Heritage Sites

World's 1st Rizal Monument is Stained with Blood, Fortified with a Battlecry

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Christa De La Cruz | Sep 29, 2015

Rizal Monument in Luneta (formerly Bagumbayan) is probably the most popular memorial for the fallen hero and among the most famous sculptural landmarks in the country. It is especially under the spotlight nowadays because of the case against a certain residential building that serves as an unsightly background of the leisure park.

Unknown to many, this bronze sculpture of Dr. José Rizal (June 19, 1861 – December 30, 1896) was not the first monument erected in his honor. Instead, the Philippines' (and the world's) first Rizal monument can be found more than 300 kms from Manila's Kilometre Zero marker: at the corner of Magallanes and Justo Lukban Streets near the Municipal Hall of Daet, Camarines Norte.

Called the "Bantayog ni Rizal," it doesn't have the standing nor sitting sculpture of the Nationalist unlike most Rizal monuments. It does have, however, physically embody a grim yet courageous part of Philippine and Bicolano history.

 

A Link in the Revolution

To learn the often ignored chapter of our country's past, one needs to step back to look at the bigger picture. Right there at the street corner, this becomes a little more literal because just a few steps away is a memorial for the massacred Katipuneros of the four-day Daet Revolt agains the Spaniards.

On April 14, 1898, members of the Katipunan from Camarines Norte staged an uprising against Spanish authorities who have fortified themselves in the house of one Florencio Arana, a Spaniard and long-time resident of Daet. Some of these brave men were Ildefonso Moreno, Tomas Zaldua and his two sons Telesforo and Marianito, Jose Abaño, Jacinto Rada, Vicente Salveria, Isidoro Avila, Gavino Saavedra, Dominga Lozada, Angel Zaleta, Gregorio Del Valle, Florante Bacerdo, and many others.

Sporadic encounters lasted for days as the Katipuneros occupied Daet and surrounded the house of Arana. However, the troop failed to contain the additional Spanish soldiers from Nueva Caceres. This broke the siege of Daet on April 17, 1898 and resulted to the arrest, torture, and execution through beheading of some 500 people—both Filipino soldiers and civilians.

The marker erected in their memorial says: "Although the revolt was short-lived, it signalled the beginning of the end of Spanish colonial rule in the Bicol Region."

We all know that Philippine independence, or at least a version of it, was achieved two months later, June 12, 1898

In the same year, President of the First Philippine Republic Emilio Aguinaldo issued a decree that declared December 30, 1898 as Rizal Day. As a response, revolutionaries in Camarines Norte led by Lt. Colonels Antonio Sanz and Ildefonso Alegre of the Republican Army broke ground for the construction of a monument in honor of the hero. The Bantayog ni Rizal was completed in February 1899 and was formally unveiled on December 30, 1899, beating the completion of Luneta's Rizal Monument by 14 years.

More importantly, the Camarines Norte monument was made of corals taken from an old Spanish prison following the tragic finale of the Daet revolt. In a review by Inquirer (2011), Abel C. Icatlo of the Camarines Norte Provincial Museum added that the corals "were soaked and stained with the blood of Bicolano martyrs, so to speak." The Bantayog also stands beside the river where the Katipuneros were stationed.

 

Three Stars and a Sun

Standing at about 20 feet, the three-tiered stone pylon has a cube for a base, a three-sided pyramid in the middle, and a triangular pyramid which tapers off to a point at the top. Pinned on top is an eight-ray sun and on each of the three sides is a bas-relief of a golden star. The famous "Three Stars and a Sun" was originally a symbol of the Katipuneros fighting for the independence of the country. The phrase "A Jose Rizal" (To Jose Rizal) can be found on one of the sides of the middle tier. 

The podium was inscribed with the titles and publication year of Rizal's novels: "Noli Me Tangere" (1887), "El Filibusterismo" (1891), and "Morga" (1889). The last is not really an original but an annotation of Antonio de Morga's "Sucesos De Las Islas Filipinas" (1609), which he copied verbatim from the British Museum.

The structure was declared a national historical landmark by the National Historical Commission in 1961. Finally in 2008, its status was elevated into a national monument by virtue of Resolution No. 12 "Resolution Declaring The Jose Rizal Monument in the Municipality of Daet, Camarines Norte a National Monument”.

 

Of Masonic Symbols and Beginnings

The Bantayog's pronounced Masonic elements like the pyramids, cubes, stars, and the sun can be owed to the involvement of the organization's ideals in what transpired in Philippine history.

Dr. Jose Rizal was a Mason. He first applied for membership in Acasia Lodge No. 9, a Masonic lodge in Madrid under the Gran Oriente de España—Spain's principal and biggest Grand Orient. Upon his initiation, he chose "Dimasalang" as his symbolic name in Masonry. He also joined the first Filipino lodge, La Solidaridad No. 53, in 1891. 

According to American historian Jim Richardson, 13 of the 28 members of the KKK Supreme Council were not only members of Rizal's La Liga Filipina but also Masons. In fact, Katipunan founders Ladislao Diwa, Andres Bonifacio, Teodoro Plata, Valentin Diaz, and Jose Dizon, all belonged to the same Masonic triangle: Taliba.

The revolutionary movement in Daet was highly influenced by Masonry as it flourished under the leadership of Vicente Lukban, who was also the Worshipful Master of the Masonic lodge in Camarines Norte called Triangulo Bicol.

The designer of the monument, Sanz, was also a Mason.


Daet in Camarines Norte may be known for a lot of things: the local produce of pili and pineapple, the kiteboarding and surfing haven of Bagasbas Beach, the ancestral houses, and old churches. We must never forget, however, the historic markers of the Oragon's bravery.

 


How to Get There

By bus:

- Bus lines like DLTB, Philtranco, and Superlines have trips to Daet daily (9 to 10 hours).

By plane:

- From Manila, there are regular flights to Naga.
- From Naga, ride a bus or van going to Daet (2 hours).

 

References

  • Camarines Norte Tourism. 2012. Web. <http://www.camarinesnorte.gov.ph/>.
  • Escandor Jr., Juan. "Rizal’s 1st monument ‘soaked’ in blood of martyrs." Philippine Daily Inquirer, 31 Dec. 2011. Web. <http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/>.
  • The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines. One Hundred Years of Craftsmanship. Manila: Media Wise Communications, 2012. Print.
  • Palafox, Quennie Ann. "Revolutions and Exodus of the Spanish Colonies in Albay, Camarines Sur, and Masbate." National Historical Commission of the Philippines, 6 Sept. 2012. Web. <http://nhcp.gov.ph/>.
  • Sarion, Tito Sarte. "Daet hosts first-ever Rizal monument in the Philippines." Philippine Daily Inquirer, 27 June 2011. Web. <http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/>.

 

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