Ilonggos’ never-ending love affair with Rizal

History Prof. Joyce Christine Colon speaks during commemoration of the 123rd death anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal at Plaza Libertad in Iloilo City, Dec 30, 2019. (Photo from Iloilo City Government FB page)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

Ilonggos never miss to commemorate and pay respect to one of the country’s beloved heroes, Jose Rizal, especially on his death anniversary every December 30.

The annual celebration is well-attended by Ilonggos from all walks of life, proof that Rizal’s continuing legacy is highly valued by Ilonggos, according to Joyce Christine Colon, a history professor at West Visayas State University-La Paz Campus.

Kita nga Ilonggos wala kita gakalipat magselebrar sang greatness sang aton nga national hero and I think pagtan-aw ko subong nga aga kadamo sang mga nag attend sang aton celebration which simply means that this celebration is also important to us Filipinos, not only Filipinos, but especially to us Ilonggos,” Prof. Colon said during the celebration of the 123rd death anniversary of Rizal at Plaza Libertad on Monday where she was guest speaker.

Colon said that the annual occasion has become a venue where Ilonggos from different sectors would gather and commemorate the death anniversary of Rizal.

“It is actually an occasion where we can gather together regardless of our status and our educational attainment. This is something that we as Ilonggos actually look forward to on the 30th of December,” she said.

Ilonggo’s fondness of Rizal is very evident in history as Iloilo City was one of the first cities in the country to build a life-size monument for the national hero at Plaza Libertad in City Proper district.

“We are one of the firsts nga nagpatindog sang bantayog para sa aton nga national hero, simply illustrates that we give importance to the things that Jose Rizal has done for us for the Filipinos,” Solon said.



While some compare the Ilonggos’ high regard of Rizal to the “tepid” and “subtle” attitude towards Ilonggo hero and journalist par excellence, Graciano Lopez Jaena, Colon said heroes should not be compared with each other “as they are all heroes in their own right.”

“It is high time for us look into the idea that we should not really peg one national hero to another hero. Pareho sila duha nga they have given honor and prestige as well as they have given their lives also for the Filipino,” she said.

The rather “lukewarm” attitude to Lopez Jaena is very much evident in the difficulty faced by the Graciano Lopez Jaena Foundation to complete the shrine being constructed at his ancestral home in Jaro district.

As Ilonggos give due recognition to Jose Rizal, it is important that the legacy of local heroes should also be remembered, instead of being downplayed.

On Monday, the city government headed by Mayor Jerry Treñas offered a wreath to the life size monument of Jose Rizal at the Plaza Libertad.

Civic society organizations, Department of Education (DepEd) Iloilo City, and other stakeholders also graced the program on Monday.

During her speech, Colon urged Ilonggos to do small things with great love for each other for the city and the country.

“Rizal remains to be a hero for the Filipinos because we unconsciously see ourselves in him. Dr. Jose Rizal is not perfect but, in many ways, he showed us that everyone has the capacity to be a hero. My fellow Ilonggos, it is not only about dying for our country when the occasion calls for it but also, how do we live for our country?” she said.