It is widely known that Jose Rizal is a prolific writer and revolutionary.
The same goes for him being a polyglot–able to converse in 22 languages–and of course, being regarded as a Philippine national hero.
He was enamored by Barcelona after a not-so-favorable first impression, and took note of the air of liberalism that pervaded the city: a far cry from what the Philippines was experiencing at the hands of its Spanish colonizers.
Already a proficient writer at the time, he penned his very first essay in the country, , which was met with raves by Filipino publisher Basilio Teodoro Moran.
As many accounts have implied, Rizal was an expert in blending in seamlessly with people whom he just met, and was even better with the ladies.
And so his journey began, a chunk of which was presented to us by Lucien Spittael.“Rizal had been always talking to Ullmer, and Ullmer told him how people were living in Germany.Rizal picked up a lot of things from him.” As it turned out, Rizal’s secret mission was to observe the lives, cultures, laws, and governments of the countries in Europe, in preparation for liberating the Philippines from Spain’s tyrannical rule.Piecing together Rizal’s stay in Europe wasn’t exactly a cakewalk–a fact that the two illustrious speakers can attest to–but the heroic ophthalmologist from Laguna was known to update his travel diary whenever he felt or encountered something he deemed significant, as if travel blogging were already a thing during the late 18th century.Pepe, as he was nicknamed, was also skilled in magnetizing people not only through his writing, but also as a natural charmer.What isn’t discussed all too often, however, is his trip to Europe, particularly his stay in Germany, through which he had forged bonds with people who would help him produce his iconic novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, and garner achievements that added to his already-glowing legacy.Curious about that not-too-often-underscored part of the hero’s life, I attended Inspirien: The Life of Rizal in Germany, a forum that documented Rizal’s exploits in Berlin, Wilhelmsfeld, Barcelona, and other parts of Europe, held at the Enderun Amphitheater.He wound up participating in family activities, including daily chores and entertaining guests, and appreciated the fact that Pastor Ullmer and his family had a knack for deep discussions.The pastor had a brilliant mind and was of strong character, which delighted Rizal.Little did his countrymen know that he had another mission, one that would lead to him to inspire fellow revolutionaries through his writing.But before any secret plan could take place, he had to go to Spain unnoticed–even by his mother.