José Rizal was a prolific Filipino author, poet and playwright who advocated political reform during Spanish rule in the late 1800s. His writings were denounced by Spanish rulers (who declared Rizal an enemy of the state) and helped inspire the Philippine Revolution. In 1896, he was tried, convicted and sentenced to death for rebellion, sedition and conspiracy, and executed by firing squad that December. An undated poem, “Mi Ultimo Adiós,” was believed to have been written on the eve of his death. It begins:
“Farewell, my adored Land, region of the sun caressed / Pearl of the Orient Sea, our Eden lost / With gladness I give you my life, sad and repressed / And were it more brilliant, more fresh and at its best / I would still give it to you for your welfare at most.”
After his death, Rizal became a national hero. The Philippine declaration of independence was proclaimed two years later.