Dr. Jose Rizal ( 1861 - 1896 )
National Hero - Republic of the Philippines
Physician, Poet, Novelist, Artist, Scientist, Historian, Educator, Nationalist, and Internationalist. The multi-faceted Jose Rizal was recognized as the leading Filipino of his time.
Ferdinand Blumentritt " Rizal was the greatest product of the Philippines and that his coming to the world was like the appearance of a rare comet, whose rare brilliance appears only every other century "
Napoleon M. Kheil " Admiro en ud. A un noble representante de la Espana Colonial "
Dr. Reinhold Rost " Una Perla de Hombre "
and Vicente Barrantes "The first among the Filipinos" .
Rizal was the first person in all of Asia to advocate and introduce ideas that can be called modern democracy and Western liberalism. As early as 1880, years before Gandhi or Sun Yat-Sen began their fight for freedom, Jose Rizal through his essays, letters and novels was already espousing such principles as the worth and dignity of the individual, the inviolability of human rights, the innate equality of all men and races, the necessity for constitutional government and due process of law, popular sovereignty as the basis of all political authority, faith in human reason and enlightenment, the right of the masses to public education, and belief in social progress through freedom.
Rizal learned twenty-two foreign languages, using five effectively : his mother tongue Tagalog, Spanish, French German and English. He traveled extensively, winning new friends of different races, creeds, social classes and vocations. He fraternized with statesmen, scholars, writers and scientists. He was made a member of both the Anthropological Society and Geographical Society of Berlin. An avid student of world affairs, Rizal predicted the emergence of the United States of America as a Pacific power and the rise of the Philippine Republic.
Rizal believed in the brotherhood of men irrespective of creed and nationalities, in universal peace and justice, and in the happiness and welfare of humanity. He envisioned a new world order in which men are free of tyranny, bigotry, and slavery, where justice reigns and all nations live together in fraternal harmony.
A hundred years after his death, Jose Rizal is recognized not only as a great Filipino hero but also a universal man, an inspiration wherever people cherish freedom and resist oppression in all its forms. ( Reprinted from the Souvenir Program of the 10th Annual International Assembly of the Order of the Knights of Rizal. )