Jose Rizal


Jose Rizal whose full name was Jose Protasio Rizal y Alonso Realonda was a national of the Philippines and lived between 1861 and 1896. Jose Rizal is widely regarded by many Filipinos as the most revered and documented Filipino that has ever lived. Though he lived a short life, Jose Rizal attained the status of a national hero in the heart of many Filipinos for his immense contribution towards securing independence for the Philippines from its Spanish colonial overlords. He was a remarkable man in many respects and left his foot prints in the sands of time within the short period that he lived.

Early Life and Education

Jose Rizal was born on the 19th of June 1861 to the affluent Mercado-Rizal family in Calambra city, Laguna in the Philippines. His parents were Francisco Mercado II and Teodora Alonso Realonda and he had ten siblings; a brother and nine sisters. From a tender age, Jose Rizal showed precocity in his natural ability and he and his brother, Paciano, embraced political ideas that were far ahead of their times. Rizal’s early education was under Justiniano Aquino Cruz in Laguna. He was later sent by his father to Manila to take the entrance examinations into Colegio de San Juan de Letran which he did but elected to join the Ateneo Municipal de Manila instead and graduated as one among nine distinguished students. He proceeded to study land survey and assessor and obtained a degree in the same institution while at the same time took a course of preparation in law at the University of Santo Tomas. When he found out about his mother’s eye problems, he decided to switch from law to ophthalmology. Without informing his parents he travelled to Madrid, Spain in 1882 to study medicine and graduated with a medical degree from the Universidad de Madrid. While studying in Madrid he also took medical lectures in the University of Paris and the University of Heidenberg, Berlin.

Jose Rizal’s Nationalist Activities

Jose Rizal wrote many poems and novels such as Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo and others which contained revolutionary ideas of freedom and the rights of the individual. His works were also critical of the Spanish colonial authorities for their double standards as well as the Spanish Friars for their corrupt ways. His works eventually influenced the freedom activities of many Filipino activists - both the peaceful and violent ones – which resulted into a revolution which took place shortly after his death in 1896.

The Trial and Execution of Jose Rizal and His Legacy

His activities earned him the enmity of the Spanish authorities and in October 1896, he was arrested on his way to Cuba where he was heading to as a medical volunteer. Rizal was imprisoned in Barcelona, later repatriated back to the Philippines and tried by a military tribunal which found him guilty and was summarily executed by a firing squad that same year.

Jose Rizal was a remarkable man in many ways. He was both a polyglot and a polymath and displayed rare courage and intellect quite far ahead of his times. He laid the foundation for the eventual independence of the Philippines from its Spanish overlords by successfully challenging Spain’s moral right to rule. He is quite rightly regarded as a national hero by many Filipinos.