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RIZAL'S LIFE, WORKS, AND WRITINGS

Jos Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda was born on June 19, 1861, approximately 35
years before that fateful day. The seventh of the eleven children born to a relatively well-off family in a
Dominican-ownedtenant land in Calamba, Laguna, Jose Rizal lived and died during the Spanish
colonial era in the Philippines.
Joses father, Francisco Mercado Rizal, was a productive farmer from Binan, Laguna, while his
mother, Teodora Alonzo y Quintos, was an educated and highly cultured woman from Sta. Cruz,
Manila.
In his early childhood, Jose had mastered the alphabet, learned to write and read books like the
Spanish version of the Vulgate Bible. At young age, he already showed inclinations to arts. He
amazed his family by his pencil drawings, sketches, and moldings of clay. Later in his childhood, he
showed special talent in painting and sculpture, wrote a Tagalog play which was presented at a
Calamba fiesta, and penned a short play in Spanish which was presented in school.
At the age of eleven, Rizal attended the Ateneo Municipal de Manila and obtained at the age of 16
his Bachelor of Arts degree with an average of "excellent". In the same year (1877), he took
Philosophy and Letters at the University of Santo Tomas, while at the same time enrolled in a
course in land surveying at the Ateneo. He finished his surveyor's training in 1877, passed the
licensing exam in May 1878, though the license was granted to him only in 1881 when he reached
the age of majority. He enrolled in medicine at the University of Santo Tomas in 1878. Sensing
however that the Filipino students were being discriminated by the Dominican professors, he left UST
without finishing his course
On May 3, 1882, he went to Spain and enrolled at the Universidad Central de Madrid. In June of
1884, he received the degree of Licentiate in Medicine at the age of 23. A year later, he completed
his course in Philosophy and Letters with the grade of excellent. Wanting to cure his mother's
advancing blindness, Rizal went to Paris, Heidelberg, and Berlin to get further knowledge and training
in ophthalmology. In Heidelberg, he completed his eye specialization.
Being well-traveled, he is said to have learned 22 languages. He wrote extraordinary poems,
contributed nationalistic essays to publications, religiously kept his diary, and corresponded to his
friends and relatives. In March 1887, he published in Berlin his first controversial novel, the Noli Me
Tangere, which revealed the tyranny and arrogance of the Spanish clergy and officials in the
Philippines. To bring to light that the Filipinos had an impressive civilization even long before the
Spanish colonization, he annotated and reprinted in Paris Morgas Successos De Las Islas Filipinas.
On September 18, 1891, Rizals more militant novel, El Filibusterismo was printed in Ghent.
As leader of patriotic Filipinos, he became one of the leaders of the literary and cultural
organization Propaganda Movement, the patriotic society Asociacion La Solidaridad (Solidaridad
Association), the temporary social society Kidlat Club, the society of Filipino patriots in
Paris Indio Bravo, the mysterious Redencion de los Malayos (Redemption of the Malays), and
founded the La Liga Filipina, a civic organization that subsequently gave birth to the Katipunan. In

various ways, Rizal asked for radical reforms in the Spanish colonial system and clerical powers in
the Philippines and advocated equal rights before the law for Filipinos.
When Rizal returned to the Philippines in 1892 (his second homecoming), he was imprisoned in Fort
Santiago from July 6 to July 15 on a trump-up charge that anti-priest leaflets were found in the
pillow cases of his sister Lucia who arrived with him from Hong Kong. He was then exiled to Dapitan,
an island in Mindanao. While an exile, he engaged in agriculture, fishing, and commerce while
operating a hospital and maintaining a school for boys. Moreover, he did scientific researches,
collected specimens of rare species, corresponded with scholars abroad, and led construction of
water dam and a relief map of Mindanao.
Rizal fell in love with Josephine Bracken, a woman from Hong Kong who brought her stepfather to
Dapitan for an eye operation. Josephine became Rizals common-law wife. The couple had a child
who was born prematurely, Francsco Rizal y Bracken, who died a few hours after birth. Prior to his
relationship with Josephine, Jose Rizal had become romantically involved with other women, the
most notable of whom were Segunda Katigbak, his first love, and Leonor Rivera, his so called true
love.
In 1896, Rizal received a permission from the Governor General to become a volunteer military
physician in the revolution in Cuba, which was at the time also raged by yellow fever. But the
Katipunan started the Philippine Revolution on August 26, 1896. The powerful people whose
animosity Rizal had provoked took the opportunity to implicate him to the rebellion. After a trial in a
kangaroo court, he was convicted of rebellion and sentenced to death by firing squad at Bagumbayan
Field (now Luneta).
Dressed in a black coat and trousers and tied elbow to elbow, Rizal refused to kneel and declined the
traditional blindfold. Placid and a bit pale, he even requested to face the firing squad, maintaining that
he was not a traitor to his country and to Spain. After some sweet-talk, Rizal agreed to turn his back
but requested that he be shot in the small of the back, for that would twist his body and cause him to
fall face upward.
The night before his execution, Rizal perhaps had a mental flash back of the meaningful events in his
35-year existence we have outlined here. But more than anyone, he himself had known for long that
his execution would certainly come to pass, and not even an Andres Bonifacio nor Emilio Aguinaldo
would have saved him from the executioners Remingtons and Mausers.
Facing the sky, the man died in that serene morning of December 30, 1896. But since then, he has
lived perpetually in the hearts and minds of true Filipinos.

