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Art and Dr. José Rizal - Episode 2

Episode 2 – Rizal in Wilhelmsfeld, Germany from April 26 to June 26 of the Year 1886

Magkaisa Creative Space draws on its rich German-Filipino heritage of resilience, strength and dependability and is honored to provide insides of the relation between Germany and the Philippines during the time of the National Hero of the Philippines, Dr. José Rizal.

This time we take a closer look at Rizal during his time in Wilhelmsfeld, Germany.

In the spring of 1886 Jose Rizal was in the ancient university town of Heidelberg (the oldest university in Germany, having been founded in 1386) to update himself with ophthalmology as practiced in the Augenklinik (eye clinic) under Dr. Otto Becker. As a graduate in medicine from Spain with a license to practice (also from Spain), he was allowed to attend lectures and observe medical procedures even though he was not officially enrolled in Heidelberg University.

Then as now, rental in hotel rooms and even student boarding houses in Heidelberg were expensive compared to lodging outside the university town. So Rizal began a correspondence with Karl Ullmer, a Protestant pastor in the small town of Wilhelmsfeld, who found a boarding house for him. Rizal thanked the pastor for his referral, but asked if there was an extra room in the latter’s house because he was serious about learning “correct” German rather than the dialect spoken in Wilhelmsfeld. Ullmer invited Rizal into his home and he became part of the pastor’s family, loved by everyone, including the pet dog Barle who followed him around town. In Germany, Rizal was often mistaken for a Chinese and could not but be thankful for Ullmer’s hospitality inspite of his “brown skin.”

Historical documentation for Rizal’s stay in Wilhelmsfeld consists of a rare autographed first edition of the “Noli me tangere,” some original letters of Rizal to Pastor Ullmer, some press clippings from German newspapers that carried a notice of Rizal’s execution in Bagumbayan on Dec. 30, 1896, and a handful of delightful drawings that reveal a human side of the hero we often fail to see because he has been fossilized in bronze and marble monuments.

(quotation from: Rizal in Wilhelmsfeld, by: Ambeth R. Ocampo - @inquirerdotnet, Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Pictures feature: Jhonril Cudillo, Unforgettable Heroes, Oil on canvas, 80 cm x 60 cm, 2019, signed

House of Pastor Ullmer in the village of Wilhelmsfeld where Rizal stayed

Marker and Street Sign named after the the National Hero of the Philippines, Dr. José Rizal

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