RIZAL DAY , a national holiday celebrated annually in the Philippines. It was first instituted with a decree from President Emilio Aguinaldo issued December 20, 1898 and celebrated December 30, 1898 as a national day of mourning for Rizal in Malolos, Bulacan and all victims of the Spanish colonial rule of the Philippines.
Rizal Day commemorates the work and life of José Rizal. José Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda (June 19, 1861 – December 30, 1896) was a Filipino nationalist, novelist, poet, ophthalmologist, journalist and revolutionary. He is credited with starting the Philippine revolution against the Spanish colonizers.
Rizal is the author of two novels, “Noli me Tangere” and the sequel “El Filibusterismo” , which exposed the injustices brought on by the Spanish colonizers in the Philippines. His undated poem, Mi Último Adiós believed to be written a few days before his execution, was hidden in an alcohol stove, which was later handed to his family with his few remaining possessions, including the final letters and his last bequests.
With the victory of the Americans against the Spaniards in the Spanish-American War, the Americans took control of the Philippines. In an effort to demonstrate that they were more pro-Filipino than the Spaniards, the American Governor-General William Howard Taft in 1901 named Rizal a Philippine national hero. A year later, on February 1, 1902, the Philippine Commission enacted Act No. 345, which made December 30 a public holiday.
To underscore the solemnity of the event, President Elpidio Quirino signed Republic Act No. 229 into law on June 9, 1948 that prohibits cockfighting, horse racing and jai-alai every December 30. The law also requires that flags across the country remain at half staff throughout the day.
Rizal Day is celebrated every December 30, the day of Rizal’s execution at Bagumbayan, now known as Rizal Park, in 1896.