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Life and Works of Rizal: The Birth of a Hero
Jose Rizal was born on the moonlit night of Wednesday, june 19, 1861, in the lakeshore town of Calamba, Laguna ProvincePhilippines. He was baptized in the Catholic Church of his town on June 22, aged three days old, by the parish priest, Father Rufino Collantes, who was Batangueño. His grandfather was Father Pedro Casanas, native of Calamba and close friend of the Rizal family. His name “Jose” was chosen by his mother who was a devotee of the Christian saint San Jose (St. Joseph).
Jose Rizal wsa the seventh of the eleven children of Francisco Mercado Rizal and Teodora Alonso Realonda. Francisco (his father) was born in Biñan, Laguna, on May 11, 1818. He studied Latin and Philosophy at the College of San Jose in Manila. He died in Manila on January 5, 1898, at the age of 80.
Doña Teodora (his mother) was born in Manila on November 8, 1826 and was educated at the College of Santa Rosa, a well-known college for girls in the city. She was remarkable woman, possessing refined culture, literary talent, business ability, and fortitude of Spartan women. Doña Teodora died in Manila on August 16, 1911, at the age of 85.
They were married on June 28 1848, after which they settled down in Calamba, where they engaged in farming and business and reared a big family. Francisco Mercado Rizal and Teodora Alonso Realonda was blessed with eleven children – two boys and nine girls: Saturnina, Paciano, Narcisa, Olimpia, Lucia, Maria, Jose, Concepcion, Josefa, Trinidad, Soledad. The Rizal family belonged to the principalia, a town aristocracy in Spanish Philippines. It was one of the distinguished families in Calamba.
As a typical Filipino, Rizal was a product of the mixture of races. In his veins flowed the blood of both East and West – Negrito, Indonesian, Malay, Chinese, Japanese and Spanish. Rizal great-great grandfather on his father’s side was Domingo Lameo, a Chinese immigrant from the Fukien city of Changchow, who arrived in Manila about 1690. He became a Christian, married a well-to-do Chinese Christian girl of Manila named Ines de la Rosa and assumed in 1731 the surname “Mercado” which was appropriate for him because he was a merchant. The Spanish term for “Mercado” means market in English.
The real surname of the Rizal family was Mercado, which was adopted in 1731 by Domingo Lamco (the paternal great-great grandfather of Jose Rizal), who was a full blooded Chinese. Rizal family acquired a second surname – Rizal – which was given by a Spanish alcalde mayor (provincial governor) of Laguna, who was a family friend.