THE RIZAL BILL


The mandatory Rizal subject in the Philippines was the upshot of this bill which later became
a law in 1956. The bill involves mandating educational institutions in the country to offer a course on
the heros life, works, and writings, especially the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. The
transition from being a bill to becoming a republic act was however not easy as the proposal was met
with intense opposition particularly from the Catholic Church.
Largely because of the issue, the then senator Claro M. Rectothe main proponent of the
Rizal Billwas even dubbed as a communist and an anti-Catholic. Catholic schools threatened to
stop operation if the bill was passed, though Recto calmly countered the threat, stating that if that
happened, then the schools would be nationalized. Afterward threatened to be punished in future
elections, Recto remained undeterred.
Concerning the suggestion to use instead the expurgated (edited) version of Rizals novels as
mandatory readings, Recto explained his firm support for the unexpurgated version, exclaiming: The
people who would eliminate the books of Rizal from the schools would blot out from our minds the
memory of the national hero. This is not a fight against Recto but a fight against Rizal. (Ocampo,
2012, p. 23)
The bill was eventually passed, but with a clause that would allow exemptions to students who
think that reading the Noli and Fili would ruin their faith. In other words, one can apply to the
Department of Education for exemption from reading Rizals novelsthough not from taking the Rizal
subject. The bill was enacted on June 12, 1956.
RA 1425 and other Rizal laws
The Rizal Bill became the Republic Act No. 1425, known as the Rizal Law. The full name of
the law is An Act to Include in the Curricula of All Public and Private Schools, Colleges and
Universities Courses on the Life, Works and Writings of Jose Rizal, Particularly His Novels Noli Me
Tangere and El Filibusterismo, Authorizing the Printing and Distribution Thereof, and for Other
Purposes.
The first section of the law concerns mandating the students to read Rizals novels. The last
two sections involve making Rizals writings accessible to the general publicthey require the
schools to have a sufficient number of copies in their libraries and mandate the publication of the
works in major Philippine languages.
Jose P. Laurel, then senator who co-wrote the law, explained that since Jose Rizal was the
founder of the countrys nationalism and had significantly contributed to the current condition of the
nation, it is only right that Filipinos, especially the youth, know about and learn to imbibe the great
ideals for which the hero died. Accordingly, the Rizal Law aims to accomplish the following goals:
1. To rededicate the lives of youth to the ideals of freedom and nationalism, for which our heroes lived
and died
2. To pay tribute to our national hero for devoting his life and works in shaping the Filipino character
3. To gain an inspiring source of patriotism through the study of Rizals life, works, and writings.
So far, no student has yet officially applied for exemption from reading Rizals novels.
Correspondingly, former President Fidel V. Ramos in 1994, through Memorandum Order No. 247,
directed the Secretary of Education, Culture and Sports and the Chairman of the Commission on
Higher Education to fully implement the RA 1425 as there had been reports that the law had still not

been totally carried out. In 1995, CHED Memorandum No. 3 was issued enforcing strict compliance
to Memorandum Order No. 247.
Not known to many, there is another republic act that concerns the national hero. Republic
Act No. 229 is an act prohibiting cockfighting, horse racing, and jai-alai on the thirtieth day of
December of each year and to create a committee to take charge of the proper celebration of Rizal
day in every municipality and chartered city, and for other purposes.
The Importance of Studying Rizal
The academic subject on the life, works, and writings of Jose Rizal was not mandated by law
for nothing. Far from being impractical, the course interestingly offers many benefits that some
contemporary academicians declare that the subject, especially when taught properly, is more
beneficial than many subjects in various curricula.
The following are just some of the significance of the academic subject:
1. The subject provides insights on how to deal with current problems
There is a dictum, He who controls the past controls the future. Our view of history forms the
manner we perceive the present, and therefore influences the kind of solutions we provide for existing
problems. Jose Rizal course, as a history subject, is full of historical information from which one could
base his decisions in life. In various ways, the subject, for instance, teaches that being educated is a
vital ingredient for a person or country to be really free and successful.
2. It helps us understand better ourselves as Filipinos
The past helps us understand who we are. We comprehensively define ourselves not only in
terms of where we are going, but also where we come from. Our heredity, past behaviors, and old
habits as a nation are all significant clues and determinants to our present situation. Interestingly, the
life of a very important national historical figure like Jose Rizal contributes much to shedding light on
our collective experience and identity as Filipino. The good grasp of the past offered by this subject
would help us in dealing wisely with the present.
3. It teaches nationalism and patriotism
Nationalism involves the desire to attain freedom and political independence, especially by a
country under foreign power, while patriotism denotes proud devotion and loyalty to ones nation.
Jose Rizals life, works, and writingsespecially his novelsessentially, if not perfectly, radiate these
traits. For one thing, the subject helps us to understand our country better.
4. It provides various essential life lessons
We can learn much from the way Rizal faced various challenges in life. As a controversial
figure in his time, he encountered serious dilemmas and predicaments but responded decently and
high-mindedly. Through the crucial decisions he made in his life, we can sense his priorities and
convictions which manifest how noble, selfless, and great the national hero was. For example, his
many resolutions exemplified the aphorism that in this life there are things more important than
personal feeling and happiness.
5. It helps in developing logical and critical thinking
Critical Thinking refers to discerning, evaluative, and analytical thinking. A Philosophy major,
Jose Rizal unsurprisingly demonstrated his critical thinking skills in his argumentative essays, satires,
novels, speeches, and written debates. In deciding what to believe or do, Rizal also proved his being
a reasonably reflective thinker, never succumbing to the irrational whims and baseless opinions of

