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Date Submitted: 02/10/2014 06:42 AM

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Did you know that there is a Rizal in each one of us? Or to put it another way, that there is an element of us in Rizal.  A cliché perhaps or a trite expression, yet how could it be otherwise?  As a Filipino, Rizal shared the anguish and anxiety of a foreigner in another land.  Like the thousands of Filipinos here in Spain, Rizal came from a tropical country, with so much hope for himself, for his family and his country.  Rizal could not have been different from you and I as, upon arrival, he looked for an immediate relative or friend to take care of him.  He was given to comparing this or that place with his own Calamba and Laguna de Bay expressing thereby the common sentiment of exiles longing for the sites of childhood.  Far from loved ones, solitude led Rizal to flirt with women as some of our migrants in Spain are wont to do.  Likewise, he would be like anyone of us trying to understand the peculiar Spanish way of doing things – why for instance, the Spaniards have late breakfasts, late lunches and late dinners.  To fathom the Spanish character would have required going through a process of discovering the places where they eat, how they live and what they have for entertainment.    

Could Rizal be different from us in going to the rastro to buy cheap but still usable suits or shoes or trying the entertainment at the cava and maison at the Plaza Mayor, the excitement of an afternoon at the Plaza de Toros and the childlike pleasure of whiling away his time at the zoo?  Would anyone be surprised that Rizal like most Filipinos participated in the game of chance called lotería?  It is hard to imagine that any place in Madrid could not have been traversed by Rizal.  For like us, Rizal was curious to know the places in Madrid that Madrileños themselves found interesting and likewise, important to satisfy one’s basic needs.    

Yet, it is also true that Rizal’s Madrid could have been different from ours.  He was first of all an intelligent man, a scholar and a...