Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Spirit of Rizal in Heiligkreuzsteinach, Heidelberg

Dr. JosĂ© Rizal loved children.  He wrote his letters to his parents, brother and sisters with his many nephews and nieces in mind.  He would call the young children's attention to little known local facts when making comparisons so that the kids will have a relative access to what he is describing in Europe.

Rizal was in his bright elements when creating  stories for kids.

Fortunately, he befriended Pastor Ullmer's young boy, Fritz who was then 13 yars old, and about the same age perhaps as his nephew Tan (Estanilao).

Often, Karl Ullmer, the pastor of Wilhelmsfeld, had to go to the neighboring village  of Heilgkreuzsteinach (5 kilometers away)  to confer with the protestant pastor there. It was possible that Fritz went along because he then  can visit with his friend R. Pfeiffer.  Rizal went along as "Alalay" (supernumerary).

And this is where this special village of Heiligkreuzsteinach has gained importance to me.  Of course, many Rizalistas are not concerned about this insignificant fact.  But I really do.  This is the setting of Rizal's comic strip of Fritz and his friend R(ainer?) Pfeiffer.  Naturally, Fritz would drag along his favorite lodger, Rizal. If one is a literature teacher, the first thing one emphasizes in learning the material is understanding the setting.

Due to limited space, Rizal did not write the whole name of the village.  He used shorthand.  Instead of spelling out kreuz (cross)  he substituted the cross sign.  (Look closely at the very top of the page, right hand side.  It says "Heilig+steinach").

The translators must have been bewildered by this term.  If only they knew the proper geographical context  and of how to  read between the lines.

Meandering about the village is a small tributary of the Neckar river, the Steinach stream.  This is the exact spot where Rizal locates the boys squandering their time in truancy, playing pranks on each other, falling into the stream, horsing around,  stippitzing  (pinching) apples from a nearby tree.

Rizal must have read a German book by Wilhelm Busch with illustrated pictures of two brothers: Max and Moritz playing tricks and pranks and having such jolly good times.  Rainer showed me an extant copy of the book. Charming stories and sketches.

But Rainer pointed out that it was published after 1887, so Rizal could not have read the book.

In Rizal's comics, one boy has a fallen from the embankment by the side of the creek.  Now, in my favored spot, I examine the creek.

Aha, this must be just like the probable place when one of the boys stood too close to the bank and the wet soil crumbled beneath  R. Pfeiffer's feet.  Rizal sketched this very moment when he fell down.

The boys were sorry for themselves, crying out "ouch, ouch".  "Au, Au!"

Of course, I ran my fingers in the clear waters.

Brrr.'s cold.  Just like the cartoon strip said.

And of course,  R. Pfeiffer got wet. Rizal captured this very moment in his comic strip. What a delightful little scampering thrill of youthful joy!

Go again and review that Rizal material. Take note carefully of the name of the village.

Do one over your Rizal course teacher/professor  and explain what that strange looking configuration was in the paper cartoon  that your teacher assigned for you to study.  Now you know.


My friend Rainer demonstrated to me what stibitzen means to a young boy of 13.  He grabbed a low lying branch laden heavily with apples.  Then he jumped up and down until green delicious apples rained on his head.  What  a gleeful moment!   That's stibitzing!!

That was how I felt when I visited a most likely site and the original source (maybe)  of the Two Friends'  (Not Two Brothers as translated by Rizaliana scholars) escapade into nature's abundance.

Go back again and re-read the story mis- titled  "The Two Brothers" created by Rizal in 1886.

My pictures will come later,  promise.

PS.  As I was getting off the road, I spotted a commercial van with the owner's business advertised appropriately along the side boards.  It read  PFEIFFER!  So then, Rizal's little friend's ancestors lived on and are still operating their businesses in Rizal's Heiligkreuzsteinach."
"Pfeiffer" in German means "Piper" or "Pepper".   Are they in the commercial "spiceries or pepper "business" or are they in the "construction pipes" business?  I should have asked.