anyone. In fact, he indiscriminately evaluated and criticized even the doctrines of the dominant
religion of his time. A course on Rizals life, works, and writings therefore is also a lesson in critical
thinking.
6. Rizal can serve as a worthwhile model and inspiration to every Filipino
If one is looking for someone to imitate, then Rizal is a very viable choice. The heros
philosophies, life principles, convictions, thoughts, ideals, aspirations, and dreams are a good
influence to anyone. Throughout his life, he valued nationalism and patriotism, respect for parents,
love for siblings, and loyalty to friends, and maintained a sense of chivalry. As a man of education, he
highly regarded academic excellence, logical and critical thinking, philosophical and scientific inquiry,
linguistic study, and cultural research. As a person, he manifested versatility and flexibility while
sustaining a strong sense of moral uprightness.
7. The subject is a rich source of entertaining narratives
People love fictions and are even willing to spend for books or movie tickets just to be
entertained by made-up tales. But only a few perhaps know that Rizals life is full of fascinating nonfictional accounts.
For instance, it is rarely known that (1) Rizal was involved in a love triangle with Antonio Luna
as also part of the romantic equation; (2) Rizal was a model in some of Juan Lunas paintings; (3)
Rizals common-law wife Josephine Bracken was remarried to a man from Cebu and had tutored
former President Sergio Osmea; (4) Leonor Rivera (Maria Clara), Rizals true love, had a son who
married the sister of the former President of the United Nations General Assembly Carlos P. Romulo;
(5) the Filipina beauty queen Gemma Cruz Araneta is a descendant of Rizals sister, Maria; (6) the
sportscaster Chino Trinidad is a descendant of Rizals first love (Segunda Katigbak); and (7) the
original manuscripts of Rizals novel (Noli and Fili) were once stolen for ransom, but Alejandro Roces
had retrieved them without paying even a single centavo.

Jose Rizal's Bitter Sweet Life in Dapitan


THE DEPORTEE could have stayed in the Dapitan parish convent should he retracted his religious
errors and made a general confession of his past life. Not willing to accede to these main conditions
set by the Jesuits, Jose Rizal instead opted to live at commandants residence they called Casa
Real.
The commandant Captain Ricardo Carnicero and Jose Rizal became good friends so much so that
the exile did not feel that the captain was actually his guard. Later in his life in Dapitan, Rizal wrote a
poem A Don Ricardo Carnicero honoring the kind commandant on the occasion of his birthday on
August 26, 1892.
In September 1892, Rizal and Carnicero won in a lottery. The Manila Lottery ticket no. 9736 jointly
owned by Rizal, Carnicero, and a Spanish resident of Dipolog won the second prize of Php 20, 0000.
Rizal used some part of his share (Php 6, 200) in procuring a parcel of land near the coast of Talisay,
a barrio near Dapitan.
On a property of more than 10 hectares, he put up three houses made of bamboo, wood, and nipa.
He lived in the house which was square in shape. Another house, which was hexagonal, was the barn
where Rizal kept his chickens. In his octagonal house lived some of his pupilsfor Rizal also
established a school, teaching young boys practical subjects like reading, writing, arithmetic,
geography, and Spanish and English languages. Later, he constructed additional huts to
accommodate his recovering out-of-town patients.
Daily life as an exile
During his exile, Rizal practiced medicine, taught some pupils, and engaged in farming and
horticulture. He grew many fruit trees (like coconut, mango, lanzones, makopa, santol, mangosteen,
jackfruit, guayabanos, baluno, and nanka) and domesticated some animals (like rabbits, dogs, cats,
and chickens). The school he founded in 1893 started with only three pupils, and had about more
than 20 students at the time his exile ended.
Rizal would rise at five in the morning to see his plants, feed his animals, and prepare breakfast.
Having taken his morning meal, he would treat the patients who had come to his house. Paddling his
boat called baroto (he had two of them), he would then proceed to Dapitan town to attend to his
other patients there the whole morning.
Rizal would return to Talisay to take his lunch. Teaching his pupils would begin at about 2 pm and
would end at 4 or 5 in the afternoon. With the help of his pupils, Rizal would spend the rest of the
afternoon in farmingplanting trees, watering the plants, and pruning the fruits. Rizal then would
spend the night reading and writing.
Rizal and the Jesuits
The first attempt by the Jesuit friars to win back the deported Rizal to the Catholic fold was the offer
for him to live in the Dapitan convent under some conditions. Refusing to compromise, Rizal did not
stay with the parish priest Antonio Obach in the Church convent.
Just a month after Rizal was deported to Dapitan, the Jesuit Order assigned to Dapitan the priest
Francisco de Paula Sanchez, Rizals favorite teacher in Ateneo. Many times, they engaged in cordial
religious discussions. But though Rizal appreciated his mentors effort, he could not be convinced to
change his mind. Nevertheless, their differences in belief did not get in the way of their good
friendship.

