JOSE RIZAL, the martyr-hero of the Philippines, was born in Kalamba, on the southwest shore of the picturesque Laguna of Bay in Luzon, June 1861. His father's family began in the Philippines with a Chinaman named Lam Co who came from the Amoy district to Manila possibly because of the political trouble, which followed the conquest of his country, by the Manchu invaders. It was in 1697 that this ancestor whose Christian name was Domingo was baptized in the Parian Church of San Gabriel. At first a merchant, he finally made up his mind to stay in these Islands, and turned farmer to escape the bitter anti-Chinese prejudice which then existed in Manila. Rather late in life he married the daughter of a countryman - who was a dealer in rice and moved into La Laguna province to become a tenant on the Dominican Friars' estate at Biñan. His son, Francisco Mercado y Chinco, apparently owed his surname to the Chinese custom of looking to the appropriateness of the meaning. Sangley, the name throughout all the Philippines for Chinamen signifies "traveling trader" and in the shop Spanish of the Islands "Mercado" was used for trader. So Lamco evidently intended that his descendants should stop traveling but not cease being traders. Francisco Mercado was a name held in high honor in La Laguna for it had belonged to a famous sea captain who had been given the encomium of Bay for his services and had there won the regard of those who paid tribute to him by his fairness and interest in their welfare. Francisco's son was Captain Juan Mercado y Monica and he took advantage of his position to expunge from the municipal records the designation "Chinese matzo" after the names of himself and family. Thus he saved the higher fees and taxes which Chinese matzos then were compelled to pay. The Captain died when his youngest son, Francisco Engrail Mercado y Alexandra, was only nine years old. An unmarried sister, Optician, twenty years older than he, looked after the boy and sent him to the Latin school. Some years later the husband of their sister Patron died and they moved to the neighboring hacienda of Kalamba, also belonging to the Dominican order, to help the widow with her farm. The landlords recognized the industry of the young farmer and kept increasing his hand until he became one of the most prosperous of their tenants. In 1847 his sister Optician died and the following year Francisco married. His wife, Theodora Alonso y Quintus, was nine years his junior and a woman not only of exceptional ability but also with an education unusual for that time in its modernism and liberality. She was of Ilocano-Tagalog-Chinese Spanish descent, possibly having even a little Japanese blood, and her family counted lawyers priests government officials and merchants among its members. They boasted of one representative of the Philippines in the Spanish Cortes, and it is said to have been a youthful ambition of Dr. Rizal to fill some day the same position. A new family name was adopted in 1850 by authority of the royal decree of the preceding year that sought to remedy the confusion resulting from many unrelated Filipinos having the same and a still greater number having no last names at all. The new name, however, was not taken from the government lists but appears to have been selected, as was the old one because of its appropriateness Rizal a shortened form of the Spanish word for "second crop", seemed suited to a family of farmers who were making a second start in a new home. Francisco Rizal soon found that in spite of his legal authority for it the new name was making confusion in business affairs begun under the old name, so he compromised after a few years, on "Rizal Mercado". His mother-in-law, who lived in the neighborhood, at the same time, adopted the name "Rialonda " and her children followed her example. So it was when José Ptotasio Rizal was baptized, the record showed his parents as Francisco Rizal Mercado and Teodora Realonda, another...
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