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Dr. Jose Rizal has been a national iconic hero for over a hundred years. He has been the symbol of our country’s freedom, the epitome of nationalistic patriotism. He emanates martyrdom with every fiber of his being and everything else that he left the country to strive upon. His story has been narrated in countless books and articles. He became an extension of education where he was the main course in a classroom, an honorable feature of Rizal. His totality as a person, essentially as a Filipino has been studied a hundredfold by researchers and students alike.
For years, the Filipino race glorified respect for Jose Rizal because of his sacrifices as a citizen, his beliefs as an honest propagandist, and all his talents that have been appreciated because of their effectiveness in the process of gaining equal rights as a united nation. However, his reputation as an unwavering bayani has been doubted due to lingering issues that contradict the very core reason why we Filipinos learned to gratify his efforts, his existence in our history.
The issue of Jose Rizal’s so-called “retraction” has been around since both Manila and Spanish newspapers published claiming his retraction right after his execution.
In some sources, they state that Rizal’s alleged retraction did not actually happen. These sources say that the friars who visited him within twenty four hours prior his execution convinced him to confess the sins they accused him of committing. “The Jesuits, on the other hand, were with him practically every minute of the time, six priests going in relays, usually two at a time, in an attempt to bring about Rizal’s conversion.
” “The main motive, of which, is to make Rizal admit his errors against religion and retract them. If the friars of the future could state with authority that Rizal’s expressed views on the friars were not what he really believed, it would cast an element of doubt over everything he had written, making people hesitate to believe it. At least seven Jesuits visited Rizal at various times during the course of the day.”
But Rizal stood his ground and even refused to mark his signature onto the notification given to him declaring the statement of his execution. In spite of his conviction, he eventually submitted and signed for his death sentence. “He was ordered by the judge to sign the notification of sentence as required by law. He refused to sign and was resigned to do so.”
In this issue of Rizal’s alleged retraction incident, the previously mentioned indicates the belief of Rizal not committing such declaration of withdrawal and confession. While the other stands for the contradicting, that of which claims Rizal of actually signing a statement of his retraction. There are sources indicating that there are proofs of Rizal not actually retracting. An example of such is his burial. He was not buried within a Catholic cemetery and was listed as a suicide (criminal) case, a neglected body along with the heaps of cadaver with unknown causes of death.
If he did retract and admonished Masonry, then the Church, claiming his retraction and his reconciliation with the religion, would have had the decency of giving him a proper Catholic burial and declare his death under the list of Catholics, to acknowledge the confession the friars claimed they witnessed Rizal committed. The alleged retraction papers also only were revealed about thirty (30) years after Rizal’s death. A matter of concern was uprooted when two statements of the declaration were recognized, both of which had a great deal of differences. Some claim that one of these was fabricated, and some claim that the “original” copy aged and rotted in the grasp of the Spanish Catholic friars. What they saw was a copy done by one who could imitate Rizal’s handwriting while the original (almost eaten by termites) was kept by some friars.
There are also those who strongly believe that Rizal could not have had any reason to retract, arguing that Rizal was a noble man who would not stoop so low as to follow those whom he initially was writing against. Such a believer is Gumersindo Garcia, Sr., M.D., stating: “I find it inconceivable that a man of his character with such devotion and patriotism to his country and, moreover, willingness to die for her would break down in a moment and write the alleged retraction for no other reason than to abjure masonry and return to the Roman Catholic Church for fear of the damnation of his soul in case he did not do it. In my humble opinion, Rizal was a sincerely religious man who knew what he believed in and could not be cowed by threat of eternal damnation from anybody. Besides, he could remain a mason and a Catholic at the same time just as many masons in the Philippines…”
I myself would want to believe that Rizal had not retracted. Since it is still a boiling issue for over far too many years now, this just exemplifies the ambiguity of the information accumulated regarding this issue. If Rizal did retract, his pedestal as this country’s national hero can stumble and Filipinos can lose touch with the roots of their blood, with the thinking that our hero in actuality may have been a coward a liar, or any adjective that can tarnish his image of idealistic nature. We may not entirely understand Rizal’s complex personality, but our country can at least look back and appreciate the hardships our forefathers went through so that we, the children of this country can be treated as human beings with justice and equal rights. All we have to do now is to simply follow in their conviction and to not let their efforts be put to waste.
 An excerpt from “The Life and Writings of Dr. José Rizal” Chapter 16: Did Rizal Retract paragraph 2
 An excerpt from “The Last Hours of Rizal” by Coates, as cited by www.geocities.com/rizalretraction paragraph 3
 An excerpt from “The Last Hours of Rizal” by Coates, as cited by www.geocities.com/rizalretraction paragraph 2
 An excerpt from www.joserizal.ph “The Retraction” paragraph 25
 A statement by Gumersindo Garcia, Sr., M.D., as cited by Maria Stella S Valdez, from the book “Dr. Jose Rizal and the Writing of His Story”
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