Jose Rizal, a young doctor-writer, is regarded as the father of the Philippines. He criticized the Spanish government in the Philippines in two novels and drummed up nationalist sentiments, but called for peaceful reform under colonial rule. In one of his novels Rizal referred to the Philippines as the "Pearl of the Orient Seas." Rizal was arrested and executed on December 30, 1896 by Spanish officials when he was just 30. He was later recognized by some historians as Asia's first nationalists. His contemporaries include Gandhi and Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Gandhi was reportedly influenced by him.

Rizal was a scholar and scientist, as well as a physician and and writer, and most outstanding member of the Propagandist movement. Born in 1861 into a prosperous Chinese mestizo family in Laguna Province, he displayed great intelligence at an early age. He began learning to read and write at age two and grew up to speak more than 20 languages, including Latin, Greek, German, French, and Chinese. His last words were in Latin: "Consummatum est!" ("It is done!")

After several years of medical study at the University of Santo Tomás, he went to Spain in 1882 to finish his studies at the University of Madrid. During the decade that followed, Rizal's career spanned two worlds: Among small communities of Filipino students in Madrid and other European cities, he became a leader and eloquent spokesman, and in the wider world of European science and scholarship--particularly in Germany--he formed close relationships with prominent natural and social scientists. The new discipline of anthropology was of special interest to him; he was committed to refuting the friars' stereotypes of Filipino racial inferiority with scientific arguments. [Source: Library of Congress *]

Jose Rizal’s greatest impact on the development of a Filipino national consciousness was his publication of two novels–“Noli Me Tangere” (“Touch Me Not”) in 1886 and “El Filibusterismo” (“The “Reign of Greed”) in 1891. Rizal drew on his personal experiences and depicted the conditions of Spanish rule in the islands, particularly the abuses of the friars. Although the friars had Rizal's books banned, they were smuggled into the Philippines and rapidly gained a wide readership. *

Rizal’s Austrian friend, Professor Ferdinand Blumentritt, rector of the Imperial Atheneum of Leitmeritz, said "Rizal was the greatest product of the Philippines and his coming to the world was like the appearance of a rare comet, whose rare brilliance appears only every other century." Another friend, the German Dr. Adolf B. Meyer, director of the Dresden Museum admired Rizal’s all around knowledge and ability. He remarked "Rizal’s many-sidedness was stupendous." Our own Dr. Camilo Osias pointed to him as the "versatile genius."

Mercado-Rizal Family

The Rizals were considered one of the biggest families during their time. Domingo Lam-co, the family's paternal ascendant was a full-blooded Chinese who came to the Philippines from Amoy, China in the closing years of the 17th century and married a half-Filipino-half-Chinese woman by the name of Ines de la Rosa. Researchers have revealed that the Mercado-Rizal family had also traces of Japanese, Spanish, Malay and Even Negrito blood aside from Chinese. [Source: Jose Rizal University ><]

Jose Rizal came from a 13-member family consisting of his parents, Francisco Mercado II and Teodora Alonso Realonda, and nine sisters and one brother. Francisco Mercado (1818-1898), father of Jose Rizal, was the youngest of 13 offsprings of Juan and Cirila Mercado. Born in Biñan, Laguna on April 18, 1818, he studied at San Jose College, Manila; and died in Manila. Teodora Alonso (1827-1913), the mother of Jose Rizal, was the second child of Lorenzo Alonso and Brijida de Quintos. She studied at the Colegio de Santa Rosa. She was a business-minded woman, courteous, religious, hard-working and well-read. She was born in Santa Cruz, Manila on November 14, 1827 and died in 1913 in Manila. ><

Jose Rizal (1861-1896) was the second son and the seventh child of 11 children. Jose Rizal’s brothers and sisters: 1) Saturnina Rizal (1850-1913), eldest child of the Rizal-Alonzo marriage, Married Manuel Timoteo Hidalgo of Tanauan, Batangas; 2) Paciano Rizal (1851-1930), only brother of Jose Rizal and the second child, studied at San Jose College in Manila, became a farmer and later a general of the Philippine Revolution; 3) Narcisa Rizal (1852-1939), the third child. married Antonio Lopez at Morong, Rizal, a teacher and musician. 4) Olympia Rizal (1855-1887), the fourth child, married Silvestre Ubaldo, died in 1887 from childbirth; 5) Lucia Rizal (1857-1919), the fifth child, married Matriano Herbosa; 6) Maria Rizal (1859-1945), the sixth child, married Daniel Faustino Cruz of Biñan, Laguna. 7) Concepcion Rizal (1862-1865), the eight child, died at the age of three; 8) Josefa Rizal (1865-1945), the ninth child, an epileptic, died a spinster. 9) Trinidad Rizal (1868-1951), the tenth child, died a spinster and the last of the family to die; 10) Soledad Rizal (1870-1929), the youngest child married Pantaleon Quin. ><

Jose Rizal’s Early Life

Jose Rizal was born on June 19, 1861, in the town of Calamba, Laguna. He was the seventh child in a family of 11 children (2 boys and 9 girls). Three days after his birth he was baptized Jose Rizal Mercado at the Catholic of Calamba by the parish priest Rev. Rufino Collantes with Rev. Pedro Casañas as the sponsor. In September 1862, the parochial church of Calamba and the canonical books, including the book in which Rizal’s baptismal records were entered, were burned. 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. [Source: Teofilo H. Montemayor, Jose Rizal University; Jose Rizal University ++]

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," the theme of which revolves on the love of one’s language. Around this time Jose’s father hired a classmate to teach Jose the rudiments of Latin and two of his mother’s cousins frequented Calamba. Uncle Manuel Alberto, seeing Jose frail in body, concerned himself with the physical development of his young nephew and taught the latter love for the open air and developed in him a great admiration for the beauty of nature, while Uncle Gregorio, a scholar, instilled into the mind of the boy love for education. He advised Rizal: "Work hard and perform every task very carefully; learn to be swift as well as thorough; be independent in thinking and make visual pictures of everything." ++

In June 1868, with his father, Jose Rizal made a pilgrimage to Antipolo to fulfill the vow made by his mother to take the child to the Shrine of the Virgin of Antipolo should she and her child survive the ordeal of delivery which nearly caused his mother’s life. In Antipolo he prayed, kneeling before the image of the Virgin of Peace and Good Voyage, of whom he would later sing in elegant verses. From Antipolo he proceeded to Manila, the great metropolis, with its Chinese stores and European bazaars, and visited his elder sister Saturnina, in Santa Ana, who was a boarding student in the Concordia College. ++

Jose had a very vivid imagination and a very keen sense of observation. On the trip to Antipolo he traveled in a casco, a very ponderous vessel commonly used in the Philippines. It was the first trip in a boat that Jose could recollect. As darkness fell he spent the hours by the katig, admiring the grandeur of the water and the stillness of the night, although he was seized with a superstitious fear when he saw a water snake entwine itself around the bamboo beams of the katig. With what joy did he see the sun at the daybreak as its luminous rays shone upon the glistening surface of the wide lake, producing a brilliant effect! With what joy did he talk to his father, for he had not uttered a word during the night! ++

Jose Rizal’s Early Education at Home in Calamba

Rizal had his early education in Calamba and Biñan. It was a typical schooling that a son of an ilustrado family received during his time, characterized by the four R’s- reading, writing, arithmetic, and religion. Instruction was rigid and strict. Knowledge was forced into the minds of the pupils by means of the tedious memory method aided by the teacher’s whip. Despite the defects of the Spanish system of elementary education, Rizal was able to acquire the necessary instruction preparatory for college work in Manila. It may be said that Rizal, who was born a physical weakling, rose to become an intellectual giant not because of, but rather in spite of, the outmoded and backward system of instruction obtaining in the Philippines during the last decades of Spanish regime. [Source: Teofilo H. Montemayor, Jose Rizal University; Jose Rizal University ++]

The first teacher of Rizal was his mother, who was a remarkable woman of good character and fine culture. On her lap, he learned at the age of three the alphabet and the prayers. "My mother," wrote Rizal in his student memoirs, "taught me how to read and to say haltingly the humble prayers which I raised fervently to God." As tutor, Doña Teodora was patient, conscientious, and understanding. It was she who first discovered that her son had a talent for poetry. Accordingly, she encouraged him to write poems. To lighten the monotony of memorizing the ABC’s and to stimulate her son’s imagination, she related many stories. ++

