Dr. Jose Rizal’s affection for Germany and its people is evident in his many travels in his “scientific mother country.” For more than a year, he moved from city to city, admiring the beauty of the cities along the banks of the Rhine and immersing in many intellectual pursuits in other parts of the country.
Berlin, the capital, is where Dr. Rizal’s most pivotal literary work, Noli Me Tangere, first came off the press, eventually paving the way for Filipinos’ pursuit of independence from Spain.
This year, in celebration of the 156th anniversary of our national hero’s birth, the Philippine Embassy in Berlin launched an illustrated map called, “Rizal in Germany,” The map retraces Rizal’s journey through the country from February 1886 to May 1887, with special focus on Wilhelmsfeld, Heidelberg and Berlin, the three cities where he spent most of his time.
“We’d like to rekindle once more our people’s knowledge of and interest in the life of Jose Rizal,” Philippine Ambassdor Melita Sta.Maria-Thomeczek said. “We summarized what the diaries and the books say into a kind of trail and make it easily accessible, both as a printed material and a digital map.”
A simple ceremony was held in the chancery on Dr. Rizal’s birthday, June 19, to mark the map’s launch. The event, jointly organized by the Embassy and the Ladies for Rizal, included singing of traditional songs and poetry-reading.
The map features illustrations by June Digan and was designed and laid out by Berlin-based artist Jenny Peñas. It can be downloaded from the Embassy website through this link: http://philippine-embassy.de/rizal-trail-in-germany/rizal-map/.
Rizal birth anniversary commemoration in Wilhelmsfeld
Dr. Rizal’s birth anniversary was also commemorated in Wilhelmsfeld, a municipality in the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg, last June 11.
The event, which was held at the town’s very own Rizal Park, was attended by the Embassy’s Deputy Chief of Mission and Consul General, Ms. Donna Rodriguez; Wilhelmsfeld Mayor Hans Zellner, Mayor-elect Christoph Oeldorf, Order of the Knights of Rizal Commander Werner Filsinger (Wilhelmsfeld- Heidelberg Chapter), and other members of the Order (including Bonn and Stuttgart chapters) and the Ladies for Rizal. It coincided with 20th anniversary of the chartering of the Order’s Wilhelmsfeld-Heidelberg Chapter.
A wreath was laid before the park’s Rizal statue and children who received excellent grades in school were awarded the Rizal Prize by Mayor Zellner. Rizal expert, Dr. Emmanuel Calasio also gave a lecture on Rizal’s heroism.
In a speech to mark the occasion, Consul General Rodriguez expressed the Embassy’s appreciation for Mayor Zellner’s “significant contributions towards propagating the life and works of our national hero and for keeping his memory alive in the hearts and minds of the people of Wilhelmsfeld.”
Mayor Zellner earlier received the Embassy’s Jose Rizal Cultural Heritage Award from Philippine Ambassador Melita Sta. Maria-Thomeczek for his efforts to promote Dr. Rizal’s legacy in Heidelberg and Wilhelmsfeld.
The Consul General likewise conveyed the Embassy’s gratitude to the Order of the Knights of Rizal and the Ladies for Rizal and assured them of its “continued commitment to work closely together in promoting friendship and building bridges between the German and Filipino communities.”
Dr. Rizal stayed in Wilhelmsfeld from April 26 to June 26, 1886, at the vicarage of Protestant Pastor Karl Ullmer, whom he considered as a close friend. A historical marker was installed on the vicarage’s façade, and in 1964, the street in front of it was renamed Rizalstraße (Rizal Street). END