The priest Pablo Pastells, superior of the Jesuit Society in the Philippines, also made some attempts
by correspondence to win over to Catholicism the exiled physician. Four times they exchanged letters
from September 1892 to April 1893. The debate was none less than scholarly and it manifested
Rizals knowledge of the Holy Scriptures for he quoted verses from it. Though Rizal consistently
attended mass in Dapitan, he refused to espouse the conventional type of Catholicism.
Achievements in Dapitan
Rizal provided significant community services in Dapitan like improving the towns drainage and
constructing better water system using empty bottles and bamboo joints. He also taught the town
folks about health and sanitation so as to avoid the spread of diseases. With his Jesuit priest friend
Sanchez, Rizal made a huge relief map of Mindanao in Dapitan plaza. Also, he bettered their forest
by providing evident trails, stairs, and some benches. He invented a wooden machine for mass
production of bricks. Using the bricks he produced, Rizal built a water dam for the community with the
help of his students.
As the towns doctor, Rizal equally treated all patients regardless of their economic and social status.
He accepted as fees things like poultry and crops, and at times, even gave his services to poor folks
for free. His specialization was ophthalmology but he also offered treatments to almost all kinds of
diseases like fever, sprain, broken bones, typhoid, and hernia.
Rizal also helped in the livelihood of the abaca farmers in Dapitan by trading their crops in Manila. He
also gave them lessons in abaca-weaving to produce hammocks. Noticing that the fishing method by
the locals was inefficient, he taught them better techniques like weaving and using better fishing nets.
As a scientist and philologist
Aside from doing archaeological excavations, Rizal inspected Dapitans rich flora and fauna,
providing a sort of taxonomy to numerous kinds of forest and sea creatures. From his laboratory and
herbarium, he sent various biological specimens to scientists in Europe like his dear friend Doctor
Adolph B. Meyer in Dresden. In return, the European scholars sent him books and other academic
reading materials.
From the collections he sent to European scholars, at least three species were named after him: a
Dapitan frog (Rhacophorus rizali), a type of beetle (Apogonia rizali), and a flying dragon (Draco
rizali).
Having learned the Visayan language, he also engaged himself in the study of language, culture, and
literature. He examined local folklores, customs, Tagalog grammar, and the Malay language. His
intellectual products about these subjects, he related to some European academicians like Doctor
Reinhold Rost, his close philologist friend in London.
Spies and secret emissary
Not just once did Rizal learn that his enemies sent spies to gather incriminating proofs that Rizal was
a separatist and an insurgent. Perhaps disturbed by his conscience, a physician named Matias
Arrieta revealed his covert mission and asked for forgiveness after he was cured by Rizal (Bantug, p.
115).
In March 1895, a man introduced himself to Rizal as Pablo Mercado. Claiming to be Rizals relative,
this stranger eagerly volunteered to bring Rizals letters to certain persons in Manila. Made suspicious
by the visitors insistence, Rizal interrogated him and it turned out that his real name was Florencio
Nanaman of Cagayan de Misamis, paid as secret agent by the Recollect friars. But because it was
raining that evening, the kind Rizal did not command Nanaman out of his house but even let the spy
spend the rainy night in his place.

In July the next year, a different kind of emissary was sent to Rizal. Doctor Pio Valenzuela was sent to
Dapitan by Andres Bonifaciothe Katipunan leader who believed that carrying out revolt had to be
sanctioned first by Rizal. Disguised as a mere companion of a blind patient seeking treatment from
Rizal, Valenzuela was able to discreetly deliver the Katipunans message for Rizal. But Rizal politely
refused to approve the uprising, suggesting that peaceful means was far better than violent ways in
obtaining freedom. Rizal further believed that a revolution would be unsuccessful without arms and
monetary support from wealthy Filipinos. He thus recommended that if the Katipunan was to start a
revolution, it had to ask for the support of rich and educated Filipinos, like Antonio Luna who was an
expert on military strategy (Bantug, p. 133).
Visited by loved ones
Rizal was in Dapitan when he learned that his true love Leonor Rivera had died. What somewhat
consoled his desolate heart was the visits of his mother and some sisters.
In August 1893, Doa Teodora, along with daughter Trinidad, joined Rizal in Dapitan and resided with
him in his casa cuadrada (square house). The son successfully operated on his mothers cataract.
At distinct times, Joses sisters Maria and Narcisa also visited him. Three of Joses nephews also
went to Dapitan and had their early education under their uncle: Marias son Mauricio (Moris) and
Lucias sons Teodosio (Osio) and Estanislao (Tan). Joses nieceAngelica, Narcisas daughter, also
had experience living for some time with her exiled uncle in Mindanao.
In 1895, Doa Teodora left Dapitan for Manila to be with Don Francisco who was getting weaker.
Shortly after the mother left, Josephine Bracken came to Joses life. Josephine was an orphan with
Irish blood and the stepdaughter of Joses patient from Hongkong. Rizal and Bracken were unable to
obtain a church wedding because Jose would not retract his anti-Catholic views. He nonetheless took
Josephine as his common-law wife who kept him company and kept house for him. Before the year
ended in 1895, the couple had a child who was born prematurely. The son who was named after
Rizals father (Francisco) died a few hours after birth. (For detailed discussion on Rizal-Bracken
relationship, look for the section Josephine Bracken under Rizals love life.)
Goodbye Dapitan
In 1895, Blumentritt informed Rizal that the revolution-ridden Cuba, another nation colonized by
Spain, was raged by yellow fever epidemic. Because there was a shortage of physicians to attend to
war victims and disease-stricken people, Rizal in December 1895 wrote to the then Governor General
Ramon Blanco, volunteering to provide medical services in Cuba. Receiving no reply from Blanco,
Rizal lost interest in his request.
But on July 30, 1896, Rizal received a letter from the governor general sanctioning his petition to
serve as volunteer physician in Cuba. Rizal made immediate preparations to leave, selling and giving
as souvenirs to friends and students his various properties.
In the late afternoon of July 31, Rizal got on the Espaa with Josephine, Narcisa, a niece, three
nephews, and three of his students. Many Dapitan folks, especially Rizals students, came to see
their beloved doctor for the last time. Cordially bidding him goodbye, they shouted Adios, Dr. Rizal!
and some of his students even cried. With sorrowing heart, He waved his hand in farewell to the
generous and loving Dapitan folks, saying, Adios, Dapitan!
The steamer departed for Manila at midnight of July 31, 1896. With tears in his eyes, Rizal later wrote
in his diary onboard the ship, I have been in that district four years, thirteen days, and a few hours.