As Jose grew older, his parents employed private tutors to give him lessons at home. The first was Maestro Celestino and the second, Maestro Lucas Padua. Later, an old man named Leon Monroy, a former classmate of Rizal’s father, became the boy’s tutor. This old teacher lived at the Rizal home and instructed Jose in Spanish and Latin. Unfortunately, he did not live long. He died five months later. ++

Jose Rizal Heads Off to School in Biñan

After a Monroy’s death, when Jose Rizal was nine, his parents decided to send their gifted son to a private school in Biñan. One Sunday afternoon in June, 1869, Jose, after kissing the hands of his parents and a tearful parting from his sister, left Calamba for Biñan. He was accompanied by Paciano, who acted as his second father. Oh, how it saddened Jose to leave for the first time and live far from his home and his family! But he felt ashamed to cry and had to conceal his tears and sentiments. "O Shame," he explained, "how many beautiful and pathetic scenes the world would witness without thee!" [Source: Teofilo H. Montemayor, Jose Rizal University; Jose Rizal University ++]

The two brothers rode in a carromata, reaching their destination after one and one-half hours’ drive. They proceeded to their aunt’s house, where Jose was to lodge. It was almost night when they arrived, and the moon was about to rise. At night, in company with his aunt’s grandson named Leandro, Jose took a walk around the town in the light of the moon. To him the town looked extensive and rich but sad and ugly. He became depressed because of homesickness. "In the moonlight," he recounted, "I remembered my home town, my idolized mother, and my solicitous sisters. Ah, how sweet to me was Calamba, my own town, in spite of the fact that was not as wealthy as Biñan." ++

Jose Rizal’s Early Education in Biñan

The next morning (Monday) Paciano brought his younger brother to the school of Maestro Justiniano Aquino Cruz. The school was in the house of the teacher, which was a small nipa hut about 30 meters from the home of Jose’s aunt. Paciano knew the teacher quite well because he had been a pupil under him before. He introduced Jose to the teacher, after which he departed to return to Calamba. [Source: Teofilo H. Montemayor, Jose Rizal University; Jose Rizal University ++]

Immediately, Jose was assigned his seat in the class. The teacher asked him: "Do you know Spanish?" "A little, sir," replied the Calamba lad. "Do you know Latin?" "A little, sir." The boys in the class, especially Pedro, the teacher’s son laughed at Jose’s answers. The teacher sharply stopped all noises and begun the lessons of the day. Jose described his teacher in Biñan as follows: "He was tall, thin, long-necked, with sharp nose and a body slightly bent forward, and he used to wear a sinamay shirt, woven by the skilled hands of the women of Batangas. He knew by the heart the grammars by Nebrija and Gainza. Add to this severity that in my judgement was exaggerated and you have a picture, perhaps vague, that I have made of him, but I remember only this." ++

His teacher in Biñan, Justiniano Aquino Cruz, was a severe disciplinarian. "He was a tall man, lean and long-necked, with a sharp nose and a body slightly bent forward. He used to wear a sinamay shirt woven by the deft hands of Batangas women. He knew by memory the grammars of Nebrija and Gainza. To this add a severity which, in my judgement I have made of him, which is all I remember." ++

The boy Jose distinguished himself in class, and succeeded in surpassing many of his older classmates. Some of these were so wicked that, even without reason, they accused him before the teacher, for which, in spite of his progress, he received many whippings and strokes from the ferule. Rare was the day when he was not stretched on the bench for a whipping or punished with five or six blows on the open palm. Jose’s reaction to all these punishments was one of intense resentment in order to learn and thus carry out his father’s will. ++

While he was studying in Biñan, he returned to his hometown now and then. How long the road seemed to him in going and how short in coming! When from afar he descried the roof of his house, secret joy filled his breast. How he looked for pretexts to remain longer at home! A day more seemed to him a day spent in heaven, and how he wept, though silently and secretly, when he saw the calesa that was flower that him Biñan! Then everything looked sad; a flower that he touched, a stone that attracted his attention he gathered, fearful that he might not see it again upon his return. It was a sad but delicate and quite pain that possessed him. ++

Stories from Jose Rizal’s School Days in Biñan

In the afternoon of his first day in school, when the teacher was having his siesta, Jose met the bully, Pedro. He was angry at this bully for making fun of him during his conversation with the teacher in the morning. Jose challenged Pedro to a fight. The latter readily accepted, thinking that he could easily beat the Calamba boy who was smaller and younger. The two boys wrestled furiously in the classroom, much to the glee of their classmates. Jose, having learned the art of wrestling from his athletic Tio Manuel, defeated the bigger boy. For this feat, he became popular among his classmates. After the class in the afternoon, a classmate named Andres Salandanan challenged him to an arm-wrestling match. They went to a sidewalk of a house and wrestled with their arms. Jose, having the weaker arm, lost and nearly cracked his head on the sidewalk. In succeeding days he had other fights with the boys of Biñan. He was not quarrelsome by nature, but he never ran away from a fight. [Source: Teofilo H. Montemayor, Jose Rizal University; Jose Rizal University ++]

In academic studies, Jose beat all Biñan boys. He surpassed them all in Spanish, Latin, and other subjects. Some of his older classmates were jealous of his intellectual superiority. They wickedly squealed to the teacher whenever Jose had a fight outside the school, and even told lies to discredit him before the teacher’s eyes. Consequently the teacher had to punish Jose. ++

Jose spent his leisure hours with Justiniano’s father-in-law, a master painter. From him he took his first two sons, two nephews, and a grandson. His way life was methodical and well regulated. He heard mass at four if there was one that early, or studied his lesson at that hour and went to mass afterwards. Returning home, he might look in the orchard for a mambolo fruit to eat, then he took his breakfast, consisting generally of a plate of rice and two dried sardines. After that he would go to class, from which he was dismissed at ten, then home again. He ate with his aunt and then began at ten, then home again. He ate with his aunt and then began to study. At half past two he returned to class and left at five. He might play for a short time with some cousins before returning home. He studied his lessons, drew for a while, and then prayed and if there was a moon, his friends would invite him to play in the street in company with other boys. Whenever he remembered his town, he thought with tears in his eyes of his beloved father, his idolized mother, and his solicitous sisters. Ah, how sweet was his town even though not so opulent as Biñan! He grew sad and thoughtful. ++

Jose Rizal’s Later Education

In 1877, at the age of 16, he obtained 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. [Source: Teofilo H. Montemayor, Jose Rizal University ^^]

In 1878, Rizal 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." ^^

According to Jose Rizal’s diary: 21 November 1883: Rizal informed his family of his plan to graduate in medicine at the end of the course in June. 3 January 1884: Early in the morning, Rizal went to the University of San Carlos only to find out that there was no class. He immediately went to the Café de Madrid to meet members of the Circulo who were gathered again to discuss the proposed book. 7 January 1884: Rizal’s professor in Greek slashed at the students accusing them insubordination. The students of the San Carlos University were on strike, thus preventing him to attend the strike. — 8 January 1884: Rizal finished two drawings. He met Ruiz who proposed him that if there be someone who would pay the expenses of the Circulo, Rizal would be made president. [Source: Jose Rizal University ><]

16 January 1884: In the morning, Rizal went to class. After his class, he visited his patient on the number 10 bed who thanked Rizal for the help he extended. The patient recovered immediately. — 17 January 1884: He went with Llorente to witness the proceedings in the senate. At 6:00 p.m., after more than 5 hours of waiting outside, they were able to enter the hall. — 18 January 1884: Rizal was not able to attend his classes due to the demonstrations of the students of the College of Law and the College of Medicine against the Minister of Finance. — 20 January 1884: Rizal met Valentin Ventura and Rafael. He sent to C.O. (Consuelo Ortiga) a piece of guimaras cloth. He bought a tenth part of a lottery ticket for three pesetas. — 21 January 1884: He went to class. The students of the College of Law still refused to enter. They wanted the abolition of the decrees. Rizal thru Eduardo Lete, receive the thanks of C.O. guimaras cloth. — 23 January 1884: Rizal visited the artist Estevan and Melecio. He meet Antonio and Maximino and later Pedro. The Pateros requested him to exhibit his photos, but Rizal refused because the pictures contained dedication. — 24 January 1884: Rizal was visited by Valentin Ventura. The strike of the students in the University of San Carlos was settled and the students of the College of Law entered their classes — 25 January 1884: Rizal had a sad dream. He dreamed the returned home, but what a sad reception! His parents did not meet him. ><

