The National Research Council of the Philippines (NRCP) convened a pool of experts in a historical and scientific pursuit to introduce Dr. Jose Rizal as an embodiment and advocate of “Science for the People.” The first hybrid webcast of the NRCP titled, Rediscovering Rizal: A Commemoration of the 125th Martyrdom of the National Hero was live at the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Plaza and was streamed via Zoom and Facebook Live on December 30, 2021, from 12:00 NN to 2:00 PM.

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From left-right: Dr. Gealogo, Prof. Sicat, Sec. de la Peña, Dr. Sumagaysay, Dr. Dupo, and Dr. Diesmos during the coffee talk show

This event followed the unveiling of Rizal the Filipino Scientist monument which was well-attended by officials and staff from the DOST and its agencies (such as the Advanced Manufacturing Center, Metals Industry Research and Development Center, and NRCP), the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), government officials of Taguig led by Congresswoman Hon. Maria Laarni Cayetano, sculptor of the monument, Prof. Jose Manuel Sicat, and a descendant of Rizal, Ms. Ester Lopez-Azurin.

In a hopeful attempt to provide comprehensive context, the NRCP’s Rizal webcast had as panelists DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña, Prof. Sicat, the College Secretary of College of Fine Arts, at the University of the Philippines Diliman, Dr. Analyn A. Cabras, Director at the Coleoptera Research Center of the University of Mindanao and taxonomist, and beetle expert; Academician  Arvin C. Diesmos, a field biologist and Director of the Biodiversity Information Management Unit of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity; Dr. Francis A. Gealogo, Professor at the Ateneo De Manila University and accomplished author and editor of multiple books and papers on history, and Ms. Gemma Cruz-Araneta, great granddaughter of Doña Maria Mercado, Rizal’s sister.

Veering away from the usual webinar, the exciting coffee talk show was hosted by Dr. Aimee Lynn B. Dupo, NRCP Governing Board member, and Professor at the Institute of Biological Sciences, University of the Philippines Los Baños and Dr. Diesmos.  NRCP Executive Director Marieta Bañez-Sumagaysay, who is also the Project Leader of the Rizal webinars in Commemoration of the 125th Martyrdom of Jose Rizal, introduced the webcast and acted as segment host.

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Dr. Dupo and Dr. Diesmos as the moderators of the Rizal Webcast

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Dr. Bañez-Sumagaysay introduces the webcast

To start off, Prof. Sicat, also the sculptor of the NRCP’s Malayang Isip, opened the conversation by sharing his inspirations for creating the Rizal the Filipino Scientist monument. He explained that after reviewing existing documents of Rizal’s endeavors in Science and Technology, and after brainstorming meetings with NRCP historians, scientists and artists to conceptualize the design of a monument to depict Rizal as a scientist,  his attention was drawn to how Rizal used his knowledge in serving the people. He wanted to show  Rizal’s human side.

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Prof. Sicat while explaining the inspirations behind Rizal the Scientist monument

Sec. de la Peña also added about how the idea came to be agreement collaborative effort between the DOST and the NHCP, and in coordination with the NRCP. The DOST Secretary further elaborated that in June 2021, when the Advanced Manufacturing Center was inaugurated and the additive manufacturing technology in 3D-Printing became available, the idea of 3D printing Rizal the Filipino Scientist monument surfaced. Additionally, he mentioned Rizal’s exile in Dapitan gave the historical context of the 125th commemoration of the hero’s martyrdom.

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SFTP expounded the idea behind the monument

The talk show proceeded as Dr. Gealogo theorized on the possible reason behind the unpopularity of Dr. Rizal as a scientist even with historians. He said that as an agrarian society, the services that Rizal provided to the people are common in the grander reality in the Philippines. Most historians focused on following his world travels, as well as his former lovers due to machismo.

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Dr. Gealogo discussed the unpopularity of Rizal the Scientist among historians

Hence, erecting the monument in the DOST Plaza is a huge historical gesture and a concise symbolism of Rizal’s scientific upheavals.

Secretary de la Pena supported Dr. Gealogo’s rationalization by bringing inequality into the discussion. He mentioned that we often focus with the advancements of the cities as well as other countries that we tend to forget people in need of help, such as the communities that Rizal helped in Dapitan. He emphasized the efforts of the DOST Project, Community Empowerment thru Science and Technology (CEST) of instrumentalizing Science for the People.

Dr. Gealogo also touched on the illustrados of science in the Philippines who also used their expertise to serve the people such as Gen. Antonio Luna (wrote a thesis on malarial pathology), Engr. Edilberto Evangelista (designed the trenches used by revolutionists), Dr. Dominador Gomez, Dr. Mariano Ponce, Dr. Trinidad Pardo de Tavera, and many more. He further mentioned that in contrary to the popular belief that reformists are just thinkers, history tells us that illustrados invested their learnings to contribute to real-life and on-the-ground problems back in the past.

Dr. Rizal’s exile in Dapitan sparked the praxis of his accumulated expertise from his education.

 A virtual panelist, Dr. Cabras, opened the discussion about the species named after Rizal. Species for beetles include Apogonia rizali, Pachyrynchus rizali, and Spathomeles rizali.

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Dr. Cabras as a virtual panelist all the way from Mindanao

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From left-to-right: Spathomeles rizali, Apogonia rizali, Pachyrynchus rizali

Dr. Cabras narrated that during Rizal’s travel to Berlin in 1866, he met Adolf Bernhard Meyer—a respected author of excellent monographs. They established a scholarly bond and Meyer became fond of Rizal’s works, and supporting his collection of specimens in Dapitan. Dr. Cabras revealed that Dr. Rizal was able to send 240 species of insects to Dresden, where Meyer resided, including unknown species.

Another virtual panelist, Ms. Gemma Cruz-Araneta asked regarding waterworks and commended the Rizal webcast for the insightful and dialogic program, far from the usual forums on Rizal which focused on his love interests. The Rizal webcast, during the Fast Talk segment, engaged the panelists with a fun yet curious set of questions such as: If Rizal were alive today, what kind of work would he be doing? The panelists were requested to write short answers and give a quick explanation to their responses.

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Dr. Dupo and Dr. Diesmos led the Fast Talk segment as the moderators

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Dr. Gealogo, Prof. Sicat, and Sec. de la Peña while writing their answers for Fast Talk

NRCP Executive Director Sumagaysay led the Youth-Talk where she threw questions sent by the youth to the panelists. One question was: If you were Rizal, are you proud of what our country has become?

The Rizal webcast was attended by 152 participants via Zoom (102 females and 50 males) and had more than 2,800 Facebook Live reach.

On March 29, 2022, the NRCP will conduct its second webinar for Rizal titled, Inspirations from Rizal: The Youth Speaks on the Philippines 100 years hence.

Replay of the live webcast on Rediscovering Rizal can be watched via Research Pod or via this link: https://bit.ly/rizalwebcastREPLAY