Jose Rizal Monument in Manila City

Rizal Day: National Holiday in the Philippines

The Philippines celebrate Rizal Day in honor of its national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Rizal Day is traditionally celebrated every 30th of December, but recent laws which favor movable holidays “fixed” Rizal day on the “Monday nearest December 30”. It is a movable holiday and its exact date is determined through a Proclamation issued by the President (see List of 2010 Holidays). Why do we celebrate Rizal Day on the 30th of December?

Jose Rizal Monument in Manila City
Jose Rizal Monument in Manila City

There’s a bit of controversy in the date of the Rizal Day celebration. It is argued that the celebration should coincide with the momentous event which heightened the Filipino’s resolve to unite and seek independence. That event is the death of Rizal in December 30.

On the other hand, many believe that a holiday should commemorate a joyous occasion, such a birthday of an important figure or the liberation of the country. For instance, Andres Bonifacio was born on 30 November 1863 and so we have the Bonifacio Day in November 30 of every year.

Rizal was born on 19 June 1861, which is obviously not the date when we celebrate Rizal Day.

December 30 is the death anniversary of Rizal. On 30 December 1896, the 35-year old Rizal was marched from his detention cell in Fort Santiago to Bagumbayan (present site of the Rizal Park, formerly known as Luneta) and shot by a firing squad. He was sentenced to death after the Spaniards found him guilty of rebellion, sedition and of forming illegal association.

Of course, December 30 falls during the Christmas season. The Philippines celebrates the longest Christmas season in the world. This fact is another argument raised why Rizal Day should be moved to June 19 — it is generally forgotten in December 30 because people are on a long Christmas vacation; hardly a time to reflect about what Rizal did for the Philippines.

So, do you think Rizal Day should remain in December 30? Or should it be moved to June 19?

8 thoughts on “Rizal Day: National Holiday in the Philippines”

  1. Rizal Day must be celebrated on December 30th, Rizal’s death anniversary, because his death is more significant to us Filipinos than his birth. To change Rizal Day from his death anniversary to birth anniversary is to forget the significance of his death in our fight for freedom. By Rizal’s death, he became a martyr and a symbol of the Filipino nation. As a martyr, he became the ultimate symbol of Filipino nationalism.

    For Bonifacio Day, it is more appropriate to observe Bonifacio’s birth anniversary because his death is insignificant to us Filipinos. His heroic deeds could be more associated with his birth.

  2. Should be on Dr. Jose P. Rizal birthday 19th June and should be a special celebration for all the country at one time and true Philippine holiday for a true hero of the Philippines.

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