"Mi Ultimo Adiós"
adorada, región del sol querida,
First stanza of the original Spanish version
Did Rizal write "Mi Ultimo Adiós" on the eve of his execution, or did he begin writing it when he felt the certainty of a death sentence for him, a certainty that might have come to his conscioousness weeks or even months before that night? A popular painting shows Rizal writing at his desk, with an oil lamp providing the only light. Actually the "oil lamp" was an oil burner to heat or keep food warm. That food warmer could not have provided that much light without a glass cover to disperse the light in a room, but it provided space for Rizal to hide the poem in the oil burner. It is more likely that he had drafted the poem sometime before then, and wrote the finishing touches on the eve of his death.
Andres Bonifacio translated "Mi Ulitimo Adios" in tagalog with the title "Ang Huling Paalam" with 28 stanzas, each stanza corresponding to two lines of the original Spanish version. In his article "Wife of Dr. José Rizal, Prof. Isagani R. Medina wrote that according to Santiago V. Alvarez's Memoirs, "Bonifacio asked if he could borrow a copy of that poem so that he could translate it into Tagalog"
After the execution of Rizal, Josephine, with Paciano and Trinidad Rizal (her brother- and sister-in-law, the latter a Katipunera and a Mason), crossed the tightly-guarded enemy lines towards Cavite. At the time of their arrival, the Magdiwang and Magdalo factions were meeting at the Casa hacienda of Imus, according to Artermio Ricarte.
Santiago V. Alvarez' Memoirs, however, differs. He said that the Rizals came at past one o'clock in the afternoon of December 30, 1896 at San Francisco de Malabon (now General Trias). Andres Bonifacio, the Katipunan supremo, received the Rizals himself at the house of Mrs. Estefania Potente where he was staying.
In fact, it was at this time that Bonifacio asked if he could keep for some time a copy of Rizal's poem "Mi Ultimo Adios" in Spanish so that he could translate it into Tagalog with the assistance of Diego Mojica, President of the Populat Council Mapagtiis and local Caviteño poet and writer in Tagalog.
Rizal is called "the first Filipino", maybe because he was among the first, if not the first native to think of himelf as one, even when the term "Filipino" referred to those of Spanish blood who were born in Las Islas Filipinas. In his letter to Blumentritt, written from Berlin on 13 April 1887, he wrote, "They are creole young men of Spanish descent, Chinese half-breeds, and Malayans; but we call ourselves only Filipinos." But does it really matter for Filipinos "in diaspora" what they are called according to the nationality or citizenship stamped in their passport? Yes, of course, in judicial terms. Let us assume there is a heaven. I would like to think that when we "Filipinos" meet St. Peter at the gate, we would greet him in the language of the heart, give praise and glory to the Almighty without using any language, as there is no need for any language at all; and then... when we see our loved ones, the words that will come would be Pilipino, or Cebuano, or Ilokano, or Tagalog, or whatever language has been deeply embedded in our hearts.
There may be linqering doubts that Rizal was a Filipino patriot. He was loyal to Spain to the end, but Spain was not his "patria adorada". The first stanza of "Mi Ultimo Adiós" leaves no doubt which country Rizal meant by "patria adorada". Filipinas was his "patria adorada", the pearl of the Orient Sea and his lost Eden.