Who is José Rizal?

Josè Protacio Rizal Mercado Y Alonso Realonda was born in the town of Calamba, Laguna, Philippines on June 19, 1861 and died at age 35 on December 30, 1896 in Manila, Philippines.

He was the seventh of eleven children (2 boys and 9 girls). Both his parents were educated and belonged to distinguished families. His father, Francisco Mercado Rizal, an industrious farmer whom Rizal called “a model of fathers,” came from Biñan, Laguna; while his mother, Teodora Alonzo y Quintos, a highly cultured and accomplished woman whom Rizal called “loving and prudent mother,” was born in Meisic, Sta. Cruz, Manila.

At the age of 3, he learned the alphabet from his mother; at 5, while learning to read and write, he already showed inclinations to be an artist. He astounded his family and relatives by his pencil drawings and sketches and by his moldings of clay. At the age 8, he wrote a Tagalog poem, Sa Aking Mga Kabata, which revolves on the theme of love of one’s language.


Rizal at 13

In 1887, at age 16, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree with an average of “excellent” from the Ateneo Municipal de Manila. In the same year, he enrolled in Philosophy and Letters at the University of Santo Tomas, while at the same time took courses leading to the degree of surveyor and expert assessor at the Ateneo.

He finished the latter course on March 21, 1877 and passed the Surveyor’s examination on May 21, 1878; but because of his age, 17, he was not granted license to practice the profession until December 30, 1881.

At 17, Rizal learned that his mother was going blind, so he enrolled in medicine at the University of Santo Tomas but had to stop in his studies when he felt that the Filipino students were being discriminated upon by their Dominican tutors.

On May 3, 1882, he sailed for Spain where he continued his studies at the Universidad Central de Madrid. On June 21, 1884, at the age of 23, he was conferred the degree of Licentiate in Medicine and on June 19,1885, at the age of 24, he finished his course in Philosophy and Letters with a grade of “excellent.”  At age 25 he completed his eye specialization and used the newly invented ophthalmoscope to operate on his mother’s eye.

Rizal traveled throughout Europe, America and Asia. He proved to be a versatile genius mastering 22 languages (a polyglot) and a multitude of occupations. He was an architect, artist, businessman, cartoonist, educator, economist, ethnologist, scientific farmer, historian, inventor, journalist, linguist, musician, mythologist, nationalist, naturalist, novelist, ophthalmologist, poet, propagandist, psychologist, scientist, sculptor, sociologist, and theologian during his short life. He was also proficient in martial arts, fencing and pistol shooting.
While in Europe, Rizal published several books with nationalistic and revolutionary tendencies including his two famous novels Noli Me Tangere and

El Filibusterismo. His literary works became an inspiration for Philippine nationalism and his writings exposed the corruption and injustice of the civil and clerical officials, which provoked those in power. Upon his return to the Philippines, he formed a nonviolent society called La Liga Filipina, which sought government reforms.

The goals he sought were:

  • The Philippines to become a province of Spain with representation in the Spanish Government.
  • Filipino priests in their parishes instead of Spanish friars.
  • Freedom of speech and assembly.
  • Equal rights for Filipinos

Rizal incensed the government and was exiled to Mindanao for four years. His writings and actions became the catalyst for the Philippine Revolution, which began in 1896.

Rizal denounced the violence that was taking place, but the government still linked him to it and arrested him. After a mock trial, he was convicted of rebellion, sedition and of forming illegal associations.

From November 3, 1896, to the date of his execution, he was committed to Fort Santiago. In his prison cell, he wrote an untitled poem, now known as Mi Ultimo Adios, which is considered a masterpiece and a living document expressing not only the hero’s great love of country but also that of all Filipinos.

In the cold morning of December 30, 1896, Rizal, a man whose 35 years of life had been packed with varied activities which proved that the Filipino has the capacity to equal if not excel even those who treat him as a slave, was publicly executed by firing squad at Bagumbayan Field, now known as Luneta Park, Manila.

