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BATANG MINDANAW: In memory of Rizal

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 May) — The relics, those monuments, that specific park, that celebration — oh, the holiday? Those foundational novels, that notable one-peso coin, those school names, the province name, and the street names across the country, among others, all serve as memories of our national hero, José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda.

Much like memories, I chanced upon seeing these “works of art” by my three fellow third-year college students’ final project in GE: The Life and Works of Rizal.

Cabellon named her final project “The Cyclical Journey of Rizal,” which visibly looks like a ferris wheel. “I can relate the ferris wheel to Rizal as a cyclical journey of his life. Throughout his life, he faced many ups and downs,” Cabellon said. “He experienced a lot of success and achievements as well as tribulations, persecutions, and trials in life during the times that the country was under Spanish rule, which made him a prominent national hero in history,” she added. 

“The Cyclical Journey of Rizal” Photo courtesy of Pychine Cabellon

Blessed with creative hands, Cabellon made her “ferris wheel” for only about two days, packed with varnished popsicle sticks. It contains images and descriptions pasted on recycled brown paper to look aged. “The moment our instructor informed us of our final project, I then thought of making a ferris wheel since our instructor did not specify what to make for our final project; as long as it contains the life and works of Rizal in a creative way,” Cabellon narrated.

Meanwhile, unlike Cabellon’s inkling on the title, Gabradilla centered on the significance of the concept “old book” and the corresponding lessons readers feasibly could get from it when comprehending history. She recalled, “I chose this concept since the topic is all about Rizal’s life and works. And for me, a book [an old book] is a source of knowledge; it is where we can find ideas about what happened in the past.” Going through the motions and being pragmatic, Gabradilla explained, “I made an old book since his [Rizal’s] life and works happened in the 18th–19th centuries.”

The Eminent Dr. Jose Rizal” Photo courtesy of Mona Gabradilla

Gabradilla’s “old book,” painted with coffee, adds vigor and vista to the book, as do the edges of the paper being burned to congeal an old vibe. “I feel like an artist and a historian once in a while,” Gabradilla confessed.

Just when you thought you had grasped it all, try to be amazed at how Pecatoste encapsulated his knowledge in a “scrapbook” inspo feel.  He explained, “Rizal’s journey across the world is something of which I am in awe; he witnessed a lot about other cultures aside from ours. He spent part of his life there just to learn from the foreigners’ attitudes and their ways of living. Despite his life being at risk, he still traveled just to learn from them and make it a tool that could improve the Philippines, whether it was government policies, education, and so on. Thus, this is his dream for his country.” 

With that in mind, it prompted Pecatoste to look back on his younger years. He shared, “Surprisingly, I can relate to this [Rizal’s journey] because, when I was younger, I was curious about what was beyond my motherland. So, I really want to travel, I want to be exposed to new cultures, and I want to engage with new people aside from my own ethnicity. I want to live the way they live, I want to experience their methods in terms of education, and most importantly, I want to do something bigger that I could contribute to my own country when I go back, just like what Rizal did.”

Substantiating those frames of reference, “Because having another perspective from another country could be an advantage for what you want to change in your own country. I may seem ambitious; however, this is what dreams are. And this dream of mine is not only for myself but also for my own country,” Pecatoste continued.

Rizal’s Destinations and Dreams” Photo courtesy of Nikole Yvonne S. Pecatoste

Pecatoste’s output was only about two half-long folders stitched together, filled playfully with cut-outs, but on top of that, it is armed with Pecatoste’s in-depth understanding of Rizal’s destinations and dreams, as well as how those rippled on him, thus one percipient student. 

Same goes with Cabellon and Gabradilla, who made it through the finish line in the three-unit course, GE: The Life and Works of Rizal, carrying a pocket of consciousness and of utmost appreciation for our national hero.

Moreover, I believe that young Filipinos, at any rate, must be taught that studying Rizal’s life and works is not just limited to intensive reading of history books, memorizing dates, and then (at times)—whoosh!

Most importantly, a “work of art” can as well contribute to their spectrum of ideas, providing an opportunity to showcase their creativity while having remembrance to hold on, at the same time, instilling in them the spirit of nationalism and patriotism that existed in Rizal’s time, as did his contributions to the birthing of the Filipino nation, which will exponentially establish relation and realization in their present lives as the pag-asa ng bayan. 

(Batang Mindanaw is the youth section of MindaNews. Jhon Steven C. Espenido, 22, is from Surigao City. He is an AB English Language student at Surigao del Norte State University)

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