30 December, 1896


Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippines’ National Hero, was executed by firing squad at Bagumbayan (now Luneta or Rizal Park) on the accusation of political conspiracy and sedition, and rebellion against the Spanish government. His last words were “consummatum est”, Latin which translates to “it is finished” in English.

The day was subsequently marked as Rizal day to commemorate Rizal’s martyrdom.Rizal Day was first instituted with a decree from President Emilio Aguinaldo dated December 30, 1898 as a national day of mourning for Rizal and all victims of the Spanish government during their rule in the Philippines. With the victory of the Americans against the Spaniards in the Spanish-American War, the Americans took control of the Philippines. To make it appear that they were more pro-Filipino than the Spaniards, the American governor-general William Howard Taft in 1901 named Rizal as the 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 into law Republic Act No. 229 on June 9, 1948 that prohibits cockfighting, horse racing and jai-alai every December 30.

(Ref: Philippine News Agency; Photo from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jos%C3%A9_Rizal)

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