5 June 1884: He took the examination on medical clinic, 2nd course, in Central University de Madrid. — 6 June 1884: He took the examination in his last subject in Medicine, Surgical clinic, 2nd course. He got grade of "ver good." — 9 June 1884: Rizal filed an application for graduation for the degree of Licentiate in Medicine. — 13 June 1884: He took an examination in Greek and Latin literature. He obtained a grade of "excellent" in both subjects. — 14 June 1884: He took an examination in Greek, 1st course, and got a grade of "excellent." — 17 June 1884: Rizal pawned his ring to pay the fees for the examination. — 21 June 1884: He finished the degree of Licentiate in Medicine with the grade of aprobado from the Central Universidad de Madrid. — 25 June 1884: Rizal won first prize in Greek contest, after which he delivered a speech in honor of the two Filipino painters, Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo. The occasion commemorated the triumph of the two, especially Luna who won the first prize for his Spoliarium during the National Exposition of Fine Arts held in Madrid that year. — 26 June 1884: He took an examination in Universal History, 2nd course. He grade of "excellent." — 27 June 1884: He was informed in a letter by Mariano Katigbak about the deteriorating health of Leonor Rivera caused by her too much loving and waiting for her love one. ><

Jose Rizal’s Philosophies in Life

Having been a victim of Spanish brutality early in his life in Calamba, Rizal had thus already formed the nucleus of an unfavorable opinion of Castillian imperialistic administration of his country and people. Pitiful social conditions existed in the Philippines as late as three centuries after his conquest in Spain, with agriculture, commerce, communications and education languishing under its most backward state. It was because of this social malady that social evils like inferiority complex, cowardice, timidity and false pride pervaded nationally and contributed to the decay of social life. This stimulated and shaped Rizal’s life philosophy to be to contain if not eliminate these social ills. [Source: Jose Rizal University ><]

Educational Philosophy: Rizal’s concept of the importance of education is clearly enunciated in his work entitled Instruction wherein he sought improvements in the schools and in the methods of teaching. He maintained that the backwardness of his country during the Spanish ear was not due to the Filipinos’ indifference, apathy or indolence as claimed by the rulers, but to the neglect of the Spanish authorities in the islands. For Rizal, the mission of education is to elevate the country to the highest seat of glory and to develop the people’s mentality. Since education is the foundation of society and a prerequisite for social progress, Rizal claimed that only through education could the country be saved from domination. Rizal’s philosophy of education, therefore, centers on the provision of proper motivation in order to bolster the great social forces that make education a success, to create in the youth an innate desire to cultivate his intelligence and give him life eternal. ><

Religious Philosophy: Rizal grew up nurtured by a closely-knit Catholic family, was educated in the foremost Catholic schools of the period in the elementary, secondary and college levels; logically, therefore, he should have been a propagator of strictly Catholic traditions. However, in later life, he developed a life philosophy of a different nature, a philosophy of a different Catholic practice intermingled with the use of Truth and Reason. Being a critical observer, a profound thinker and a zealous reformer, Rizal did not agree with the prevailing Christian propagation of the Faith by fire and sword. This is shown in his Annotation of Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas. Rizal did not believe in the Catholic dogma that salvation was only for Catholics and that outside Christianity, salvation was not possible even if Catholics composed only a small minority of the world’s religious groups. Nor did he believe in the Catholic observation of fasting as a sacrifice, nor in the sale of such religious items as the cross, medals, rosaries and the like in order to propagate the Faith and raise church funds. He also lambasted the superstitious beliefs propagated by the priests in the church and in the schools. All of these and a lot more are evidences of Rizal’s religious philosophy. ><

Political Philosophy: In Rizal’s political view, a conquered country like the Philippines should not be taken advantage of but rather should be developed, civilized, educated and trained in the science of self-government. He bitterly assailed and criticized in publications the apparent backwardness of the Spanish ruler’s method of governing the country which resulted in: 1) the bondage and slavery of the conquered ; 2) the Spanish government’s requirement of forced labor and force military service upon the n natives; 3) the abuse of power by means of exploitation; 4) the government ruling that any complaint against the authorities was criminal; and 5) Making the people ignorant, destitute and fanatic, thus discouraging the formation of a national sentiment. Rizal’s guiding political philosophy proved to be the study and application of reforms, the extension of human rights, the training for self government and the arousing of spirit of discontent over oppression, brutality, inhumanity, sensitiveness and self love. ><

Ethical Philosophy: The study of human behavior as to whether it is good or bad or whether it is right or wrong is that science upon which Rizal’s ethical philosophy was based. The fact that the Philippines was under Spanish domination during Rizal’s time led him to subordinate his philosophy to moral problems. This trend was much more needed at that time because the Spaniards and the Filipinos had different and sometimes conflicting morals. The moral status of the Philippines during this period was one with a lack of freedom, one with predominance of foreign masters, one with an imposition of foreign religious worship, devotion, homage and racial habits. This led to moral confusion among the people, what with justice being stifled, limited or curtailed and the people not enjoying any individual rights. To bolster his ethical philosophy, Dr. Rizal had recognized not only the forces of good and evil, but also the tendencies towards good and evil. As a result, he made use of the practical method of appealing to the better nature of the conquerors and of offering useful methods of solving the moral problems of the conquered. To support his ethical philosophy in life, Rizal: 1) censured the friars for abusing the advantage of their position as spiritual leaders and the ignorance and fanaticism of the natives; 2) counseled the Filipinos not to resent a defect attributed to them but to accept same as reasonable and just; 3) advised the masses that the object of marriage was the happiness and love of the couple and not financial gain; 4) censured the priests who preached greed and wrong morality; and 5) advised every one that love and respect for parents must be strictly observed. ><

Social Philosophy: That body of knowledge relating to society including the wisdom which man's experience in society has taught him is social philosophy. The facts dealt with are principles involved in nation building and not individual social problems. The subject matter of this social philosophy covers the problems of the whole race, with every problem having a distinct solution to bolster the people’s social knowledge. Rizal’s social philosophy dealt with: 1) man in society; 2) influential factors in human life; 3) racial problems; 4) social constant; 5) social justice; 6) social ideal; 7) poverty and wealth; 8) reforms; 9) youth and greatness; 10) history and progress; 11) future Philippines. ><

The above dealt with man’s evolution and his environment, explaining for the most part human behavior and capacities like his will to live; his desire to possess happiness; the change of his mentality; the role of virtuous women in the guidance of great men; the need for elevating and inspiring mission; the duties and dictates of man’s conscience; man’s need of practicing gratitude; the necessity for consulting reliable people; his need for experience; his ability to deny; the importance of deliberation; the voluntary offer of man’s abilities and possibilities; the ability to think, aspire and strive to rise; and the proper use of hearth, brain and spirit-all of these combining to enhance the intricacies, beauty and values of human nature. All of the above served as Rizal’s guide in his continuous effort to make over his beloved Philippines. ><

Jose Rizal’s Occupations, Talents and Skills

Having traveled extensively in Europe, America and Asia, Jose Rizal mastered 22 languages. These include Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Malayan, Portuguese, Russian, Sanskrit, Spanish, Tagalog, and other native dialects. A versatile genius, he was an architect, artists, businessman, cartoonist, educator, economist, ethnologist, scientific farmer, historian, inventor, journalist, linguist, musician, mythologist, nationalist, naturalist, novelist, opthalmic surgeon, poet, propagandist, psychologist, scientist, sculptor, sociologist, and theologian. [Source: Teofilo H. Montemayor, Jose Rizal University ^^]

He was an expert swordsman and a good shot. In the hope of securing political and social reforms for his country and at the same time educate his countrymen, Rizal, the greatest apostle of Filipino nationalism, published, while in Europe, several works with highly nationalistic and revolutionary tendencies. ^^

The sciences, vocational courses including agriculture, surveying, sculpturing, and painting, as well as the art of self defense; he did some researches and collected specimens; he entered into correspondence with renowned men of letters and sciences abroad; and with the help of his pupils, he constructed water dam and a relief map of Mindanao - both considered remarkable engineering feats. His sincerity and friendliness won for him the trust and confidence of even those assigned to guard him; his good manners and warm personality were found irresistible by women of all races with whom he had personal contacts; his intelligence and humility gained for him the respect and admiration of prominent men of other nations; while his undaunted courage and determination to uplift the welfare of his people were feared by his enemies. ^^

