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Special Features | National

TODAY IN HISTORY: Happy 150th birthday, Jose Rizal
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines - Today, Dr. José P. Rizal, who was born on June 19, 1861, marks his 150th birth anniversary in Calamba, Laguna.

Rizal, the most prominent advocate for reforms in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era, was born in Calamba, Laguna.

He is considered the Philippines' foremost national hero and the anniversary of his martyrdom on December 30, 1896 is commemorated as a Philippine holiday called Rizal Day.

Rizal was the founder of La Liga Filipina, a civic organization which suggested solutions to the country's ills and subsequently gave birth to the Katipunan led by Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo.

He was a proponent of institutional reforms by peaceful means rather than by violent revolution. The general consensus among Rizal scholars, however, attributed his martyred death as the catalyst that precipitated the Philippine Revolution.

Rizal's advocacy of institutional reforms by peaceful means rather than by violent revolution made him Asia's first modern non-violent proponent of political reforms.

Meanwhile, in celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Rizal, the Development Academy of the Philippines paid tribute to Rizal as Bayaning Environmental Planner.

In a joint collaboration with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) held in DAP, Pasig City, it showcased some interesting facts about Rizal:

-- Dr. Jose Rizal loved the Philippines and its beautiful surroundings that he became a naturalist to study our local plants and animals.

-- As a child in his hometown in Calamba, Jose or "Pepe" spent a lot of time in his family's backyard with his dog Berganza and pony Alipato, surrounded by fruit trees like atis, mangga, mabolo, santol, chico, tampoy, sampalok, kasuy, makopa, duhat, balimbing, granada, kamias, nangca, banana, papaya and orange

While colorful birds like culiauan, maya, maya- kapra, martin and pipit, sang.

-- His imagination was enchanted by stories of the nymph living on the legendary slopes of Mount Makiling.

-- Jose was also an excellent artist.

-- He loved to write folk tales about talking animals like the illustrated parable "Monkey and the Turtle." It's a story that teaches us the value of hard work , honesty and true friendship.

-- Jose composed poetry and songs about freedom , happiness and beauty in nature such as "The Flowers of Heidelberg," "Mi Retiro" and "Himno a Talisay".

-- Jose created sculptures out of terracotta clay -- the young women in Oyang Dapitana; a fierce and frightening Wild Boar, and his pet dog Syria attacking an alligator in Mother's Revenge.

-- Jose loved to play with clay.

He would often spend time in the children's nipa hut at their backyard in Calamba, sculpting animals and historical figures. Once he was sculpting an image of Napoleon Bonaparte when his sister teasingly called him hambog or a braggart and he replied prophetically that one day he would be erecting his statues in his honor.

-- Jose used natural dyes from plants for his paints. He would crush plants to get their color: green from sili; yellow from ginger; maroon from achuete seeds; violet from duhat; and black from soot.

-- Jose liked to listen stories told by his nurse on moonlit nights such as the "formidable aswang, frightful nuno, or parce-nobis, as she used to call an imaginary being."

-- Jose's first teacher was his mother, Teodora Alonzo. She taught him how to say his prayers, the alphabet and to read and write. She would often tell him fables such as "The Moth and the Lamp."

-- Rizal became a farmer when he was in Dapitan. He planted different kinds of fruit trees, coffee, cacao, sugarcane and raised animals and poultry on his 70 -hectare land in Talisay.

-- While in Dapitan, he discovered a new species of beetle, frog and lizard which were named after him.

-- Rhacophorus rizali is an arboreal frog found in the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Its main habitat is in subtropical to tropical rainforests, breeding in swampy pools or marshes. Its present existence is threatened by indiscriminate logging.

Draco rizali is a gliding agamid lizard and arboreal insectivore found in Zamboanga and the Sulu Archipelago. It measures 85 mm in males and 97 mm in females. Connected to its ribs are membranes extending to form wings.

-- Rizal's favorite foods for breakfast is sardinas secas known as tuyo.

-- Jose became a famous doctor and scientist. His curiosity for nature and its wonder encouraged him to collect specimens of butterflies, shells, plants, insects and reptiles for study. (PNA)