6 Myths, Rumors, And Untruths About Jose Rizal, The National Hero Of The Philippines

"Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika, daig pa ang hayop at malansang isda." This is a quote often attributed to Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines. It's a line from the poem Sa Aking Mga Kababata which is being taught in schools all over the archipelago as a piece written by the celebrated hero when he was just 8 years old.

However, there's very little evidence proving that Rizal wrote the poem. In fact, evidence shows that he didn't pen it. In his book Rizal Without the Overcoat, historian and essayist Ambeth Ocampo made a convincing case that the poem was written by someone not named Jose Rizal. This and other myths, Jose Rizal rumours, and untruths about the national hero are discussed below.

1) Rizal is the father of Adolf Hitler.
If you put alongside each other photos of Rizal and Hitler, it's not that difficult to see bits of resemblance. They're both small of stature. They have dark hair and dark eyes. Rizal also did a stint studying at the Heidelberg University in Germany. Maximo Viola, a friend of Rizal, once wrote about an encounter between Rizal and an Austrian woman and theorists claim that their union may have produced Hitler. These are just some of the instances that are causing people to believe that Rizal fathered Hitler.

However, as Ambeth Ocampo pointed out in his book Rizal Without the Overcoat, Hitler was born in 1889 and Rizal left Germany for good in 1887. Babies are born only 9 months after conception. You do the math.

2) Rizal is the dreaded Jack the Ripper.
Source: thedungeons.com
Rizal was in London from May 1888 to January 1889. Jack the Ripper was planting fear and havoc in the streets of London around this time. According to believers of the connection between the two, the killings suddenly stopped when Rizal left the city.

Furthermore, Jack the Ripper is known for his surgical precision in murdering his victims which suggested that he had medical training. It so happened that Rizal was a doctor. Also, Jose Rizal's initials J.R. match those of Jack the Ripper. But, aside from these dismissible evidence, there's absolutely no reason to believe that Rizal was the Ripper.

3) Rizal wrote the poem Sa Aking Mga Kababata when he was eight years old.
Filipino students are being taught that Rizal wrote the poem in Calamba when he was merely eight years old. However, there is enough evidence to suggest that this is not the case. The poem was first published 10 years after Rizal's execution. Herminigildo Cruz, the man who published the poem said he got it from a certain Gabriel Beato Francisco who in turn got the poem from a certain Saturnino Raselis. Raselis allegedly received the poem from Rizal himself. This claim has been completely debunked by Ambeth Ocampo in his essay Rizal Did Not Write Sa Aking Mga Kabata.

In Ocampo's words, "No original manuscript, in Rizal's own hand, exists for "Sa Aking Mga Kabata" traditionally believed to be his first poem. Rizal had 35 years to publish or assert authorship but he did not." A popular quote from the poem in question goes, "Ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika, masahol pa sa hayop at malansang isda." Well, based on evidence, it's highly unlikely that Rizal ever said this.

4) Rizal is alive and divine.
Source: faithology.com
There are people who believe that Rizal is alive and well. Majority of these people are members of the Rizalista movement, a religious group who believes that Rizal has turned divine and would come in glory to the Philippines after the end of the world. Why do these people think that Rizal is alive? It seems that they took their cues from a report written by an agent of the Spanish governor-general three months after Rizal's execution.

According to the report, soldiers who loaded Rizal's body into a carriage, upon reaching the gates of the cemetery, discovered that the body has disappeared. Even more unbelievable, there was reportedly a white cock that has taken the place of Rizal's body. These were all nothing but rumors of course.

5) Rizal is a psychic and has prophetic abilities.
Source: filipiknow.net
The irony of this myth is that it grew because of the writings of Ambeth Ocampo, the go-to guy when it comes to topics related to Rizal. It's ironic because Ocampo has debunked a lot of the myths and misconceptions about Rizal, yet he is the culprit when it comes to the growing popularity of the suggestion that Rizal has psychic powers. Although Ocampo has taken his cues from the writings of Austin Coates, Leon Ma. Guerrero, and Guillermo Tolentino with regards to Rizal's psychic powers, his own writings are the ones that are most accessible to people. So it was Ocampo who propagated to the greater public the myth that Rizal is a psychic.

The growth of the myth aside, is there evidence to suggest that Rizal is a psychic? There's absolutely none. If you are to look into the writings of Ocampo, Coates, Guerrero and Tolentino that allude to such psychic gifts, these can be satisfactorily explained by good reasoning and logic without having to bring out the psychic card.

6) Rizal wrote his famous poem Ultimo Adios on the eve of his execution.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Students in the country are often taught that the night before he was executed, Rizal penned his masterful poem Ultimo Adios. Although this sounds very dramatic, it's simply difficult to believe because Rizal couldn't have written the poem on the night before he was shot. According to the account being taught in schools, Rizal handed the poem to his sister Trinidad on the day before he was executed.

If Rizal gave the poem to Trinidad on December 29, how could he have written it on the eve of his execution. The most logical explanation is that Rizal wrote the poem much earlier than the night of December 29. Rizal scholar Ambeth Ocampo doubts the popular account. So does Gregorio C. Brillantes, N.V.M. Gonzales, Austin Craig, Jaime C. de Veyra and Nick Joaquin.

These myths and rumors about Jose Rizal will likely continue to circulate in the coming years. Hopefully, this article will help in dispelling such misleading claims. If you have anything to add to what we discussed above, feel free to leave your comments, reactions, and suggestions in the comments section below.