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Jose Rizal: The Genius And Lionhearted Hero

Updated on March 6, 2015

Welcome the Freedom Fighter!

His Early Life

José Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda was born on June 19, 1861 in Calamba, Philippines. He was given birth to the affluent family, Mercado-Rizal. The family warmly welcomed the birth of a new star in their lives. His father, Francisco Engracio Rizal Mercado y Alejandra II (1818-1898), was an assiduous farmer who labored persistently for the family. He was a native of Biñan, Laguna. On the other side, his mother, Teodora Morales Alonzo Realonda y Quintos Alonso (1827-1911), was a successful woman. She was a native of Sta. Cruz, Manila and got the opportunity to study in a well-educated school, Colegio de Santa Rosa. Upon that time, Rizal was the 7th sibling in the family. Before him, he had one brother and nine sisters namely: Paciano Rizal (1851-1930; his only brother), Saturnina Rizal (1850-1913), Olimpia Rizal (1855-1887), Maria Rizal (1859-1945), Narcisa Rizal (1852-1939), Soledad Rizal (1870-1929), Trinidad Rizal (1868-1951), Concepcion Rizal (1862-1865), Lucia Rizal (1857-1919) and Josefa Rizal (1865-19450).

After three days from the time of his birth, José Rizal was baptized at the Catholic Church of Calamba, Laguna with the consent of God's approval through the parish priest Rev. Father Rufino Collantes also along with Fr. Pedro Casañas. His first name, "José", was chosen by his mother because his mother is a devotee of the Christian saint, San José (Saint Joseph). He now entered the world of Christianity and was a fully pledged Catholic. At the age of three, our hero was educated by her very mother. Doña Teodora taught her how to pray, basic arts, simple arithmetic and, of course, the alphabet. Because of his mother, he learned about the sufferings of his family and also the problems of the people of Calamba during that time. His mother also taught him manners, good conducts and values. Rizal, until he grew up, was guided by her mother's teachings. Rizal was like any other child during childhood. Young Rizal would play with his friends outside their house and express his emotions through drawings. Clearly, as young as he can be, he is a child endowed with flexible gifts by God.

The former bed of Rizal. It is rather sturdy than it looks and still in beautiful condition!
The former bed of Rizal. It is rather sturdy than it looks and still in beautiful condition!
Some of the China and dinnerware found in the house of Rizal.
Some of the China and dinnerware found in the house of Rizal.

A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom

— Bob Dylan

The Hero's Awakening

During the reign and sole management of the Spaniards here in the Philippines, there were countless of times that the Spaniards abused, discriminated, and harmed the Filipinos. Basically, these occurrences of events made the Filipinos stand up and fight for their freedom. And this is what José Rizal wanted. He wanted liberation!

Let me share you the stories and painful moments of José Rizal when the Spaniards abused him because of his own being.

The severe beating of Rizal by a civil guard Lieutenant

  • Having the opportunity of having a break as a student in the University of Santo Tomas, José Rizal spent his vacation going back to his hometown in Calamba. One night, when Rizal was walking along a dark and gloomy street, a civil guard swiftly assaulted Rizal. This happened due to Rizal having failed to salute the Lieutenant in the darkness. The guard lashed and struck him with a sword repeatedly and severely until he fell to the ground leaving him unconscious.

The street fight between a Filipino and Spaniard

  • Back in the old days of Manila, establishments such as schools were mixed up with different kinds of student. Typically, young Filipinos and Spaniards are the populations of schools back then. The Spaniards would call the Filipino pupils as "chongos" or monkey and in turn, the Filipinos would call the Spaniards as "bangus" or the milk fish. There were frequent brawls and fights among his classmates. One event happened when Rizal bled continuously and profusely because of a school fight with a Spaniard who called him "inutil" or useless. His friends brought him back to his boarding house in which Leonor Rivera took care of his wounds.

Unfair and discriminated triumph

  • José Rizal joined a competition for writers who are willing to express and hone their skills and talents in writing. José Rizal's young and creative mind gave him the upper hand. His piece was entitled " El Consejo de Los Dioses" ("The Council of the Gods"). It was a beautiful piece indeed. He was about to win the contest until the board of judges found out that he was a Filipino. Instead of giving him the champ's trophy, he was awarded as second placer. The old newspapers said that José Rizal should have won the competition due to the magnificence of his writing skills. He only lost because the board of judges discriminated Rizal of his nationality.


