Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Resurrection, a Testament to the Divinity of Jesus

The Resurrected Jesus by Noel Coypel
The resurrection of Jesus is one of the most compelling doctrines of the Christian faith. According to this doctrine, Jesus, by rising from the dead, gave humanity hope of life after death in the kingdom of heaven. Without the resurrection Christianity would not have taken its roots after the death of Jesus on the cross.                                                                                                                                                                            
Jesus was the son of a carpenter named Joseph and Mary who the Bible said divinely conceived Jesus. Little was said about Jesus in his early childhood until he started his ministry in his 30’s. He organized 12 disciples in accordance with the 12 tribes of Israel. He preached in Capernaum and Bethsaida proclaiming the advent of the kingdom of God. He also helped those who were poor in physical resources and spirit and emphasized that moral sincerity was more important than strict adherence to Jewish rituals. Although he was appreciated by the common people, Jesus incurred the enmity of the priests because of his teachings. They thought that his activities might lead the people stray from the laws of the Torah, and that his’ influence to the people might prejudice the Jews’ relationship with their Roman administrators.

Jesus’ claim that he was the Son of God was not favorably received by some people. When words about it reached the ears of the priests and the Supreme Jewish Council, they conspired to kill him.  They bribed Judas Iscariot, one of the disciples of Jesus to betray him for 30 pieces of silver.

During the feast of the Jewish Passover, Jesus gathered his disciples for their meal. He blessed the unleavened bread and said that it was his body and the wine his blood. He told his disciples to follow what he did for his memory. In that occasion he told them of his coming death, and that one of them will betray him. Disturbed, his disciples individually asked if it was he who would betray him. When it was Judas turn to ask that question Jesus answered in the affirmative.

After the meal Jesus and his disciples retreated to the Mount of Olives to reflect and pray. There, he told them of his resurrection. They also went to the Garden of Gethsemane where later a group of people led by Judas Iscariot came. With a kiss, Judas handed Jesus over to the Jews. Jesus was brought to Annas, the father-in- law of Caiaphas, the high priest.and then to King Herod. Finally, he was made to face the high priest and the Supreme Council of the Jews for trial. When the high priest asked if he was the son of God and the Messiah, he admitted it. And the high priest then rent his vestment and said that there was no need for more evidence to prove Jesus’ guilt. And then they sentenced him to death for blasphemy.

Since only the Roman procurator had the power to impose capital punishment, they brought Jesus to Pontius Pilate. Not convinced of the truthfulness of the accusation against him, Pilate asked him if he is the King of the Jews. Jesus’ affirmative reply only aggravated his situation further. Unable to get him off the hook and concerned that the Jews might riot if he would not give the death penalty, Pilate made the last proposition for the Jews to choose between the criminal Barabbas and Jesus for the execution. But the people overwhelmingly demanded the blood of Jesus. Pilate then released the criminal from prison, washed his hands, and handed Jesus to the Jews.

While Jesus was consigned to his doomed fate, Peter, one of his most trusted disciples, watched from a distance. Then a woman asked him if he knew Jesus. Peter made a denial. After a while, another woman and later a man asked peter about Jesus, and he denied again knowing him. On his third denial a cock crowed and Peter remembered what had Jesus told him about that incident. Overwhelmed with a sense of guilt, Peter cried and stayed away from the place.

In the hands of his tormentors and executioners Jesus was whipped, beaten up, spat upon and ridiculed. They mocked him by putting on a crown of thorns on his head, a red cape on his back and handed to him a scepter of reed as “symbols or royalty”. On the top of the cross was the charge against him written on a wooden slab which read: “This is Jesus the King of the Jews”.  Jesus was made to carry his own cross all the way to the place called Golgotha. There, he was crucified together with two robbers whose crosses were at his sides. Even while Jesus was already suffering from great pain on the cross his tormentors continued to mock him saying that if he was truly the Son of God, he would save himself from death. “If he could save others, why couldn’t he save himself?”, a Jew said. While Jesus was on the cross darkness engulfed the land and when he died there was an earthquake. The veil of the temple was rent, and the wall cracked. A Roman centurion who was watching Jesus commented that he was truly the Son of God.                                                                                          
Since the following day was Sabbath, Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy man who was one of Jesus’ followers, asked Pilate for the body of Jesus to be laid to a tomb belonging to Joseph’s family, and he was granted with the request. On the other hand, the high priest and the Pharisees, concerned that Jesus’ followers might steal his body because of his statement that he would rise three days after his death, went to Pilate and told him about it.  Pilate assured them that guards would be posted to keep watch of the tomb within that period. 