Jose Rizal: The Adventurous Voyager


HE DID GO PLACES!
Jose Rizals thrilling experience during his first lake-and-river voyage perhaps inspired him to travel
more.
Riding in a casco, Jose temporarily left his hometown Calamba on June 6, 1868. He and his father
went on a pilgrimage to Antipolo and afterward visited his sister Saturnina in Manila, who was at the
time a student at La Concordia. Across Laguna de Bay and the Pasig River, Jose had an
unforgettably amazing trip that he did not fail to record the journey in his memoir.
In Bian and Manila
A year after, Paciano brought Jose to the nearby town Bian to attend the school of Maestro
Justiniano Aquino Cruz. Except for occasional homecomings, he stayed in the town for a year and a
half of schooling, living in an aunts house where his breakfasts generally consisted of a plate of rice
and two dried sardines (tuyo).
Don Francisco sent Jose to Manila in June 1872 to enroll in Ateneo Municipal. Paciano found Jose a
boarding house in Intramuros though Jose later transferred to a house on Calle Carballo in Santa
Cruz area. The following year, Jose transferred residence to No. 6 Calle Magallanes. Two years after,
he became an intern (boarding student) in Ateneo and stayed there until his graduation in the
institution.
From 1877 to 1882, Rizal studied in the University of Santo Tomas, enrolling in the course on
Philosophy in Letters, but shifted to Medicine a year after. During his first year in UST, he
simultaneously took in Ateneo a vocational course leading to being an expert surveyor. He boarded in
the house of a certain Concha Leyva in Intramuros, and later in Casa Tomasina, at Calle 6, Santo
Tomas, Intramuros. In Casa Tomasina, his landlord-uncle Antonio Rivera had a daughter, Leonor,
who became Joses sweetheart.
In Europe
Sick and tired of the discriminatory and oppressive Dominican professors, Rizal stopped attending
classes at UST in 1882. On May 3 of that year, he left for Spain to complete his studies and widen his
political knowledge through exposure to European governments. Its funny that his departure for
Spain had gone down to history as a secret departure although at least ten sure peopleincluding
his three siblings and an unclecollaborated in his going away, exclusive of the unnamed and
unnumbered Jesuit priests and intimate friends who co-conspired in the plan.
On his way to Madrid, Rizal had many stopovers. He first disembarked and visited the town of
Singapore. Onboard the steamship Djemnah he passed through Punta de Gales, Colombo, and
Aden. En route to Marseilles, he also went across the historic waterway of Suez Canal and visited the
Italian city of Naples. He left Marseilles, France for Barcelona in an express train.
After some months, Rizal left Barcelona for Madrid and enrolled in Medicine and Philosophy and
Letters at the Universidad Central de Madrid on November 3, 1882. In Rizals letter dated February
13, 1883, he informed Paciano of his meeting with other Filipinos: The Tuesday of the Carnival we
had a Filipino luncheon and dinner in the house of the Paternos, each one contributing one duro. We
ate with our hands, boiled rice, chicken adobo, fried fish and roast pig.
Ironically, a year after that sumptuous feasting, Rizal became penniless as his family encountered
economic regression. One day in June 1884, Rizal who failed to eat breakfast still went to school and
even won a gold medal in a contest. At night, he attended the feast held in honor of two award-

