Updated: Nov 1, 2021
Mayor Mathias De Clercq of Ghent, northwest of Belgium, celebrates the 130th anniversary of the publication of El Filibusterismo, the novel that Philippines' hero Dr Rizal, published in Ghent in September 1891 during his stay in Belgium. H.E. Eduardo de Vega, Philippine Ambassador to Belgium, many Filipino and Belgian citizens were in attendance.
Text courtesy of Thomas Dierckens, Office of the Burgemeester Stad Gent
FB Photo from the Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium, Manila
Mayor Mathias De Clercq gave the following speech on this event.
Dear Ambassadors, dear Consuls
Ladies and gentlemen, Friends of the Filipinos
Today, on September 25, exactly 130 years ago, Philippine Freedom Fighter José Rizal released his novel: ‘El Filibusterismo,’ here in Ghent where he lived. It was printed in 1891 in nearby Vlaanderenstraat.
José Rizal is a Philippine national hero. He was a doctor, writer, patriot and strong advocate for reforms in the Philippines. He paid a big prize for his endeavor for independence. In 1896 he was executed, and became a martyr for the Philippine revolution. In his novels, he criticized the Spanish domination and demanded reforms. It’s something we know all about in Ghent, as in our history, we also challenged the Spanish emperor.
Several people in Ghent were executed – we are still called ‘stroppendragers’ in remembrance of our opposition to Emperor Charles V. So it’s not a coincidence José Rizal lived in our city for a while, here in the Henegouwenstraat. He felt good among the Ghentians.
José Rizal was a big source of inspiration for revolutionaries all over the world. His death fastened the Philippine revolution and led to the end of the Spanish reign in the Philippines and opened the way to independence.
I want to thank the Knights of Rizal for keeping his memory alive in our city. José Rizal’s influence can be felt until this day. It’s an honour to remember him here today together with all of you.
Woordvoerder Mathias De Clercq Burgemeester Stad Gent