Jose Rizal was a gambler who regularly played the lottery in Spain. He thought that a possible win may help big time in having his book published. It was only later that he won a large prize from a Spanish lottery. The winnings were used in purchasing hectares of land during his exile in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte. The place holds the distinction of being a Heritage Zone mostly because of the innumerable Rizal tangibles and intangibles.
Rizal sa Dapitan, an award-winning film by director Aguiluz and scriptwriter Jose Lacaba, gives us a restraint account of Rizal’s stay in that small town from 1892 to 1896. It features arguably the best Rizal performance by a movie actor (Albert Martinez). The movie may be of worth even for those who are already well-versed in Rizal’s life. There may be a surprise, or two, left for the Rizal enthusiasts.
A well-loved doctor, Rizal’s legacy goes beyond his clinic. He creates the town’s water system, organic gardens, and fruit orchards. He made improvements to the town plaza by planting trees. He is a firm believer in education. Not only did he build a school for the children but he also teaches the kids in the afternoons.
This strong belief in education is one of the reasons why he rejects the idea of revolution as broached by Pio Valenzuela. Jose Rizal (Albert Martinez) believes that the Filipinos are not yet ready for independence. He may be a gambler but he is not a fool to push his ill-armed and ignorant compatriots to wage war against the Spaniards.
Rizal’s honor and integrity is severely tested when friends and allies coerce him to escape. He refused saying that he gave his word not to leave the place illicitly.
It is in this idyllic town that he meets Josephine Bracken (Amanda Page). The film shows the couple having a mock wedding because the Spanish parish priest will not accede to their marriage. They eventually became live-in partners. It is not entirely a rosy affair in the beginning. There is a scene wherein Rizal confronts Bracken about some rumors that cast a bad light on the character of the lady. The heated argument may have led to Bracken giving birth prematurely to a stillborn baby.
Rizal as a father? Yes, he is the father, not of Adolf Hitler, but of Francisco Bracken Rizal. And, he is also rightly called the Father of our Nation. He takes pride in being part of the Los Indios Bravos. He calls for reforms that will in time pave the way for complete independence of the Filipinos. His determination to forge a nation with common aspirations and ideals makes him the First Filipino.
Watch the film and be proud seeing Jose Rizal used his immense talents and skills to great use. Poet. Sculptor. Surveyor. Engineer. Naturalist. Surgeon. Farmer. Educator. Businessman. Nationalist. The list goes on and on…