|Significance||Commemoration of the life and works of José Rizal|
|Next time||30 December 2013|
Rizal Day is a Philippine national holiday commemorating the life and works of José Rizal, one of the Philippines' national heroes. It is celebrated every December 30, the day of Rizal's execution at Bagumbayan, now known as Rizal Park, in 1896.
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. Daet, Camarines Norte was the first town to follow the decree, building a monument designed by Lt. Col. Antonio Sanz, led by Sanz and Lt. Col. Ildefonso Alegre, and financed by the townfolk at Camarines Norte and the rest of the Bicol Region. Finished on February 1899, the three-tiered stone pylon inscribing Rizal's novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, and Morga, for Antonio de Morga, author of Sucesos de las islas Filipinas, a book about the early days of the Spanish colonization 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.
Rizal Days in history
On his Rizal Day address on December 30, 1937, President Manuel L. Quezon declared through Commonwealth Act No. 184 the adoption of Tagalog as the national language. Under Japanese occupation during World War II, the Rizal Day program of 1942 attended by Benigno Aquino, Sr., and President José P. Laurel included the recital of Rizal's final poem Mi último adiós in Japanese and the inauguration of the KALIBAPI.
Starting in 1936, Rizal Day was also the inauguration day of the incoming president. Presidents usually chose Independence Grandstand (now known as Quirino Grandstand) as the inauguration venue because it faces the spot where Rizal was buried, and also the site of the independence ceremony in 1946, according to historian Manuel L. Quezon III. In the inauguration of Ramon Magsaysay after winning the 1953 presidential election via a landslide, around 300,000 to 500,000 people attended the ceremonies.
In the centenary of Rizal's death on December 30, 1996, the program included retracing Rizal's footsteps from his cell at Fort Santiago to the spot where he was executed, followed by the reenactment of his execution and flag-raising at Rizal Park.
Changing the day of commemoration
Being that December 30 is sandwiched between Christmas and New Year's Day, National Historical Commission chairperson Ambeth Ocampo pushed for the moving of Rizal Day from December 30 to June 19, Rizal's birth. This would allow students to participate in commemoration activities as opposed to it being held on December 30 which is in the middle of the Christmas vacation. The House of Representatives approved on its third reading a bill that would have changed it to June 19 on December 10, 2008, but was not acted in time by the Senate after the 14th Congress ended its session and was thus not enacted.
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- Tan, Kimberly Jane (2010-06-29). "A brief history of presidential inaugurations". GMANews.TV. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
- "Rizal Day bombing chronology". GMANews.TV. 2009-01-23. Retrieved 2011-01-20.
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- "P-Noy declares June 20 a special no work day". Philstar.com. 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2011-05-09.