Dr. Jose Rizal- The Birth of the Hero
Our national hero was born on Wednesday of June 19, 1861 in the Lakeshore Town of Calamba, Laguna, Philippines. According to the accounts, the mother of Rizal almost died during the delivery because of the big forehead. His name “Jose” was chosen by his mother who was devotee of the Christian saint San Jose. The christening ceremony was officiated by Fr. Rufino Collantes, three days after his birth, the priest was impressed with the big head of Rizal, and commented that the child was destined to become great.
It should be noted that the Governor General when Rizal was born was Lieutenant-General Jose Lemery, fromer senator of Spain. Incidentally, on the same date of Rizal’s birth, he sent an official dispatched to the Ministry of War and the Ministry of Ultramar in Madrid denouncing Sultan Pulalun of Sulu and several powerful Moro Datus for conniving with the British Condul.
The Parents of Jose Rizal
Father: Francisco Mercado Rizal
Born: may 11, 1818, Binan Laguna
He studied Latin and Philosophy at the College of San Jose, Manila. When his parents died he went back to Calamba, Laguna and became a tenant farmer of the Dominican-owned Haciendas. He was referred to as an independent-minded man with few words and worked more. He was strong in body and valiant in spirit. He died in Manila on January 5, 1898 at the age of 80. Jose Rizal considered him as model of fathers.
Jose Rizal’s great-grandfather on his father’s side was Domingo Lameo, a Chinese immigrant from the Fukien City of Changchow. He became a Christian, married a well-to-do Christian girl of Manila named Ines de la Rosa, and assumed in 1731 the surname Mercado that means market. Rosa had a son, Francisco Mercado, who resided in Binan and married a Chinese-Filipino mestiza, Cirila Bernacha, and was elected gobernadorcillo (municipal mayor) of the town. One of their sons, Juan Mercado (Jose Rizal’s grandfather) married Cirila Alejandro, a Chinese-Filipino mestiza. Like his father, he was elected gobernadorcillo of Binan, Laguna. Capitan Juan and Capitana Cirila had thirteen children and the youngest was Francisco, the father of Jose Rizal.
Mother: Dona Teodora Alonza Realonda
Born: November 8, 1826 in Manila
She was educated at the College of Santa Rosa, a prestigious school for girls in Manila. She was a remarkable woman, possessing refined culture, literary talents, business ability, and the fortitude of a Spartan Woman.
She played an important role in the life of Jose Rizal. She was the first teacher of the hero, the one who taught him Spanish language, made necessary corrections in poem composition and gave good advice in rhetoric. She was a mathematician and a lover of books. She died on August 16, 1911 in Manila at the age of 80. Shortly before her death, the government offered her a monthly pension but she did not accept. Such gesture befitted her more as a mother of our great national hero.
It is said that Dona Teodara’s family descended from Lakandula, the last native king of Tondo. Her great-grandfather was Eugenio Ursua (Japanese ancestry), who married a Filipina named Benigna. Their daughter, Regina married Manuel de Quintos, a Filipino-Chinese lawyer form Pangasinan. One of the daughters of Attorney Quintos and Regina was Brigada, who married Lorenzo Alberto Alonzo, a prominent Spanish-Filipino mestizo form Binan. Their children were Narcisa, Teodora (Jose Rizal’s mother), Gregorio, Manuel and Jose.
Obviously Jose Rizal was a product of a mixture of races. In his veins flowed the blood of the east and the west. He was a Malayan and was a great magnificent specimen of Asian manhood.