Home > Kahindik-hindik > historical sites should inspire, elicit national pride; rizal’s house painted green embarasses us

historical sites should inspire, elicit national pride; rizal’s house painted green embarasses us

ambeth ocampo, chair of the national historical institute rationalized the painting of rizal’s house into green with this:

In his column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on June 3, NHI Chair Ambeth Ocampo explained that the reason for painting Rizal’s house green was to “highlight, and inform visitors of, the meaning of his surname.”

The surname Rizal is rooted in the Spanish word “ricial,” which means a green field ready for harvest, Ocampo said.

and this is what we have to say:

well, it is an intent or in marketing it is a brand intent but just because it is there does not mean it is usable and should be used. there are products for example that cause diarrhea if eaten too much, but these brands do not choose to highlight that in their marketing strategy.

we are all familiar with Tide Detergent brand. we all know what “tide” means but we do not see depicted in it’s packaging design nor do we see sea water included inside a pack of Tide Detergent Powder.

mr. ocampo’s first name is ambeth. we can guess that is a combination of his dad and mom’s first names, but i am sure he does not want to be called “beth” since he is male.

what mr. ocampo has done is give us trivia. everyone knows we enjoy trivial pursuits for fun or to make fun of. but that does not at all apply to a national hero and most specially to apply that to his house to make it look horrific and trivial.

it is not trivia we want from rizal, it is meaning and significance that we want. when we find meaning and significance in rizal, then we become a better nation. something i am sure rizal would have wanted.

for a historian, i am shocked that mr. ocampo did not know that.

mr. ocampo is the first historian we know of who intentionally pursued trivia rather than facts, meaning and substance.

historical sites are supposed to elicit respect, inspiration, nationalism and pride, nothing of the sort comes to mind from rizal’s house painted green. it embarasses us.

read in full here: https://wawam.wordpress.com/2009/06/19/rizals-house-painted-green-an-insult-to-jose-rizal-and-all-filipinos/

  1. Dr. Ambeth R. Ocampo
    June 19, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Thank you for reading the column and having strong feelings about the preservation of our heritage.
    Before you see red while seeing Rizal’s house in green we hope you can at least read the reasons for the change:


    People who have complained demand restoration of the house to the “original” color but then the funny part here is that the NHI HIstorica Preservation division before repainting the house scraped off layers of paint from a part of the house and, believe it or not, the green everyone hates today happens to be the “original” color when the reconstructed house was opened to the public 50 years ago.

    Perhaps it is the shock of the old rather than shock of the new.

    Dr. Ambeth R. Ocampo
    National Historical Institute

    • June 20, 2009 at 10:19 am

      posted here: https://wawam.wordpress.com/2009/06/19/is-rizal-turning-green-in-his-grave/

      ambeth ocampo, chair of the NHI is “the idiot who painted rizal’s house green” and that is a quote from the column he wrote on the PDI on the topic on june 3.

      in his reply, aside from acknowledging he is the idiot who did it, he also knows rizal’s house was painted with the ” green color everyone hates” .

      while in his reply to wawam.wordpress he says they scraped off the paint and found out the “original” color of the house was green, this trivia was not mentioned in his june 3 column. we wonder why this was mentioned only now.

      but let’s say they did find green after they scraped it – the june 3 column did say the “Rizal Shrine is not the original home of the National Hero. It is not covered by the same rigid conservation principles applied to a 19th century house. The present Rizal Shrine is but half a century old, having been reconstructed by Juan Nakpil in the 1950s and funded by donations from schoolchildren.”

      that begs the question, when they scraped it, they were not really scraping the real house of rizal. they scraped the house that someone else imagined to be rizal’s house. so using this argument as reason for painting it green may not hold water, or paint.

      based on what he knows and those written in his june 3 column, the best conclusion is that we do not know what was the color of rizal’s house. and yet he knows the green color that is there right is one that everyone hates.

      he writes in his column historical sites like those of rizal should “inform, educate and inspire”. this green color certainly does not “inspire” at all. what it does is it makes us want to puke.

      the education part is also questionable since this part seem to be just on the trivial pursuit of rizal’s surname to mean a green field. this is trivia and of no real consequence in our appreciation of rizal, his works and deeds. reducing education to a trivial pursuit is an insult to the genius and writings of rizal and something i am sure educators really frown upon.

      is painting rizal’s house into green, something everyone hates and something we are really not sure about the only way to communicate the meaning of rizal’s surname?

      we agree with ocampo that it is a cute trivia but it does not deserve such a huge place, screaming to the point of inspiring vomit from onlookers. in the scheme of what rizal has done for our country, it is less than a tenth of oen dot in the ellipsis of rizal’s life and his achievements.

      we also do not buy what the rizalistas said that they accept the green color to mean rizal was an environmentalist. the color green taking the meaning of the environment is one that evolved during the modern times, not during the spanish period. the color green then most probably did not have any meaning yet.

      and did rizal’s family really think about it that way? did they paint their original house green to pay tribute to the trivial pursuit of the meaning of their surname?

      we do not think so. except that this idiot who painted rizal’s house green thought so. that is all that there is to it. enough of hiding below the skirt of historical facts and detective work. it does not hold water, nor paint. even if you scrape it. not even green paint.

  2. Vicente Calibo de Jesus
    June 23, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Ricial=”a green field ready for harvest”

    As far as I know palay ready for harvest is golden yellow.