Jose Rizal’s Many Facets and Interests

Jose Rizal’s early boyhood precocity turned into versatility in later years. Being curious and inquisitive, he developed a rare facility of mastering varied subjects and occupations. Actor: Rizal acted as a character in one of Juan Luna’s paintings and acted in school dramas. — Agriculturist: Rizal had farms in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte (1892-1896) where he planted lanzones, coconuts and other fruit-bearing trees. — Ambassador Of Good Will: His friendliness, goodwill and cultural associations with friends entitled him as one. — Animal Lover: As a small boy, Rizal loved animals including birds, fish, insects, and other specimens of animal life. Fowls, rabbits, dogs, horses, and cats constituted his favorites. As much as possible, he did not wish fowls to be killed even for food, and showed displeasure in being asked to eat the cooked animal. The family garden in Calamba abounded with insects galore and birds native to the Calamba environs. He wrote about and sketched animals of the places he had toured. — Anthropologist: He made researches on the physical and social make up of man. — Archeologist: Rizal studied monuments and antique currency everywhere he went. He drew most of the monuments he saw. — Ascetic: Rizal always practiced self-discipline wherever he went. — Book lover: He had a big library and brought many books abroad. — Botanist: Rizal maintained a garden in Dapitan where he planted and experimented on plants of all kinds — Businessman: He had a partner in Dapitan in the Abaca business there (1892-1896). — Cartographer: He drew maps of Dapitan, The Philippines and other places he visited. — Chess Player: He played chess and bear several Germans and European friends and acquaintances. — Citizen of the world: His extensive travels and multitude of friends in Europe, Middle East and Asia made him one. — Commentator: Rizal always expresses and published his personal opinion. [Source: Jose Rizal University ><]

Conchologist: He had a good shell collection in Dapitan. An American conchologist praised him. — Educator: Rizal taught in his special school in Dapitan. — Ethnologist: In his travels, Rizal was able to compare different races and he noted the differences. — Father of community school: He proposed college in Hong Kong and his special school in Dapitan made him a father of community schools. — Fencer: He fenced with Europeans and Juan Luna and other friends in Europe. — Freemason abroad: He was member of La Solidaridad Lodge in Spain. — Horticulture and farmer: He experimented on and cultivated plants in Dapitan. — Historian: His annotation of Antonio de Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas entitled him as one. — Humorist: There are many humorous incidents in the “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo”. — Ichthyologist: He collected 38 new varieties of fish in Dapitan. ><

Japanophile: His admiration of Japanese traits and his knowledge of her language proved he was one. — Journalist: He authored the published many articles in Spanish and English and London. — Laboratory worker: He was employed in the clinic of Dr. L. Wecker in Paris. — Linguist: He spoke over 20 foreign languages. — Lover of truth: He chided Spanish writers for not writing the truth about the Filipinos. He was always truthful since boyhood. — Musicians: He played the flute and composed pieces of music and cultivated music appreciation. — Mythologist: Rizal used mythology in his Noli and Fili. — Nationalist: He gave full expression of the native spirit strengthened by world civilization and loved and defended everything Filipino. — Newspaperman: He wrote and published articles in many publications and was one of the organizers of the La Solidaridad. — Ophthalmologist: He graduated in an ophthalmologic college in Spain. — Orientalist: Rizal admired the special characteristic and beauties of Oriental countries peoples. ><

Pharmacologist: Rizal treasured and popularized the usefulness and preparation of cures for treatment of his patients. — Philologist: Rizal loved of learning and literature is unequalled. — Philosopher: Rizal not only loved wisdom but also regulated his life and enjoyed calmness of the life at all time — Physical culturist: Rizal maintained a good health by exercising all parts of his body and eating proper foods — Physicians: He treated several patients afflicted not only with eye diseases. — Plant lover: As a child, Rizal spend most of his time in the family garden which was planted with fruit trees, — Shrubs and decorative trees. His diaries contained detailed description and sketches of plants, flowers and fruits he saw in the places he visited. He wrote poems on flower he like very much as his poems To the Flowers of Heidelberg. — Poet: Rizal wrote over 35 poems including his famous Ultimo Adios. — Politician: Although Rizal did not engage in Politics, he exposed the evils of the political activities of the Spaniards in the Philippines through his writing. ><

Polyglot: Rizal spoke and wrote in 20 languages. — Proofreader: In Germany, He worked as a part-time proofreader of his livelihood. — Propagandist: As a reformer, Rizal encourages the recommendation of improving the government entities and discourage abuses publishing articles. — Public relation man: He worked for better cooperation of rulers and subjects in his country. — Reformer: He published the modern methods of government administration, so changes could be made. — Researcher: Being a wide reader, he compared the old and new practices in life. — Revolutionist: Rizal encouraged reforms, discouraged old, impractical usage, and desired new and useful laws to benefit his countrymen. He desired changes for the better. — Rhetorician: Rizal has always practiced the art of persuasive and impressive speaking and writing. — Rural reconstruction worker: He practiced rural reconstruction work in Dapitan in 1894 and succeeded. — Sanitary engineer: His construction of a water system in Dapitan exemplified this practice by Rizal. — Scientist: Rizal’s practice of many sciences here and abroad made him noted scientist. — Sculptor: His works of his father and of Father Guerrico, S. J. typified his sculptural ability. ><

Sharp shooter: He could hit a target 20 meters away. — Sinologist: Rizal’s ancestry and his ability to speak Chinese made him one. — Sociologist: In Rizal’s study of Philippines social problems, he always encouraged and introduced solutions. — Sodalist: He always joined fraternities, associations and brotherhood, for self-improvement. — Sportsman: He engaged from a surveying class at the Ateneo after passing his A. B. there. — Tourist: He was considered the foremost tourist due to his extensive travels. — Traveler: He traveled around the world three times. — Tuberculosis expert: For having cured himself of this disease, he became and was recognized as an expert. — Youth leader: He considered the youth as "the hope of his Fatherland." — Zoologist: He was fond of pets. He researched later on their physiology, classification and habits. ><

Rizal's First Trip Abroad

3 May 1882: Rizal left Philippines for the first time Spain. He boarded the Salvadora using a passport of Jose Mercado, which was procured for him by his uncle Antonio Rivera, father of Leonor Rivera. He was accompanied to the quay where the Salvadora was moored by his uncle Antonio, Vicente Gella, and Mateo Evangelista. — 4 May 1882: He got seasick on board the boat. — 5 May1882: He conversed with the passengers of the ship; he was still feeling sea-sick. — 6 May 1882: He played chess with the passengers on board. — 8 May 1882: He saw mountains and Islands. — 9 May 1882: Rizal arrived at Singapore. — 10 May 1882: He went around the town of Singapore and maid some observations. — 11 May 1882: In Singapore, at 2 p.m., Rizal boarded the boat Djemnah to continue his trip to Spain. He found the boat clean and well kept. — 12 May 1882: He had a conversation with the passengers of the boat. — 13 May 1882: Rizal was seasick again. — 14 May 1882: On his way to Marseilles, Rizal had a terrible dream. He dreamed he was traveling with Neneng (Saturnina) and their path was blocked by snakes. — May 15 1882: Rizal had another disheartening dream. He dreamed he returned to Calamba and after meeting his parents who did not talk to him because of not having consulted them about his first trip abroad, he returned traveling abroad with one hundred pesos he again borrowed. He was so sad and broken hearted. Soon he woke up and found himself inside his cabin. — 17 May 1882: Rizal arrived at Punta de Gales. — 18 May 1882: At 7:30 a.m., he left Punta de Gales for Colombo. In the afternoon, Rizal arrived at Colombo and in the evening the trip was resumed. — 26 May 1882: Rizal was nearing the African coast — 27 May 1882: He landed at Aden at about 8:30 a.m. He made observation at the time. — 2 June 1882: He arrived at the Suez Canal en route to Marseilles. — 3 June 1882: He was quarantined on board the Djemnah in the Suez Canal. — 6 June 1882: It was the fourth day at Suez Canal and was still quarantined on board of the boat. — 7 June 1882: Rizal arrived at Port Said. In a letter to his parents, He described his trip en route to Aden along the Suez Canal.

