Ambassador Melita Sta. Maria-Thomeczek led Embassy personnel and German members of the Order of the Knights of Rizal in a wreath-laying ceremony last December 20 at Dr. Jose Rizal’s former apartment in Berlin at Jägerstraße 71 (No. 71 Jaeger Street).
The event marks the Month of Overseas Filipinos, which the Philippines celebrates each December, and the 121st anniversary of Dr. Rizal’s martyrdom at the hands of the Spanish colonial government.
In her remarks at the gathering, the Ambassador recounted the life of Dr. Rizal as an expatriate in the German capital from November 1886 to May 1887.
“Dr. Rizal’s life continues to serve as an inspiration, not only to Filipinos back home, but also to those who went beyond our shores. As we celebrate the Month of Overseas Filipinos, I would like to encourage our countrymen in Germany to reflect on Dr. Rizal’s sojourn, his thirst for knowledge, and most especially, his undying love for the motherland that, for a time, he left physically but did not forsake,” the Ambassador said.
“Like Dr. Rizal, Filipinos currently living and working abroad are making significant contributions to our country’s march towards progress through their individual efforts and sacrifices,” the Ambassador added.
Struggling financially and in poor health, Dr. Rizal went on to complete the “Noli Me Tangere,” the most pivotal literary work in Philippine history, in his Jägerstraße apartment.
He also immersed himself in other intellectual pursuits, such as reading academic works on the Philippines, exchanging views with German scholars of his time, honing his medical expertise at the Charité Hospital, and becoming a member of the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Pre-History.
To this day, young Filipinos are drawn to Germany, particularly Berlin, by a wealth of opportunities in higher education.
In true Rizal fashion, the simple ceremony was capped by afternoon coffee at a café along central Berlin’s Unter der Linden Avenue, an area where our revered National Hero used to relax and pass the time. END.