Trivia about the Goethe Institut Philippinen
The Goethe-Institut Philippinen serendipitously commemorates its 50th anniversary in the Philippines this year on the margins of the 150th anniversary of Dr. José Rizal’s birth. Philpost launches this June four stamps celebrating this milestone with designs that pay homage to Dr. Rizal’s legacy and salute the long history of German-Philippine relations to which Rizal has made enduring contributions.
During his stay in Germany, he served as a catalyst for exchange between the two countries. Following his sojourn in France, Rizal travelled to Heidelberg in February of 1886 to study opthalmology under Dr. Otto Becker at the University Eye Clinic. It was there that Rizal wrote A Las Flores de Heidelberg while grappling with a bout of homesickness.
Rizal later befriended Pastor Karl Ullmer who invited him to visit Wilhelmsfeld, a parsonage to the north of the city where he would complete his first novel, Noli Me Tangere—thus creating the sobriquet, “Noli” village. Rizal boarded with the Ullmer family until the end of June that same year before returning to Heidelberg where he continued to live until July. Rizal went on to Leipzig, Dresden, and then Berlin where he translated several literary works and even published one of his own—his famed Noli. Rizal’s seven-month stay in the German capital was followed by a tour of other European cities such as Leitmeritz, Prague, Vienna, Munich, Nuremberg, Ulm, Lausanne, and Geneva.
To this day, Dr. Rizal remains a well-known figure throughout Germany. A statue of Rizal stands in Wilhelmsfeld, paying tribute to his sojourn and to his contributions to German culture. Similarly, the home of Pastor Ullmer still stands on what is now called José Rizal Strasse. Every year on June 19th, schoolchildren gather at the former Ullmer residence to sing hymns and poems written by Rizal. In 1960, a fountain that once stood in the Ullmers’ garden, from which Rizal drank, was transferred to the Noli Me Tangere Garden at Luneta Park as part of the centennial celebration of his birth.
It is only fitting that the Goethe-Institut uses images of these physical and cultural landmarks to commemorate two coinciding anniversaries: Dr. Rizal’s 150th and Goethe-Institut’s 50th. The first stamp features Rizal’s statue in Wilhelmsfeld, the second features the fountain that once stood in the Ullmers’ garden, and the third depicts Pastor Ullmer’s home on the former Pfarrgasse which now bears Rizal’s name – all abiding memories of Dr. Rizal’s footprints in Germany. The fourth stamp bears the colors of the German and Philippine flags, celebrating the deep and continuing friendship between two countries whose cultural ties have remained strong for over a hundred years.