Jose Rizal in Spain
After Jose Rizal’s fourth year in medical studies in Santo Tomas, the University of Higher Learning in the Philippines whom Rizal was disgusted of its primitive method of instruction and the racial prejudice of Dominican Professors against Filipino students, he was brought to realization that pursuing further studies abroad will be much better.
During that time the government of Spain was constitutional monarchy where human rights were protected and considered specifically freedom of speech, of press, and of assembly that were all denied in the Philippines. Such atmosphere of freedom lured Jose Rizal to travel to Spain not only to study but also to carry out his secret mission that he long been conceived with the approval of his brother Paciano.
Secret Mission – to observe keenly the life and culture, languages and customs, industries and commerce, and governments and laws of the European nations in order to prepare himself in the mighty task of liberating his oppressed people from Spanish tyranny.
His Journey for Spain
The departure of Jose Rizal for Spain was kept secret from Spanish authorities, friars and even to his parents especially to his mother because she would not allow him to go. Only handful of family members and trusted family friends were informed. In order to avoid detection, he used the name Jose Mercado, name of his cousin in Calamba. Before his departure, he scribbled farewell letters to his parents and his sweetheart Leonor Rivera.
On May 3, 1882 he boarded on Salvador bound for Singapore. He was the only Filipino passenger. The captain of the ship, Donato Lecha from Asturias Spain, befriended him although some Spaniards who spoke ill of the Philippines peeved him. To while away his boredom he played chess and always came out victorious for he was truly a good chess player. They landed on Singapore on May 9 and registered to Hotel de la Paz and spent a couple of days sightseeing.
Studies Completed in Spain
He was conferred the degree of Licentiate in Medicine by the Universidad Central de Madrid on June 21, 1884. The next academic year, he studied and passed all subjects leading to the degree of Doctor of Medicine. However, he did not submit the thesis required for graduation nor paid the corresponding fees. He was not awarded his Doctor’s Diploma.
Jose Rizal also finished his studies in Philosophy and Letters with higher grades. He was awarded the Degree of Licentiate in Philosophy and Letters by the Universidad Central de Madrid on June 19, 1885 (his 24th birthday) with the rating of excellent.
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