11 June 1882: Rizal disembarked and, accompanied by a guide, went around the City of Naples for one hour. This was the first European ground he set foot on. — 12 June 1882: At ten o’clock in the evening, the boat anchored at Marseilles. He slept on board. — 13 June 1882: Early on the morning he landed at Marseilles and boarded at the Noalles Hotel. Later he around for observation. — 14 June 1882: His second in Marseilles. — 15 June 1882: He left Marseilles for Barcelona in an express train. — : Rizal in Barcelona, Spain: 16 June 1882: At 12:00 noon, Rizal arrived at Barcelona and boarded in the Fonda De España. — 23 June 1882: In a letter, Rizal related to his parents his experiences during his trip from Port Said to Barcelona. In the same Letter, he requested them to send him a birth certificate and statement showing that he had parents in the Philippines. — 18 August 1882: P. Leoncio Lopez of Calamba issued a certified copy of Rizal’s birth certificate. — 20 August 1882: His article "Amor Patrio" was published in the Diarong Tagalog, a Manila newspaper edited by Basilio Teodoro. This was the First article he wrote abroad. — — Rizal in Madrid, Spain: 2 September 1882: Rizal matriculated at the Universidad Central de Madrid. He took the following subjects: medical clinic, surgical clinic, legal medicine and obstetrical clinic. — 2 October 1882: He attended his regular classes which stared in all earnest. — 4 October 1882: Asked to deliver a poem by the members of Circulo Hispano-Filipino, there together in the effort to save the association from disintegration, Rizal recited "Me piden versus." The meeting was held at the house of Pablo Ortiga y Rey. — 7 October 1882: He attended again of the Circulo Hisfano-Filipino held in house of Mr. Ortiga. — 2 November 1882: He wrote the article "Revista de Madrid" which was in intended for publication in the Diarong Tagalog in Manila, but was not published because the newspaper stops its circulation. — 7 November 1882: Rizal wrote an article entitled "Las Dudas". The article was signed Laong - Laan. — 30 December 1882: In a letter, Rizal revealed to Paciano his plan of going to Paris or Rome in June. He wanted to practice French in Paris and Italian in Rome and to observe the customs of people in those cities. — - In the evening, Rizal dreamed he was an actor dying in the scene, feeling intensely the shortage of his breath, the weakening of his strength, and darkening of his sight. He woke up tired and breathless. — 1 January 1883: Rizal felt sad in the morning. He recollected the terrible dream he had the previous night. — 15 January 1883: He attended the birthday of Pablo Ortiga with some of the Filipinos. — 16 January 1883: He attended the masquerade ball in Alhambra with some of his countrymen. — 13 February 1883: In a letter Rizal appraised his brother Paciano of his activities in Madrid, his impressions of the city and his meeting with his friends in gathering. In part he said: "The Tuesday of the Carnival we had a Filipino luncheon and dinner in the house of the Pateros, each one contributing one duro. We ate with our hands, boiled rice, chicken adobo, fried fish and roast pig. — 2 May 1882: Rizal recollected his past impressions when he left his hometown Calamba. This day he attended a fiesta in Madrid. — 26 May 1883: In a letter, Rizal was informed by Paciano of the 1,350 loaves of milled sugar produced from the Pansol farm and at the same time granting him to proceed to Paris as soon as he finished the medical course in Madrid.

15 June 1883: Rizal left Madrid for Paris to spend his summer and to observe the big French City. — : Rizal in Paris, France: 17 June 1883: Rizal arrived at Paris. He spent the whole day walking around and observing the beautiful cities. — 18 June 1883: With Felipe Zamora and Cunanan, He visited the Leannec Hospital to observe how Dr, Nicaise treated his patients. He was stunned to see the advanced facilities in the accommodation in the said hospital. — 19 June 1883: He again visited Dr. Nicaise who showed the technique of operation. Later he went to see dupytren Museum. — 20 June 1883: Rizal visited the Lariboisiere Hospital where Felix Pardo de Tavera was an extern. Here he observe the examination of the different diseases of women. — 21 June 1883: After watching the done by Dr. Duply, he went to the Jardin d’ Acclimatation situated outside the Paris in the Forest of Bologna. He found there plants of all species and the rarest and most beautiful birds. — 5 July 1883: In a letter to his parents, sisters and brother, Rizal continued describing the museum, buildings and hospitals he had visited in Paris. — 2 August 1883: In a letter to his parents, he continued describing his visits to museum and his excursions to important place in Paris.

20 August 1883: Rizal was back in Madrid from his summer vacation in Paris. — 6 September 1883: He changed his residence from Barquillo St. N0. 34, 4 to San Miguel no. 7, 1 Centro. — 28 September 1883: He enrolled at the central Universidad de Madrid for the second course in medicine. — October 1883: He came to know of the imprisonment, by order of Sr. Vicente Barrantes, of the 14 rich innocent persons in Manila. The Prisoners who knew nothing is the cause of their detention and who became sick later, were kept in a humid prison cell. Rizal was indignant of his inhuman act. — 16 October 1883: He learned from Mariano Katigbak about the 400 cholera victims in Lipa and 3 of beri-beri. — 28 October 1883: He had a new address. He live with Eduardo Lete and the two Llorente brothers, Julio and Abdon, in Bano 15 Pral.

20 November 1884: Rizal witnessed the tumultuous scene in the Central Universidad de Madrid where the students and professors staged a strike against excommunication imposed by the bishop on the lecture proclaiming the freedom of science and of the teacher. — 21 November 1884: With Valentin Ventura, he escaped from being arrested by a police lieutenant and a secret service man in connection with strike staged by the University students. — 22 November 1884: He disguised himself three times to evade arrest by the law agents who were eyeing on him. The indignation rally of the students continued and more arrest were affected.

1 October 1885: Rizal planned to leave Madrid by the middle of the month. He intended to go to Germany to learn the German language and to study advance course of ophthalmology. — — 19 November 1885: While in Paris, Rizal recieved information from Ceferino de Leon about the prevailing vices among the Filipinos in the house of Aceveno in Madrid, abetted by the lousy women gamblers. — 27 November 1885: Rizal’s transfer to Paris was disapproved by Paciano who, at the same time, informed Rizal that his letter caused their mother to shed tears; that Rizal’s brown horse would be sold, the money to be remitted to him in Paris together with the chronometer watch worth $300 (Mexican dollars). — 4 December 1885: He was practicing ophthalmology with Dr. Weeker at the Crugen Clinic. — 19 December 1885: The news that the Filipinos in Madrid were preparing a Christmas banquet in spite of the little money they had, was relayed in a letter to Rizal in Paris by Ceferino de Leon who also informed the former about his (de Leon’s) plan of going to Paris the following summer. 2 February 1886 — Rizal arrived at Strasburg, Germany. He visited the celebrated cathedral and climbed a tower of 142 meters high, the fourth highest of the European towers. — : Rizal in Heidelberg, Germany — 3 February 1886: He arrived at Heidelberg. The town to him looked gay. On the streets he saw students with cups of different colors. — 6 February 1886: Rizal was living in a boarding house costing him 28 duros a month. He found German life full of potatoes; potatoes in the morning and potatoes in the evening. — 9 February 1886: He penned a letter to his family in Calamba describing his life in Heidelberg and his trip from Paris to the city of flowers. [>< Rizal’s stay in Europe continues of another year and half. Check Out

Women in Jose Rizal’s Life

There were at least nine women linked with Rizal; namely Segunda Katigbak, Leonor Valenzuela, Leonor Rivera, Consuelo Ortiga, O-Sei San, Gertrude Beckette, Nelly Boustead, Suzanne Jacoby and Josephine Bracken. These women might have been beguiled by his intelligence, charm and wit. [Source: Jose Rizal University ><]

1) Segunda Katigbak and 2) Leonor Valenzuela: Segunda Katigbak was his puppy love. Unfortunately, his first love was engaged to be married to a town mate- Manuel Luz. After his admiration for a short girl in the person of Segunda, then came Leonor Valenzuela, a tall girl from Pagsanjan. Rizal send her love notes written in invisible ink, that could only be deciphered over the warmth of the lamp or candle. He visited her on the eve of his departure to Spain and bade her a last goodbye. ><

3) Leonor Rivera, his sweetheart for 11 years played the greatest influence in keeping him from falling in love with other women during his travel. Unfortunately, Leonor’s mother disapproved of her daughter’s relationship with Rizal, who was then a known filibustero. She hid from Leonor all letters sent to her sweetheart. Leonor believing that Rizal had already forgotten her, sadly consented her to marry the Englishman Henry Kipping, her mother’s choice. ><

4) Consuelo Ortiga y Rey, the prettier of Don Pablo Ortiga’s daughters, fell in love with him. He dedicated to her A la Senorita C.O. y R., which became one of his best poems. The Ortiga's residence in Madrid was frequented by Rizal and his compatriots. He probably fell in love with her and Consuelo apparently asked him for romantic verses. He suddenly backed out before the relationship turned into a serious romance, because he wanted to remain loyal to Leonor Rivera and he did not want to destroy hid friendship with Eduardo de Lete who was madly in love with Consuelo. ><

5) O Sei San, a Japanese samurai’s daughter taught Rizal the Japanese art of painting known as su-mie. She also helped Rizal improve his knowledge of Japanese language. If Rizal was a man without a patriotic mission, he would have married this lovely and intelligent woman and lived a stable and happy life with her in Japan because Spanish legation there offered him a lucrative job. ><