All three of these events are three out of many painful experiences that came during his student life. He observed, experienced, persevered and showed to the Filipino citizens what the Spaniards are doing to them. Under these circumstances, José Rizal was able to promote and open the eyes of other Filipinos to rebel against the Spaniards and their wrongdoings. He realized what all those foreigners were doing were bullying the Filipinos.

The Ancestral Home of Jose Rizal

My classmates and I went on a field trip to Rizal's ancestral house in Calamba, Laguna.
My classmates and I went on a field trip to Rizal's ancestral house in Calamba, Laguna.

Rizal's Artistic Talents

Since his childhood, Rizal already divulged his talents to the public. At the age of five, he began showcasing his talents in molding clay and wax objects. He also learned to draw character sketches and landscape beauties with his trusty pencil. Unlike any other child during his time, he enjoyed the simple gifts that Mother Nature bestowed to every human being. He observed the birds' chirp, the wind breeze through the air, the smooth swaying of the trees, the plain blue sky, and the soft dancing waves of the peaceful lake. All of these he enjoyed it. He also had a black dog whose name was Usman. He enjoyed taking Usman for long walks in the meadows and lakeshore. He treated his dog like his brother already.

Rizal also wrote an interesting poem entitled "To My Fellow Children" meant for the fellow youth of the world. This poem aims to reveal the virtue of nationalism.


TO MY FELLOW CHILDREN
Whenever people of a country truly love
The language which by heaven they were taught to use
That country also surely, liberty pursue
As does the bird which soars to freer space above.

For the language is the final judge and referee
Upon the people in the land where it holds sway;
In truth, our human race resembles in this way
The other living beings born in liberty.

Whoever knows not how to love his native tongue
Is worse than any beast or evil-smelling fish.
To make our language richer ought to be our wish
The same as any mother loves to feed her young.

Tagalog and the Latin language are the same
And English and Castilian and the angel's tongue;
And God, whose watchful care over all is flung,
Has given us His blessing in the speech we claim,

Our Mother tongue, like all the highest that we know
Had alphabet and letters of its very own;
But these were lost - by furious waves were overthrown
Like bancas in the stormy sea, long years ago.

Rizal wrote this poem when he was eight years old, and I'd say I am impressed! He discussed his sentiments for the love of one's country through this poem. He also expressed the equality of each language as written in the 4th stanza: "Tagalog and the Latin language are the same
And English and Castilian and the angel's tongue". In this poem, he also showed nationalism as stated in the 3rd stanza: "Whoever knows not how to love his native tongue is worse than any beast or evil-smelling fish. To make our language richer ought to be our wish. The same as any mother loves to feed her young.

Besides his talents through words, he also showed his unbounded creativity through hand tricks. During his manhood, Rizal got interested in doing hand tricks to impress and entertain the people of his time. One of his tricks was to make a coin disappear with his nimble fingers. He also knows how to make a handkerchief vanish in thin air! With dexterous fingers, he later on became a puppeteer with his graceful skill in manipulating marionettes. When he grew up, he went to the different parts of the world to watch various performances of the greatest magicians. He conveyed his experience of magic tricks in his second novel "El Filibusterismo". All of these gifts that he had received were all amazing! For a young boy, he already discovered many of his talents! But these talents were not only for showing off and for entertainment. He used all of these talents to push his boyish heart to have a great determination in fighting the tyranny of the Spaniards here in the Philippines.

Jose Rizal: The First Hero

A tribute to the greatest Filipino!
A tribute to the greatest Filipino!

The Monumental and Heroic Exile of Jose Rizal

José Rizal was martyred at Bagumbayan, Manila by a firing squad of native Filipino soldiers. He was charged with rebellion organizer, founder of societies and as a conspirator to the Spanish colony. He was also charged with many others such as fomenting and the propagation of a new rebellion and the insurrection of the Filipino nation. To these accusations, he raised no objections of the court but only pleaded not guilty for the crime of rebellion. He admitted that he wrote for the Constitution of the La Liga Filipina, which was a civic association. These charges were read to him in his prison cell dated December 8, 1986.

On December 26, 1986, the trial of Rizal begun. This trail, however, was significantly unjustified due to its alien composition. The military officers were Spanish. After awhile, the defense of Rizal stated some points why Rizal should be given Justice.

