Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Suez Canal: Through Dr. José Rizal's Eyes

It was May 1882.  José  Rizal was on his way to Spain.  From Manila he took a boat to Singapore, changed to an ocean steamer, the Djenmah,  traveled on through the Indian Sea by way of Colombo Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and then on to the Arabian Sea.  He got off the boat at Aden, Yemen (http://penelopevflores.blogpot.com), and then his boat entered the Red Sea, the entrance to the Suez Canal.

My trip to the Suez Canal was a product of serendipity.  I was commissioned by the Oakland Asian Cultural Center and Mr James Espinas, the curator of the Rizal Exhibit,  to paint a Rizal Mural Travel Map for the special Rizal 150th Birthday Celebration and Exhibit. This mural (50" by 70") was to indicate his European trips and trace the routes he took.

I had been re-tracing the footsteps of Dr José Rizal in Madrid and Barcelona, Spain for the past several years and delight in blogging and sharing my experience with my many followers.

This site (Suez Canal) however was out of my radar sights at that time.  As I drew Rizal's itinerary from Manila--through the Indian and Arabian Seas, and then through the Suez Canal on to the Mediterranean and Europe--I realized Rizal had traversed the Suez Canal five times!!! (1882, 1887, 1891, 1896 twice).

Why had I not read any article written on this topic?  Answer: Because none had been published. To be sure timelines and matter of fact statements are found in Rizal biographies, but an article on his unique experience  in going through the Suez Canal several  times was sorely missing.

By default, it was left for me to fill up this gap, so  read on to my next blog.

José Rizal's papers were processed in this Suez Canal Port Authority building, 1882.

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