Light and Sound Complex

Regarded as one of the most historic spots at the park is the light and sound complex featuring The Martyrdom of Dr. Jose Rizal: A Light and Sound Presentation, a sculptural tableau which depicts the final moments of Rizal. This is the exact spot where Rizal was executed on December 30, 1896, at 7:03 in the morning.

His poem “Mi Ultimo Adios” in original Spanish, English translation by Encarnacion Alzona & Isidro Escare Abeto, and Tagalog version by Andres Bonifacio entitled “Pahimakas ni Dr. Jose Rizal”, engraved in a black granite wall, can also be found here. The black granite, sourced from India, was a donation made by the India-Filipino Chamber of Commerce through the efforts of then Indian Ambassador to the Philippines, H.E. Satish Chandra.

There is also a bas-relief depicting the most important stages of Dr. Rizal’s life:

  • The Flame and the Moth
  • Scholastic Brilliance
  • The Internationally-Sought Eye Doctor
  • The Man of Science and Art
  • The First Filipino
  • The Exile

The forty-three more than life-sized handcrafted brass sculptures grouped into eight (8) clusters present the poignant moments of his life.


1st Cluster: The Mock Trial

The court martial of Rizal commenced on December 26, 1896. Even before the death verdict was handed down, Rizal already knew his fate since his trial had been a moro-moro (sham).

The trial of Rizal began at the Cuartel de Espana, where a soldier’s dormitory was converted into an improvised courtroom. On the same day, the court martial secretly and unanimously voted for a guilty verdict with the penalty of death before a firing squad at then Bagumbayan, now Rizal Park. Rizal’s defense counsel was Lt. Luis Taviel de Andrade, the brother of his former bodyguard / friend.


2nd Cluster: The Last Meeting

On December 29, 1896, one day before the execution, Rizal was visited inside his prison cell at Fort Santiago in Intramuros by his mother Teodora Alonso, accompanied by Trinidad and Lucia.


3rd Cluster: His Last Farewell

Late afternoon the day before Rizal’s execution, Rizal bequeathed to his sister Trinidad – a small alcohol lamp. He told Trinidad in English, so the guards would not understand, that there was something inside the stove. That something turned out to be a small paper which eventually came to be known as Mi Ultimo Adios. Rizal also wrote letters to his mother Teodora, father Francisco, brother Paciano and sisters, and Ferdinand Blumentritt, Rizal’s friend.


4th Cluster: Jose Rizal with his Beloved, Josephine Bracken

December 30, 1896, 5:00 AM: Teary-eyed Josephine Bracken came to visit Rizal in his prison cell. According to the testimony of the agent of the Cuerpo de Vigilancia, Josephine and Rizal were married. Josephine was gifted by Rizal with the classic “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas a Kempis in which he inscribed, “To my dear and unhappy wife, Josephine, December 30th, 1896 Jose Rizal.” They embraced for the last time.


5th Cluster: Rizal with his Trusted Friends

Rizal was visited by his trusted friends, Lt. Taviel de Andrade and Fr. Vicente Balaguer. To Lt. Andrade, Rizal gave him his alfiler or tie pie as remembrance of their friendship. Fr. Balaguer couldn’t stop himself from weeping because he could not yet accept the fact of Rizal’s impending death. Rizal then advised his friar friend not to attend and witness his execution as it would only be a burden on his part.


6th Cluster: The Death March

December 30, 1896, 6:30 AM: Rizal began his final walk from Fort Santiago to Bagumbayan. Four (4) soldiers with bayoneted rifles lead the procession followed by Rizal, Taviel de Andrade, Fathers Vilaclara and March and other soldiers.


7th Cluster: The Normal Pulse

Rizal, after arriving at the execution site at Bagumbayan, was checked with his pulse by Dr. Felipe Ruiz Castillo. It was perfectly normal.


8th Cluster: The Execution

Rizal asks the captain if he can face the firing squad. The captain declines, saying that this is unacceptable for he was a traitor. Rizal argues that he is neither traitor to his motherland nor Spain, but eventually agrees to be shot at the back as long as his head is spared. Even if it was customary at that time, he refused to be blindfolded or to kneel down. Why would he? He was wearing his Sunday best, complete with coat, tie, and hat.

And the captain raised his sword and shouted “Preparen!” Eight (8) Indio soldiers loaded their guns ready to shoot their kababayan. At their backs, eight (8) Spanish soldiers were ready to shoot the Indio soldiers if they would hesitate to shoot the traitor. The captain shouted, “Apunten!” Soldiers take their aim. The crowd holds their breath. Rizal shouts, “Consummatum est! (It is done!)” His mission is done. The torch has been passed. With a drop of the sword, the captain shouted, “Fuego!” Shots are fired. At the last moment, Rizal resists and turns himself to face his executors. He falls down, and dies facing the sky. People held their breath as soldiers came up to the corpse and gave Rizal the tiro de gracia, one last merciful shot in the head at close range to make sure that he was really dead.

A small dog, the military mascot, ran around the corpse whining, and the crowd moved in for a closer look, but were kept at bay by the soldiers who stood in the first row of spectators. It was 7:03 A.M. The show was over.


Among the creative and technical experts tapped to develop and implement this project are as follows:

1. Lamberto Avellana National Artist for Theater and Film Wrote the presentation’s script Bagumbayan, Field of Martyrdom
2. Eduardo Castrillo Sculptor of Patriotic Monuments i.e. People Power Monument in EDSA and Andres Bonifacio tableau near Manila City Hall Handcrafted the tableau’s larger-than-life brass sculptures
3. Teodoro Hilado and Arturo Tort Hilado – Recognized as the Father of Lighting Design in Philippine Theater Orchestrated the light and sound presentation surrounding the sculptures
4. Leandro Locsin National Artist for Architecture Member of the Planning and Advisory Committee for the Martyrdom of Jose Rizal Project
5. Serafin Quiazon Then National Historical Institute Chairman Member of the Planning and Advisory Committee for the Martyrdom of Jose Rizal Project
6. Lucio San Pedro National Artist for Music Composed the music used for the presentation
7. Ildefonso Santos, Jr. National Artist for Architecture – Known for being the Father of Philippine Landscape Architecture Designed the landscape and open-air setting for the sculptural tableau
8. Rolando Tinio National Artist for Theater and Literature Wrote the script’s Filipino version

Aside from the daily guided day tours, there are 2 daily evening presentations for the tableau: 7:00 – 7:30 PM (Filipino) and 8:00 – 8:30 PM (English).