30 August 2012

Our Jose Rizal Itinerary in Madrid

One of the major reason why we wanted to visit Madrid because it played a major role in our (Philippine) history. Prior to our visit in Spain, I searched for the places frequented by Jose Rizal (Philippine National Hero). I found the information from the website of the Philippine Embassy in Madrid. It includes a map and description of the places. 

Luckily most of them were near our hotel in Puerta del Sol. It only took us about 45 minutes to find the following places except for Parque del Buen Retiro. 

1. Hotel Ingles at Calle de Echegaray

Hotel Inglés figured prominently as a place where the Filipino community in Madrid marked or celebrated its most important events.  

In 1884, this was the venue for the banquet in honor of  Luna and Hidalgo.  The place retains its 19th century ambience and has at the lobby a marker indicating the year of its construction, the representative menu then, and the events celebrated there such as zarzuelas, musical presentations and plays.  On its walls are paintings showing the hotel’s original look.    
Aside from the Luna-Hidalgo banquet, the Filipino community would sometimes hold their cenas in the hotel in celebration of the New Year.  Even today, Hotel Ingles is used by the Filipino community as, for example, when it celebrated the centennial of the Revolution and the First Republic with President Fidel V. Ramos in attendance.

2. Los Gabrieles at Calle de Echegaray (17)

This was a rendezvous for the Filipino propagandists in whose halls were displayed two murals made of ceramic tiles described by Rizal in a letter to his sisters.  It had a group of skeletons forming a band, the “Balandristas,” playing  guitar and other musical instruments.

  At the opposite end was a mural with a country scene, showing girls at a picnic in the meadow, a setting associated with the period of the Spanish painter Goya.  It was during the times the Filipino students met in this bar that they formed their stand on various issues affecting the Philippines.    

Today, the place is a venue for flamenco dance presentations and musical bands playing popular and classical Spanish songs.  Its 19th century ambience is looked upon with pride by its owners and personnel.  There is a variety of wine served at the usual Spanish time of fun and enjoyment, that is, towards dusk until the break of dawn.    

3. Viva Madrid at Calle de Manuel Fernandez y Gonzalez

Another hangout famous for its beautiful murals of azulejos or glazed tiles where Rizal used to take his light meals with wine,  this was likewise the favorite place of Graciano Lopez Jaena who had the reputation of being “a man of the world and of wine.”  

The place would tell us that it was not “all work and no play” for our national hero.  We can imagine him and his friends spending hours in some afternoons sipping wine while admiring the beautiful women passing by. 

 Rizal would even say that he had spent two pesetas and 90 centimos for a baile at the El Excelsior, perhaps a nearby cabaret for the public as was the style of the time.    

A marker proudly exhibited in the establishment mentions its association with the Filipino community in Madrid at that time.    

4. Calle de Manuel Fernandez y Gonzalez (8)

This was his place of residence from May 1883 to June 17, 1883 before Rizal left for Paris for a vacation. 

 Situated in the old part of Madrid close to the Plaza Sta. Ana and right behind the Teatro Español, it stood near the corner of c/ Echegaray (formerly c/ del Lobo), where he criticized his fellow residents for engaging in idle discussions day after day.  He lived here with Eduardo de Lete and Ceferino de Leon.  By their agreement, they did not allow gambling (juego de azar) in their quarters.    

 5. Calle Ventura dela Vega (15)

This was the residence of  D. Pablo Ortiga y Rey, vice president of the Consejo de Filipinas and the headquarters of Circulo Hispano Filipino.  In a letter to this family dated October 10, 1882, Rizal mentioned having boarded here from 1883 (autumn) to August 1884, apparently on a temporary basis since the following entries would indicate that he had other places of residence in Madrid.   
The association (CHF) was organized as a forum for Filipino students to discuss Philippine affairs.  It sponsored regular bailes to raise funds for the association.  It published a magazine financed by Juan Atayde, a Philippine-born Spaniard.  Among those with whom Rizal discussed Philippine issues were the Paternos — Pedro, Maximino and Antonio — and Gregorio Sangciangco y Goson who made deep impressions on Rizal.  The latter wrote El Progreso de Filipinas which said that a plan for agriculture, commerce and industry could usher in improvements and progress in the Philippines.  The association did not last long, as Rizal wrote to his family on January 29, 1883, that it disbanded upon his suggestion apparently due to lack of sufficient interests of the members.   
The residence had another attraction for Rizal aside from being the venue of political discussions.  The daughter of the owner, Consuelo Ortiga y Rey caught Rizal’s fancy.  However, Consuelo was torn between Rizal and de Lete.  Rizal even gave Consuelo poems, musical pieces from Paris and guimaras, a kind of textile from the Philippines.  The guimaras gift was acknowledged by Consuelo through de Lete, which seemed to have put an end to Rizal’s illusions about her love, his first derrota or defeat as he wrote in codes in his diary.    

 6. Ateneo de Madrid at Calle del Prado (21)

Although not an educational institution but an exclusive club for men of letters and science, the Ateneo contributed to the professional development of Rizal.  It was here where he regularly attended theatrical presentations, music and poetry recitals and book launchings.  He was in attendance when Ramon de Compoamor delivered his best poetry in 1884.  It was also at the Ateneo where he studied English under the tutelage of  Sr. Schüts.  At one time, Rizal was presented to the Principe de Baviera, then presiding over the meeting.    
Even now, the ambience of the Ateneo is one of quiet, civility and seriousness, with people spending their time in high-ceilinged rooms and galleries.  The theatre has retained the classical stage reminiscent of a place for Greek plays.  On the hallway are portraits of its most prominent members.  Rizal’s portrait used to hang at the end of the hallway.    

7. Congreso de lod Disputados (formerly Las Cortes Espanolas)

 The Filipino community lobbied in this building for the recognition of the Filipinos’ right to autonomy and for equal rights with Spanish citizens.  This is not far from the areas where the Filipino community lived and is just across the park dedicated to the memory of Cervantes, the famous creator of Don Quixote de la Mancha and Sancho Panza.  

 8. Parque del Buen Retiro

This was Rizal’s favorite park in Madrid which inspired him to name his place of exile in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte as “Mi Retiro.”  

This was also the site of the Exposición de Filipinas of 1887 in whose Palacio Cristal pavilions were exhibited Philippine artifacts, art works and botanical specimens.  For including in the exhibition “samples of Philippine peoples” such as the Igorots, Manobos and Negritos, Rizal criticized “civilized” Spain for violation of their human rights.  It seemed to Rizal that the exhibition was no better than a zoo where Madrileños laughed in disdain as they looked at these “primitive” examples of the human race.  Rizal was particularly bitter when in the winter, a member of the group, an Igorot woman, died and others contracted pneumonia due to the cold.    

(text source: http://www.philembassymadrid.com/rizals-madrid)


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