José Rizal was born to Francisco Engracio Rizal Mercado Alejandra II and Teodora Morales Alonso Realonda Quintos. He hailed from a family of prosperous farmers. Rizal was the seventh of eleven children. José's father adopted the family name 'Rizal' from 'Ricial', which meant 'green fields'. Even as a child, José advocated political ideas ahead of the time. He spoke of freedom and citizen rights, issues that brought on the ire of the authorities. He actively participated in poetry and essay writing and made notable contributions to Philippine literature. He openly criticized Spanish colonization of the Philippines.
Rizal graduated from Ateneo Municipal de Manila. He obtained a Land Surveyor and Assessor Degree. He also studied Philosophy at the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Arts and Letters. And, this was not all; he registered for the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Medicine and Surgery course in ophthalmology, but did not complete the course on account of indiscriminate behavior against Filipino students. Instead, he opted for Licentiate in Medicine from the Universidad Central de Madrid.
Rizal also attended the University of Paris and Heidelberg for a second doctorate. His induction as a member of Berlin's Ethnological and Anthropological Society is immortalized in his poem, 'A las flores del Heidelberg'. He strongly advocated unification of Oriental and Occidental values. Rizal is fondly remembered as a multi-faceted scholar. He displayed facets of his persona as a polymath, ophthalmologist, educator and historian, alongside artistic pursuits like painting, sculpting and creative writing. Rizal is remembered for authoring two popular novels: Noli me Tangere and El filibusterismo.
Rizal advocated a political system that presented scope for Philippine's participation in the Cortes, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and equal rights for all citizens. In 1892, he legalized these social reforms, at the expense...