6) Gertrude Beckett: While Rizal was in London annotating the Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas, he boarded in the house of the Beckett family, within walking distance of the British Museum. Gertrude, a blue-eyed and buxom girl was the oldest of the three Beckett daughters. She fell in love with Rizal. Tottie helped him in his painting and sculpture. But Rizal suddenly left London for Paris to avoid Gertrude, who was seriously in love with him. Before leaving London, he was able to finish the group carving of the Beckett sisters. He gave the group carving to Gertrude as a sign of their brief relationship. ><

7) Nellie Boustead: Rizal having lost Leonor Rivera, entertained the thought of courting other ladies. While a guest of the Boustead family at their residence in the resort city of Biarritz, he had befriended the two pretty daughters of his host, Eduardo Boustead. Rizal used to fence with the sisters at the studio of Juan Luna. Antonio Luna, Juan’s brother and also a frequent visitor of the Bousteads, courted Nellie but she was deeply infatuated with Rizal. In a party held by Filipinos in Madrid, a drunken Antonio Luna uttered unsavory remarks against Nellie Boustead. This prompted Rizal to challenge Luna into a duel. Fortunately, Luna apologized to Rizal, thus averting tragedy for the compatriots. Their love affair unfortunately did not end in marriage. It failed because Rizal refused to be converted to the Protestant faith, as Nellie demanded and Nellie’s mother did not like a physician without enough paying clientele to be a son-in-law. The lovers, however, parted as good friends when Rizal left Europe. ><

8) Suzanne Jacoby: In 1890, Rizal moved to Brussels because of the high cost of living in Paris. In Brussels, he lived in the boarding house of the two Jacoby sisters. In time, they fell deeply in love with each other. Suzanne cried when Rizal left Brussels and wrote him when he was in Madrid. ><

9) Josephine Bracken: In the last days of February 1895, while still in Dapitan, Rizal met an 18-year old petite Irish girl, with bold blue eyes, brown hair and a happy disposition. She was Josephine Bracken, the adopted daughter of George Taufer from Hong Kong, who came to Dapitan to seek Rizal for eye treatment. Rizal was physically attracted to her. His loneliness and boredom must have taken the measure of him and what could be a better diversion that to fall in love again. But the Rizal sisters suspected Josephine as an agent of the friars and they considered her as a threat to Rizal’s security. Rizal asked Josephine to marry him, but she was not yet ready to make a decision due to her responsibility to the blind Taufer. Since Taufer’s blindness was untreatable, he left for Hon Kong on March 1895. Josephine stayed with Rizal’s family in Manila. Upon her return to Dapitan, Rizal tried to arrange with Father Antonio Obach for their marriage. However, the priest wanted a retraction as a precondition before marrying them. Rizal upon the advice of his family and friends and with Josephine’s consent took her as his wife even without the Church blessings. Josephine later give birth prematurely to a stillborn baby, a result of some incidence, which might have shocked or frightened her. ><

Jose Rizal, the Writer

Jose Rizal’s greatest impact on the development of a Filipino national consciousness was his publication of two novels–“Noli Me Tangere” (“Touch Me Not”) in 1886 and “El Filibusterismo” (“The “Reign of Greed”) in 1891. Rizal drew on his personal experiences and depicted the conditions of Spanish rule in the islands, particularly the abuses of the friars. Although the friars had Rizal's books banned, they were smuggled into the Philippines and rapidly gained a wide readership. [Source: Library of Congress]

In March 1887, his daring book,“Noli Me Tangere,” a satirical novel exposing the arrogance and despotism of the Spanish clergy, was published in Berlin; in 1890 he reprinted in Paris, Morga’s Successos De Las Islas Filipinas with his annotations to prove that the Filipinos had a civilization worthy to be proud of even long before the Spaniards set foot on Philippine soil; on September 18, 1891, “El Filibusterismo”, his second novel and a sequel to the “Noli” and more revolutionary and tragic than the latter, was printed in Ghent. [Source: Teofilo H. Montemayor, Jose Rizal University ^^]

Because of his fearless exposures of the injustices committed by the civil and clerical officials, Rizal provoked the animosity of those in power. This led himself, his relatives and countrymen into trouble with the Spanish officials of the country. As a consequence, he and those who had contacts with him, were shadowed; the authorities were not only finding faults but even fabricating charges to pin him down. Thus, he was imprisoned in Fort Santiago from July 6, 1892 to July 15, 1892 on a charge that anti-friar pamphlets were found in the luggage of his sister Lucia who arrive with him from Hong Kong. While a political exile in Dapitan, he engaged in agriculture, fishing and business; he maintained and operated a hospital; he conducted classes- taught his pupils the English and Spanish languages, the arts. ^^

“Noli Me Tangere”

“Noli Me Tangere” is a satirical novel exposing the arrogance and despotism of the Spanish clergy.John Louie Ramos wrote in International Writers And Literature: “In the patriotic novel Noli Me Tangere, Jose Rizal shaped the minds and opened the eyes of his fellow Filipinos to the abuse they suffered at the hands of tyrannical Spanish authorities. He proved that the pen is mightier than the sword. He symbolically painted a portrait quite similar to the conditions of the Philippines during that time. [Source: John Louie Ramos, International Writers And Literature, May 21, 2010 >>>]

“Rizal introduces the character of Juan Crisostomo Ibarra, the only son of the late Haciendero Don Rafael Ibarra. Ibarra was near perfect, he's handsome, intelligent, rich and famous. Upon his return in the Philippines, a celebration was held. A local newspaper even took note of his arrival. A picture of him at the front page bearing the words, "Imitate him" - it was a nonetheless an arrival fit for a king. Ibarra was full of hopes and desires of a better nation, he was full of new ideas which he learned from his travel in Europe. He felt that with his wealth, power and connections to the illustrious figures of society, he can make a difference. >>>

“Ibarra has a bright future, he has a beautiful girlfriend named Maria Clara, the daughter of Don Santiago. Maria Clara was a symbolic representation of the ideal Filipina woman, full of grace and royalty. Somehow, Maria Clara's beauty was that of a pure and innocent child. Ibarra could have just settled down but he wasn't the type of person that would enjoy while others are suffering. He ultimately planned on building a school. With the advice of the Philosopher Tacio and the help of prominent local figures including Don Custodio, Ibarra's school was completed. However, during the inauguration of the school an assassination plot against Ibarra was revealed. Fortunately, he was saved by a mysterious man named Elias. >>>

“More revelations were unveiled. From the untimely death of his father, to the real identity of Maria Clara.On the other hand, Elias approached Ibarra. Elias happens to be the courier of the rebel soldiers. The rebels want government reforms through a violent revolution. However, Ibarra does not bear the same idealism. Later, an uprising was orchestrated by Father Salvi, a Spanish friar who secretly admired Maria Clara. The plot was to make it appear that Ibarra was the mastermind of the revolt. >>>

“Ibarra was arrested but escaped with the help of Elias. A shooting occurred at the Pasig river with Elias being hit by bullets. The civil guards thought that they have killed Ibarra but the latter survived. With the vast wealth and gems he has, Ibarra swore to take revenge to all those who destroyed his life. He swore to free the country even if that will result into loss of lives. Ibarra went overseas but he vowed to come back to claim what rightfully belongs to him.” >>>

Writing “Noli Me Tangere” and Getting It Published

Spain, to Rizal, was a venue for realizing his dreams. He finished his studies in Madrid and this to him was the realization of the bigger part of his ambition. His vision broadened while he was in Spain to the point of awakening in him an understanding of human nature, sparking in him the realization that his people needed him. It must have been this sentiment that prompted him to pursue, during the re-organizational meeting of the Circulo-Hispano-Filipino, to be one of its activities, the publication of a book to which all the members would contribute papers on the various aspects and conditions of Philippines life. [Source: Jose Rizal University ><]

"My proposal on the book," he wrote on January 2, 1884, "was unanimously approved. But afterwards difficulties and objections were raised which seemed to me rather odd, and a number of gentlemen stood up and refused to discuss the matter any further. In view of this I decided not to press it any longer, feeling that it was impossible to count on general support…" "Fortunately," writes one of Rizal’s biographers, the anthology, if we may call it that, was never written. Instead, the next year, Pedro Paterno published his Ninay, a novel sub-titled Costumbres filipinas (Philippines Customs), thus partly fulfilling the original purpose of Rizal’s plan. He himself (Rizal), as we have seen, had ‘put aside his pen’ in deference to the wishes of his parents. ><