1.He did not correspond with the radical, revolutionary elements.
2. If he were the chief of the revolution, why was he not consulted by the revolutionists.
3.The La Liga Filipina was only a civic association, not a revolutionary foundation.
4.The revolutionists used his name, without his attention or knowledge whatsoever, for the rebel war cry and symbol.
5.His life in Dapitan had been exemplary as the politico-military commanders and missionary priests could attest.

After those statements, the court remained as is even with the notice of Rizal's pleading. On that very day, the court decision was made. It was submitted to General Polavieja, a Spanish man of influence and power. He, with the tribunal's decision, affirmed the penalty of José Rizal. He ordered the squad in-charge to shoot Rizal at 7:00 o' clock sharp in the morning of December 30 at the Bagumbayan area. Rizal spent his remaining days praying and carefully reflecting on his actions. He also spent his Christmas day in his own prison cell, brooding of what is to be his fate. On December 30, 1896, at 5:30 A.M sharp. He ate his last breakfast in his prison cell. At about 6:30 A.M., The sound of trumpets were heard. The military guards picked up Rizal and began the Death March to Bagumbayan. When they have reached Bagumbayan, There were many Spanish crowds at the front and Filipinos at the back, forming a square formation. The drums were beating furiously as Rizal was getting his heart ready for the final moment in which he was waiting for. After a few minutes, giving the squad time to march, the commander ordered his unit by shouting "Fuego! (it means fire)". Rizal died gloriously by facing upward the morning sun. At exactly 7:03 in the morning, Rizal was exiled from the world. He died at a young age of 35 years, five months and eleven days to assure you. Rizal was dressed in a formal attire consisting of a black suit, a black derby hat, a white shirt and black tie. He was an exemplary model of what a freedom fighter should be!

In Honor for the Hero

In honor and recognition of the Philippine's national hero, a grand and majestic monument was built for him. The statue is located in the center of Rizal Park.
In honor and recognition of the Philippine's national hero, a grand and majestic monument was built for him. The statue is located in the center of Rizal Park.

You Make the Choice!

Did Rizal show the act of true heroism by the means of rebellion?

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Rizal as Playboy of His Time

Besides his intellectual skills and creativity, he also had the charm to attract ladies. Yep! José Rizal was one lady killer! When he got the opportunity to travel across the globe, he met many women. Some of those women have different nationality and personality however they all have good intentions. Even a hero has the right to dream and love just like any person would do! It is very normal for a person to love and be loved. So, let's go on! Shall we?

1.) Segunda Katigbak

  • Segunda Katigbak was the very first romance of Rizal. Rizal fell in love with her when he was 16 years old, who was still studying in Ateneo, Manila. Segunda was a Batangueña from Lipa. Rizal described her as short, her eyes were ardent and languid, rosy-cheeked, and she has an enchanting and provocative smile. For Rizal, it was love-at-first-sight. He sighted her as a mysterious charm. However, they broke up because Segunda was engaged to a town mate - Manuel Luz. They still became good friends from that point forward.

2.) Leonor Valenzuela

  • Leonor Valenzuela was Rizal's second love. After breaking up with Segunda Katigbak, Rizal found another beautiful woman in town. After studying in Ateneo, Manila, Rizal further advanced to his studies at the University of Santo Tomas. During his sophomore year there, he met Leonor Valenzuela, a charming girl who came from Pagsanjan, Laguna. Leonor fell in love with Rizal by his talents, in magic and tricks. Leonor was a lovely and simple girl. Rizal always sent her love notes written in invisible ink (consisted of common salt and water). Rizal taught Leonor how to read hidden notes by heating the paper over a candle or lamp. Shortly, after awhile, Rizal went to Spain and bade her last farewell to Leonor.

3.) Leonor Rivera

  • Leonor Rivera was the 3rd of Rizal's ladies. She was Rizal's cousin coming from the town of Camiling. When he was a junior high in the University of Santo Tomas, he courted Rivera, alongside Valenzuela. Leonor Rivera and Rizal had an intimate relationship with each other. Rivera was born on Camiling, Tarlac, on April 11, 1867. When Rizal, went out to go to Spain, Leonor Valenzuela gave him a message declaring she was not interested in Rizal anymore. But still, both of them became good friends. He and Leonor Rivera still loved each other.

