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Jose Rizal: Hero, patriot... and board game inventor

Filipinos know Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippines’ national hero, as a polymath, patriot and the most prominent advocate for reforms in the country during the Spanish colonial era. What most of them do not know is that he is also an inventor of a board game. According to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), Rizal created the fortune-telling board game called “La Sibila Cumana" while he was exiled in Dapitan in 1883. The game had a cover showing an image of an old woman, presumably “Sibila" or “Sybil," a prophetess in Greek legend and literature. According to the rules of the game, the player will have to choose one question on a list and spin a top on a board marked with numbers and Roman numerals that hold a corresponding answer and explanation to the query selected by the player. The original copy of the board game is currently in the possession of the descendants of Rizal’s brother, Paciano. Secret code? According to the NHCP, Rizal’s invention holds some mysteries, such as a possible secret message derived from the selection and arrangement of numbers on the game, which until now remains undecoded. “The way he arranged the game, you could get so many different types of answers. Now, is it possible na meron siyang tinago na message?" NHCP Curator Bryan Anthony Paraiso asked. Paraiso noted that Rizal also made coded messages in his other works. “Kasi po si Rizal [marami siyang] means of communicating. Even in his youth, gumagawa na po siya ng mga coded messages [that could have also been used in the game]," he said. For instance, in one of his books, Rizal wrote a paragraph in a language that was neither English nor Spanish. When the paragraph was decoded by experts, it actually holds details about his sentiments regarding social issues and his love life. “Peaceful" life in Dapitan According to the website, the national hero actually had a "peaceful" stay in Dapitan. During his exile, Rizal built a boys’ school and a small hospital where he practiced his medical profession. He also continued his literary works and widened his knowledge in languages and was engaged in farming and created a water supply system. While in Dapitan, he also had a relationship with Josephine Bracken, an Irish woman, who bore Rizal's stillborn child. The Philippines will commemorate Rizal’s 150th birthday on June 19. He was executed by firing squad by Spanish troops on Dec. 30, 1896. — KBK, GMA News
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