But the idea of writing a novel himself must have grown on him. It would be no poem to forgotten after a year, no essay in a review of scant circulation, no speech that passed in the night, but a long and serious work on which he might labor, exercising his mind and hand, without troubling his mother’s sleep. He would call it “Noli Me Tangere”; the Latin echo of the Spoliarium is not without significance. He seems to have told no one in his family about his grand design; it is not mentioned in his correspondence until the book is well-nigh completed. But the other expatriates knew what he was doing; later, when Pastells was blaming the Noli on the influence of German Protestants, he would call his compatriots to witness that he had written half of the novel in Madrid a fourth part in Paris, and only the remainder in Germany. ><

"From the first," writes Leon Ma. Guerrero, Rizal was haunted by the fear that his novel would never find its way into print, that it would remain unread. He had little enough money for his own needs, let alone the cost of the Noli’s publication… Characteristically, Rizal would not hear of asking his friends for help. He did not want to compromise them. Viola insisted on lending him the money (P300 for 2,000 copies); Rizal at first demurred… Finally Rizal gave in and the novel went to press. The proofs were delivered daily, and one day the messenger, according to Viola, took it upon himself to warn the author that if he ever returned to the Philippines he would lose his head. Rizal was too enthralled by seeing his work in print to do more than smile. ><

The printing apparently took considerably less time than the original estimate of five months for Viola did not arrive in Berlin until December and by the 21st March 1887, Rizal was already sending Blumentritt a copy of "my first book." Rizal, himself, describing the nature of the “Noli Me Tangere” to his friend Blumentritt, wrote, "The Novel is the first impartial and bold account of the life of the tagalogs. The Filipinos will find in it the history of the last ten years…" ><

Criticism of “Noli Me Tangere” and Its Defenders

Criticism and attacks against the Noli and its author came from all quarters. An anonymous letter signed "A Friar" and sent to Rizal, dated February 15, 1888, says in part: "How ungrateful you are… If you, or for that matter all your men, think you have a grievance, then challenge us and we shall pick up the gauntlet, for we are not cowards like you, which is not to say that a hidden hand will not put an end to your life." A special committee of the faculty of the University of Santo Tomas, at the request of the Archbishop Pedro Payo, found and condemned the novel as heretical, impious, and scandalous in its religious aspect, and unpatriotic, subversive of public order and harmful to the Spanish government and its administration of theses islands in its political aspect. [Source: Jose Rizal University ><]

On December 28, 1887, Fray Salvador Font, the cura of Tondo and chairman of the Permanent Commission of Censorship composed of laymen and ordered that the circulation of this pernicious book" be absolutely prohibited. Not content, Font caused the circulation of copies of the prohibition, an act which brought an effect contrary to what he desired. Instead of what he expected, the negative publicity awakened more the curiosity of the people who managed to get copies of the book. Assisting Father Font in his aim to discredit the Noli was an Augustinian friar by the name of Jose Rodriguez. In a pamphlet entitled Caiingat Cayo (Beware). Fr. Rodriguez warned the people that in reading the book they "commit mortal sin," considering that it was full of heresy. ><

As far as Madrid, there was furor over the Noli, as evidenced by an article which bitterly criticized the novel published in a Madrid newspaper in January, 1890, and written by one Vicente Barrantes. In like manner, a member of the Senate in the Spanish Cortes assailed the novel as "anti-Catholic, Protestant, socialistic." It is well to note that not detractors alone visibly reacted to the effects of the Noli. For if there were bitter critics, another group composed of staunch defenders found every reason to justify its publication and circulation to the greatest number of Filipinos. For instance, Marcelo H. Del Pilar, cleverly writing under an assumed name Dolores Manapat, successfully circulated a publication that negated the effect of Father Rodriguez’ Caiingat Cayo, Del Pilar’s piece was entitled Caiigat Cayo (Be Slippery as an Eel). Deceiving similar in format to Rodriguez’ Caiingat Cayo, the people were readily "misled" into getting not a copy o Rodriguez’ piece but Del Pillar’s. ><

The “Noli Me Tangere” found another staunch defender in the person of a Catholic theologian of the Manila Cathedral, in Father Vicente Garcia. Under the pen-name Justo Desiderio Magalang. Father Garcia wrote a very scholarly defense of the Noli, claiming among other things that Rizal cannot be an ignorant man, being the product of Spanish officials and corrupt friars; he himself who had warned the people of committing mortal sin if they read the novel had therefore committed such sin for he has read the novel. ><

Consequently, realizing how much the Noli had awakened his countrymen, to the point of defending his novel, Rizal said: "Now I die content. Fittingly, Rizal found it a timely and effective gesture to dedicate his novel to the country of his people whose experiences and sufferings he wrote about, sufferings which he brought to light in an effort to awaken his countrymen to the truths that had long remained unspoken, although not totally unheard of. ><

El Filibusterismo

“El Filibusterismo”, Jose Rizal’s second novel and a sequel to the “Noli” is more revolutionary and tragic than “Noli.” John Louie Ramos wrote in International Writers And Literature: “In Noli Me Tangere, Rizal described the full extent of slavery and abuse suffered by the native Indios at the hands of Spanish authorities. Hence in this second book, Rizal pictured a society at the brink of revolution. The Indios have started to adapt liberal ideas and guerrilla factions have started to revolt against the government. The advent of the novel starts 13 years after the events in the Noli Me Tangere, Juan Crisostomo Ibarra orchestrated a plot of evil means but heroic desires. [Source: John Louie Ramos, International Writers And Literature, May 21, 2010 /=/]

“During his travels in Europe, Ibarra changed his name to Simoun. He becomes a renowned jeweler thus his wealth grew further. He started to make new connections with the illustrious societal personalities in Spain. With his influence, he helped a military colonel to rise the ladder and be promoted as captain general of the colonial territory, the Philippines. For Simoun, it was all planned. Upon his return in the Philippines, he was dubbed as his black eminence. People saw him as an influential figure whom his majesty consults whenever decisions are to be made. After all, his majesty, the captain general owed so much to Simoun. /=/

“Simoun wants to take revenge and bring back the love of Maria Clara who now resides at the convent. The jeweler was famed for his wealth and power. Hence, no one thought that the opportunists and fearsome Simoun was the same idealistic Ibarra of the past. Simoun started to look for followers. He found his allies with the oppressed and enslaved. He form an alliance with Kabesang Tales' group, an outlaw whose land was grabbed by the friar's corporation. He then, looks for more men. He searched the villages looking for strong willed men who have a gripe on the government. /=/

Simoun, using the influence he has on the captain general, ordered stricter and more abusive government policies - a move that will make the people angrier. This was the plot of Simoun, to use the people's hatred against the government to his advantage. Simoun also ordered attacks that will backfire and weaken the government's military forces. However, the revolution scheduled at the night of a musical play in Manila didn't come into fruition. Months, later another plan was made. At the grand wedding of Juanita Pelaez, the son of a successful businessman and the beautiful Paulita Gomez, Simoun insisted to take charge in the decorating. /=/

“Simoun knew that the feast would be attended by friars, government officials and prominent figures - the same people who wrecked havoc to his life. Beneath the beautiful decorations and lighting were sacks of gun powder. The whole house was filled with explosives. Simoun formed his own army of the oppressed and enslaved and with the help of government soldiers and outlaws whom he commissioned, they will start a bloody revolution. The mission, to kill all Spanish authorities and to take control of the country. At the wedding, Simoun puts a beautiful lamp at the center of the table carved with gold linings and other kind of gems and jewelries. Simoun left as soon as delivering his gift, the lamp. /=/

“It was a festive celebration but unknown to the guests, the lamp is a time bomb that will explode once lifted. It will result into a huge explosion that will be a signal to Simoun's troops to simultaneously attack Manila. Just before the lamp explodes, a piece of mysterious paper bearing the message "You will die tonight" was being passed. It was signed by Juan Crisostomo Ibarra. Father Salvi confirmed that it was the real signature of Ibarra, a long-forgotten filibuster. The guests at the wedding were all frightened. Slowly, the lamp's light started to diminish and soon one will lift it and will cause a huge explosion. /=/

“However, a Isagani, a student and friend of the newly-weds knew the plot and because of his undying love to Paulita threw the lamp before it explodes. After the wedding, the plot was unraveled and a shoot-to-kill order for Simoun was commissioned. Hence, Simoun, the sly fox that he is, makes sure that he won't get caught alive. He drank a poison and as it effects started to take toll on his body, he was able to confess his plans and real name to a Filipino priests.” /=/