4.) Consuelo Ortiga y Perez

  • Rizal stayed in Madrid to gain more knowledge. Also, he found it quite quiet there. Being in a foreign land and far from his Motherland, Rizal found another beautiful woman. She was Consuelo Ortiga, who came from the residences of Madrid, Spain. Rizal composed a lovely letter to Consuelo to show her off her elegance and beauty. He entitled this poem "A La Señorita C. O. y P. (To Miss C. O. y P.). With her on his side, Rizal felt a warm aura and splendid joy in Madrid. However, Rizal backed out with Consuelo because he remembered that he was already engaged with Leonor Rivera.

5.) Seiko Usui

  • In the Land of the Cherry Blossoms, Rizal met a pure and natural Japanese girl whose name was Seiko Usui. It was through her that Rizal felt the personality of the Japanese people there. She accompanied Rizal during his stay there and showed unimaginable care to Rizal. He only called her O-Sei-San to be short and simple. O-Sei-San showed Rizal many of the picturesque monuments and shrines. She showed her the Imperial Art Gallery, Imperial Library, and Shokubutsu-en (Botanical Garden). They both found happiness in each other's company. However, for a duration of one month and a half, Rizal had to tribute his own happiness for the sake of oppression that is currently happening in the Philippines during that time.

6.) Gertrude Beckett

  • During the time of Rizal in London, he met another beautiful woman. He had another romantic interlude with Gertrude Beckett, the oldest of the three Beckett sisters. Rizal fondly called her "Gettie" and in reciprocation, the girl called Rizal as 'Pettie." Rizal described her as a buxom English girl with brown hair, blue eyes, and frail touch of rosy cheeks. Gertrude was the artsy type of woman. When it rained, she would help Rizal inside his house paint and combine the colors in his palette and Rizal would love it. At first, they were only friends but as time bonded them together, their friendship drifted slowly and quietly drifted to romance. But, as iron-willed as he is, Rizal ALMOST fell in love with her. Because of his desperate salvation for freedom for his Motherland, he avoided an intimate relationship with her. He decided to leave Gertrude so that she may also forget about him. Rizal was heartbroken at that time and couldn't take on anymore relationships, but his heart still yearns for the love that he wanted to receive. The kind of love to be loved by a person.

7.) Suzanne Jacoby

  • Suzanne "Petite" Jacoby was a woman of gentleness and tranquility. Because of Rizal's simple yet charming personality, she swiftly fell in love with Rizal. She preferred men who were gentlemen and showed explicit care towards women. In Brussels, Belgium, there were many appealing and exquisite ladies to behold but for him, Petite Jacoby was the most perfect of the women living there. Although, they didn't possess a profound and intimate relationship with each other, Rizal still admired her for her personality. She shed some tears when Rizal was about to leave Brussels to go to Madrid. Even for a limited amount of time, she still loved him to show him that Rizal would not be lonely anywhere he goes.

8.)Josephine Bracken

  • After hearing the death of Leonor Rivera, he felt lonely again and was completely heartbroken. He couldn't get over the death of his beloved one. His depression overcame his will and emotions but once again, another angel appeared before him. To dispel Rizal's silent and melancholic moods, a beautiful woman appeared before him. It was an Irish lady, who needed help. She stated that she needed an ophthalmic surgeon to help her father's sight be restored. Josephine Bracken was born in Hong Kong, China on the exact date on October 3, 1876. She was born of the Irish parents - James Bracken, a corporal officer in the British Garrison, and Elizabeth Jane MacBride. Her mother died in childbirth, and so he was adopted by Mr. George Taufer, her father who needed help. As soon as she learned that there was an excellent ophthalmic surgeon in the Philippines, she was accompanied by another Filipina whose name was Manuela Orlac. Rizal fell in love with her, at first sight. Rizal finally chose her as her bride and one-and-only girl of his life. But later on, Father Obach, the priest of Dapitan, refused to marry then without permission of the Bishop of Cebu. Due to this unexpected marriage proposal, Josephine's father got enraged. The thought of losing Josephine drove him to madness. He tried to commit suicide by cutting off his throat with a razor. Rizal, however, doesn't want it to go that far. He prevented her father from committing suicide. Mr. Taufer returned alone in Hong Kong because Josephine wanted to stay with Rizal. Since there were no priests that would marry them, they decided themselves to put their hands together and be as man and wife in the eyes of God.They lived a happy life in Dapitan. Back then, Rizal complained that Dapitan was unsavory and lonely. And now, Dapitan, for him, became a heaven of bliss.

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