On the third day of Jesus’ death, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James went to tomb to anoint his body for burial. Getting there, they were surprised to find out that the stone covering the sepulcher was gone and so too were the Romans soldiers who were guarding the tomb. When they entered the sepulcher they saw inside a young man and the linen that was used to wrap Jesus’ body.  The mysterious young man told them that Jesus had risen.
Meanwhile, the soldiers who were shaken with what they had witnessed told the high priest of the incident at the tomb, and the high priest and the Supreme Council of the Jews then bribed them to tell people that the followers of Jesus stole his body.

As they were about to go to Galilee, the women met the risen Jesus. They hold him by the feet and worshiped him. The women later told the eleven disciples about the resurrection of Jesus. But some of them were doubtful of the report. On that same day as the disciples were gathered Jesus suddenly appeared to them and showed his wounds on the cross. He touched them and ate bread and drank with them. After the meal he suddenly disappeared.

Thomas one Jesus’ disciples who were not around at his first appearance doubted the claim and said that what they saw might just be a spirit. Then on one occasion where the disciples were gathered Jesus suddenly appeared even if the door was closed. He then told Thomas to come forward and touched his wounds. Thomas obeyed and did as he was told and then knelled before him and called him "my Lord and my God". On the 40th day after Jesus death, he appeared for the last time to his disciples and he ascended to heaven.

The disciples’ obedience to Jesus words is their testimony that he was the son of God who was resurrected from the dead. Armed only with their convictions they were able to gain many followers who believed in Jesus. They converted to the new faith not only the Jews but also Greeks, Romans, Arabs and other nationalities.

The Romans saw the early Christians as a threat to their traditional polytheistic faith so that they persecuted them to nip their new faith in the bud. Some Roman officials believed that if the new faith was not divinely inspired it would just wither away with the passing of time. But the new faith founded by Jesus and propagated by his disciples and followers wouldn’t go away and gained more and more new adherents instead. Despite the repression of the early Christians, the people in the Roman Empire were converted to the new faith. Christianity spread like wildfire, and the greatest power on earth at that time, the Roman Empire, could not even prevent its advance despite mustering its available strength to stop it.

Christianity may have died simultaneously with the death of Jesus. The sight of him claiming to be the Son of God who was helpless to the humiliation, torture and abuses of his tormentors disheartened his disciples. His chief disciple, Peter even denied him and the others abandoned him and hid in fear of their lives. However, when Jesus was risen their fear turned into courage and commitment to follow him. Disregarding persecution, and death, and guided by the Holy Spirit, they followed what was told to them by Jesus. The disciples had no power and had no comfort or material resources to offer to people who would only be subjected to harassment and sufferings for their being identified with them. And yet, people believed in them and converted to the new faith. Jesus had told his disciples of his resurrection three days after his death. If this did not happen they would have thought that what he had said and taught were false. Although there are people who will die for a lie which they sincerely believe to be true, people will not die for something that they personally know to be false especially if they do not gain anything for doing so. The disciples personally witnessed the resurrection of Jesus, and that is why they were willing to become martyrs for their faith.

