Rizal Day is a Philippine national holiday celebrated on December 30 to commemorate the life and works of José Rizal, a national hero of the Philippines. The date, December 30, is the anniversary of Rizal’s execution in 1896 at Bagumbayan, Manila.
History of Rizal Day
Dr. José Rizal is credited with playing a key role in starting the revolution against the Spanish colonists. He was born on June 16, 1861, in the town of Calamba. Rizal was a doctor and a novelist. In his novel “Noli me Tanger,” published in 1887, he condemned the corrupt rule of the Philippines by Spaniards. Many historians agree that the ideas he raised in that novel and “El filibusterismo” (Reign of Greed), inspired the revolution.
On December 30, 1896, Rizal was executed by firing squad at Bagumbayan field. Though he never took part in any fighting, he was arrested and tried for treason.
In 1898, the first president of the Philippines, Emilio Aguinaldo, commemorated the first Rizal Day as a national day of mourning for Rizal and all the casualties of the Spanish colonial rule of the Philippines. Daet, Camarines Norte was the first town to follow the decree, building a monument designed by Lt. Col. Antonio Sanz and financed by the townsfolk of Camarines Norte and the rest of the Bicol Region.
In 1901, following America’s victory against the Spaniards in the Spanish–American War, the Americans took control of the Philippines. Demonstrating that they were more pro-Filipino than the Spaniards, the American Governor-General William Howard Taft named Rizal a Philippine national hero. A year later, on February 1, 1902, the Philippine Commission enacted Act No. 345, which officially declared December 30 as Rizal Day.
On June 9, 1948, President Elpidio Quirino signed Republic Act No. 229 into law to ensure the solemnity of the event. The law prohibits cockfighting, horse racing, and jai-alai every December 30 and requires that flags across the country remain at half staff throughout the day.
The centenary of Rizal’s death on December 30, 1996, included retracing Rizal’s last steps from his cell at Fort Santiago to the execution site, followed by a reenactment of his death and the flag-raising ceremony.
Rizal Day timeline
In his novel “Noli me Tangere” (Touch me not) published in 1887, Rizal condemns the corrupt rule of the Philippines by Spanish colonists.
On December 30, 1896, Rizal is executed by firing squad at Bagumbayan field (now known as Rizal Park) in Manila at exactly seven am.
The first president of the Philippines, Emilio Aguinaldo, commemorates the first Rizal Day of mourning for Rizal and all casualties of the Spanish colonial rule of the Philippines.
On February 1, the Philippine Commission enacts Act. No. 345, officially declaring Rizal Day, on December 30, a national holiday.
Rizal Day FAQs
What is the age of Jose Rizal in 2021?
160 years old
What is the name of Jose's first teacher?
Maestro Celestino was the first, and Maestro Lucas Padua was the second. Later, the boy’s tutor was an elderly man called Leon Monroy, a former classmate of Rizal’s father. Jose was taught Spanish and Latin by this old teacher who lived at the Rizal house.
What is the full name of Jose Rizal?
José Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda.
How to Observe Rizal Day
Attend a wreath-laying ceremony or flag service
To mark the day, the Philippine flag is flown at half-mast across the country. The service is led by the president of the Philipines at the Rizal Monument in Manila. Wreath-laying ceremonies are also held at the Rizal Shrine in Calamba and the Rizal Monument in Baguio City.
Commemorate Jose Rizal’s death or celebrate his birth
In recent years there have been several calls to move this holiday to Rizal's birthday, June 19, as it will be more fitting to celebrate his birth rather than commemorate his death. Also, the proximity of Christmas and New Year reduces the importance of the holiday on December 30.
Take the day off from work
Rizal Day on December 30 is a special non-working holiday. Most workers take the day off as a paid workday. Individuals who are required to work on Rizal Day get twice their normal daily rate of wages.
5 Interesting Facts About Rizal Day
Rizal Day is also inauguration day
Starting in 1936, Rizal Day was also the inauguration day of the incoming presidents of the Philippines.
Cockfighting is prohibited on December 30
To ensure the solemnity of Rizal Day, President Elpidio Quirino signed into law Republic Act No. 229 on June 9, 1948, prohibiting cockfighting, horse racing, and jai-alai every December 30.
Rizal was named a ‘National hero’
In 1901, the American Governor-General William Howard Taft named Rizal a Philippine ‘National hero.’
Rizal Day ceremonies are led by Presidents
Rizal Day ceremonies are led by the Philippines President or Vice President at Rizal Park in Manila, usually very early in the mornings.
Rizal wasn’t directly involved in the insurrection
Though Rizal had no direct role in the nationalist insurrection and never took part in any fighting, he was arrested and tried for treason, and executed.
Why Rizal Day is Important
We commemorate José Rizal as a National Hero of the Philippines
Dr. Jose Rizal is credited with playing a key role in starting the revolution against the Spanish colonists. Ceremonies including a flypast by the Philippine Air Force and the raising of the national flag at the Independence Flagpole, mark the special occasion.
It’s a national day of mourning
December 30 is a national day of mourning for Rizal in Malolos and all the victims of the Spanish colonial rule of the Philippines. Rites are held in several provinces and towns in the country and include flag-raising services, speeches, and wreath-laying ceremonies.
Wreath-laying ceremonies at Rizal Park
Rizal Day ceremonies are held at Rizal Park in Manila. This is usually held in the early mornings and led by the President and Vice President. It involves the laying of a wreath at the Rizal Monument and a year-end address by the President that is broadcast on television.
Rizal Day dates