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Dr. Jose Rizal’s brief Cebu visit recalled

By Eddie O. Barrita

CEBU CITY, June 19 -– Dr. Jose Rizal, the country’s national hero, spent a day in Cebu City in August 1896, a few months before his trial commenced in Manila.

Rizal, whose 151st birthday is celebrated Tuesday, arrived in Cebu City on Aug. 2, 1896 on the steamship called España.

Historian Trizer Mansueto said Rizal has chronicled almost all his travels, including his brief stay in the city.

Viewing Cebu City from the deck of the ship, Rizal wrote, “The entrance to Cebu is beautiful. We could see the whole district of San Nicolas.”

As the ship docked, Rizal wrote, “The ship anchored beside a pier near a garden of Katuray…almond trees. Nearby, they told me, were the government houses and that of Mr. Ventura Veloso.”

Mansueto, who used to teach about the life of Jose Rizal, said these diaries are kept at the National Library and can be viewed only by prominent people.

The archives also include original manuscripts of his novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo.

”He (Rizal) was on board the steamship España, which docked at the port that is the present location of Malacañang sa Sugbo, traveling to Manila after the end of his exile in Dapitan,” said Mansueto.

”There were only a few ships plying the seas during his time and the ships used to dock at the ports along its route. Before Cebu, he was in Dumaguete,” he said.

Mansueto said Rizal’s observations are important because these form a picture of 19th century Cebu City.

He said Rizal saw the provincial government house made of stone and the big house owned by Chiong Veloso, not Ventura Veloso.

He was traveling from Dapitan and was on his way to Manila to proceed to Spain, then Cuba, to work as a military doctor.

But his trip to Cuba did not push through because he was arrested for allegedly taking part in the revolution against the Spanish government.

While still in his cabin, Rizal’s first visitor was Cebuano Marcial Borromeo, one of his students in Dapitan.

Mansueto said Borromeo met Rizal while in Dapitan where he was sent by his father, Cosme, to recuperate from an illness.

”Rizal then took a calesa or hose-drawn carriage on his way to San Nicolas. He then went to the house of Atty. Francisco Matheu, a prominent lawyer who married a Capizeña,” he said.

During his brief stay, the famous physician was still able to treat some patients.

”We do not know how many patients he was able to treat, we only have two names who were treated for eye ailments, Jaime Enriquez of San Nicolas and Doña Victoria Rallos of Colon Street,” said Mansueto.

”The next day, he set sail by 11 a.m. At the end of his Cebu trip, he wrote that he saw Mactan Island where Magellan was killed and he saw dolphins,” he said.

Rizal wrote, “dolphins were swimming before the prow of the boat with wonderful swiftness and skill due to the movement of their tail.” (PNA) DCT/EB/re

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