The resurrected Jesus was not the same mortal Jesus that the disciples used to be with before the crucifixion. Like a spirit, the resurrected Jesus could appear all of a sudden in a place, disappear just anytime, and enter a closed door. But he was not a spirit because he talked to the women and his disciples, ate with them and had physical contact with them. His actions are not that of a man or a spirit. It’s an affirmation of Jesus' claim that he is the Son of God. His death is a conclusion of the mission given to him by his father as foretold by the prophets many years before he was born. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Dracaena Fragrans (Corn Plant)

Dracaena fragrans or corn plant is one of the more than 100 species of the genus dracaena that is grown as an ornamental plant. The original dracaena fragrans has solid green leaves. There are cultivars with variegated leaves. The dracaena ‘massangeana’, the most common, has a yellow stripe that runs through the center of each and every leaf.  Another variety, the dracaena fragrans ‘lendinii’, has yellow stripes that are on the margins of the leaves rather than in the center. The plant has a long and narrow leaf and clustered small pale yellow flowers that turn white in full bloom. The plant grows like a sugar cane or a palm in a sense that older leaves come off leaving the trunk bottom smooth. Unlike a palm the upper trunk of the corn plant will branch off. However, the branches that develop are scanty.

Growing outdoors, the plant will flower. But dracaena fragrans is only a seasonal bloomer. In a tropical area, it only flowers once a year especially in the month of March. Its small clustered pale yellow flowers are not attractive enough to look at. Their redeeming characteristic is their scent. In the evening the flowers emit fragrance that radiate through its vicinity. In the house it creates a sweet smelling ambiance. This fragrance can be smelled only in the evening and early dawn. The scent is less intense during the day so that the flowers seem odorless during that period.                                                                                                                           

 A good thing about this plant is that it can naturally remove toxic gasses in the air such as formaldehyde, xylene and toluene especially if it is planted on pots and is placed indoors. The NASA Clean Air Study listed Draecena as one of the 15 plants that can improve indoor air quality. In an indoor environment the plant rarely flowers. It can be propagated through its cuttings.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Snake Plant, a Natural Indoor Air Purifier

Sansevieria  Trifasciata  or snake plant or mother-in-law’s tongue is an evergreen perennial ornamental plant. The sword shaped leaves are colored light green with streaks of dark green all over the blade. On the margins of a leaf is a yellow vertical stripe, but there are varieties that don’t have such stripe. A leaf usually measures 28-35 inches long and 2-2.4 inches wide.  

Listed by NASA as one of 12 house plants that can give better quality of air inside a house or a building, snake plant removes toxic gasses by passively absorbing toxins such as nitrogen oxides and formaldehyde. It is unlike most other plants that absorb carbon dioxide and release much oxygen during daytime. Snake plant takes away carbon dioxide and gives off oxygen in the evening. For this reason, it is an ideal ornamental plant inside the house or the bedroom to provide a slight boost of oxygen when one sleeps.

Snake plant can be propagated by cutting or dividing its rhizome. It is mostly planted on the ground or in pots with free draining soil. It can survive with less sunlight and water. Overwatering can cause the roots to decay which may kill the plant. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

March for Life 2016

The March for Life is an annual pro-life rally of different associations and groups that is held in the month of January or February. The first rally was led by Nellie Gray on January 22, 1973 in Washington D.C., USA in response to the US Supreme Court decision on Roe versus Wade on January 22, 1972 decriminalizing abortion.  Since then, succeeding annual rally has been held by different pro-life advocacy groups to support the culture of life and protest on abortion. Those groups have also been reaching out to some lawmakers for the overturn of the SC decision.
Religious organizations such as the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church and the evangelicals have been active participants in the annual rally. The Knight of Columbus a fraternal service organization of the Catholic Church is the agent of the Catholic Church to carry out its support to the multi-sectoral March for Life rally. The organization is committed to reverse the trend toward the culture of death and to build a culture that values human life at the every stage.  Since Knight of Columbus has councils and assemblies in different parts of the world, it follows that the March for Life rally has taken a world stage.

In the Philippines the March for Life rally is exclusively carried out by the members of Knight of Columbus all over the country with the support of the Catholic Church. Unlike in the United States where a woman’s right to an abortion is protected, abortion is a crime in the Philippines. The participation of the Filipino Knight of Columbus members of the rally is their expression of solidarity with other groups the world over for pro-life promotion. 

