The national hero of the Philippines, Jose Protacio Rizal was born on June 19, 1861 in Calamba, Laguna. He was the seventh of nine children of Francisco Mercado Rizal and Teodora Alonzo y Quintos. His siblings were Saturnina, Paciano, Narcisa, Olympia, Lucia, Maria, Concepcion, Josefa, Trinidad and Soledad.
Jose Rizal was a renaissance man. At a young age of 3, he had learned the alphabet with the help of his mother. At the age of 5, he already was an artist. He made pencil drawings and clay moldings that had shocked his family. “Sa Aking Mga Kabata” was a poem written by Jose Rizal at a young age of 8. He got his first degree, the Bachelor of Arts degree from Ateneo Municipal de Manila at the age of 16 and his grades were all excellent. At the same year, he had enrolled in University of Sto. Tomas for Philosophy and Letters but at the same time he was also taking courses for the degree of surveyor and expert assessor at Ateneo de Manila. In 1878, Rizal enrolled in the University of Sto. Tomas again for the course in medicine but he was not able to finish his studies as he had felt that there was an oppression of the Filipino students by the Dominican tutors. He then continued his studies in Universidad Central de Madrid and at the age of 23, got the degree of Licentiate in Medicine. At the age of 24, he had finished his course in Philosophy and Letters. Jose Rizal being a well-traveled man had mastered 22 different languages including Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Malayan, Portuguese, Russian, Sanskrit, Spanish, and some other dialect that are native to many of his traveled countries. Rizal was a genius and a true nationalist at heart.
Jose Rizal had seen the injustices to the Filipinos and he had provoked the hostility of the civil and clerical officials. Jose Rizal was the founder of La Liga Filipina which gave birth to the Katiputan that was led by Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo. He wrote two novels, the Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Both novels talked about the atrocities of the Spanish friars in the name of the Church. These novels had greatly angered the Spaniards and the half-Filipino half-Spaniards who were then considered of a higher status compared to the pure Filipinos who were treated like slaves The Spanish officials in the Philippines punished him including his relatives and fellow Filipinos. He was charged by the authorities and he was wrongfully accused just to pin him down. In July 6, 1892, Jose Rizal was imprisoned. He was exiled in Dapitan and was then persecuted.
From November 3, 1986, Jose Rizal was imprisoned in Fort Santiago. In there, he had written a poem that is now known as “Ultimo Adios” which is about saying goodbye to his beloved country. After a mock trial, he was convicted with rebellion and sedition. He was sentenced to death. In the morning of December 30, 1896, Jose Rizal had been killed by firing squad. He died facing the soldiers. His death had sparked the revolution.
Rizal day is celebrated every December 30 in memory of Jose Rizal.