He became a martyr of the Philippine Revolution and his nonviolent actions led to Philippine independence from Spain ultimately by violent revolution.

Josè Rizal is the Philippine’s national hero and the anniversary of his death is commemorated as a Philippine holiday called Rizal Day.

Rizal at 35

José Rizal
José RizalNational Hero
Josè Protacio Rizal Mercado Y Alonso Realonda was born in the town of Calamba, Laguna, Philippines on June 19, 1861 and died at age 35 on December 30, 1896 in Manila, Philippines.

Some of my highlights

  • Noli Me Tángere, novel, 1887 (literally Latin for ‘touch me not’, from John 20:17)
  • El Filibusterismo, (novel, 1891), sequel to Noli Me Tángere
  • Mi Último Adiós, poem, 1896 (literally “My Last Farewell” )
  • Alin Mang Lahi” (“Whate’er the Race”), a Kundiman attributed to Dr. José Rizal
  • The Friars and the Filipinos (Unfinished)
  • Toast to Juan Luna and Felix Hidalgo (Speech, 1884), given at Restaurante Ingles, Madrid
  • The Diaries of José Rizal
  • Rizal’s Letters is a compendium of Dr. Jose Rizal’s letters to his family members, Blumentritt, Fr. Pablo Pastells and other reformers
  • “Come se gobiernan las Filipinas” (Governing the Philippine islands)
  • Filipinas dentro de cien años essay, 1889-90 (The Philippines a Century Hence)
  • La Indolencia de los Filipinos, essay, 1890 (The indolence of Filipinos)
  • Makamisa unfinished novel
  • Sa Mga Kababaihang Taga Malolos, essay, 1889, To the Young Women of Malolos
  • Annotations to Antonio de Moragas, Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas (essay, 1889, Events in the Philippine Islands)
  • A La Juventud Filipina
  • El Canto Del Viajero
  • Briayle Crismarl
  • Canto Del Viajero
  • Canto de María Clara
  • Dalit sa Paggawa
  • Felictación
  • Kundiman (Tagalog)
  • Me Piden Versos
  • Mi primera inspiracion
  • Mi Retiro
  • Mi Ultimo Adiós
  • Por La Educación (Recibe Lustre La Patria)
  • Sa Sanggol na si Jesus
  • To My Muse (A Mi Musa)
  • Un Recuerdo A Mi Pueblo
  • A Man in Dapitan
  • El Consejo de los Dioses (The council of Gods)
  • Junto Al Pasig (Along the Pasig)
  • San Euistaquio, Mártyr (Saint Eustache, the martyr)

Rizal also tried his hand at painting and sculpture. His most famous sculptural work was “The Triumph of Science over Death“, a clay sculpture of a naked young woman with overflowing hair, standing on a skull while bearing a torch held high. The woman symbolized the ignorance of humankind during the Dark Ages, while the torch she bore symbolized the enlightenment science brings over the whole world. He sent the sculpture as a gift to his dear friend Ferdinand Blumentritt, together with another one named “The Triumph of Death over Life”.

The woman is shown trampling the skull, a symbol of death, to signify the victory the humankind achieved by conquering the bane of death through their scientific advancements. The original sculpture is now displayed at the Rizal Shrine Museum at Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila. A large replica, made of concrete, stands in front of Fernando Calderón Hall, the building which houses the College of Medicine of the University of the Philippines Manila along Pedro Gil Street in Ermita, Manila.

Mi Ultimo Adios

Martyrdom of Rizal Mural

The Martyrdom of Rizal Mural, done in 1960 is one of the best known work of Carlos “Botong” V. Francisco, Philippine National Artist for Visual Arts in 1973. Francisco is best known for his landmark murals depicting some of the Philippine historical events. The mural depicts the execution of Philippine National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal at Bagong Bayan (now Rizal Park) on December 30, 1896. The mural was commissioned by Fort Santiago as part of the Rizal Shrine.

The painting is a Photo on Canvas by Photographer David Fabros based on the original Martyrdom of Rizal Mural.