In Cagayan de Oro the annual March for Life rally was held on February 27, 2016. Participants from different councils and assemblies gathered at the provincial capitol ground of Misamis Oriental. The march to the Gaston Park at Saint Augustine Cathedral started at about 7:30 am. The 30-minute march culminated in a simple program at the park that included prayer and short speeches from speakers.  The highlight of the program was a speech of Fr. Juliano Retiquez who discussed on certain moral issues with emphasis on the church advocacy on the culture of life and abortion.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Illegal Drugs, a Scourge of Philippine Society

Methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu and marijuana are the most used illegal drugs in the Philippines. The reason for this is that they are the most available and affordable. Since shabu is the preferred drug of 90% to users, I am referring to it whenever I use the term illegal drug or drug in this article.   
The immediate effect of shabu to the body is similar to anti-depressant drugs that are sold in the local drugstore. It relieves depression. Shabu users have the feeling of euphoria and vitality when they get high. However, excessive and chronic used of it can make it addictive. A drug overdose can be fatal. The drug hampers the normal functioning of the body’s cells and organs such as the brain. In the long run it destroys one’s health, and may lead to an early death.                                                                                                                         
Drug abuse can result to adverse behavioral change to a person like being irritable, irrational or moody. It can make him neglect his personal hygiene and sanitation. A person addicted to drug prioritizes his vices over more important things in life such as his education or his career. As a result, he underachieves in classes or in his job. This situation has a dire consequence in him because he will fail in school or get fired from his job. Failures and disappointment set in, and he will soon develop a low self esteem and inferiority complex. His destructive habit will cause disharmony between himself and his loved ones. Since drugs are not for free, a user needs a constant inflow of money in his pocket to have it, and as a result the family’s financial condition is affected. When there is no more money to spend on drug he might do bad things such as selling personal or family belongings in order to buy drug. It will be even worse if he steals from his family or other persons to satisfy his cravings. Needing money for his addiction, the user may eventually progress from a mere user to a pusher. His illegal acts will then surely put him either in the drug rehabilitation center or in prison in the near future.  The sad fact is that pushing drug is a non bailable offense that carries the maximum penalty of life imprisonment. For being into drugs a young person virtually destroys his life and his future.  

Illegal drugs are a menace to the well being of society because it can cause people to commit murder, theft, prostitution and other crimes. Drug abusers are oblivious to their moral or spiritual obligations resulting to the decay of the fabric of society when many people are hooked in drugs. Since young persons who are into drugs are neglectful of their future, they reduce their chance of being gainfully employed or live a decent life. This will also deprive the country of having more young people who will help drive it towards social and economic progress. Moreover, drug abusers are a drain to the nation’s coffers since money that is better spent for government social services is instead diverted  to drug related expenditures such as law enforcement and penology, the construction of drug rehabilitation centers , the treatment of drug users and the prevention of drug addiction.

It is worthy to note that people who are into drugs either as s user or a pusher usually end up in prison. About 50% of cases filed and tried in courts are related to illegal drugs. The reason why people are into drug is primarily because of economic reason such as poverty and lack of employment opportunity. Other people use drug for the sake of curiosity and still others try drugs because of peer pressure. To put food on the table, people take the risk of selling drugs because there is a big money in it. Price of shabu per gram in 2007 was ($100) or 5,000 pesos.  In 2008 the street value per gram increased twofold which was ($212) or 10,000 pesos with a street value of 10 million pesos to 12 million pesos per kilogram.

Government deals with the drug problem by arresting and imprisoning drug offenders. However, these actions have not stopped the proliferation of illegal drugs because of the social and economic factors prevailing in the society or in some cases due to the corruption of few people in the government agencies tasked to combat the use of illegal drugs. While it is easier to raid drug dens and laboratories in the cities and municipalities, it is not the case if drugs are manufactured in conflict and rebel infested areas that are controlled by organized and well armed groups such as the Abu Sayyaff, BIFF and other groups. Those groups need support for their operations, and it is not far-fetched that they will collaborate with the drug syndicates to get funds for their cause. This kind of scenario will further complicate the problem because it involves threat to national security, and that those groups aided by illegal drug money may be able to launch terroristic acts on targets that include innocent civilians. The illegal drug operators in the Philippines are connected to international drug syndicates in Africa and Mexico.  Precursor chemicals in the manufacture of drugs come from such countries as China, India and Thailand. A PNP Illegal Drug Operation Task Force report in 2013 said that international drug cartel such as Sinaloa of Mexico had already operated in the country.

