Dec. 30, 11:43AM
Diario de Filipinas
On a condition of anonymity one of the Filipino members of the Spanish military contingent has granted Diario de Filipinas an exclusive interview. During the interview he related his intention to leave military service and join the nascent Philippine Revolution.
Follows are excerpts from the interview covering his recollections of the moments immediately before and after the execution of Dr Jose Rizal in Bagumbayan Field at 7:03AM this morning.
On his mother and Rizal:
Not having a glimpse of the man before, I wondered what he looked like. I remembered how my mother had told me that Rizal was so learned nobody could poison him as he always carried with him his own spoon and fork with which he could detect whether his food was poisoned or not. I had also heard of his fighting for our cause: legends were beginning to be woven around him.
About Rizal’s attitude:
When I saw him I knew he was Jose Rizal. He was of regular build, unshaven and quite pale, perhaps on account of his confinement, but was visibly composed and serene.
On Drowning Out Rizal:
We of the drum corps were about seven paces behind Rizal, who then faced the bay. Our commanding office approached and told us that should Rizal attempt to speak we should beat our drums hard to drown out his voice.
On Rizal’s Final Moments:
The Jesuit priest approached him, said a prayer, then blessed him. Then a colonel approached him too, as our commanding officer ordered us to move two paces backward, and the firing squad, composed of six Filipinos, came forward and took our former position behind Rizal. With visible effort, Rizal raised his right hand, which was tied at the elbow, and took off his chistera.
Amidst the silence, Rizal began to move his head very slowly up and down, his lips moving as if in prayer. [Uncorroborated eyewitness accounts of this morning related he said “I forgive every man from the bottom of my heart.”] Then the commanding officer, by means of his saber, signaled the firing squad to aim. The saber dropped and there was a simultaneous crackle of rifle-fire. Jose Rizal wheeled in one last effort and toppled forward with a thud, his face turned toward the sky and his derby hat thrown forward. He had fallen in the direction of the bay.
In the moments after:
Then, suddenly, as if from nowhere, a small dog appeared and ran in circles around the body of Rizal, barking and whimpering. (This incident later became the subject of talk in our quarters, some of my comrades were quick to conclude that it was a premonition of coming misfortune.) the Capitan Militar de la Sanidad, or medical officer, then stepped forward, knelt before the fallen man, and felt his pulse. Looking up, the medical officer beckoned to a member of the firing squad to come forward and give the body the tiro de gracia: a shot done at close range. I thought I saw a faint mist rise from Rizal’s coat, but it might have been a wisp of morning mist. Seeing the body before me, I felt faint.
Our eyewitness relayed one final note about his feelings toward Rizal: “Rizal lay dead on the dewey grass. The day had started and little did I realize that was gazing on the face of the greatest Malayan of them all, that I was witnessing history in the making.”
Filed from Intramuros. Writer Asuncion Lopez Bantug contributed to this report.