Wednesday, May 25, 2011

JP Rizal@150. Rizal Day in Yokohama, Japan with General Artemio Ricarte

General Artemio Ricarte and his wife with Filipino visitors in their restaurant in Yokohama, Japan.  [Picture from Ambeth Ocampo's Heroes.]

The young generation of "peace time", that's before the second world war, had two hero icons, the dead Jose Rizal and the living General Artemio Ricarte, who were both steadfast in their patriotic resolve, never succumbing to the enemy, the Spanish and the American colonial masters in succession.

Rather than capitulate just like what his contemporaries did, even after deportations to Guam and Hongkong and imprisonment in Bilibid, the General chose to live in exile in Yokohama, Japan, with the unfinished revolution in his mind and heart.

The rebellion could have been kept alive by the memory of JP Rizal and the stream of Filipino youth who passed by on their way to the United States to pay him their respect as their living hero.

Filipino associations in the United States during those years celebrated Rizal Day with much ceremony on the hero's death anniversary. So did General Artemio Ricarte and the Filipino residents of Tokyo and Yokohama. 

In 1924, the executive committee for the celebration of Rizal Day at the Public Hall at the Yokohama City Park was composed of the General, Professor Jose Ranes, Pedro Bartolome, Jose Fernandez,Ursulo Aguilar, Dr. Gaudioso Estaris and Juan Roldan.  

There could have been Rizal Days during the years the General was in residence there, and the commemorative programs could have been similar to this one held on 30 December 1924 --
  • Hymn—“Rizal, Jose Rizal”—Chorus.
  • Introductory Remarks in English—“Why This Night”—Mr. Pedro Bartolome.
  • Address in Japanese-English—“Eiyu Suhai” (Venerations to the Heroes)—Prof. Jose Ranes.
  • Violin Solo—“Nocturna”—Dr. Gaudioso Estaris.
  • Ballad Song—“Roses and Memories”—Messrs. Jose and Reynaldo Fernandez.
  • Speech in English—“The Philippines In Silhoutte”—Mr. Ursulo Aguilar.
  • Declamation in Japanese—“Last Farewell” (Dr. Rizal)—Mr. Yoshio Takahashi.
  • Address in English—“Youth Movement.” Mr. Soichi Saito (General Secretary, Japanese National Y.M.C.A.)—Introduction by Mr. Jose Gaerlan.
  • Ballad Duet—“Mother”—Fernandez Hermanos.
  • Address in English—“The Fatal Bullets of 1896”—Mr. Juan Roldan.
  • Declamation in English—“Last Farewell”—Mr. Jose Fernandez—(Dr. Rizal.)
  • Philippine Waltz—“Lulay”—Prof. Jose Ranes and Mr. Jose Fernandez.
  • Address in Tagalog—“Kuro-Kuro”—General Artemio Ricarte.
  • Orchestra Bell—“La Cinquantaine”—Gabriel-Marie—Mr. Yoshio Takahashi—(W. H. Reitz).
  • FREE TRIBUTE (TRIBUNA LIBRE)—Address in Spanish—“El Viernes Santo de los Filipinos”—Prof. Jose Ranes—(Traducido al Japones por el Teniente Sr. K. Kidori.)
  • Philippine National Anthem—Chorus.

Like all the pre-war Rizal Day programs we've seen, there was always a recitation of "Last Farewell".  Here, the execution of the hero was recalled through the "fatal bullets" and "firing squads" numbers.  We'd like to think that the latter could not have been a music band but a reenactment of the execution in Bagumbayan.  

We may presume that in his kuro-kuro, the General harped on his thoughts of the unfinished revolution, which he would eventually put together in his book “Himagsikan nang manga Pilipino Laban sa Kastila” (The Revolution of Filipinos Against the Spaniards) published in Yokohama in 1927.

In his lonely exile, the General could have been paid surprise visits by young Filipinos on their way to America for work and/or studies.  He was still their idol!

Back then there were no airplanes yet stopping over in Nagoya or Narita.  There were ports of call for passenger ships going to the United States, Yokohama in Japan being one of them.

No wonder then that in 1926, for example, 100 Filipino passengers called on him as soon as their ship moored in Yokohama.

As reported, "the steamship President Lincoln had not been many hours at sea from Manila, when the nearly one hundred Filipinos aboard set in motion a plan to pay their respects to their great countryman and patriot, General Artemio Ricarte at his home in Yokohama, Japan.

"Upon arrival at the Japanese port, the Filipino passengers, accompanied and enlivened by the Lincoln's jazz band, marched to the General's home. Beholding such a large number of his countrymen, and taken as he was by complete surprise, General Ricarte was pleased beyond measure. So was Mrs. Ricarte. But they soon began to show evidence of the hospitality for which they are famous, making the boys feel as welcome as if they were in their own homes.

"The president of the occasion, Mr. Vicente Bellaflor, spoke in Tagalog, telling of recent happenings in the homeland, to which General Ricarte listened eagerly. Mr. E. Duarte spoke in Cebuano, Messrs. V. Salvador and R. Mabalot, in Ilocano, T. Malabog in Tagalog, and V. Feliciano, A. Casim, Y. Bondaco and T. Tigson in English. Jaime Inosanto acted as secretary.

"General Ricarte, warming to the occasion, made a very interesting response, reciting some of the most important chapters of his life, and making an impression upon those of his attentive audience that they will never forget.

"The concluding remarks by the visitors were made by Mr. Dalmacio D. Yupano, who told the General of the motives that had caused them to pay their respects, and assuring the self-exiled patriot that he stood higher than ever in the popular esteem of the Filipino people.

"Then the march into the dining room, and behold! Long, flower-bestrewn tables stood heaped with all kinds of good things to eat. With excellent music by the orchestra under the direction of Mr. Daniel Jimenez, the happy feast proceeded. As the members of the, visiting party later made their way back to the ship, to resume their trip to America, the thought that was uppernost in the mind of each was: "Long Live General Ricarte.""

Almost all of these young men could have come home and serve their country until the Pacific war erupted. An old man already, General Ricarte returned with the Japanese invasion forces, died and got buried in an unknown grave while being pursued by the American liberation forces "without seeing the dawn brighten over [his] land", in the words of JP Rizal.


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