Did you know that a Filipino hero translated H.C. Andersen fairy tales?

19 June marked the 160th birthday of José Protasio Rizal, a now-deceased Filipino nationalist during the tail end of the Spanish colonial period. He became a national hero because he fought for freedom in a silent but powerful way and he expressed his love for the Philippines through his novels, essays, and articles – rather than through the use of force or aggression.

To celebrate the occasion, the Embassy of Denmark in Indonesia shared these memorable and interesting facts:

Happy Birthday (Tillykke med fødselsdagen)! Today is the 160th Birth Anniversary of our national hero.

Did you know that Rizal was a polyglot? He had a habit of switching from one language to another, the reason why his biographers faced difficulty in translating his works. He was conversant in 22 languages!

In fact, when he was studying in Germany, he happened to come across the stories of Denmark’s Hans Christian Andersen written in German. Fascinated, he translated some of Andersen’s stories from German to Tagalog for his nephews and nieces in the Philippines!

Some of these stories are “The Fir Tree” (Ang Punong Pino), “Thumbelina” (Si Gahinlalaki), “The Ugly Duckling” (Ang Pangit na Sisiw na Pato), and “The Little Match Girl” (Ang Batang Babaeng May Dalang Sakafuego) which can be read in this book!

About Mette Larsen

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Thailand

View all posts by Mette Larsen

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