How to face a firing squad execution with a normal heart beat: Rizal, 30 December 1896

POSTED: Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Every time I visit my primary physician at University of California, San Francisco, I always register numbers above my normal blood pressure.  Why?  Because the anxiety that I will get caught up with my transgressions  (lack of exercise,  eating sloppy junk food) will verily pump up my blood pressure.  Suppose I have to face a firing squad at dawn even if I’m convinced I’m innocent of a rebellion against the colonial government,  will my blood pressure spurt up?  Surely, who won’t?

José Rizal didn’t.
How?  By letting go.
Execution,  Dr. José Rizal,  Bagumbayan, Manila, 30 Dec. 1896.
When?  His last 24 hours.  He wrote several letters on 29. December,  the day before his execution.   I highlight and underline trigger words that maintain quietude and equilibrium in terms of letting go and thus lowering his blood pressure.  The day before his execution, he used words about peace, tranquility and of dying with a clear conscience.  He was preparing himself for the inevitable by talking about it.
29. December 1896.
His first letter was to his friend Ferdinand Blumentritt, followed by his letters addressed to his family, his brother Paciano, and to his parents, brothers and sisters.
Professor Ferdinand Blumentritt
My dear brother:
When you receive this letter I shall be dead .  Tommorow at seven, I shall be shot; but I am innocent of the crime of rebellion. I shall die with a tranquil conscience. Farewell, my best and dearest friend, and never think ill of me.
Fort Santiago, 29 December, 1896.
José Rizal
PS.
Regards to the entire family, to Sra. Rosa, Loleng, Conradito, and Federico. I leave a book for you in remembrance of me.

[WOW! I’m totally intrigued with this letter.  True to form, he writes:  “Farewell,   I’ll be dead. ”  Then as an afterthought, he adds a Post Script (PS)  sending his regards to the members of the Blumentritt family.]

[In all his earlier correspondence to Blumentritt, he always end his letters with special mention to the members of the family. Now, in his final good-bye, he ends his letter with “Never think ill of me,” and signs his name.  But wait, he forgets the special mention to the kids and the wife.   So he adds a CODICIL to his LAST letter.  My personal lawyer, Rodel Rodis, Esq. will love this. ]

[The book he sends Blumentritt is actually an earlier book sent to him by Blumentritt on which José Rizal annotated and wrote some marginal comments.]
To My Family:
I ask your forgiveness for the pain I cause(d) you, but some day, I shall have to die and it is better that I die now in the plenitude of my conscience.
José Rizal
Mr. P. R.
My dear brother,
It has been four years and a half that we have not seen each other or have we addressed one another in writing or orally.  I do not believe this is due to lack of affection whether on my part or yours but because knowing each other too well, we had no need of words to understand each other.
Now that I am going to die, it is to you I dedicate my last words to tell you how much I regret to leave you alone in life bearing all the weight of the family and of our old parents!
I think of how you have worked to enable me to have a career.  I  believe that I have tried not to waste my time. My bother: If the fruit has been bitter, it is not my fault, it is the fault of circumstances. I know that you have suffered much because of me. I am sorry.
I assure you, brother, that I die innocent of this crime of rebellion.  If my former writings had been able to contribute towards it,  I should not deny absolutely, but then I believe I expiated my past with my exile.
Tell our father that I remember him, but how? I remember my whole childhood, his tenderness and his love.  Ask him to forgive me for the pain I cause(d) him unwillingly.
Your brother,
José Rizal.
Dear Parents, brothers and sisters:
Give thanks to God that I may preserve my tranquility before my death.  I die resigned hoping that with my death you will be left in peace.  Ah, It is better to die than to live suffering.  Console yourselves.
I enjoin you to forgive one another the little meannesses of life and try to live united in peace and good harmony.  Treat your old parents as you would like to be treated by your children later.  Love them very much in my memory.
Bury me in the ground. Place a stone and a cross over it.  My name, the date of my birth and of my death.  Nothing more.  If later you wish to surround my grave with a fence, you can do it.  No anniversaries. I prefer Paang Bundok.
Have pity on poor Josephine.
José Rizal
[WHOA:  Hold it!   Did we miss something here?  In Rizal’s  last instructions, be said,  No anniversaries. I take this to mean he did not want to celebrate the anniversary of his execution.  Hear that?  He wants us to celebrate his birthday, not his death anniversary.  Let’s make sure we remind people and the government this last dying instruction.]

[He preferred to be buried in the humble  municipal cemetery, Paang Bundok (at the foot of the mountain)  between  the North Cemetery  and the Chinese Cemetery.  But, it was not to be.  He was buried in Paco Cemetery.  However, on 30 December, 1912,  his remains were transferred to the base of the Rizal Monument erected in Luneta, very near the place where he was shot.]

At 6:00 am. 30 December, before marching off to Bagumbayan,  (now Luneta Park)  Rizal wrote:

My most Beloved Father:
Forgive me for the pain with which I repay you for your struggles and toils in order to give me an education.  I did not want this nor did I expect it.
Farewell, Father, Farewell.
José Rizal
Then he took another piece of paper and wrote the exact hour of the day and addressed it thus:
6:00 o’clock, morning, 30  December, 1896.



To MY very beloved Mother, Dña Teodora Alonso.
José Rizal.
[This final letter, addressed to his mother, was pregnant with un words…  only the hour and date were registered.  Imagine what a calming effect this must have had on him.
To his very beloved mother, he emotionally left his beating heart.  Words could only serve unworthy of that sacred silence–that special channel where a mother and son  can communicate at a supreme higher level. That empty page was symbolically full and finally he did let go.

When the military physician took his pulse before his execution, he had a normal heart beat.
By: Penélope V. Flores

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  1. […] article chronicles the letters written by Rizal during his his last 24 […]

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