There’s this bad habit many Filipino travellers are guilty of: Comparing our country to others. Every so often, we traverse on foreign soil and gape at what other nations do better than ours. We wonder why we can’t have the convenience of Singapore’s public transportation. Or the cleanliness of Japan’s streets. The livability of Canada. The discipline of Switzerland. Because of this, we tend to overlook the strengths of the Philippines. But, the world never forgets. As a testament to this, here is a list of the many Filipino monuments around the world.
1. Rizal Monument, Madrid
Our national hero is of great influence — not only in the Philippines, but also globally. It’s unsurprising that several countries celebrate Dr. Jose Rizal’s life through the numerous monuments around the world erected in his honour.
One of the most famous Rizal monuments stands in Madrid, Spain. This city was where Rizal lived for almost a decade after finishing medical school at the University of Santo Tomas. To pay homage to the life of our national hero, the city commissioned Filipino sculptor Florante Caedo to build an intricate bronze statue of Rizal.
2. Rizal Monument, Hong Kong
Rizal is celebrated in Hong Kong, where he first planned the founding of La Liga Filipina. Reportedly, it was also here where the hero drafted Filipino translations of Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. During his years in Hong Kong, Rizal exercised his profession as an ophthalmic surgeon. His family joined him here for a short while before the Spaniards arrested him.
3. Rizal Monument, Japan
In 1998, Tokyo City unveiled a bronze bust of Rizal at Hibiya Park. The statue stands right where the hero stayed for 45 days before travelling to Europe. According to historians, Rizal immersed in the Japanese culture during his stay. He learned about the culture, enjoyed the arts, and interacted with the people. Unsurprisingly, Rizal gained a lover in the country. Her name was Seiko Usui, and she was the epitome of everything the hero loved about Japan.
4. Rizal Monument, London
Rizal crafted some of his greatest works in London. It’s only apt for him to be recognised here first and foremost as a writer. With almost a year of residing in the city, Rizal improved his English and wrote several pieces for La Solidaridad.
The memorial of Rizal in London is placed at the historical home of the Beckett family. As many remember, Rizal was romantically involved with Gertrude Beckett during his stay in London.
5. Rizal Monument, Paris
Although we consider Rizal as our national hero, he’s not much different of a traveller as us. He loved marvelling at sights and immersing with locals. He fell in love with places as much as people. But one thing most of us don’t often think about is how Rizal valued money. At 22, our national hero travelled to Paris. According to renowned Filipino historian Ambeth Ocampo, Rizal found Paris very expensive. Nevertheless, he enjoyed the city, as proved in a letter he wrote while there:
“On the first day I did nothing else but walk and walk. I saw the Champs Elysées is an extensive park from the Place de la Concorde to the Arch of the Carousel, wide and long, filled with trees, with theatres on both sides in which plays and concerts are held at night, with cafés, exhibitions, flowers and plants. There, many persons go to sew under the trees or to read. There are children with their nurses, etc., etc. The Champs Elysées at night is full of people.”
6. Rizal Monument, Germany
From Paris, Rizal travelled to Germany. Here, the hero continued to write. He also attended various lectures at the University of Heidelberg, which now has a memorial in his honour. In Wilhelmsfeld, there is a park dedicated to Jose Rizal. At the heart of this park stands a full-body statue sculpted by Anastacio Caedo.
7. Rizal Monument, Chicago
Chicago honours Rizal with two monuments: One a bust, the other a full-body statue. The former can be found in front of the Rizal Center while the latter is in Lincoln Park. Both statues were built to commemorate the Philippine independence.
Rizal has a lot more memorials and monuments around the world. Aside from the aforementioned destinations, Florida, Alaska, Texas, and Austria have also built historical markers after our national hero.
8. Filipino soldiers, Korea
To commemorate the Korean War, Yeoncheon County built a memorial for our brave Filipino soldiers who fought for freedom. These soldiers were part of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK) and sacrificed their lives defending borders from the Chinese. The Battle of Yultong killed 15 soldiers and wounded 26 more. Fourteen soldiers also went missing during the war.
9. Apolinario Mabini, Guam
In the beautiful and historic Asan Beach Park, travellers can see a double monument of Apolinario Mabini. Then, this place was not as peaceful as it now is. In 1892, Asan Beach was a prison camp, where Filipino insurrectos were exiled. These Filipinos were punished for standing their ground against the United States colonisation. Among these Filipinos was Apolinario Mabini, who was imprisoned in 1901.
10. Jose P. Laurel, Japan
Serving as a state guest house during the 90s, the Nara Hotel has housed several well-known personalities. Among them are Albert Einstein, Audrey Hepburn, Charlie Chaplin — and of course, late Filipino president Jose P. Laurel. In Nara Hotel’s Sakura Tearoom, travellers will find a bust statue of the politician. Laurel is best known for his service as the president of the Philippines during the time our country was a Japanese puppet state.
11. Paduka Batara, China
East Sulu King Paduka Batara, also known as Paduka Pahala, was the first king from the Philippines who was buried in China. In 1417, he travelled to the country to pay tribute to then Yongle Chinese emperor, Zhu Di. Unfortunately, Paduka Pahala contracted a mysterious disease during his trip. He eventually died in Dezhou, China. Following this, Emperor Zhu Di commanded that a tomb be built to remember the king.
12. Open Doors Monument, Israel
Aiding the escape of the Jews during the Holocaust, Manuel L. Quezon was definitely a hero — not only to the Filipino people, but also to the Jews. In Tel Aviv, the Open Doors Monument stands to testify about the “Open Door” policy our late president provided for Jewish refugees. This policy saved over a thousand Jews from the horrible Nazi genocide in 1939. Till this day, the Jewish people remember the heroism of President Quezon.
Truly, there are several memorials and monuments around the world that commemorate the heroic deeds of our fellow people. Have you seen any of these monuments? Let us know in the comments!