The Last Days of Rizal

By Prof. Michael 'Xiao' Chua

Posted at Dec 11 2012 12:49 AM | Updated as of Dec 11 2012 09:17 AM

A Timeline of His Last Arrest, Incarceration, Execution and the Journey of His Remains

Compiled by Prof. Sir Michael Charleston “Xiao” B. Chua, K.O.R.
Deputy Commander, Order of the Knights of Rizal, Sucesos Chapter

This brief timeline was prepared by a historian for the commemoration of the centenary of the transfer of José Rizal’s remains to its present burial site at the Rizal Park which will be re-enacted by the Knights of Rizal on 30 December 2012.


6 October 1896, 3:00 AM: On his 4th day of being held in his cabin at the MV Isla de Panay docked at Barcelona, Spain on his way to Cuba, Rizal was awakened to brought to Montjuich Prison in Barcelona, Spain.

6 October, 2:00 PM: Interview with General Eulogio Despujol

6 October, 8:00 PM: Aboard the Colon, Rizal left Bercelona for Manila.

3 November: Rizal was brought to Fort Santiago, where other patriots, including his brother Paciano, were being tortured to implicate him. Paciano refused to sign anything despite being his body broken and his left hand crushed.

20 November: Preliminary investigation began with Rizal appearing before Judge Advocate Colonel Francisco Olive. The investigation lasted five days.

26 November: The records of the case were handed over to Governor General Ramon Blanco who then appointed Captain Rafael Dominguez as special Judge Advocate.

8 December: From a list submitted to him by the authorities, he chose the brother of his friend, Lt. Luis Taviel de Andrade to become his trial lawyer. He was only made to choose among army officers and not a civilian lawyer.

11 December: In his prison cell, Rizal was read the charges against him: “principal organizer and the living soul of the Filipino insurrection, the founder of societies, periodicals and books dedicated to fomenting and propagating the ideas of rebellion.”

13 December: Ramon Blanco was replaced by Camilo de Polavieja, a more ruthless character, as Governor General of the Philippines. Dominguez submitted the papers of the Rizal case to Malacañan Palace.

15 December: Rizal issued his manifesto to certain Filipinos calling to end the “absurd” rebellion and to fight for liberties with education as a prerequisite. The authorities supressed the manifesto.

25 December: Rizal’s saddest Christmas, away from family and friends.

26 December, 8:00 AM: Trial of Rizal began at the Cuartel de España. On the same day, the court-martial secretly and unanimously voted for a guilty verdict with the penalty of death before a firing squad.

28 December: Polavieja signs the death verdict.

29 December, 6:00 AM: Rizal was read his verdict by Captain Rafael Dominguez: To be shot the next day at 7:00 AM at the Luneta de Bagumbayan (Rizal Park).

29 December, 7:00 AM: Rizal was transferred to the chapel cell adorned by religious images to convince him to go back to the Catholic fold. His first visitors were Jesuit priests Fathers Miguel Saderra Mata and Luis Viza.

29 December, 7:15 AM: After Fr. Saderra left, Rizal asked Fr. Viza for the Sacred Heart statuette which he carved when he was an Ateneo student. From his pocket the statuette appears.

29 December, 8:00 AM: Fr. Viza was relieved by Fr. Antonio Rosell who joined Rizal for breakfast. Lt. Luis Taviel de Andrade joins them.

29 December, 9:00 AM: Fr. Federico Faura, who once said that Rizal would lose his head for writing the Noli Me Tangere, arrived. Rizal told him, “Father you are indeed a prophet.”

29 December, 10:00 AM: Fathers José Vilaclara and Vicente Balaguer visited Rizal, followed by a Spanish journalist, Santiago Mataix of El Heraldo de Madrid, for an interview.

29 December, 12:00-3:30 PM: Rizal’s time alone in his cell. He had lunch, wrote letters and probably wrote his last poem of 14 stanzas which he wrote in his flowing handwriting in a very small piece of paper. He hid it inside his alcohol stove. The untitled poem was later known as Mi Ultimo Adios (My Last Farewell). In its second stanza, he already praised the revolutionaries in the battlefield for giving their lives “without doubt, without gloom.”

29 December, 3:30 PM: Fr. Balaguer visits again and, according to him, talks to Rizal about retracting his anti-Catholic writings and his being a mason.

29 December, 4:00 PM: Visit of Rizal’s mother, Teodora Alonso. Then Rizal’s sister Trinidad entered to get her mother and Rizal whispered to her in English referring to the alcohol stove, “There is something inside.” They were also accompanied by Narcisa, Lucia, Josefa, Maria and son Mauricio Cruz. Leoncio Lopez Rizal, Narcisa’s eleven-year-old son, was not allowed to enter the cell. While leaving for their carriages, an official handed over the alcohol stove to Narcisa. After their visit, Fathers Vilaclara and Estanislao March returned to the cell followed by Father Rosell.

29 December, 6:00 PM: Rizal was visited by the Dean of the Manila Cathedral, Don Silvino Lopez Tuñon. Fathers Balaguer and March left Father Vilaclara to be with the two.

29 December, 8:00 PM: Rizal’s last supper where he informed Captain Dominguez that he already forgave those who condemned him.

29 December, 9:30 PM: Rizal was visited by the fiscal of the Royal Audiencia of Manila, Don Gaspar Cestaño with whom Rizal offered the best chair of the cell. According to accounts, the fiscal left with “a good impression of Rizal’s intelligence and noble character.”

