“It is a useless life that is not consecrated to a great ideal. It is like a stone wasted on the field without becoming a part of any edifice.” – Jose Rizal

Jose Rizal may have dedicated his life to a great ideal by having, among other things, a road or a town named after him. A remarkable achievement by a well-known and respected figure who was instrumental in reawakening Filipinos’ love for their homeland.

Palawan News looks back on the stones carved as a fitting edifice to our national hero in the province of Palawan 126 years after his martyrdom in Bagumbayan. On how Jose Rizal’s heroism touched the lives of Palaweños despite the distance.

There have been historical accounts of the island of Culion as a principal village of Calamianes as early as 1858, long before it was divided into two provinces, Castilla, which includes towns in northern Palawan, and Asturias, which includes towns in southern Palawan.

Based on the account of French anthropologist Alfred Marche, a boat from Manila “touches Culion once a month” probably making the early settlers of the town updated on what is hot or not in the “mainland” Philippines.

This may have made the early Culion settlers aware of Rizal and given them access to his works, possibly inspiring them to build a Rizal monument and park.

Rizal Monument in Culion, Palawan. (Photo from National Registry of Historic Sites and Structures)

Reminiscent of an old urban planning style, the Rizal monument stood near the town center or plaza. Culion’s Rizal Park was perfectly tucked just below the town’s “upper level” connected by the Grand Staircase.

The monument depicts Rizal holding a book and 2 more other books on his foot. Although a marker written in Spanish can be found at the base of the monument, the date of its erection is not indicated and no further details on the monument were available on the internet.

Another prominent monument in the island town is that of American Governor Leonard Wood. Built voluntarily by leper patients in recognition for his contributions to the leprosarium. The monument was said to be erected in 1931. Were both monuments built at the same time? We are not sure about that.

Puerto Princesa
Same with the Culion Rizal Monument, the Puerto Princesa monument does not indicate the time of its erection. Luckily, the marker read that the monument was donated by the members of Palawan Lodge No. 99 of the Free and Accepted Masons.

Based on their website, the Palawan Lodge No. 99 was granted a charter in 1926. The Lodge remained active until 1941 dating the time of the monument’s erection to be around that period.

True to its history, Rizal is depicted in the monument with a hand-in-waistcoat, a common gesture of freemasons being a freemason himself.

Rizal Monument in Puerto Princesa donated by the Freemasons in 1930. (Photo from City Government of Puerto Princesa)

The monument stands in front of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in the historic hill leveled by the founding Spanish missionaries of Puerto Princesa in 1872.

Among the 3, the Iwahig monument indicates the date of its erection. The monument’s marker reads that it was erected from May 12, 1936 to December 30, 1938 around 4 decades after its establishment as a penal colony in 1904. To date, the monument stands for 84 years, probably the oldest documented Rizal monument in the province.

Old photo of Iwahig Rizal Monument. (Photo from Pa Lao Yu, Paragua, Palawan Facebook Page)
Old photo of Iwahig Rizal Monument. (Photo from Pa Lao Yu, Paragua, Palawan Facebook Page)

Evident from the photos obtained by Palawan News, the Iwahig monument has undergone repainting over the years but its depiction of Rizal in his overcoat with a scroll in his hand remained the same.

Dubbed as “Ilaw ng Iwahig” the monument continues to serve as an inspiration to Iwahig’s inmates and administrators to lead a life of service and love for the country.

In the city, officials held a floral and wreath-laying ceremony with the theme “Preserved Memories Treasured Today by the Nation” led by Governor Dennis Socrates, Mayor Lucilo Bayron, and Western Command commander Vice Adm. Alberto Carlos.

They say history repeats itself and the Philippines we live in today is more likely the same as how it used to be during Rizal’s time. Maybe different enemies, but same struggle. The cancer that Rizal diagnosed the Philippine society during his time may have gone worse. But the truth behind Rizal’s words still relevantly resonates – Have you lived your life like a stone wasted on the field without becoming a part of any edifice?