It is almost a daily fare in local TV, radio and other news media to report incident on people using or selling drugs who are caught in buy bust operations by law enforcement operatives such as the PDEA and police agents. This gives the impression to the public that drug problem has already reached at an alarming proportion and need to be effectively contained by the government. Arresting and imprisoning people who are into drugs are only a cosmetic solution to the problem if its root causes are not addressed.  What is a society that has many people hooked into drugs or many of its people are unproductive or imprisoned because of it. The problems are perhaps a symptom of a failed or dysfunctional society. Penitentiaries should not be solely aimed to punish individuals for their crimes, but also to reform and rehabilitate them so that they will become productive and acceptable to their community once they are released from prison. The government too has an obligation to eliminate poverty and other main factors that cause the proliferation of illegal drugs. This includes providing opportunities for people to earn income through jobs or business activities so that they will not resort to committing crimes to support their families.

The magnitude of illegal drug problem in the country is manifested in electoral campaigns of candidates in the upcoming national election in May 2016. Presidential candidates make the eradication of illegal drugs as one of their agenda once elected into office. Indeed, illegal drug is an evil that the Philippine society must overcome. Illegal drug problem is not only the concern of law enforcement agencies such as the PDEA and the PNP, but also of the government, the churches, the schools, the NGOs, civic organization and most importantly, the family, the basic unit of the society. People from all walks of life must work hand in hand so that the present scourge of the Philippine society can be defeated. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Love, the Strongest Feeling

Love as defined in the Webster Dictionary means “(1) Strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties,( 2) attraction based on sexual desire: affection and tenderness felt by lovers, (3.)affection based on admiration, benevolence or common interest.” That definition of love is in the context of affectionate relationship between one person to another which is interpersonal love. A love that is directed other than a person is impersonal love.  A person may also love an inanimate object, goal or endeavor and other things for his own gratification. Interpersonal love may be a mutual feeling between persons, but a feeling of one person may not be reciprocated by another person. This is unrequited love.

Ancient Greeks categorized love into four types which are eros, philios, estorge and agape. Eros is a romantic relationship between a man and a woman. Philios is a dispassionate love such as loyalty to a friend, family or community. Estorge is natural affection such as that felt by parents to offspring, and Agape is a divine love or love of the soul.

Erotic or romantic love is the most widely talked about type of love because it concerns about the relationship between two persons of opposite sex. There are instances though that a romance may involve same sex persons. A situation may arise when a man is instantly attracted to a woman or he feels in love at her at first sight. And there is love that develops overtime through interaction or communication between two persons. A feeling of attraction or affection may diminish or lost because of several reasons or intervening factors. A relationship that just starts with friendship may develop into a full blown romance in the long run.
A man’s carnal desire to a woman that is not accompanied with an intention to commit to her is not love but lust. Love is a positive feeling while lust is not. But lust can also be a component of love. A man might just be sexually attracted with a woman at first, but a frequent exposure to her might later evolve into a genuine feeling of affection and commitment for both of them. 
Since time immemorial, people have recognized love’s contribution to our societies. Love is an instrument for the perpetuation of life in this world. In connection with it, societies have come up with the institution of marriage to cement the bond of relationship between a man and a woman, to give that relationship a legal or religious recognition and to protect it under existing laws.                                                                                                                     
Love has many forms and extends beyond romantic relationship. Philios is a dispassionate love to a friend, family or community. It requires virtue, equality and familiarity. The act of charity is an example of an expression of this love. People driven by their benevolent desire unselfishly use their own resources to help other people in need. Other people help still others because it delights them to see their fellowmen or friends become successful and happy.

Parents and their offspring have natural instinct to feel affection and attachment to each other. A mother’s love to her child drives her to protect it from disease, hunger and danger that may imperil its life. Love is the mutual feeling of parents and children to motivate them in the building of a better and a harmonious family.                                                                                                                                                                    
It is a fact of life that all living creatures to include humans will die. Since ancient times people have created the notion that life continues even after death. They also created the belief in a god to complement such an idea. The love of god or agape is a feeling or act that would cleanse one’s soul in this world and the hereafter. Christians believe that agape is mutual feeling of love between God and man. God loves his people and, therefore, they should also love Him in return.

