Rizal’s living legacy: Family descendant visits Dapitan, challenges Filipinos to follow his blueprint

Dapitan City, Philippines – December 30, 2023 – In a historic first in Dapitan City, the commemoration of the 127th anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal’s martyrdom was graced by the presence of a living embodiment of his legacy – Ms. Gemma Cruz Araneta, a descendant of his sister, Maria Rizal- Cruz.
Ms. Araneta, former Secretary of the Department of Tourism, shed new light on Rizal’s exile in Dapitan, dispelling the popular misconception that it stemmed from his novels. She aligned with historian Ambeth Ocampo, stating that Rizal’s true offense was the establishment of La Liga Filipina, a revolutionary organization aiming to unite the archipelago and challenge Spanish colonial rule.
“Rizal’s objectives were clear,” Ms. Araneta declared. “He envisioned a united Philippines, a nation where education, agriculture, and commerce thrived, and where citizens were protected from injustice. La Liga Filipina was his blueprint for a progressive and resilient future.”
She further emphasized that Rizal’s vision wasn’t just theoretical. “His exile in Dapitan,” she explained, “was not just a punishment; it was a laboratory for his ideas. He established a school, practiced medicine, and empowered the local community. Dapitan became a microcosm of his dream nation.”
Ms. Araneta then dropped a captivating challenge: “Did Rizal leave behind a blueprint for the Philippines? I believe he did. It’s not just in La Liga Filipina’s objectives; it’s in his actions, his writings, and his unwavering spirit. I urge the Local Government Units, the academe, and the security sector to study his life and work, to find and implement the plans he left for us.”
Her voice resonated with a palpable urgency, echoing through the hearts of Dapitanons. The presence of a Rizal family member, coupled with Ms. Araneta’s passionate call to action, infused the commemoration with a newfound sense of purpose.
Dapitan City Mayor Seth Frederick P. Jalosjos, echoing Ms. Araneta’s call to action, urged Dapitanons to become the generation that fulfills Rizal’s dreams. He envisioned a city, and by extension, a nation, where every citizen stands tall, empowered by the spirit of the man who dared to dream a brighter future.
The event also witnessed a moving gesture by the Dapitan community. As Ms. Araneta approached the monument, she was met by a sea of faces offering flowers, a stark contrast to the isolation Rizal faced during his exile. “This is the first time I’ve seen such respect and affection for him,” she remarked, her voice choking with emotion. “It fills me with hope, knowing that his legacy continues to inspire and motivate generations.”
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