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...