Christian theologians said that God is the source of love and that God is love. This statement is supported by Bible verse John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believed in him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

Jesus said in Mathew 5:43-44: “You have heard that it was said ‘Love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.”  In that statement Jesus told us to even go beyond the frailties of our human nature to do good to other people whether they are our friends or not.

In the Bible, a certain lawyer in order to tempt Jesus asked what he should do to inherit an eternal life. Jesus has this answer in Luke 10:27:”Love the Lord thy God with all of your heart and with all of your soul, with all of your strength and with all of your mind, and, Love your neighbor as yourself.” So the key to an eternal life according to Jesus is LOVE.                                                                                                                                                                 
Some people believe in God others do not because they think that believing in an unseen, imaginary all-powerful being is absurd. But in our short stay as temporary resident of this world, what would we lose if we believe in Him?

Saturday, February 6, 2016

History's Great Love Story: Dr. Jose Rizal and Josephine Bracken

Dr. Jose Rizal
Jose Rizal was born on June 19, 1861 to a landed family of Chinese ancestry in Calamba, Laguna. Motivated with the desire to cure his mother of her eye disease, he studied medicine specializing in ophthalmology in University of Santo Tomas in Manila. In 1882 he went to Spain to further his study of medicine at the Universidad de Central Madrid. There, he finished his studies with flying colors, and visited several European cities to include London and Berlin. He completed his specialization in ophthalmology in 1887 at Heidelberg at age 25 under the renowned Otto Becker. To support himself, he practiced his profession and was able to develop a circle of friends such as Ferdinand Blumentritt and others. While in Europe, he wrote his first novel entitled Noli Mi Tangere.

The novel which was published in 1887 in Berlin was highly critical to the abuses of the Spanish friars who were a very powerful and influential group during the Spanish colonial period in the Philippines. Although a fiction, the novel’s characters were drawn from real life persons and episodes that represented events in lives of Filipinos in typical Philippine society during Rizal’s time. Its story served as an inspiration to those who aspired for reformed or an independent Philippines either through peaceful means or armed struggle. The novel angered the friars, the elites and the educated Filipinos because of its symbolism. Rizal’s writings and his association with Filipino nationalists caused for him a blacklist as a subversive by the Spanish authorities. 

Leonor Rivera
The works of Jose Rizal did not bring him in good standing with some people. Others wanted to distance themselves from him to avoid trouble with the authorities. In his return to the Philippines in 1887, Jose’s own father, Francisco, even advised him not to see or visit his long time girlfriend Leonor Rivera whose family had moved from Manila to Pangasinan because it might endanger her family considering his status with the authorities. It was believed that Leonor was the inspiration behind Jose’s portrayal of Maria Clara, one of the main characters in Noli Mi Tangere. While Jose was in Manila, he and Leonor were constantly communicating with each other through letters. But later, he did not receive letters from her anymore although he always sent his to her. Rizal found out later that Leonor was engaged to be married to a British railway engineer Henry Kipping who was the one favored by her parents to be her husband.

Greatly devastated with the loss of his beloved Leonor to another man, Rizal returned to Europe in 1890 and visited several cities such as Madrid, Paris and Brussels in the furtherance of his career. In 1891 he published his second novel “El Filibusterismo” in Ghent. It was a sequel to the “Noli Mi Tangere”. In December 1891, he moved to Hong Kong and lived with his family. He established a clinic at D’Aguilar Street, Central District and worked from 2 pm to 6 pm. In Hong Kong he had a fling with several ladies such as Gertrude Becket, Nelly Boustead and O-Sei-San. It was also there where he first met Josephine Bracken who was then a 16 year old woman. She and her adoptive father George Taufer was in his clinic to have the failing eyesight of her father checked up.

