expert in different areas/fields.2, 14 He was an agriculturist, architect, cartographer, educator, economist, engineer, ethnologist, farmer, historian, inventor, journalist, musician, mythologist, nationalist/patriot, naturalist, novelist, ophthalmologist, painter, philanthropist, playwright, poet, polyglot6, propagandist, psychologist, scientist, sculptor, sociologist, theologian, writer, woodcarver, but he was also inclined to sports. In fact, he played six sports: arnis7, boxing, fencing, (pistol) firing, judo and jujitsu8.He was so talented for a Filipino even during the Spanish period!
This statue shows Rizal wearing a fencing uniform and holding an épée9 in his right hand. The statue is located atop a flight of stairs that serves as the 1,000-square-meter wide pedestal. This monument was erected within the Laguna Sports Complex to inspire the Filipino youth to excel in sports.
This 7.9-meter high statue was built at a cost of PHP6 million and was unveiled in time for the opening of the Palarong Pambansa (National Games) on May 10-16, 2014, the first time said event was hosted by the province of Laguna.4
Sculptor Toym Imao, son of national Artist for Sculpture Andulmari Asia Imao, designed the monument.10
The hollow space underneath the stairs will be made into a museum and a library about Laguna and Rizal’s history.4
The second tallest monument of Rizal in the world is located in The Plaza of Calamba City, Laguna, Philippines, in front of the city’s City Hall Complex, along Bacnotan Road, in the barangay of Real. Recall that Calamba is the birthplace of our national hero. This monument was the tallest in the world from 2011 till 2014, until the other Laguna monument was erected.11
The second tallest Rizal monument in the world The Plaza of Calamba City, Laguna, Philippines (the tallest, 2011-2014)
This one is a 6.7-meter (22 feet) bronze statue atop a 2.8-meter podium, and shows Rizal holding a book in his right hand. It also has a 7.87 feet granite pedestal and a 13.12 feet circular stairway base. Including the podium, the base, and the pedestal, the monument has a total height of 13 meters or 43 feet (about a four-storey building) and weighs 2 tons. It has two markers – one from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and another from the City Government of Calamba. It was unveiled by President Benigno Aquino III on June 19, 2011,4 in celebration of Rizal’s sesquicentennial (150th) birth anniversary, according to Wikipedia page “Rizal Monument (Calamba)”.12
Mayor Joaquin Chipeco came up with the idea of building this monument as a gift to the people of Calamba and as a tribute to Rizal in his own hometown. The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), along with the local government unit of Calamba, initially funded the construction of this monument. A 35-year old sculptor from Marikina City, Jose Dionas F. Roces, was commissioned to build the monument. Construction started in December 2010 and was completed on April 2011, according to Wikipedia page “Rizal Monument (Calamba)”.12
Do you know that this monument has two important symbolisms? Here they are: (1) The statue stands 22 feet, symbolizing the 22 languages and dialects Rizal mastered as a polyglot6 (languages – Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, Filipino, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Sanskrit, Spanish, and Swedish; dialects: Cebuano, Chavacano, Ilocano, Subanon, according to Wikipedia page “List of polygots”).13 (2) A 15-step stairway leads to the 2.8 meter podium. Each step represents one decade, from the time Rizal was born in 1861, up till the monument’s unveiling on 2011, for a total of 150 years or 15 steps. All these according to Wikipedia page “Rizal Monument (Calamba)”.12 The number 15 is also significant because it was unveiled by the 15th President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III!5
Filipinos, be proud and love our country! Be inspired by our heroes like Dr. Jose Rizal!
Look around your town or city. What are its unique natural and man-made attractions? Please share and tell me about them.
Did you find this post informative? Do you have pictures of Rizal statues/monuments elsewhere in the Philippines and/or other countries? Please share! I would like to hear from you. Simply scroll and click “Leave a comment”. Do share this post with your Facebook friends, follow me by clicking on the bottom right corner of your device, and do not forget to like this post. Thank you!
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6A polyglot is a person who has mastered multiple languages.
7Arnis, kali or eskrima, is the national sport and martial art of the Philippines. It uses weapon-based fighting with bladed weapons, knives, sticks, or other improvised weapons. It also uses “open hand”, or techniques without weapons, such as hand-to-hand combat, joint locks, grappling and weapon disarming techniques.
8Jujitsu is a Japanese martial art and a method of close combat for defeating an armed and armored opponent in which one uses either a short weapon or none at all, according to the Wikipedia page “Jujitsu”.15
9Épée refers to the largest and heaviest of the three weapons used in the sport called fencing, according to the Wikipedia page “Epée”. The two other weapons are foil and sabre.16
12“Rizal Monument (Calamba),” accessed July 9, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rizal_Monument_(Calamba).
13“List of polygots,” accessed July 9, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_polygots.
15“Jujitsu,” accessed July 9, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jujitsu.
16“Épée,” accessed July 9, 2018, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Épée.