PRIMARILY known for his nationalist aspirations, his fight against colonial tyranny and for his manifold talents, the late national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal—was also a staunch advocate of environmental protection.
As the modern world reassesses his achievements, professionals are yet adding another title to his already impressive credentials, as an environmental planner.
Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP) President Antonio Kalaw said Rizal became an environmental planner when he lived in exile in far-away Dapitan, a remote town in Mindanao, which was under the missionary jurisdiction of the Jesuits, from 1892 to 1896.
“We were inspired by what Rizal did. But his commitment for environmental protection and his contribution for public works were often neglected by most of us,” said Kalaw.
“There’s already environmental planning during his time. He already saw it, knew it. That enters how he genius he is. He’s our national hero not because he died for our country but because he has a lot of advocacies,” Kalaw added.
Prof. Gabby Lopez, faculty at DAP Graduate School, said Rizal using his extensive knowledge from his studies and travels, has made good use of his time in exile in Dapitan and applied them to practical use.
“Rizal is a well-traveled person. He’s also an artist. With this combination, he probably made an idea of transforming the sleeping town of Dapitan into a prosperous one which still uses the public works that he initiated more than century ago,” said Lopez, who proposed the book for the national hero.
Lopez said Rizal, who won the second prize of P20,000 in the government-owned Manila Lottery in 1892, used part of his winnings for the construction of water system facility in Dapitan.
“He [Rizal] brought up the water system to Dapitan. He also designed the layout of the town plaza,” said Lopez. “He also taught local fishermen the proper way of catching fish.
The Development Academy of the Philippines, which celebrated its 40th anniversary on November 28, said it will confer a posthumous award to the young patriot from Laguna province for his environmental advocacies.
As tribute for his efforts in improving the town of Dapitan, the Academy has written a book entitled “Parangal kay Gat. Jose P. Rizal: Bayaning Environmental Planner.” Funded by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the book will be publicly launched on December 5 at the DAP building on San Miguel Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.
In 2011, DAP partnered with National Historical Commission of the Philippines, City of Dapitan and the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners in honoring Rizal on his 150th birthday (centennial anniversary) in a cultural event dubbed as the “Parangal kay Gat. Jose P. Rizal: Bayaning Environmental Planner,” citing his extensive public works projects to improve the quality of life in the remote town of Dapitan in Zamboanga province where he was exiled.
“No one has honored Rizal as an environmental planner and we’re the one who’ll do this for him,” said Lopez.
Neil A. Alcober