In 1892 Rizal returned to the Philippines and formed La Liga Filipina which was quickly disbanded by the government because it saw it a seditious organization and that Rizal was considered as a subversive. Rizal was also implicated in the nascent rebellion waged by the group called Katipunan. For that reason Rizal was deported to Dapitan in Mindanao in July 1892. 

In Dapitan, Rizal won a lottery together with Spanish Provincial Governor Ricardo Carnicero and a Spaniard from nearby Dipolog. Rizal used his winnings to buy several hectares of land. To make use of his time in Dapitan he practiced his profession as an ophthalmologist and did other activities such as teaching children Spanish and other subjects. He also engaged in construction projects such as the building of school, hospital and water system. These small infrastructures helped the local community during Rizal’s stay in Dapitan.
Rizal’s reputation as a respected ophthalmologist was already widely known even outside the Philippines. Josephine Bracken recommended to her adopted father Mr. George Taufer to have an appointment with Dr. Jose Rizal in Dapitan for the treatment of his deteriorating eyesight. Josephine, Mr. Taufer and a certain Manuela Orlac, who was said to be a mistress of a friar set sail for Dapitan, and arrived in late February 1895.

Josephine Bracken
Josephine Leopoldine Bracken who was born on October 3, 1876 in Hong Kong was the daughter of a British infantry corporal. Her mother died shortly after her birth so that she was given up for adoption to George Taufer, an American engineer. But shortly thereafter, Mr. Taufer’s wife died. He married a Portuguese woman as his second wife whom he had a daughter.  But then again his second wife died in 1891, and he married for the third time. Josephine found the third Mrs. Taufer difficult to get along with so that she had to run away to Canossan sisters’convent where she had attended her early studies.  She returned to Taufer’s house only after he begged her to be with him again. 

In Dapitan, Rizal was attracted to Josephine and courted her. She was petite, and her blue eyes and brown hair indicated her Irish ancestry. She was not a woman of remarkable beauty, but her charm nevertheless captivated him. She also fell for him. And the romance between Rizal who was 34 and Josephine who was just 18 started.

When Taufer knew of the relationship, he was vehemently furious, and he tried to slash his wrist with a blade. However, Rizal and Josephine were able to stop him. After being calmed down by Rizal, Taufer listened to reason and finally accepted the relationship between her and the doctor although it upset him. Taufer’s eye condition was beyond treatment. This reason plus his daughter’s relationship with Rizal prompted him to go back to Hong Kong.

Josephine accompanied her father back to Hong Kong. While in Manila Josephine brought with her Rizal’s letter to his family, and she introduced herself to them. His parents and his siblings however were not viewing her with favor. In Manila, Josephine had to stay in the house of Rizal’s sister Narcisa, who was the one closest to her in the Rizal family. After a while Josephine returned to Dapitan to continue her life with Rizal.

In Talisay, Dapitan Rizal and Josephine’s love had grown as days went by so that they decided to cement their relationship in ecclesiastical marriage. But being an excommunicated Catholic, Rizal was advised by Fr. Obach, the would-be officiating priest, that he should first get the approval of the bishop of Cebu. However, there was no positive reply of his request from the bishop. Nevertheless, Rizal and Josephine continued to live as man and wife.

Living with Rizal, Josephine learned how to sew, cook food, and do other tasks to help him in their household routines. She attended to him. The octagonal bamboo and nipa house that they occupied was a love nest, and in time she became pregnant. While he played prank with her, she got startled and she fell to an iron stand. The accident resulted to the premature birth of a son. Rizal was deeply saddened with the incident. He named the still born child Francisco in honor of his father and buried it.

At the height of the revolution in Cuba Rizal volunteered his services as doctor to attend to the victims of yellow fever. Philippine Spanish Governor General Ramon Blanco, who was sympathetic to his plight granted his leave to that country. On July 3, 1896, Rizal and Josephine together with Narcisa  left Dapitan and boarded the “Espana” for Manila. While in Manila he was not allowed to disembark from the ship that would take him to his next destination. Josephine was however allowed to visit him in the ship. In Manila she stayed in Narcisa’s house. 

