Friday, August 26, 2011

PenelopeVFlores: Day 2 of Three Perfect Days: Understanding Dr. Jos...

PenelopeVFlores: Day 2 of Three Perfect Days: Understanding Dr. Jos...: On Day 2 of my visit to Heidelberg, I returned to the Old town and situated myself in the aura of Dr. José Rizal's spirit. I revisited the...

Day 2 of Three Perfect Days: Understanding Dr. José Rizal's Legacy: Pictures of Heidelberg-Wilhelmsfeld, Germany

On Day 2 of my visit to Heidelberg, I returned to the Old town and situated myself in the aura of Dr. José Rizal's spirit.  I revisited the regular haunts of students in Heidelberg.  It was a re-creation of the life of a progressive student from the Philippines out to experience every nuance of life.  Rizal was always learning  He was artistically subtle, and he hoped that later on, he would get all of the things he absorbed into something progressive.  Rizal was influenced greatly by the German love for structure and discipline.

Beer Garden where Heidelberg university students patronize. Thisone is just a few yards away from Rizal's flat.

Rizal apartment, white center building,Ludwigsplatz 12, now Grabengasse, Heidelberg, 1886. 

Fountain in front of Heidelberg University, opposite Rizal flat.   He could have  quenched his thirst here.

Lion figure atop the drinking  fountain in front of Heidelberg Univ.

Church of the Holy Ghost, Heidelberg.

Rizal admired this art work:  Alte Aula, old ceremonial hall, Heidelberg U.

Jesuit Church, Heidelberg U. Rizal was a product of Philippine Jesuit education .

Student Prison. Rizal noted this concept of self-monitoring. In this grafitti-filled walls, the red caps seem to predominate.

Student fraternities wore colored caps as identification, Heidelberg. Painted walls revealed a lot of student life.

Wooden table carved with student names, Red Ox. I tried to look for a Rizal name here.  No success.

Grafitti on student prison walls. I wish I could read German.

Schurmann building, Schurmann, a native son,  made millions in the Philippines under the American Colonial government. He wrote the Schurmann Philippine Report of 1901.

Heidelberg University Library, Rizal's books and books about him are here.

The historic student prison (Studenkarzen)is on Augustinergasse.

Bust, Grand Duke Friedrich I of Baden, the generous patron of the University,
 University Ceremonial Aula

Entrance door, Heidelberg U.

Rizal noted with interest religious figures in building corner niches.

The university plaza. Rizal's apartment was right on this plaza square.

Rizal's apartment on 11 Karlstrassse.  He could admire the Castle ruins from his rear window.

The bus line costs Euro 2.50 l to Wilhelmsfeld. 

Penélope lost her heart in Heidelberg, August 15th
 to 19th, 2011

Eye Clinic where Rizal practiced. Note historical Rizal marker, 20 Bergheimerstrasse

The Red Ox, a favorite student restaurant. All the wooden tables are covered with carved student names: a treat for Onomastic scholars!!!

Day 2 of Three Perfect Days: Understanding Dr. José Rizal's Legacy: Heidelberg-Wilhelmsfeld, Germany

Sir Rainer and I had been feeding each other's sentences with Rizal quotes, Rizal ideas, Rizal letters, Rizal thoughts, Rizal jokes.   It is so amazing that a German citizen could know so much about our national hero.  I was painfully aware of so many things I still have to learn from him.

What was so astonishing is that he allowed me to ask silly questions.  Rainer is a retired English, History, and Social and Political Studies teacher.  He had been closely connected to Rizal studies for almost 50 years and he was playing the German tutor with me.  I wanted to know  what kind of flowers  Rizal  saw when he wrote the poem "To the Flowers of Heidelberg."  He drove me to Philosopher's Way.  "There," he pointed, "Those were the flowers he saw."  I looked at a wide expanse of blooms.  The roadside presented a painter's palette of varied hues and texture.

Heidelberg flowers in Spring
Then I noted a particular bush  heavy with white trailing blooms.  My eyes widened; my jaw dropped.  "It's almost like a white "Cadena de Amor,"  I exclaimed. What was in Rizal's mind when he saw those Cadena-de-Amor flower type?  Did he recall Calamba's blooms?  I cut off a twig and kept the cutting in my backpack. (This will later be my downfall with the US Customs at San Francisco Airport).