30 December, 3:00 AM: According to Father Balaguer’s account, Rizal asked to have confession, hear mass and be given Holy Communion. Allegedly he also signed the document retracting his anti-Catholic writings and his membership in masonry. This series of events is still a contentious issue among Rizal experts.

30 December, 5:30 AM: Rizal took his last meal. According to stories told to Narcisa by Lt. Luis Taviel de Andrade, Rizal threw some eggs in the corner of a cell for the “poor rats,” “Let them have their fiesta too.” Rizal also wrote to his family and to his brother.

30 December, 5:30 AM: Teary-eyed Josephine Bracken and Josefa Rizal came. Josephine was gifted by Rizal with the classic Thomas á Kempis book Imitations of Christ in which he inscribed, “To my dear and unhappy wife, Josephine, December 30th, 1896, Jose Rizal.” They embraced for the last time.

30 December, 6:00 AM: Rizal wrote his father, Francisco Mercado “My beloved Father, Pardon me for the pain with which I repay you for sorrows and sacrifices for my education. I did not want nor did I prefer it. Goodbye, Father, goodbye… Jose Rizal.” To his mother, he had only these words, “To my very dear Mother, Sra. Dña Teodora Alonso 6 o’clock in the morning, December 30, 1896. Jose Rizal.”

30 December, 6:30 AM: Death march from Fort Santiago to Bagumbayan begins. 4 soldiers with bayoneted rifles lead the procession followed by Rizal, Taviel de Andrade, Fathers Vilaclara and March and other soldiers. They passed by the Intramuros plaza, then turned right to the Postigo gate then left at Malecon, the bayside road now known as Bonifacio Drive.

30 December, 7:00 AM: Rizal, after arriving on the execution site at the Luneta de Bagumbayan, was checked with his pulse by Dr. Felipe Ruiz Castillo. It was perfectly normal. Rizal once wrote, “I wish to show those who deny us patriotism that we know how to die for our duty and our convictions.”

“Preparen.” “Apunten.” Rizal shouted, “Consummatum est.” It is done.

30 December, 7:03 AM: With the captain shouting “Fuego!” Shouts rang out from the guns of eight indio soldiers. Rizal, being a convicted criminal was not facing the firing squad. As he was hit, he resists and turns himself to face his executors. He falls down, and dies facing the sky.

“Viva España! Muerte a los traidores!”

Bit in two years, the victorious Philippine revolutionaries will seal the fate of the Spanish Empire in the east. Three hundred thirty three years of Spanish Colonialism ended in 1898.

30 December 1896, afternoon: Narcisa, after a long search, discovered where her brother’s body was secretly buried, at the old unused Paco Cemetery. She asked the guards to place a marble plaque designed by Doroteo Ongjungco containing Rizal’s initials in reverse—“RPJ.”

17 August 1898: Four days after the Mock Battle of Manila when the Americans took over the city, the remains of Rizal where exhumed. They were brought to Narcisa’s house, washed and cleansed and were placed in an ivory urn designed by Romualdo Teodoro de Jesus. The urn stayed there until 1912.

29 December 1912: From Estraude Street in Binondo, Manila, the urn was transferred in a procession headed by the masons and the Knights of Rizal to the marble hall of the Ayuntamiento de Manila, where it stayed overnight with the Knights on guard.

30 December 1912: morning: In a solemn procession, the urn began its last journey to Rizal’s final resting place the base of the soon-to-rise national monument to José Rizal.

30 December 1913: The Rizal National Monument at the Luneta was inaugurated. Its original design name was “Motto Stella” (Guiding Star) and was made by Swiss sculptor Dr. Richard Kissling who earlier also made the National Monument to William Tell, the National Hero of Switzerland.

30 December 2012: The transfer of the remains of Rizal from Binondo to the site of the Rizal Monument was recreated one hundred years later by the Order of the Knights of Rizal and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in commemoration of Rizal’s 116th Martyrdom Anniversary.


"ANG KASIPAGAN SA PAGHAHANAP BUHAY AY PAGMAMAHAL DIN SA SARILI, SA ASAWA, ANAK AT KAPATID O KABABAYAN." (Diligence in the work that gives sustenance to thee is the true basis of love -- love for thine own self, for thine wife and children, for thine brothers and countrymen.)
-ANDRES BONIFACIO, Dekalogo ng Katipunan

"Igalang ang mga gurong nagpapamulat ng isip pagka’t kung utang sa magulang ang pagiging tao ay utang naman sa nagturo ang pagpapakatao."
-GREGORIA DE JESUS BONIFACIO-NAKPIL, Mga Tala ng Aking Buhay at Mga Ulat ng Katipunan

Kawaksing Propesor (Assistant Professor)
Departamento ng Kasaysayan
Pamantasang De La Salle -- Maynila

Ph.D. Anthropology Student,
University of the Philippines Diliman

Founding Member and Deputy Commander, Order of the Knights of Rizal, Sucesos Chapter
Panelist, The Bottomline with Boy Abunda, Late-night Saturdays, ABS-CBN

Member, Bahay Saliksikan ng Kasaysayan;
Honorary Member, Rotaract Club of Manila Metro
Adviser, Rotaract Club of DLSU Manila
Lecturer-on-Board, Linangan Educational Trips
Former Vice President, Philippine Historical Association

Wikipinoy of the Year 2007 for History
Natatanging Tarlakenyo 2011 para sa Pamamahayag
Gawad Lasallian Para sa Filipino 2012 (fakulti)


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