‘Mi Ultimo Adios’ in Braille unveiled in Intramuros
Another brass plaque, that of the “L’ultimo Addio," the Italian poet Rino Pavolini’s translation of Rizal’s most famous last poem, the Spanish original of which has no title, was likewise installed at the Rizal Shrine.
The two separate brass plaques together with a mixed media painting by Palermo-born but now Manila-based Italian painter Nino Quartana showing the final moments of Rizal’s execution, a portion of the national hero’s face, and the Italian rendition of “L’ultimo Addio" were unveiled on Nov. 14 by Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Luca Fornari and National Historical Commission of the Philippines Chair Maria Serena Diokno. The painting is also on display at the Rizal Shrine.
“The gift of two brass plaques given by the Embassy of Italy in the Philippines to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines marks the celebration of two very important events in Italian and Philippine history this year," Emanuela Adesini, the Italian Embassy’s Cultural Attache, told GMA News Online.
“These two very important events are the 150th year of the Unification of Italy and the 150th birth anniversary of Jose Rizal," Adesini said in an interview.
The unveiling of the brass plaques and painting on Nov. 14 was accompanied by a night of live musical performances by Wes Antonio Cruz Lipana, Adrik Cristobal, and Janine Samaniego, all students of the UP College of Music, and a poetry recital in Filipino, Italian, and Spanish.
The UP Singing Ambassadors rendered Giuseppe Verdi’s “Va’ Pensiero," Giorgio Gaber’s “Liberta," George Canseco’s “Ako ay Pilipino," and Gary Granada’s “Tagumpay Nating Lahat."
Dubbed “A Homage to Jose Rizal," the event featured the reading of the national hero’s poem—written hours before his execution on Dec. 30, 1896 and smuggled out of his Fort Santiago detention cell by being hidden in an oil lamp—in three languages. Linetto Basilone, an Italian instructor at UP Diliman’s Department of European Languages, read “L’ultimo Addio," UP Prof. Wystan dela Peña read “Mi Ultimo Adios," and UP Diliman student Paquito Tabago read “Huling Paalam."
Among the Italian poems read were: Salvatore Quasimodo’s “Alle Fronte delle Salici," Mother Teresa’s “Ama la Vita," and Primo Levi’s “Se Questo e un Uomo."
“A Homage to Jose Rizal" was held less than 24 hours after the five-day 2011 Italian Film Festival, informally labeled as “A Homage to Bernardo Bertolucci, Dario Argento, and Brillante Mendoza" drew to a close on Nov. 13.
Rizal in Italy
According to historical accounts, Rizal spent some time in Italy as part of his European tour. The national hero was said to have arrived in Rome on June 27, 1887 and eventually visited Turin, Milan, Venice, and Florence.
In her remarks, National Historical Commission’s Diokno said the unification of Italy and the birth of Rizal may be “two seemingly disparate events" but a critical evaluation would reveal that “both were intimately related to the project of nation-building."
“In the case of Italy, from independent states the kingdom of Italy became one, while in the case of Rizal, the idea of a Filipino nation began to take shape," said Diokno, also a UP Diliman history professor.
“In both instances, the formation of a single national entity, with an identity all its own, was the clear driving force. Hence, we come together at the shrine of Rizal, Italians and Filipinos, with a rich tradition and history of national honor," Diokno added.
Ambassador Fornari, in his speech, recalled that one of the first things he did upon his arrival in Manila was to visit the Rizal Shrine together with his wife Silvana. At the time of their visit, the ambassador said he asked himself why the Spaniards executed Rizal when he was “not a revolutionary ready to clash with the government." He added: “Why was he considered so dangerous by the Spanish government that it resorted to shooting him?"
Fornari said the Italian Embassy in Manila collaborated with Resources for the Blind to transcribe in Braille the Filipino translation of Rizal’s last poem. He thanked the organization for “giving the opportunity to everyone to learn about" Rizal’s last poem.
Drawing from historical experiences, Fornari said, “One hundred fifty years ago, Rizal was the representative of the French Revolution, which was the ultimate expression of the radical Enlightenment which attempted to cut religion from society, and of the American Revolution, which embodies the moderate Enlightenment values of inclusion and tolerance."
“To remember the struggles in the Philippines and Italy, we are donating the Italian translation of Jose Rizal’s poem ‘Mi Ultimo Adios’ to be added to the other translations in this wonderful museum," he said in his speech.
The Rizal Shrine displays the national hero’s final address in Romanian, Slovak, Czech, French, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, English, and Filipino.
Contrary to popular misperceptions, the Rizal monument and mausoleum in Rizal Park or Luneta were not done by a Filipino sculptor or an architect. These were created by Swiss sculptor Richard Kissling, who was only a second placer in the 1905-1907 international monument design competition launched by the Philippines to select a design fit for the final resting place of the national hero.
An article in the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts website said the first prize winner in the international competition where 40 entries were accepted was Italian Prof. Carlos Nicoli of Carrara, Italy, whose submission was a scaled plaster model called “Al Martir de Bagumbayana" (To The Martyr of Bagumbayan). Nicoli planned to use marble slabs from Italy and to incorporate elaborate figurative elements in constructing the Rizal monument, the article said. Controversies and confusion surrounded how Kissling ended up doing the project. –KG, GMA News