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Arts & Culture

The Rizal Monument Gets A Makeover

Pepe's final resting place gets spruced up by a German cleaning company after 104 years

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Photography: Carlito Scholz via Wikimedia Commons & Karcher (Main Photos)

The Rizal Monument in Rizal Park is arguably the most famous historical and visual landmark in the country. It contains the remains of our National Hero, Jose Rizal, and stands behind Kilometer Zero, which is the official marker from which road distances on the island of Luzon and the rest of the Philippines originate.


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Built in 1913 under the American regime, with bronze artwork by Swiss sculptor Richard Kissling, it is rich with symbolisms, such as the book Rizal is holding, which represents his novels Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, the obelisk which is a reference to his Masonic background, and the three stars which represent Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao (“Motto Stella” is the sculpture’s original name).

Over the years, however, aside from a misguided steel pylon that was added to the obelisk’s top in the 1960s (it has since been removed), the white granite and bronze statues have since been tarnished and covered with lichen, moss, and black streaks from dirt and pollution. Just in time for Rizal Day (December 30), Kärcher, a German-based professional cleaning company, arrived in the country on December 13, 2017 to clean the Rizal Monument.

The cleaning is part of “Kärcher Cleans the World” global initiative, which has helped preserve cultural landmarks all over the world such as Mt. Rushmore in USA, the Space Needle in Seattle, the Matsudagawan Dam in Japan, the Potemkin Stairs in Ukraine, and the London Eye in England. Based in Germany, Kärcher is known for its high quality cleaning equipment and cleaning systems such as high-pressure washers, steam cleaners, and water blasters.

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This photo shows Kärcher doing a test-spot-cleaning on one part of the lichen-covered granite of the monument:

The cleaning lasted two days, from December 14 to 15. Scaffolding was erected around the monument to protect it while cleaning work with high-pressure equipment was done.

An “after” photo of the Rizal Monument: the granite has been restored to its original grayish-white color, and no more dirt streaks. Happy Rizal Day!

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