winning Filipino painters, Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo. In the occasion, he delivered a
daring liberal speech which became so controversial that it even caused sickness to his worrying
mother. Perhaps, being broke and hungry could really make one braver and more impulsive. As one
student commented, Hayop man, pag gutom, tumatapang.
In 1885, Rizal who had finished his two courses in Madrid went to Paris, France. From November
1885 to February 1886, he worked as an assistant tothe celebrated ophthalmologistDr. Louis de
Weckert.
In February 3, 1886, he left Paris for Heidelberg, Germany. He attended lectures and training at the
University of Heidelberg where he is said to have completed his eye specialization.Afterward, Rizal
settled for three months in the nearby village, Wilhemsfeld, at the pastoral house of a Protestant
pastor, Dr. Karl Ullmer. It was also during this time that the correspondence and long-distance
friendship between Jose and Ferdinand Blumentritt began. Rizal wrote a letter in German and sent it
with a bilingual (Spanish and Tagalog) book Aritmiteca to Blumentritt who was interested in studying
Joses native language.
Jose traveled next to Leipzig and attended some lectures at its university. Having reached Dresden
afterward, he met and befriended Dr. Adolph B. Meyer, the Director of the Anthropological and
Ethnological Museum. Also a Filipinologist, Meyer showed Rizal some interesting things taken from
tombs in the Philippines.
In November 1886, he went to Berlin and further enhanced his skills and knowledge in
ophthalmology. In that famous city, not only did he learn other languages but also became member of
various scientific communities and befriended many famed intellectuals at the time. On February 21,
1887, he finished his first novel and it came off the press a month later.
Grand Europe Tour
With his friend Maximo Viola who loaned him some amount to cover for the printing of the Noli, Rizal
traveled to various places in Europe. Through Pacianos remittance, Jose had paid Viola and decided
to further explore some places in Europe before returning to the Philippines. They went first to see
Potsdam, a city southwest of Berlin which became the site of the Potsdam Conference (1945) at
which the leaders of powerful nations deliberated upon the postwar administration of Germany.
On May 11, 1887, they left Berlin for Dresden and witnessed the regional floral exposition there.
Wanting to visit Blumentritt, they went to Leitmeritz, Bohemia passing through Teschen (Decin,
Czechoslovakia). Professor Blumentritt warmly received them at Leitmeritz railroad station. The
professor identified them through the pencil sketch which Rizal had previously made of himself and
sent to his European friend. Blumentritt acted as their tour guide, introducing them to his family and to
famous European scientists like Dr. Carlos Czepelak and Prof. Robert Klutschak.
On May 16, the two Filipinos left Leitmeritz for Prague where they saw the tomb of the famous
astronomer Copernicus. They stopped at Brunn on their way to Vienna. They met the famed Austrian
novelist Norfenfals in Vienna, and Rizal was interviewed by Mr. Alder, a newspaper correspondent. To
see the sights of the Danube River, they left Vienna on a boat where they saw passengers using
paper napkins. From Lintz, they had a short stay in Salzburg. Reaching Munich, they tasted the local
beer advertised as Germanys finest. In Nuremberg, they saw the infamous torture machines used in
the so-called Catholic Inquisition. Afterward, they went to Ulm and climbed Germanys tallest
cathedral there. They also went to Sttutgart, Baden, and then Rheinfall where they saw Europes
most beautiful waterfall.
In Switzerland, they toured Schaffhausen, Basel, Bern, and Lausanne before staying in Geneva.
Rizals 15-day stay in Geneva was generally enjoyable except when he learned about the exhibition

of some Igorots in Madrid, side by side some animals and plants. Not only did the primitive Igorots in
bahag become objects of ridicule and laughter, one of them (a woman) also died of pneumonia.
On June 19, 1887, Rizal treated Viola for it was his 26th birthday. Four days after, they parted ways
Viola went back to Barcelona while Rizal proceeded to Italy. In Italy, Rizal went to see Turin, Milan,
Venice, and Florence. In Rome, he paid a visit to the historical places like the Amphitheatre and the
Roman Forum. On June 29, he had seen the glorious edifices, like the St. Peters Church, in the
Vatican City. Literally and figuratively speaking, Rizal did go places. As a co-professor commented,
Nag-gala talaga ang lolo mo!
First homecoming
Despite being warned by friends and loved ones, Jose was adamant in his decision to return to his
native land. From a French port Marseilles, he boarded on July 3 the steamer Djemnah which sailed
to the East through the Suez Canal and reached Saigon on the 30th of the month. He then took the
steamer Haiphong and reached Manila near midnight of August 5.
After meeting some friends in Manila, he returned to Calamba on August 8. Restoring his mothers
eyesight, he began to be dubbed as German doctor or Doctor Uliman (from the word Aleman
which means German) and made a lot of money because people from different places flocked him for
a better vision. Because of his enemies allegation that Noli contained subversive ideas, Rizal was
summoned by the Governor General Emilio Terrero. Seeing no problem in the book, Terrero
nonetheless assigned to Rizal a body guard, Don Jose Taviel de Andrade, to protect the balikbayan
from his adversaries.
In December 1887, the Calamba folks asked Rizals assistance in collecting information as regards
Dominican hacienda management. It was in compliance to the order of the government to investigate
the way friar estates were run. So Rizal had reported, among others, that the Dominican Order had
arbitrarily increased the land rent and charged the tenants for nonexistent agricultural services. The
enraged friars pressured the governor general to advise the author of the Noli to leave the country.
(In other words, napuno na talaga sa kanya ang nga pari)
Second Travel Abroad
What Rizal failed to accomplish in his six-month stay in the country was visiting his girlfriend Leonor
Rivera in Pangasinan. His father strongly opposed the idea, sensing that the visit would put Leonors
family in jeopardy.
On February 3, 1888, Rizal sailed to Hongkong onboard Zafiro and just stayed inside the ship
during its short stop at Amoy. He stayed at Victoria Hotel in Hongkong (not in Sta. Mesa) and visited
the nearby city Macao for two days along with a friend, Jose Maria Basa. Among other things, Rizal
experienced in Hong Kong the noisy firecracker-laden Chinese New Year and the marathon lauriat
party characterized by numerous dishes being served. (The lauriat combo meal in Chowking
originated from this Chinese party.)
From Hong Kong, he reached Yokohama, Japan on February 28 and proceeded to Tokyo the next
day. He lived in the Spanish legation in Tokyo upon the invitation of its secretary, Juan Perez
Caballero. In March 1888, he heard a Tokyo band nicely playing a European music and was
astonished to find out after the gig that some of its members were Filipinos (Zaide & Zaide, p. 130).
We can surmise from this that even during Rizals time, some Filipinos were already entertainers in
Japan (Japayuki or Japayuko).

