The Death of Jose Rizal
After the kangaroo trial, Rizal was escorted to his cell in Fort Santiago to make use of his remaining time. His last 24 hours was his busiest life – as if trying to meet the deadline.
Last hours of Rizal. At 6:00 A.M., December 29, 1896, Captain Rafael Dominguez, read the death sentence to Rizal to be shot at the back by a firing squad at 7:00 A.M. in Bagumbayan.
At 7:00 A.M., an hour after the reading of the death sentence, Rizal was transferred to the Prison Chapel. His first visitors were Father Miguel Saderra Mata and Father Luis Viza.
At 7:15 A.M., Father Saderra left. Father Viza handed over the Sacred Heart of Jesus carved by Rizal in Ateneo.
At 8:00 A.M., Father Rosell arrived to relieve Father Viza. They joined at breakfast. Lt. Luis Taviel de Andrade came and Rizal thanked him for his gallant services.
At 9:00 A.M., Fathers Jose Vilaclara (teacher in Ateneo) and Vicente Balaguer (Jesuit priest in Dapitan) visited the hero. After them came the Spanish journalist, Santiago Mataix, interviewed Rizal for his newspaper El Heraldo de Madrid.
From 12:00 A.M. (noon) to 3:30 P.M., Rizal was left alone in his cell. He took his lunch, after which he was busy writing. It was probably during this time when he finished his farewell poem and hid it inside his alcohol-cooking stove. (Not lamp as some biographers erroneously assert) which was given to him by Paz Pardo de Tavera. At the same he wrote his last letter to B lumentrit.
At 3:30 P.M., Father Balaguer returned to Fort Santiago and discussed with his about his retraction of the anti-catholic ideas in his writings and membership in Masonry.
At 4:00 P.M., Rizal’s mother arrived. He asked forgiveness, they were both crying when the guards separated them. Shortly afterwards Trinidad entered the cell to fetch her mother. As they were leaving Rizal whispered that “there is something inside the alcohol cooking stove” Trinidad understood. This “something” was Rizal’s farewell poem.
After the departure of Dona Teodora and Trinidad, Fathers Vilaclara and Estanislao march entered the cell, followed by Father Rosell.
At 6:00 P.M. Rizal received a new visitor, Don Silvino Lopez Tunon.
At 8:00 P.M., Rizal had his last supper. He informed Captain Dominguez that he forgave his enemies, including the military judges who condemned him to death.
At 9:30 P.M., Don Gaspar Centano, the fiscal of the Royal Audiencia of Manila, visited Rizal. As a gracious host, Rizal offered him the best chair in the cell. After a pleasant conversation, the fiscal left with a good impression of Rizal’s intelligence and noble character.
At 10:00 P.M., Father Belaguer to Rizal submitted the draft of the retraction sent by the anti-Filipino Archbishop Bernardino Nozaleda for signature, but he rejected it because it was too long and he did not like it. A shorter one was presented later which was prepared by Father Pio Pi, which was acceptable to Rizal. Rizal then wrote his retraction, in which he abjured Masonry and his religious ideas, which were anti-catholic.
At 3:00 o’ clock in the morning of December 30, 1896, Rizal heard mass, confessed his sins, and took the Holy Communion.
At 5:30 A.M., he took his last breakfast. After this, he wrote two letters, for his family and other one for his brother Paciano. It was also then, when his wife Josephine Bracken arrived accompanied by Josefa. (Sister of Rizal). With tears in her eyes, she bade farewell. Rizal embraced her for the last time and gave her his last gift – a religious book, Imitation of Christ, which he autographed: “ To My Dar Unhappy Wife, Josephine”.
6:00 A.M., He wrote another letter to his beloved parents, asking for forgiveness for the sorrows that he had given them, and thanking them for their sacrifices to give him a good education.
At 6:30 A.M., Rizal was prepared for the execution. A trumpet sounded announcing his forthcoming execution. With four soldiers as advance guards, Rizal a few meters behind walk calmly towards his slaughter place, accompanied by Lt. Luis Taviel de Andrade, two Jesuits Priests, and followed by more soldiers behind him. He was dressed in black suit, with a black derby hat, black shoes but with white shirts and black tie.
Like any execution by muskertry, muffled sound of drums rent the air, with the group marching solemnly and slowly. Near the field a large group of spectators was out probably to see how a hero dies or to make it sure that Rizal will die.
As they were walking to the field, Rizal looked at the sky and made a remark to one of the priests:
“How beautiful it is today, Father. What morning could be more serene! How clear are Corregidor and the mountains of Cavite! On morning like this, I used to take a walk with my sweetheart.”
While passing through in front of Ateneo, he asked one of the fathers, if the college towers were that of Ateneo’s, which was affirmed by one of the priests.
In the Bagumbayan Field, the group stopped and he walked slowly to where he was told to stand-on a grassy lawn between two lampposts, overseeing the shores of the beautiful Manila Bay.
He took time to bid farewell to his companions, and firmly shook their hands. One of the priests blessed him and offered a crucifix for him to kiss, which he did.
He then requested the commander of the firing squad to shoot him facing the firing squad, which was refused, with the commander telling him of the orders that he had to follow.
He did as ordered reluctantly and turned his back and faced the sea, even as a Spanish Military doctor, Dr. Felipe Luis Castillo asked his permission to feel his pulse. Nothing could be more extraordinary that for a man facing the firing squad who will take off his life, as having a normal pulse. Rizal, who was intelligent, famous, respected, and who almost had everything during his time – had no fear to die; it was a rare opportunity and he would want it in no other way.
When the command “Fuego!” was heard, he made a supreme effort to face the firing squad, and his bullet-riddled body instead turned to the right with his face facing the morning sun. it was exactly 7:03 A.M., December 30th, 1896, when Jose Rizal died, his death was the life of the Filipinos. When he died – Nationalism was born, at the prime of his life, thirty-five year of age, five months and eleven days. His Mission was accomplished!
Last updated on December 20, 2009
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