Unveiling of the historical marker commemorating José Rizal in Hungarian

It was for the first time on December 27th, 2017 that the Hungarian flag flew in Fort Santiago, Intramuros district, Manila. The occasion was the official unveiling of a historical marker to commemorate with a Hungarian translation of the Philippine hero’s last poem, the 121st anniversary of the execution of José Rizal. The event was organized by the Embassy of Hungary in the Philippines and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary. The historical marker stands in the park of Fort Santiago, along with fifteen other translations of Rizal’s „Mi ultimo adios”. The poem was written on the night of 29th December 1896, shorty before Rizal’s execution the following day. The small piece of paper on which it was written was hidden inside an oil lamp, before the poet handed it over to his sister. 

Honoring the sacrifice of the Philippine hero, Ambassador József Bencze personally translated the poem into his native Hungarian. José Rizal, a driving personality of the Philippines independence movement, visited Austria-Hungary several times during his short life. His execution – contrary to the expectations of the colonizers – galvanized the resolve of the independence movement. Alongside Ambassador Bencze, speeches were delivered at the unveiling ceremony by National Artist Francisco Sionil José and Executive Director of the National Historical Commission Ludovico D. Badoy.

Ambassador Bencze pointed out that the personality and works of Rizal are close to the hearts of Hungarians: his love for freedom, independence and struggle against oppression all resonate with our national heroes and poets. The Ambassador said the unveiling is a show of respect to both José Rizal, the national hero and the perseverance and greatness of the Filipino people. The marker shall be a reminder of the friendship of the Hungarian and Philippine nations and their common love of freedom – he said in closing. The ceremony was part of a series of official nationwide commemorations of the 121st anniversary of Rizal’s execution organized by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines led by President Rodrigo R. Duterte.