At Foundation University a couple of weeks ago they were sprucing up the main campus in preparation for the year’s graduation ceremonies.
This statue of Jose Rizal has a prominent position on the university campus beside the ponds and fountains of the Social Garden. It was starting to look dirty and disheveled, so this boy on the grounds crew was assigned to give it a nice new coat of paint for public viewing.
There are thousands of statues of Jose Rizal in the Philippines, which is only fitting for the man considered the Founder of his Country. These statues appear in public parks, town centers, in front of government buildings and shopping malls. They are almost always standing figures. Rizal is usually shown standing expressionless, arms at his sides, a serious solemn martyr.
It’s true that he died a martyr, due to the paranoia of the authorities. Although as a writer he was harshly critical of those in power, he was neither a warrior nor a revolutionary. He posed no real threat to the government- and he was also popular public figure.
Considering this, any reasonable administration would have listened to his accusations, and then appointed him to head an investigating committee and prepare a lengthy report. This process could have kept him quiet and forgotten for several years, if not indefinitely.
Instead, due to the incredible stupidity of the Spanish Colonial administrators, he was condemned as a traitor and shot dead at Lunetta park in 1896, thus making him a martyr and assuring their own doom. It was a tragic and bizarre fate for a man who was primarily a doctor, a writer and a scholar. This identity of Rizal as a scholar was in the mind of Vicente Sinco when, as President and founder of Foundation University, he commissioned a statue to be made of him.
Dr. Sinco, a writer and a scholar himself, insisted that, on a university campus, Rizal should be shown seated, quietly reading a book. The statue was completed as Dr. Sinco asked- and now it remains here as one of the few, if not the only statues of Rizal to show him as he probably saw himself.
And so, here in this picture, Dr. Rizal sits reading, with a fresh coat of paint. And behind him, a young student at the university is also sitting and studying.