by Jeffrey Damicog
Had Jose Rizal’s wishes been followed to the letter, no one would make a fuss over the towering Torre de Manila condominium as an eyesore for disturbing the background of his iconic monument in Manila.
“It had been Rizal’s wish to die facing the rising sun,” read the Supreme Court (SC) decision penned by Associate Justice Antonio Carpio which granted the lifting of the temporary restraining order (TRO) and allowed the resumption of the construction of the unfinished 49-storey building.
The high tribunal finished and released the decision on May 25 a month after the SC en banc voted 9-6 on April 25 in favor of lifting the TRO.
“I die just when I see the dawn break, Through the gloom of night, to herald the day,” the SC cited a portion of the poem Mi Ultimo Adios which Rizal wrote a day before he was executed by firing squad at dawn when the sun was rising on the site where his monument stands.
Rizal’s statue at the Luneta Park faces west with the Torre de Manila rising tall in the background behind it in the east.
“The Rizal Monument is expressly against Rizal’s own wishes,” said the SC which also cited a 1953 discovery of a letter written by Rizal prior his death and addressed to but never reached his family whom he asked for “a simple tomb, marked with a cross and a stone with only his name and the date of his birth and death; no anniversary celebrations; and interment at Paang Bundok (now, the Manila North Cemetery).”
“That Rizal’s statue now stands facing West towards Manila Bay, with Rizal’s back to the East, adds salt to the wound. If we continue the present orientation of Rizal’s statue, with Rizal facing West, we would be like the Spanish captain who refused Rizal’s request to die facing the rising sun in the East,” the high tribunal lamented.
“On the other hand, if Rizal’s statue is made to face East, as Rizal had desired when he was about to be shot, the background — the blue sky above Manila Bay — would forever be clear of obstruction, and we would be faithful to Rizal’s dying wish,” it pointed out.
The SC noted Rizal was not even allowed to face his executioners who stood east behind him and he was made “to stand facing West towards Manila Bay, with his back to the firing squad, like the traitor the colonial government wished to portray him.”
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