But if there were a person who was truly entertained at the time, it was Rizal himself who was
amused by the Japanese girl who used to pass by the legation everyday. The 23-year old Seiko Usui
whom he fondly called O-Sei-Sanbecame his tour guide and sweetheart rolled into one.
Sail to the West
Because he loved his mission more than O-Sei-San, he boarded the Belgic on April 13, 1888. In the
vessel, he had befriended Tetcho Suehiro, a Japanese novelist and human rights fighter who was
also forced by his government to leave his country. The ship arrived in San Francisco on April 28. For
a week, they were however quarantined, allegedly because of the cholera outbreak in the Far East. In
reality, some politicians were just questioning the arrival of the Chinese coolies in the ship who would
displace white laborers in railroad construction projects.
On May 6, he went to Oakland. Onboard a train, he took his evening meal at Sacramento and woke
up at Reno, Nevada. He had visited also the states of Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Illinois, and finally
reached New York on May 13. On Bedloe Island, he had seen the Statue of Liberty symbolizing
freedom and democracy. Inconsistently, Rizal observed that there was racial inequality in the land and
real freedom was only for the whites. But if Rizal were alive today, he would be surprised that the
Americans have already allowed a black guy to become their president for two terms.
In Great Britain
On May 16, 1888 on the ship City of Rome Rizal sailed for Liverpool and arrived on May 24. A day
after, he reached London and stayed briefly at Dr. Antonio Ma. Regidor's home. He then boarded at
the Beckett family where he fell in love with Gertrude, the oldest daughter of his landlord.
In June 1888, Rizal made friends with Dr. Reinhold Rost and his family. Expert in Malayan language,
Rost had in his house a good Filipiniana library. Our national hero was described by Rost as a pearl
of a man (una perla de hombre).
In London, Rizal manually copied and annotated Morgas Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas, a rare book
available in the British Museum. He also became the honorary president ofthe patriotic society
Asociacion La Solidaridad (Solidaridad Association) and wrote articles for the La Solidaridad. In his
10-month stay in London, he had short visits in Paris, Madrid, and Barcelona. In Spain, he met
Marcelo H. del Pilar for the first time.
In France
Leaving London for good, he went to Paris in March 1889. He shortly lived in the house of a friend,
Valentin Ventura before transferring in a little room where e had as roommates two Filipinos, one of
which was Jose Albert, a student from Manila. In Paris, Rizal frequented the Bibliotheque Nationale,
working on his annotation of the Sucesos. He spent his spare hours in the houses of friends like
Juan Luna and his wife Paz Pardo de Tavera. Rizal witnessed the Universal Exposition of Paris,
having as its greatest attraction the Eiffel Tower.He formed the Kidlat Club, a temporary social club
which brought together Filipinos witnessing the exposition. He also organized the Indios Bravos, an
association which envisioned Filipinos being recognized for being admirable in many fields, and the
mysterious Redencion de los Malayos (Redemption of the Malays) which aimed to propagate useful
knowledge. In Paris, Rizal also finished and published his annotation of the Sucesos.
In Belgium
After celebrating the Yuletide season in Paris in 1889, Rizal shortly visited London for the last time.
With Jose Albert, Rizal left Paris for Brussels on January 28, 1890. The two stayed in a boarding
house administered by the Jacoby sisters (Suzanne and Marie) where Rizal met and had a transitory
affair with Petite, the niece of his landladies.