Rainer continued.... "While Rizal was walking this way, he met a local protestant pastor, Karl Ullmer.  They became friendly, and at one point, Rizal asked if he could improve his German by staying in his village in a sort of immersion language program.  The pastor then invited him to stay with his family in the vicarage."

We were nearing Wilhelmsfeld, and my heart began to beat wildly.  Somewhere, I'll get to see the house where Rizal lived, savour the place and feel the essence of that village scene that Rizal described so vividly on Chapter 7 of the Noli where Ibarra told Maria Clara of his Germany experience.

The car turned on to a neat looking street.  We pulled over to a sign on the road. It read "José Rizal Strasse".  Down the street, Sir Rainer cried;  "Are you ready?  There it is".

The vicarage where Rizal spent a quiet and productive time in Germany, 1886

It was a plain white three-story stone house of green shutters with a dormer attic roof, incredibly maintained and well-preserved!!!  On the low fence, a special historical marker declared that the Philippine National hero spent the best time of his life in this house.

Rainer smiled, "See that third window with closed shutters on the 1st floor, right side? (In Europe, what we call 1st floor is their Ground Floor. Our 2nd floor is their 1st floor.) That was where Rizal finished writing the final chapters of the Noli. Pastor Ullmer's son Fritz, a 13 year old boy, remembered Rizal had a large map of the Philippines tacked up in front of his desk."

Then he continued softly, "See that room next to Rizal's room?  That's where I was born."  I developed some goose-bumps. This guy's Rizal connection is unreal!!!
Room with closed shutters was Rizal's room.

I noted the church across the street where Pastor Karl Ullmer tended to his religious flock, and where Rainer's father, Pastor Gottlob Weber took over.  Later that day, in the company of Sir Rainer's lovely spouse, Idi, we visited the Rizal statue on Rizal Park.

It was an extraordinary experience.  First, the bronze statue is greater than life.

Second,  it is standing on a tidal pool where people can feel a close affinity to Rizal when viewing it.  It was designed to be part of the audience. Visitors could stand beside it and a picture shoot could show Rizal as part within the picture frame.

Rizal bronze statue, holding a quill on his right hand, in thoughtful mood.
Third, the standing figure, holding a quill in one hand is shown as a  thoughtful and sensitive character.  I have never  seen any Rizal monument with these uniquely soft attributes.

The statue was crafted by Professor Caedo of UP. However, Caedo had deviated 180 degrees from his usual stern-looking Rizal template.

Soft lines, thoughtful mood, sensitive stance, unique monument.

Our party-of-three watched the Wilhelmsfeld sunset gradually drain off the orange-yellow-ochre tint over the valley. We quaffed cooling drinks at Tal Blick restaurant.  Rainer's beer came in a curvy-twisty looking tall glass.  He joked:  "It seems like I got drunk and wrung the glass into a twist."  Later that evening  I marked that day's memory by drawing that twisted glass on a blank postcard using oil pastel and ball pen marker.

I boarded the Wilhelmsfeld bus that took me back to Heidelberg over a winding road on the Odenwald  forest, 13 kilometers to Heidelberg. Rizal walked through this forest glen three hours going, three hours returning.

Day Two of three perfect days ended in Heidelberg, where on my own I walked over to the familiar Rizal sites to imbibe the special Rizal aura. I needed that second look to have the images crystallize in my mind.


Day 1 of Three Perfect Days: Understanding Dr. José Rizal's Legacy: Heidelberg-Wilhelmsfeld, Germany

Sir Rainer J. Weber, Chapter Commander of the Wilhelmsfeld-Heidelberg Order of the Knights of Rizal was reserved and polite in his reply to my request for a meeting and for help in tracing the legacy of Dr José Rizal in Heidelberg and Wilhelmsfeld, Germany.  Many Philippine politicians, diplomats, academics and erstwhile travelers regularly pass by Heidelberg-Wilhelmsfeld and Sir Rainer generally always took care of showing them around.  Sir Choy Arnaldo, Chapter Commander of the Philippine Chapter of Knights of Rizal introduced me to him.

Mr. Weber is one among the foremost Rizalists in Germany, following in the footsteps of the Foremost Rizalista, his late father, Pastor Gottlob Weber.  The kind pastor was highly instrumental in the Philippine National Historical Commission in 1960's in accumulating "never-before-known"  information about Rizal's stay in Wilhelmsfeld, Germany. (See Philippine National Historical Institute, Paz P. Mendez, Adventures in Rizaliana. 1978).  Pastor Gottlob Weber took over the Wilhelmsfeld vicarage from Pastor Karl Ullmer.  Dr José Rizal was invited as a lodger in Pastor Ullmer's household in 1886.

