Dr. Jose Rizal is a unique example of a many-splendored genius who became the greatest hero of a nation. Endowed by God with versatile gifts, he truly ranked with the world's geniuses. He was a physician(opthalmic surgeon), poet, dramatist, essayist, novelist, historian, architect, painter, sculptor, educator, linguist, musician, naturalist, ethnologist, surveyor, engineer, farmer, businessman, economist, geographer, cartographer, bibliophile, philologist, grammarian, folklorist, philosopher, translator, inventor, magician, humorist, satirist, polemicist, sportsman, traveler, and prophet. Above and beyond all these he was a hero and political martyr who consecrated his life for the redemption of his oppressed people. No wonder, he is now acclaimed as the national hero of the Philippines.
The Birth of a Hero
Jose Rizal was born on the moonlit night of Wednesday, June 19, 1861, in the lakeshore town of Calamba, Laguna Province, Philippines. His mother almost died during the delivery because of his big head. He was baptized in the Catholic church of his town on June 22, aged three days old, by the parish priest, Father Rufino Collantes, who was a Batangueño. His godfather was Father Pedro Casanas, native of Calamba and close friend of Rizal family. His name "Jose" was chosen by his mother who was devotee of the Christian saint San Jose (St. Joseph).
Jose Rizal was the seventh of the eleven children of Francisco Mercado Rizal and Teodora Alonso Realonda. The hero's father, Francisco (1818-1898) was born in Biñan, Laguna, on May 11, 1818. He studied Latin and Philosophy at the College of San Jose in Manila. In early manhood, following his parent's death, he moved to Calamba and became tenant-farmer of the Dominican-owned hacienda. He was a hardy and independent-minded man, who talked less and worked more, and was strong in body and valiant in spirit. He died in Manila on January 5, 1898, at the age of 80. In his students memoirs, Rizal affectionately called him "a model of fathers". Doña Teodora(1826-1911), the hero's mother, was born in Manila on November 8, 1826 and was educated at the College of Santa Rosa, a well-known college for girls in the city. She was a remarkable woman, possessing refined culture, literary talent, business ability, and the fortitude of Spartan Woman. Doña Teodora died in Manila on August 16, 1911, at the age of 85.
The Rizal Children
God blessed the marriage of Francisco Mercado Rizal and Teodora Alonso Realonda with eleven children - two boys and nine girls. These children were as follows:
1. Saturnina(1850-1913) - oldest of the Rizal children, nicknamed: Neneng; she married Manuel T. Hidalgo of Tanawan, Batangas.
2. Paciano(1851-1930) - older brother and confident of Jose Rizal; after his younger brother's execution, he joined the Philippine Revolution and became a combat general; after the Revolution, he retired to his farm in Los Baños, where he lived as a gentlemen farmer and died on April 13, 1930, an old bachelor aged 79. He had two children by his mistress (Severina Decena) - a boy and a girl.
3. Narcisa(1852-1939) - her pet name was Sisa and she married Antonio Lopez (nephew of Father Leoncio Lopez), a school teacher of Morong.
4. Olympia(1855-1887) - Ypia was her pet name; she married Silvestre Ubaldo, a telegraph operator from Manila.
5. Lucia(1857-1919) - She married Mariano Herbosa of Calamba, who was a nephew of Father Casanas. Herbosa died of cholera on 1889 and was denied Christian burial because he was a brother-in-law of Dr. Rizal.
6. Maria(1859-1945) - Biang was her nickname; she married Daniel Faustino Cruz of Biñan, Laguna.
7. JOSE(1861-1896) - the greatest Filipino hero and peerless genius; his nickname was Pepe; during his exile in Dapitan he lived with Josephine Bracken, Irish girl from Hong Kong; he had a son by her, but this baby-boy died a...