Dr. Jose P. Rizal, Philippine national hero, deserves the rare distinction of “a man for all seasons.” One reason for this is the fact that his ideas, philosophies and virtues are timeless and still applicable up to these days, 118 years after his martyrdom.
To honor the memory of the greatest Filipino who has ever lived, we are printing in this space his Mi Ultimo Adios (My Last Farewell), an elegy translated in 2009 by Vedasto H. Dimante Jr. A few hours before he was executed on Dec. 30, 1896, Rizal wrote the elegy:
My Last Farewell
Farewell, O Country Beloved! Realm of the Radiant Sun!
Pearl of the Eastern Seas! Now, a ruined Paradise!
Willingly, I go to offer you my dreary, weary life;
Had it more brilliance, more freshness, more fragrance, I would
Still give it to you, to you alone, for your own good.
In the glare and blare of battle, struggling in a life-and-death fight,
Others risk themselves without question, without gloom;
The place does not matter — where there is cypress, laurel, or lily;
On scaffold or open field, in combat or martyrdom’s harsh hands — It is ever
The same when oblation is all the homeland demands.
I am to die when I see the light of dawn begin to glow,
Announcing a new day, after the dark-shrouded night;
If color is needed, at that very moment, pour out
My blood and let every dripping drop drench and dye
In splendor one gleam of the sun beaming across the sky.
Should you ever find some day somewhere on my grave
A humble flower trembling among the leaves of grass,
Hold it gently close to your lips and you kiss my soul;
Beneath my cold tomb I shall feel upon my face
The tenderness of your touch, the ember of an embrace!
And when at night the graveyard is veiled in mourning black
And the dead only, only the dead keep vigil in the dark,
Disturb not their tranquility, disturb not the mystery;
And if you hear strains of zither or psaltery all night through,
It is I, O Country Beloved! It is I singing a hymn to you!
Land that I love, O deepest sorrow among my sorrows!
Beloved Pilipinas, hear my final parting word!
I leave you all, all that I have — my family, my loved ones!
I go where there are no slaves, no oppressive regime;
Where faith does not kill, where God reigns supreme!
Farewell, my parents, dear brother, fragments of my soul,
Friends of my childhood in the old house we lost!
Give thanks that I can pause after a long restless day!
Farewell, sweet foreigner, joy of my life briefly possessed!
Farewell, to you all, dearest to my heart! To die is to rest!