    There is here a disunity, disharmony, disagreement, and conflict between Ambeth Ocampo’s “ricial” and the color green he uses to reflect his meaning.

    There’s however an aspect of this problem that has to do with taste. As the Latin maxim goes, “De gustibus non est disputandum.” Which is equivalent to the English expression, “There’s no accounting for taste.”

    There are those who delve in subtlety, nuance, delicacy, depth,
    refinement, intricacy, restraint. And those who’re confortable calling a spade a spade denoting a mind that tends towards argumentum ad baculum.

    Still and all, the controversy is achieving in a corrupt way Ocampo’s aim, never mind that his apparatus inspires dislike if not disgust.

    Vicente Calibo de Jesus

    • June 23, 2009 at 9:45 am

      yes come to think of it, rice ready for harvest turns golden yellow and does not remain green.

      i think the rationale that green was the original color of rizal’s house is full of holes and factually unsupported. that alone destroys the whole rationale behind painting rizal’s house as green.

      and as you point out, definitely, good taste was also lost here.

      i am reminded by bayani fernando, the #1 uglifier of metro manila, who has an obsession with the color hot pink. i like what he has done – rebuild squatter homes and build overhead pedestrian crossings, but must he paint all of these structures in hot pink? good intentions but very bad taste.

      i wonder if ocampo and fernando are related?

      read about bayani fernando, #1 uglifier of metro manila here: http://2010presidentiables.wordpress.com/2009/01/06/mmdas-bayani-fernando-1-uglifier-of-metro-manila-picture-gallery/

  3. June 24, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    wawam: “mr. ocampo’s first name is ambeth. we can guess that is a combination of his dad and mom’s first names, but i am sure he does not want to be called “beth” since he is male.”

    ~May I know, what does this have to do with the topic you’re discussing? I am not so sure what you mean on that statement but it looks like you’re making fun of Sir Ocampo. If you’re not, I’m sorry. But if you are, I just want to tell you, even if you don’t agree with Mr.Ocampo’s reasons, you should at least know how to respect a professor. Or even if he’s not a professor, try to respect other people.

    Painting the house green doesn’t give harm to any people, does it? So why say “it embarrasses us.”?

    Is it because you hate the color green? So what color would give you pride?

    Looking forward to your reply. Thank you. 🙂

    • June 24, 2009 at 7:43 pm

      read that post again, it is explained there.

      no, painting rizal’s house green does not harm people, not in the physical sense. but it has hurt people’s sentiments and pride that those who see the green on rizal’s house as an embarassment, among other nasty sentiments.

      one sentiment for example is a feeling of disrespect to the the memory of jose rizal. the country’s national hero. as a comment has been made here, poor taste did that all that.

      follow the link to the PDI article and read how others are reacting to the green paint. it is not only embarassment that they have felt. it’s a real harm to all who saw the green in rizal’s house.

  4. June 24, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    I think it just depends on each person’s perception.

    Anyway, thanks for the reply. 🙂

    • June 24, 2009 at 10:03 pm

      painting rizal’s house green is not an issue of perception, it is a failure in logic, an error in judgement, and in the end an exercise of bad taste.

      scraping the house and finding it green is not conclusive rizal’s original house is green. what they scraped is not rizal’s original house, it was someone else’s making or interpretation of rizal’s original house.

      saying houses during the spanish era were colored does not say anything either – it could have been any of the colors used then – yellow, blue, red and green. and of course, it could have been white, too. or even black. i am sure they had white and black paints then. nobody knows exactly what color the original house was

      the above says there was no factual basis for concluding green was the color of rizal’s house.

      why was green chosen? because rizal’s name meant “a green field ready for harvest”. and ocampo wanted to inform visitors to the house the meaning of rizal’s surname. if that was just to inform visitors of the meaning of rizal’s surname, they could have just made leaflets or make a poster or notice of it and put that on a stand at the front of the house.

      that did not have to be commmunicated to visitors in a manner that is as huge as painting the whole house green. while painting the house green communicated it, it also made the house ugly, it showed poor taste and something everyone hated, a fact ocampo knew.

      the meaning of rizal’s name is nothing but trivia. it has no historical significance and not at all meaningful in getting to understand rizal’s life and his significance to the country.

      like i said, it’s cute but it is just trivia. there is a day and night disconnect in forcing a tiny trivia versus the value and bigness of rizal to filipinos and nationhood.

      and then as it was pointed by Mr. de Jesus in his comment in this blog – palay ready for harvest is not green, it is golden yellow.

      the bottom line is this – painting rizal’s house green is a failure in logic, an error in judgement, and in the end an exercise of bad taste. it has no factual basis and was done based on whimsical thinking. i could not agree more with ocampo when he described himself as the “idiot” who painted rizal’s house green.

      in the meantime filipinos can just puke till green everytime they see rizal’s green house.

  5. ted
    July 13, 2009 at 8:46 pm


    “the funny part here is that the NHI HIstorica Preservation division before repainting the house scraped off layers of paint from a part of the house and, believe it or not, the green everyone hates today happens to be the “original” color when the reconstructed house was opened to the public 50 years ago.”

    found an earlier photograph of the reconstructed house in the late 1950’s, its WHITE
    please visit this site… http://oldphilippinephotos.co.cc/about/laguna/jose-rizal-house/

  6. July 13, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    wow, a great find!! kudos, ted!

  7. ted
    July 15, 2009 at 8:58 pm

    tnx…hope that mr. ocampo is not fishing for answers to what he did…

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