In Belgium, Rizal busied himself with writing the Fili and contributing for La Solidaridad using the
pen names Dimas Alang and Laong Laan. When he heard the news that the Calamba agrarian
trouble was getting worse, Rizal decided to go home. But Paciano told him through a letter that they
lost the court case against the Dominicans in the Philippines and they intended to bring the case to
Madrid. This prompted Jose to go to Madrid instead to look for a lawyer and influential people who
would defend the Calamba tenants.
In Madrid
Rizal traveled to Madrid in August 1890. Along with his lawyer, Marcelo H. Del Pilar, he tried to seek
justice for his family but could not find anyone who could help him.
Rizal encountered many adversities and tribulations in Madrid. He heard that his family was forced to
leave their land in Calamba and some family members were even deported to far places. One day,
Rizal challenged his friend Antonio Luna to a duel when he (Luna), being unsuccessful in seeking
Nellie Bousteads love, gave negative comments on the lady. Rizal also dared to a duel Wenceslao
Retana of the anti-Filipino newspaper La Epoca who wrote that Rizals family did not pay their land
rent. Both duels were fortunately abortedLuna became Rizals good friend again and Retana even
became rizals first non-Filipino biographer.
In Madrid, Rizal also heard the news of Leonor Rivera's marriage with an Englishman Henry Kipping
who was the choice of Leonors mother. As if misfortunes were not enough, there emerged the Del
Pilar-Rizal rivalry for leadership in the Asociacion Hispano Filipino. The supposedly healthy election
for a leader (Responsible) produced divisive unpleasant split among the Filipinos in Madrid (the
Rizalistas vs. the Pilaristas). Rizal thus decided to leave Madrid, lest his presence results in more
serious faction among Filipinos in Madrid.
In Biarritz, Paris, and Brussels
Rizal proceeded to take a more than a month vacation in Biarritz, a tourist town in southwestern
France noted for its mild climate and sand beaches. Arriving there in February 1891, Rizal was
welcomed as a family guest in the house of the Bousteds, especially by Nellie whom he had a serious
(but failed) romantic relationship.
In Biarritz, he continued to worked on his El Fili and completed its manuscript on March 29, the eve
of his departure for Paris. Valentin Ventura hosted his short stay in Paris, and the Jacobies, especially
Petite Suzanne, cordially welcomed his arrival in Brussels in April 1891. In Brussels, Rizal revised
and prepared for printing his second novel until the end of May. By June 1891, he was already
looking for a printing firm to print the El Filibusterismo.
In Ghent
Rizal went to Ghent in July 1891 because the cost of printing in the place was cheaper. He lived in a
low-cost boarding house where he had as roommate Jose Alejandro, an engineering student in the
University of Ghent. Tightening their belts, they rented a room exclusive of breakfast. They bought a
box of biscuit, counted the contents, and computed for their daily ration for a month. In just 15 days,
Alejandro had eaten up all his shares whereas Rizal frugally limited himself to his daily allocation.
The publisher F. Meyer-Van Loo Press, No. 66 Viaanderen Street agreed to print the El Fili on
installment basis. Despite pawning all his jewels and living tightfistedly, Rizal run out of funds and the
printing had to be suspended on August 6. But through Valentin Venturas salvific act, the El
Filibusterismo came off the press on September 18, 1891. Two weeks after, he visited Paris for the
last time to bid goodbye to his friends and compatriots.

In Hong Kong and Sandakan


In October 1891, Rizal left Europe for Hong Kong onboard the ship Melbourne on which he began
writing his third (but unfinished) novel. He arrived in Hong Kong on November 20 and resided at No. 5
D Aguilar Street, No. 2 Rednaxela Terrace. (In case you did not notice, Rednaxela is Alexander
spelled reversely).
Having escaped the friars persecution, Don Francisco, Paciano, and Silvestre Ubaldo (Joses
brother-in-law) also arrived in Hong Kong. Shortly after, Doa Teodora and children Lucia, Josefa,
and Trinidad also came, and the Rizal family had a sort of family reunion in the Yuletide season of
1891.
In Hong Kong, Jose opened a medical clinic. A Portuguese friend, Dr. Lorenzo P. Marques helped him
to have plentiful patrons of various nationalities. His successful operation on his mothers left eye
allowed her to read again.
In March 1892, he went to Sandakan (East Malaysia) aboard Menon to negotiate with British
authorities concerning the founding of a Filipino colony in North Borneo (now called Sabah). On
March 21, Rizal asked Governor General Eulogio Despujol through a letter to allow the landless
Filipinos, especially the deported Calamba tenants, to establish themselves in North Borneo. Rizal
was back in Hon Kong in April, 1892.
Second homecoming
Wanting to confer with Despujol concerning his North Borneo colonization project, Rizal left Hong
Kong on June 21, 1892 along with his sister Lucia. Without his knowledge, the Spanish consul in
Hong Kong sent a cablegram to Despujol stating figuratively that the rat is in the trap. A secret case
against Rizal was thus filed in Manila for anti-religious and anti-patriotic public campaign.
Rizal and his sister arrived in Manila at 12:00 noon of June 26, 1892. At 7 pm, he was able to confer
in Malacaan with Despujol who agreed to pardon his father and told him to return on June 29. He
then visited sisters and friends in Manila.
On June 27, he took a train and visited his friends in Central Luzon. He had a stopover at the Bautista
mansion in Malolos, Bulacan and spent the night in the house of Evaristo Puno in Tarlac, Tarlac,
about 30 kilometers away from the residence of Leonor Rivera-Kipping in Camiling. He also went to
San Fernando and Bacolor, Pampanga and returned to Manila on June 28, at 5 pm. On June 29, 30,
and July 3, he had other interviews with Despujol. The colonization project was rejected though
Rizals request to lift the exile of his sisters was granted.
On the evening of July 3, Rizal spearheaded the meeting in the house of Doroteo Ongjunco on Ylaya
Street, Tondo, Manila of at least 20 Filipinos, including Andres Bonifacio and Apolinario Mabini. Rizal
explained the aims of the civic association La Liga Filipina. Officers were then elected, having
Ambrosio Salvador as the president, thereby officially establishing the league.
Just three days after though, Rizal was arrested during his interview with the governor general.
Despujol showed him anti-friar leaflets Pobres Frailes (Poor Friars) allegedly discovered in his sister
Lucias pillow cases. Imprisoned in Fort Santiago for almost ten days, Rizal was brought at 12:30 am
on July 14 to the steamer Cebu. Passing through Mindoro and Panay, the vessel docked at Dapitan
in Zamboanga del Norte on the evening of July 17. True, Dapitan is a scenic place with fine beaches,
perhaps a soothing place for a balik-bayan like Rizal. But Jose was not there as a tourist or a
vacationerhe was an exile. The ship captain Delgras handed him over to the local Spanish
commandant, Ricardo Carnicero and that signaled the start of Rizals life as a deportee in Dapitan.

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