In celebration of the 159th Birth Anniversary of Jose Rizal, the Philippine Embassy in Madrid held a virtual reading of 10 select poems by Rizal in English, Spanish and Tagalog, by known personalities and volunteers.
Veteran actor Tommy Abuel gave a moving and masterful reading of “Pahimakas,” or Andres’ Bonifacio’s translation of “Mi Ultimo Adios.” Enrique Gil read, with solemnity, “Water and Fire,” a poem from the novel “El Filibusterismo” and translated from Spanish into English by National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin while Spanish actor Andreas Muñoz’s reading of the original Spanish version of the poem, “El Agua y el Fuego,” was a true performance. Meanwhile actor Pepe Herrera’s gave an evocative reading of “Awit ng Manlalakbay,” translated from Spanish by Vicente de Jesus and singer-songwriter Cucay Pagdilao injected musicality in her reading of “They Ask Me for Verses,” also translated by Nick Joaquin from the original “Me Piden Versos.”
Other poems read by volunteers were “Sa Kabataang Pilipino,” by theater actor Buddy Caramat, “Mi Retiro,” “Canto de Maria Clara,” by Ava Cudilla, a teacher in Spain, “Canto del Viajero,” by members of the Asociación de Amigos Navarra y Filipinas (ANAFI); and “Y es español: Elcano, el primero en dar la vuelta al mundo.”
Ambassador Philippe Lhuillier stated, about the project, “Today we commemorate Jose Rizal’s 159th Birth Anniversary. Although this year COVID-19 will prevent us from holding a wreath-laying ceremony at his monument in Madrid, we are glad to honor him in other ways, ways that are more appropriate to this pandemic-ridden world we move in.
Jose Rizal has endlessly inspired Filipinos throughout time but outside of his two novels, few know of the breadth and extent of his works: his letters to family and friends, essays, and poems.
A poet once said that good poetry should be heard and not read. This year, to honor Rizal, we asked a few very kind volunteers to read some of Rizal’s poems. Through this project, we hope you appreciate just how beautiful Rizal’s poetry was–whether in original Spanish, translated into Tagalog by Virgilio Almario and Vicente de Jesus or into English by Nick Joaquin.”
Based on social media comments and insights, the project is well-received by Filipinos in Spain and beyond.