Writing El Filibusterismo and Getting It Printed

To prove his point and refute the accusations of prejudiced Spanish writers against his race, Rizal annotated the book, Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas, written by the Spaniard Antonio Morga. The book was an unbiased presentation of 16th century Filipino culture. Rizal through his annotation showed that Filipinos had developed culture even before the coming of the Spaniards. While annotating Morga’s book, he began writing the sequel to the Noli, the “El Filibusterismo”. He completed the Fili in July 1891 while he was in Brussels, Belgium. As in the printing of the Noli, Rizal could not published the sequel for the lack of finances. Fortunately, Valentin Ventura gave him financial assistance and the Fili came out of the printing press on September 1891. The “El Filibusterismo” indicated Spanish colonial policies and attacked the Filipino collaborators of such system. The novel pictured a society on the brink of a revolution. [Source: Jose Rizal University ><]

The word "filibustero" wrote Rizal to his friend, Ferdinand Blumentritt, is very little known in the Philippines. The masses do not know it yet. Jose Alejandro, one of the new Filipinos who had been quite intimate with Rizal, said, "in writing the Noli Rizal signed his own death warrant." Subsequent events, after the fate of the Noli was sealed by the Spanish authorities, prompted Rizal to write the continuation of his first novel. He confessed, however, that regretted very much having killed Elias instead of Ibarra, reasoning that when he published the Noli his health was very much broken, and was very unsure of being able to write the continuation and speak of a revolution. ><

Explaining to Marcelo H. del Pilar his inability to contribute articles to the La Solidaridad, Rizal said that he was haunted by certain sad presentiments, and that he had been dreaming almost every night of dead relatives and friends a few days before his 29th birthday, that is why he wanted to finish the second part of the Noli at all costs. Consequently, as expected of a determined character, Rizal apparently went in writing, for to his friend, Blumentritt, he wrote on March 29, 1891: "I have finished my book. Ah! I’ve not written it with any idea of vengeance against my enemies, but only for the good of those who suffer and for the rights of Tagalog humanity, although brown and not good-looking." ><

To a Filipino friend in Hong Kong, Jose Basa, Rizal likewise eagerly announced the completion of his second novel. Having moved to Ghent to have the book published at cheaper cost, Rizal once more wrote his friend, Basa, in Hongkong on July 9, 1891: "I am not sailing at once, because I am now printing the second part of the Noli here, as you may see from the enclosed pages. I prefer to publish it in some other way before leaving Europe, for it seemed to me a pity not to do so. For the past three months I have not received a single centavo, so I have pawned all that I have in order to publish this book. I will continue publishing it as long as I can; and when there is nothing to pawn I will stop and return to be at your side." ><

Inevitably, Rizal’s next letter to Basa contained the tragic news of the suspension of the printing of the sequel to his first novel due to lack of funds, forcing him to stop and leave the book half-way. "It is a pity," he wrote Basa, "because it seems to me that this second part is more important than the first, and if I do not finish it here, it will never be finished." Fortunately, Rizal was not to remain in despair for long. A compatriot, Valentin Ventura, learned of Rizal’s predicament. He offered him financial assistance. Even then Rizal’s was forced to shorten the novel quite drastically, leaving only thirty-eight chapters compared to the sixty-four chapters of the first novel.

Rizal moved to Ghent, and writes Jose Alejandro. The sequel to Rizal’s Noli came off the press by the middle of September, 1891.On the 18th he sent Basa two copies, and Valentin Ventura the original manuscript and an autographed printed copy. Inspired by what the word filibustero connoted in relation to the circumstances obtaining in his time, and his spirits dampened by the tragic execution of the three martyred priests, Rizal aptly titled the second part of the “Noli Me Tangere”, “El Filibusterismo”. In veneration of the three priests, he dedicated the book to them.

"To the memory of the priests, Don Mariano Gomez (85 years old), Don Jose Burgos (30 years old), and Don Jacinto Zamora (35 years old). Executed in the Bagumbayan Field on the 28th of February, 1872." "The church, by refusing to degrade you, has placed in doubt the crime that has been imputed to you; the Government, by surrounding your trials with mystery and shadows causes the belief that there was some error, committed in fatal moments; and all the Philippines, by worshipping your memory and calling you martyrs, in no sense recognizes your culpability. In so far, therefore, as your complicity in the Cavite Mutiny is not clearly proved, as you may or may not have been patriots, and as you may or may not cherished sentiments for justice and for liberty, I have the right to dedicate my work to you as victims of the evil which I undertake to combat. And while we await expectantly upon Spain some day to restore your good name and cease to be answerable for your death, let these pages serve as a tardy wreath of dried leaves over one who without clear proofs attacks your memory stains his hands in your blood." Rizal’s memory seemed to have failed him, though, for Father Gomez was then 73 not 85, Father Burgos 35 not 30 Father Zamora 37 not 35; and the date of execution 17th not 28th. The FOREWORD of the Fili was addressed to his beloved countrymen, thus: "TO THE FILIPINO PEOPLE AND THEIR GOVERNMENT"

Jose Rizal’s Activitism in the Late 1880s and Early 1990s

In 1887 Rizal returned briefly to the islands, but because of the furor surrounding the appearance of “Noli Me Tangere” the previous year, he was advised by the governor to leave. He returned to Europe by way of Japan and North America to complete his second novel and an edition of Antonio de Morga's seventeenth-century work, Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas (History of the Philippine Islands). The latter project stemmed from an ethnological interest in the cultural connections between the peoples of the pre-Spanish Philippines and those of the larger Malay region (including modern Malaysia and Indonesia) and the closely related political objective of encouraging national pride. De Morga provided positive information about the islands' early inhabitants, and reliable accounts of pre-Christian religion and social customs. [Source: Library of Congress *]

After a stay in Europe and Hong Kong, Rizal returned to the Philippines in June 1892, partly because the Dominicans had evicted his father and sisters from the land they leased from the friars' estate at Calamba, in Laguna Province. He also was convinced that the struggle for reform could no longer be conducted effectively from overseas. In July he established the Liga Filipina (Philippine League), designed to be a truly national, nonviolent organization. It was dissolved, however, following his arrest and exile to the remote town of Dapitan in northwestern Mindanao.*

Jose Rizal’s Exile in Dapitan

Upon his return to Manila in 1892, he formed a civic movement called La Liga Filipina. The league advocated these moderate social reforms through legal means, but was disbanded by the governor. At that time, he had already been declared an enemy of the state by the Spanish authorities because of the publication of his novel. Rizal was implicated in the activities of the nascent rebellion and in July 1892, was deported to Dapitan in the province of Zamboanga, a peninsula of Mindanao. There he built a school, a hospital and a water supply system, and taught and engaged in farming and horticulture. Abaca, then the vital raw material for cordage and which Rizal and his students planted in the thousands, was a memorial. [Source: Wikipedia]

During the early part of his exile in Dapitan, Rizal lived at the commandant’s residence. With his prize from the Manila Lottery and his earnings as a farmer and a merchant, he bought a piece of land near the shore of Talisay near Dapitan. On this land, he built three houses- all made of bamboo, wood, and nipa. The first house which was square in shape was his home. The second house was the living quarters of his pupils. And the third house was the barn where he kept his chickens. The second house had eight sides, while the third had six sides. [Source: Jose Rizal University]

In a letter to his friend, Ferdinand Blumentritt, on December 19, 1893, Rizal described his peaceful life in Dapitan. "I shall tell you how we lived here. I have three houses-one square, another hexagonal, and the third octagonal. All these houses are made of bamboo, wood, and nipa. I live in the square house, together with my mother, my sister, Trinidad, and my nephew. In the octagonal house live some young boys who are my pupils. The hexagonal house is my barn where I keep my chickens. "From my house, I hear the murmur of a clear brook which comes from the high rocks. I see the seashore where I keep two boats, which are called barotos here. "I have many fruit trees, such as mangoes, lanzones, guayabanos, baluno, nangka, etc. I have rabbits, dogs, cats, and other animals.

"I rise early in the morning-at five-visit my plants, feed the chickens, awaken my people, and prepare our breakfast. At half-past seven, we eat our breakfast, which consists of tea, bread, cheese, sweets, and other things. After breakfast, I treat the poor patients who come to my house. Then I dress and go to Dapitan in my baroto. I am busy the whole morning, attending to my patients in town. At noon, I return home to Talisay for lunch. Then, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., I am busy as a teacher. I teach the young boys. I spend the rest of the afternoon in farming. My pupils help me in watering the plants, pruning the fruits, and planting many kinds of trees. We stop at 6:00 p.m. for the Angelus. I spend the night reading and writing."


Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Philippines Department of Tourism, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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