José Rizal (1998)


José Rizal is a 1998 Filipino biographical film of the Filipino patriot José Rizal, directed by Marilou Diaz-Abaya and starring Cesar Montano as José Rizal.

At the time of its release, it was the most expensive film in the history of Filipino cinema with a budget of over ₱80 million.


José Rizal was imprisoned in Fort Santiago under the abusive Spanish colonisation. Meanwhile, in Balintawak, Andrés Bonifacio and his fellow secret organisation, the Katipunan, commenced the uprising against the tyranny created by the Spaniards by tearing their cédula as a sign of freedom from the Spanish slavery.

Soon, a first lieutenant of the Artillery, Luis Taviel de Andrade, visits Rizal. Taviel de Andrade did not waste time to study carefully Rizal’s case. In just a short period of time, Rizal and Taviel captured each other’s sympathy and eventually became friends as they had usual meetings in Rizal’s cell in Fort Santiago. Taviel was even able to celebrate Christmas with Rizal in the cell where they drank pan get and sang together.

After Christmas, Rizal was sent to the Real Audiencia, the colonial court of appeal, to hear the trial against him. Soon after, the magistrates decided to condemn him under firing squad on the 30th of the morning in Luneta.

At the night before the execution, Rizal hallucinates, seeing his alter ego – protagonist, Crisostomo “Simoun” Ibarra, from his second book, El Filibusterismo, tempting him to change the climax of the novel.

On the morning of his execution, his kin receives a small alcohol stove (not a gas lamp as commonly portrayed) from his cell containing the last poem “Mi último adiós”. Stopping at the place of execution facing the rising sun, Rizal requested the authorities for him to face the firing squad, but the request was denied. Calm and without haste, he requested to have his head spared instead and the captain agrees. At the moment the shooting squad points at his back, he readily uttered his final words: Consummatum est (“It is done”).

In the events following Rizal’s execution, members of the Katipunan begin their armed uprising, completely catching the Spanish forces off guard, seizing their mounts, munitions and rifles. After that, the organization captures a church and the members execute the friars in an act of vengeance. Later that night, Bonifacio and his top generals meet in their headquarters to plan a new offensive seeking to capture ten towns in a duration of one week from the Spaniards. As Bonifacio continues speaking, the camera pans to Rizal’s picture at the wall of his headquarters before revealing Rizal’s hat which sat by the shores of Manila Bay, concluding with the text of events that transpired after his death.


  • Main cast:
    • Cesar Montano as José Rizal.
    • Dominic Guinto as young José Rizal.
    • Chin Chin Gutierrez as Josephine Bracken.
    • Mickey Ferriols as Leonor Rivera.
  • Rizal’s family:
    • Ronnie Lazaro as Francisco Mercado.
    • Gloria Díaz as Teodora Alonso.
    • Pen Medina as Paciano Mercado.
    • Ping Medina as young Paciano Mercado.
    • Gina Alajar as Saturnina Rizal.
    • Tanya Gomez as Narcisa Rizal.
    • Tess Dumpit as María Rizal.
    • Irma Adlawan as Lucía Rizal.
    • Angie Castrence as Josefa Rizal.
    • Rowena Basco as Trinidad Rizal.
    • Kaye Marie June Congmon as Soledad Rizal.
  • The Spaniards:
    • Bon Vibar as Governor-General Ramón Blanco.
    • Subas Herrero as Lt. Enrique de Alcocer.
    • Tony Mabesa as Governor-General Camilo de Polavieja.
    • Alexis Santaren as Col. Francisco Olívè.
    • Archie Adamos as Col. Olívè’s aide.
    • Ryan Eigenmann as Fernando (Spanish classmate at UST).
    • Ogie Juliano as Padre Rodríguez.
    • Jaime Fábregas as Luis Taviel de Andrade.
  • The Dominicans:
    • Peque Gallaga as Archbishop Bernardino Nozaleda, O.P.
    • Tony Carreón as a Dominican friar (Gomburza execution).
    • Fritz Ynfante as a Dominican friar (professor at UST).
    • Jon Achával as Friar 1.
    • Cloyd Robinson as Friar 2.
    • Marco Zabaleta as Friar 3.
  • The Jesuits:
    • Chiqui Xerxes-Burgos as Father José Villaclara, S.J.
    • Shelby Payne as Father Estanislao March, S.J.
    • Minco Fábregas as Father Francisco de Paula Sanchez, S.J.
  • The Filipinos:
    • Jhong Hilario as Rizal’s prison servant.
    • Gardo Versoza as Andrés Bonifacio.
    • Marco Sison as Pio Valenzuela.
    • Joel Lamangan as a gobernadorcillo.
    • Nanding Josef as Antonio Rivera.
    • Pocholo Montes as Justiniano Aquino Cruz.
    • Bhey Vito as Don Dorotéo Onjungco.
    • Kidlat Tahimik as a guest (La Liga Filipina meeting).
    • Toto Natividad as a Katipunan benefactor.
  • The Filipino propagandists:
    • Dennis Marasigan as Marcelo H. del Pilar.
    • Mon Confiado as Mariano Ponce.
    • Gregg de Guzman.
    • Eddie Aquino.
    • Manolo Barrientos.
    • Rolando Inocencio.
    • Gilbert Onida.
    • Jim Pebanco.
    • Troy Martino.
    • Kokoy Palma.
    • Richard Merck.
    • Jess Evardone.
  • Noli Me Tángere and El Filibusterismo characters:
    • Joel Torre as Crisóstomo Ibarra/Simoun.
    • Monique Wilson as María Clara.
    • Nonie Buencamino as Elías.
    • Roeder Camañag as Basílio.
    • Richard Quan as Isagani.
    • Cristóbal Gómez as Padre Damaso.
  • Other characters:
    • Jesús Díaz as ophthalmology professor in Spain.
    • Karl Meyer as Belgian printer.
    • LJ Moreno as Josephine Bracken’s companion.


In 1994, there were efforts to produce a Hollywood feature film based on the life of José Rizal lead by director Cirio H. Santiago, then the head of the Film Development Foundation of the Philippines, with the approval of President Fidel V. Ramos.

Actors who were reportedly considered for the project included Andy Garcia as Rizal, Winona Ryder as Josephine Bracken, and Sharon Cuneta as Leonor Rivera, with Jonathan Demme as director, though the project did not come to fruition.


The series was released onto DVD-format and VCD-format by GMA Records Home Video and distributed by Viva Video.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Marilou Diaz-Abaya.
  • Producer(s): Gilberto Duavit Jr, Felipe Gozon, and Menardo Jimenez.
  • Writer(s): Ricky Lee, Jun Lana, and Peter Ong Lim.
  • Music: Nonong Buencamino.
  • Cinematography: Rody Lacap.
  • Editor(s): Jess Navarro and Manet Dayrit.
  • Production: GMA Films.
  • Distributor(s): GMA Films.
  • Release Date: 12 June 1998 (as part of the Philippine Centennial celebrations) and 25 December 1998 (Metro Manila Film Festival).
  • Running Time: 175 minutes.
  • Rating: PG.
  • Country: Philippines.
  • Language: Filipino.

YouTube Link

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