Day 1.  My excitement ran high.  Sir Rainer came armed with a huge brilliant smile.  He was the kind of gentleman who looked you in the eye and hang on to your every word as if you had something important to say.  He immediately put me at ease. He had previously received my email indicating what sites I needed to document.  For reference I had listed the sites named in the Pictorial Album on Rizal (1962).   

Dr José Rizal HIstorical Marker, Heidelberg
He asked; "How are you in terms of walking and climbing up steps?" I deflected the assumption (of age) and braced myself saying,  "Let's go."

First stop, the Augenklinik's Rizal marker on 20 Bergheimer strasse, just a few yards from my hotel. In the Centennial Book (1962) it was located on 4 Bergheimer strasse.

The foremost ophthalmologist, Dr Otto Becker, was a respected professor at the University of Heidelberg. Rizal, as one of his favored students, had the use of the new eye instrument:  the ophthalmoscope.  Rizal at that time had an apartment in front of the University. The eye clinic  on the other hand, was located in the vicinity of Bismarckplatz, further off the old university campus.  Rizal had to walk through the length of Hauptstrasse. It took me 20 minutes to negotiate it.
Rizal's apartment opposite the University square.

Next stop:  The University of Heidelberg.  Rizal was in for the greatest festival of his life when he arrived in 1886.  It was the 500th anniversary of the university's founding. Today, the university still maintains its old world charm. Rizal lived right in front of the university square by the fountain.  I looked at the cobble stones.  Wow! Here our national hero trod these very stones, I observed.

Within the university campus is the noted Witches' Tower, a relic of the middle ages when witches and old hags were incarcerated and/or otherwise burned on stakes.

The University's Witches'Tower, Rizal mentioned this in his letter home.

There is a historical marker on the facade on 12 Ludwigsplatz, now Grabengasse.  Rizal occupied this place from February to June, 1886.  The adjoining building is currently being renovated.  Sir Rainer, ever the ultimate Rizalista, mindful of losses in the past, called attention to the bookstore owner on the ground floor, to ensure that the Dr. José Rizal historical marker is not lost or misplaced during renovation.

Next stop: The Student Prison or Studentenkarzen.  Rizal was so intrigued with the self-governing application of misdemeanor consequences among the students.  He was invited by a fraternity to join their group (the Swabians, yellow caps), whose preoccupation was to duel each other proudly displaying their facial scars. The prison walls and all the spaces were pock-marked with darts, paint, and a veritable maze of medieval grafitti.

We cruised leisurely at all the other Rizal landmarks. The Jesuit Church  has an extraordinary luminous and uncluttered  nave. The Corn Market Madonna stands in front of the Church of the Holy Spirit. Sir Rainer showed me the dividing place where for some time, the Catholics celebrated their masses, while on the other side of the nave, the Protestants held their service.  Rizal noted this religious tolerance within the church edifice.

The Lord Mayor's house  (City Hall) is a stone's throw from the beer gardens that Rizal must have patronized.  At the oldest hotel, (The Ritter-Knights Hotel) Rizal found his initial bearings.

The morning was ripening. Sir Rainer wanted me to double up so we could get on to the Castle ruins.  Rizal was quite taken by this ruined castle.  He took a tour of the ruins and remarked that the tour guide was as dour and as old as the castle walls itself.  Rainer told this private Rizal joke to one of the castle tour guides.  And although my German is unusable, I could guess by intonation, body language and snippets of "Rizal" the subject of their mirth.

 I was not sure what Rainer's plans were.  He looked squarely at me and decided that a (60-going on 80-ager) like me needed a little boost, so he suggested we take the Bergbahn funicular to the castle grounds up in the hill plateau overlooking the town.  Then he assured me that we could leisurely walk down after the castle tour and get ready for a great dish of stuffed pork stomach, sauerkraut and potatoes, served at the famous Red Ox, a Heidelberg popular student eatery.

The University Library

To be continued.
The University of Heidelberg. Rizal was here in 1886

Dr. José Rizal's Legacy, Wilhelmsfeld, Germany.1886 Slideshow

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