On June 18, 2011 at 5 pm in the afternoon, the Heidelberg Drinking Fountain was formally inaugurated at the Noli Me Tangere Garden, Rizal Park.
According to the press release from DOT dated April 2011, entitled "Rizal Park Renaissance Salutes Heritage, Draws Crowds Anew"
"Another treasure to be revived: a drinking fountain donated by the town of Heidelberg in Germany, where Rizal wrote the last chapter of his masterpiece novel Noli Me Tangere. Currently lying dormant inside the park, the restored fountain will become the centerpiece of a planned Noli Me Tangere Garden."
The famous Heidelberg fountain can really be regarded as a treasure as it stands witness to one of the greatest moments of one of the last Renaissance writers in the world history, our very own national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. The Heidelberg drinking fountain was said to be the same drinking fountain Dr. Jose Rizal used to drink a lot while living in Germany. Dr. Jose Rizal was at that time writing the last chapters of Noli Me Tangere and completing his specialization as an eye surgeon.
The Inaugural Presentation of the Noli Me Tangere Garden featuring the Heidelberg Drinking Fountain was opened by no other than NPDC Director Juliet Villegas. Special messages were also delivered by different ambassadors and dignitaries who graced the event such as the Ambassador of the Republic of Austria, H. E. Willhelm Maximillian Donko; Ambassador of the Czech Republic, H.E. Josef Rychtar; Director of the Goethe Institute Manila, Honorable Richard Kunzel; and our very own Department of Tourism Secretary, Honorable Alberto Lim.
The Inauguration was concluded by a short concert featuring hymns from the Philippines and a few German and Austrian songs showing the ties Jose Rizal has made to these European countries. The cultural presentation was entitled "A Musical Tribute to Dr. Jose Rizal". The first two songs were Lagi Kitang Naaalala and Dakilang Lahi and performed by soprano Marianne Santiago. Madaling Araw and Dein Ist Mein Ganzes Herz were performed by tenor Frankie Aseniero while Mutya ng Pasig and Eidelweiss were performed by soprano Vanessa Rayel. The last song number was sung in tandem by Ms. Rayel and Mr. Aseniero. The singers were accompanied by guitarist Eddie Suarez and pianist, Jed Balsamo.
At the end of the concert everyone was invited to join for simple dinner buffet where groups from different media shared tales about Jose Rizal.
So far one of the anecdotes shared that night came from Mr. Frankie Aseniero who shared that his great grandfather was actually a student of Jose Rizal when the latter was still at Dapitan. Jose Rizal brought his student to Manila who in return delivered food to him while he was imprisoned in Bagumbayan. The day before he was to be executed he also delivered the message to Jose Rizal. Jose Rizal replied "That cannot be for I am innocent". Well we all know how the story ended but apparently. The student was also the one who made the copy of Rizal's last work, the poem "Mi Ultimo Adios" just in case the original copy was found and destroyed by the Spaniards at that time. Until now, Mr. Asiniero, I guess as part of a family tradition memorizes by heart Rizal's Mi Ultimo Adios.
Future Plans for the now robust Rizal Park include to put a life-size bronze statue of Dr. Rizal to be sculpted and cast by Italy-based Filipino artist. Tomas Concepcion.
I was lucky enough to be a part of this once in a lifetime events. To hear different ambassadors from different European countries talk about Jose Rizal made me extremely proud as a Filipino. And in my own way if I can emulate his maturity, his vision, his intelligence on how I conduct myself I know that I have made Rizal's existence a positive moving force in my life. That would be my own tribute for Rizal.