Jose Rizal gets a birthday bath

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SCAFFOLDING surrounds the Rizal Monument as it obelisk, base, and tiles get a good cleaning thanks to German cleaning equipment brand Kärcher. — NICKKY FAUSTINE P. DE GUZMAN

WHILE it seems that the Rizal Monument’s photobomber will be a permanent stain on the view, the dirt and grime that have accumulated over time on the iconic landmark itself can be easily wiped out thanks to a cleaning restoration project.

An the initiative of Kärcher, a German cleaning equipment brand, in partnership with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC), the Rizal Monument has received a free makeover thanks to a two-day restoration project on Dec. 14 and 15.

The project is part of the “Kärcher Cleans the World” campaign, which is a global initiative that supports the free restoration and preservation of important landmarks, buildings, and historical mementos around the globe including the London Eye, Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Mount Rushmore in the United States of America, the Merlion in Singapore, Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s colonnades in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican, and Matsudagawa dam in Japan.

“For this year, Kärcher has chosen the Philippines as its beneficiary for the campaign with the cleanup of the Rizal Monument which, throughout the years, has seen its fair share of wear and tear. Its (no longer) white granite obelisk, together with the bronze statue of Rizal, is unfortunately a far cry from its original look as streaks of black dirt collected over the decades tarnishes its once-regal appearance,” said the brand on its Facebook page.

Without the aid of soap, detergent, or any other chemical, Kärcher cleaned the unpolished granite of the obelisk and the base of the monument with hot water (140°C), while high-pressured hot water was used to clean the floor tiles. The bronze statue of the National Hero was to be spared, said NHCP chair Carminda Arevalo during the event’s launch on Dec. 14.

The Rizal monument was approved by US President Theodore Roosevelt in 1901 under the United States Philippine Commission Act No. 243, which called for an international design contest to encourage famous artists around the globe to design the blueprint of the iconic landmark.

Unveiled in 1913, the Rizal Monument in Rizal Park was designed by the contest’s second-placer Swiss sculptor Richard Kissling, who got to do the project after the winner, the Italian sculptor Carlo Nicoli, was disqualified because of his overpriced project proposal, said NHCP’s senior history researcher Rommel R. Aquino.

Kissling’s winning project was called the “Motto Stella” or “Guiding Star,” which was unveiled to the public on the National Hero’s 17th death anniversary.

The nation will celebrate the 121st Rizal Day on Dec. 30 this year.

Kärcher said it would donate the cleaning machine after the Rizal Monument project was completed so the NHCP could use it. Kärcher’s country manager Zurich Fernandez recommends a quarterly cleansing of the landmark. — Nickky Faustine P. de Guzman