Jose Rizal

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Dr. José Rizal in 1896

José Rizal (Born José Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda) is a national hero of the Philippines. In the country, he is sometimes called the "pride of the Malayan race". He was born on June 19, 1861 in the town of Calamba, Laguna.

Family and early life[change | change source]

He was the seventh child in a family of 11 children (2 boys and 9 girls). His parents went to school and were well known. His father, Francisco Rizal Mercado, worked hard as a farmer in Biñan, Laguna. Rizal looked up to him. His mother, Teodora Alonso Realonda y Quintos, was born in Meisic, Sta. Cruz, Manila. She read a lot and knew about art and many other things. Rizal said she was loving and very smart. He learned the alphabet from his mother at the age of three. At age five, while learning to read and write, he also showed that he could draw and paint. He surprised his family and relatives with his pencil drawings and sketches and with his moldings of clay.

Education[change | change source]

In 1877, at the age of 16, he finished school (Bachelor of Arts) from the Ateneo Municipal de Manila. In the same year, he went to another school to study Philosophy and Letters at the University of Santo Tomas. At the same time, he took classes to become a surveyor and assessor at the Ateneo. In 1878, he went to the University of Santo Tomas to become a doctor. He stopped in his studies when he felt that the Filipino students were not being treated right by the priests who were also their teachers. On May 3, 1882, he went by boat to Spain. In Spain, he continued his studies at the Universidad Central de Madrid. On June 21, 1884, at the age of 23, he got his degree and became a doctor. On June 19,1885, at the age of 24, he got another degree in Philosophy and Letters.

Having traveled throughout Europe, America and Asia, he spoke 22 languages. These include:

A very smart man, he was good at many other jobs besides being a doctor:

Political life[change | change source]

He hoped to make political changes in his country and to make the Filipinos go to school. Rizal wrote many poems and books that show his love for his country. In March 1887, his book, Noli Me Tangere was published. It shows the bad habits of the Spanish priests. El Filibusterismo, his second novel was published on September 18, 1891. It is sadder than his first book.

Rizal was not liked by those in power. He showed the bad things done by the priests and the people in the government and this led him and his relatives into trouble. Because of this, he and those who he knew were being watched by the government. They were making up bad things against him. He was put to jail in Fort Santiago from July 6, 1892 to July 15, 1892. They said that papers with words he wrote against priests were found in the luggage of his sister Lucia who arrive with him from Hong Kong. He was made to stay in Dapitan and there he did farming, fishing and business. He also operated and worked in a hospital. He taught the English and Spanish languages and the arts.

Later life and death[change | change source]

When the Philippine Revolution (the war of Filipinos against the Spaniards) started on August 26, 1896, his enemies went after him fast. They were able to get people to say bad things against him and linked him with the war. He was never allowed to talk to these people. Because the Spanish authorities thought he was responsible for the activities of the revolutionaries, he was exiled to the city of Dapitan in Zamboanga, in Mindanao (Southern Philippines).

From November 3, 1896, to the date of his death, he was again held at Fort Santiago. In prison, he wrote a poem with no title. It is now called Ultimo Adios and became a famous poem in the Philippines. It expresses the hero’s great love of his country as well as that of all Filipinos.

After a trial by the military authorities, he was convicted of rebellion (going against the government), sedition (making trouble) and of forming illegal association (meeting not allowed by the government). He was executed (punished by killing) by guns fired by soldiers on December 30, 1896 at Bagumbayan Field. He was 35 years old at the time of his death. His death place is now a national park (now known as Luneta), and a monument has been constructed in his honor.