Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Father Francisco de Paula Sanchez: Rizal's Batman

Fr. Francisco de Paula Sanchez 1849-1928

Father FRANCISCO DE PAULA SANCHEZ...Ang "BATMAN" ni José Rizal.,The Spanish Jesuit priest was Rizal's favorite professor in Ateneo (in Literature). It was under Fr. Sanchez that Rizal learned the Greek and Latin Classics. It was also the priest who pushed the young Rizal to cultivate his literary skills by encouraging him to write essays and poetry. Mutual respect was there and father Sanchez even became a staunch defender of the Noli. But in a letter to Blumentritt dated May 1890, Rizal described the priest ; "Father Sanchez is a penetrating observer, although rather pessimistic, always looking at the bad side of things. When we were in school we used to call him a 'dark spirit' and the students nicknamed him 'Paniki', which is' a kind of bat".

Rizal  during his early years in Ateneo

When Rizal was exiled in Dapitan, Father Sanchez was sent by his Jesuit superiors to try to refrorm his former student's radical stance towards the catholic religion and the Spanish religious in the Philippines. True enough, there were series of long conversations, debates and heated arguments between mentor and student which resulted in Father Sanchez failing to convince Rizal. But mutual admiration never waned. Together they did expeditions around Dapitan collecting scientific specimen in the area. The jesuit priest happens to be the curator of the Ateneo Museum during that time, so most specimen collected made their way to the Jesuit museum.

Rizal also did civic projects to improve Dapitan. One of such was the beautification of the town plaza.With the help of Father Sanchez, he designed a relief map of Mindanao which up to now still adorns the plaza of Dapitan.

 Rizal's Mindanao relief map, Dapitan. Photo taken in the early 1900.

The Mindanao relief map, Dapitan. At present time

Austin Coates, the British biographer of Rizal wrote and quoted about father Sanchez: "for the rest of his life-Sanchez  had Rizal's name often on his lips, and, still a teacher, his sternest rebuke to his pupils was that they did not measure up to the standards of Pepito".

The Spaniards actually shot themselves also in Luneta on the morning of the 30th December 1896. Spain and her educational system played a big part in Rizal's life. He reasoned out and wrote his ideas in her language.Rizal's generation indeed owes a lot to such educators as Father Sanchez, for the best crop of Filipinos who ever walked the earth were trained by Spaniards, educators like Father Sanchez.

Ateneo Municipal, when it was still in Intramuros
 Things haven't change since the 19nth Century. Students nowadays still gives strange nicknames to professors even to their favorites. In the case of our national hero it was father 'Paniki'. Perhaps much better if we just simply call Father Sanchez..... 'Batman'.

"To the bat cave"

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