The political situation that was brewing meanwhile would somehow affect Rizal’s final destiny. Governor General Ramon Blanco who was sympathetic to Rizal was disliked by the friars because of his soft and reconciliatory stance towards the Filipino dissidents. Friars led by Archbishop of Manila Bernardo Nozaleda had worked for Blanco’s removal to Spain’s regent Queen Maria Cristina. They succeeded in their effort and on December 13, 1896 Blanco was replaced by Governor-General Camilo Polavieja who had a hardline stand against dissidents. The situation did not bode well for Rizal since he had angered the friars who wielded much political clout and that the new Governor General had an uncompromising attitude to those who were considered enemies of the state.

On August 1, 1896, the ship that Rizal boarded left the port of Manila. In route to Spain, there was an order for his arrest, and in October 6, 1896, he was detained in Barcelona, he was interrogated, and was inspected of his belongings. There were masonry papers confiscated from his possession. Implicated in the rebellion through his association with the Katipunan, Rizal was sent back to Manila to face trial.

Rizal faced a five-day preliminary investigation on November 26, 1896. Two days before his replacement as governor general on December 13, 1896, Blanco endorsed Rizal’s case to Polavieja who decided that it would be finally settled by a court martial. On December 26, 1896, Rizal faced a court martial in the building Cuartel de EspaƱa in Fort Santiago. He was charged with rebellion, sedition and illegal association. Despite the dedicated and selfless effort of defense counsel Lt. Luis Taviel de Andrade to present convincing refutation on charges against Rizal, the court found the accused guilty of all the charges, and Rizal was sentenced to die by firing squad.   
A day before his execution Rizal gave a stove to his sister Trinidad and whispered to her that there was something in it. He also summoned Josephine and the two had their last time together. It was said that before his execution Rizal renounced masonry and reverted to Catholicism. It was also reported that two or one hour before the execution, he and Josephine Bracken were married in a Catholic ceremony officiated by Fr. Vicente Balaguer.  

Mi Ultimo Adios
The cooking stove given by Rizal to Trinidad was later found out to contain a piece of paper with a poem entitled “Mi Ultimo Adios” or “My Last Farewell”. On the last line of the poem were the words “Adios mi dulce stranjera, mi amiga, mi alegria” or “Farewell my sweet stranger, my darling, my delight”. That line is believed to be dedicated to Josephine Bracken.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
On December 30, 1896, Rizal was escorted by the guards to the execution site in Bagumbayan. Filipino squad backed up by Spanish squad behind it had to do the shooting. Before the shots, a military doctor checked Rizal’s pulse and was amazed to find it to be normal. At about 7 am an order to fire accompanied with beats of the drums was then given to the executioners. As he fell to the ground Rizal uttered his last words “consumatum est” or “it is completed!”. He also mustered his last remaining strength to turn his body around so that he would die facing the sky. Rizal was only 35 years old when he died.

Dr. Jose Rizal's execution
On that day a martyr shed his blood on his country’s soil. It was a blood that would later nurture the seed of his countrymen’s aspirations for an independent country and a better tomorrow. In his Noli Mi Tangere Rizal wrote foretelling words said by the dying Elias to the child Basilio who are two of his characters in that novel: “I shall die without the dawn breaking upon my homeland. You shall see it, salute it! Do not forget those who have fallen before the night.” Jose Rizal was later buried in an unmarked grave in a cemetery in Paco, Manila. 
After the death of Rizal, Josephine joined the revolutionaries. She was reported to have witnessed the Tejeros Convention. For her activities she was summoned by Governor General Polavieja who ordered her to leave the Philippines. But she being the daughter of an American citizen could not be forcibly deported from the country. But after receiving advises from the American consul, she voluntarily left for Hong Kong to join her father who died shortly after their reunion.

In Hong Kong Josephine met Vicente Abad, a Filipino-Spanish mestizo. He married her on December 15, 1898. They later went to Cebu where he set up a bicycle store while she spent her spare time tutoring English. On April 17, 1900, she gave birth to a daughter which the couple named Dolores. After a few years Josephine returned to Hong-Kong where she died of tuberculosis on March 15, 1902. She was only 25 years old.