Monday, June 17, 2013
Memories of a Declamation Contest-Rizal's Ultimo Adios
When I was in 6th grade, I participated in a declamation contest sponsored by our school district. There were ten schools in our district from three neighboring towns. If you have not heard of a declamation contest: It is just public speaking contest reciting and acting poetry, a short story or an article. My English teacher was my coach. I remember memorizing for 4 weeks, a short story titled "A Yankee in Love". The short article were filled with American slang words that I could barely understand. The piece was more suited to an older teenager, possibly someone who has already fallen in love. As a result I delivered my declamation piece without any feelings or emotion but with an American accent taught by my coach. But I was surprise to win 5th place ( among 10 contestants). The winner was from the school in the next town and I remember very well her declamation piece was Jose Rizal famous poem, My Last Farewell.( Ultimo Adios in Spanish). Jose Rizal is Philippines number one national hero. December 30 is Rizal Day in the Philippines.
Here's the first and last stanzas of this patriotic poem both in its original Spanish and an English translation. The poem has 14 five-lines stanzas and has been translated into 30 languages. I will never forget this poem as long as I live because of the Declamation Contest that I lost during my elementary school days in the Philippines.
Mi Ultimo Adiós.
Adios, Patria adorada, región del sol querida,
Perla del Mar del Oriente, nuestro perdido Eden!
A darte voy alegre la triste mustia vida,
Y fuera más brillante más fresca, más florida,
Tambien por tí la diera, la diera por tu bien.
Adios, padres y hermanos, trozos del alma mía,
Amigos de la infancia en el perdido hogar,
Dad gracias que descanso del fatigoso día;
Adios, dulce extrangera, mi amiga, mi alegria,
Adios, queridos seres, morir es descansar.
An English Translation
My Final Farewell
Farewell, dear Fatherland, clime of the sun caress’d
Pearl of the Orient seas, our Eden lost!,
Gladly now I go to give thee this faded life’s best,
And were it brighter, fresher, or more blest
Still would I give it thee, nor count the cost.
Farewell to you all, from my soul torn away,
Friends of my childhood in the home dispossessed!
Give thanks that I rest from the wearisome day!
Farewell to thee, too, sweet friend that lightened my way;
Beloved creatures all, farewell! In death there is rest!
The last phrase, "In death there is rest" ( morir es descansar) is appropriate in Rizal's Life. Dr. Jose Rizal who was executed by the Spanish colonizers of the Philippines on December 30, 1896 for his alleged role in the armed revolution against Spain. He was in prison and on the night before his execution, he wrote this poem as a final statement to his fellow Filipino countrymen. Here's a partial video of the poem sang and with English sub titles.
The "Mi Ultimo Adios"(My Last Farewell) was originally written in Spanish. I feel that the English translation loses the depth of emotion Dr. Rizal felt at the time he wrote it. The poem is so inspiring, I do not get tired reading it again and again. How about you?