The Colorful Life and Times of Dr. Jose Rizal

Jose Protacio Rizal, the Philippines’ national hero, has left his own native land with so much priceless treasures and legacy.  These elements of national significance paved the way for dynamic and moving transformations, insofar as instituting the democratic way  of life for the  Philippines;  and most importantly, to finally realize his elusive dreams of genuine freedom, prosperity, justice and equality among his Filipino brethren. Pepe, as he was fondly called during his childhood was born on June 19, 1861 Rizal was the seventh among the 12 siblings of his humble and hardworking parents, Teodora Alonzo and Francisco Mercado. In addition, Rizal was a patriot and a Chinese-Filipino polymath. Numerous historians had written about Jose Rizal as a noble and intelligent man, who was raised from a wealthy family in Calamba, Laguna, Philippines. Intellectually, he had first known and discovered the early rudiments of education through the unconditional guidance of his loving mother, who had taught him the value of education and nationalism.

Jose Rizal Monument, Calamba Laguna

Jose Rizal Monument, Calamba Laguna

Formally, the national hero of the Filipinos has attended school in Ateneo de Municipal University. He had earned a Bachelor’s Art degree; and had also taken a course in Medicine at the University of Santo Tomas. After which, Jose Rizal continued with his love for education at the Universidad Central de Madrid, in the capital city of Spain. Aside from these educational achievements, he had fulfilled another dream of his. Jose Rizal had successfully accomplished a second doctorate degree, at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

Jose Rizal - Philippine National Hero

Jose Rizal - Philippine National Hero

The Genius in Doctor Jose Rizal

“Why is Dr. Jose Rizal an inherent genius?”  He was a multi-lingual type of an intellectual breed. Incredibly, his tongue can speak almost 22 languages with utmost clarity and exemplary proficiency. As a result, he had become an incomparable poet, essayist, novelist and correspondent during his heydays. As a political icon of Philippine history, he was the prime mover and founder of “La Liga Filipina” (The Philippine League).  This was a civic organization during the height of Philippine Revolution. Basically, it was a derivative of “La Solidaridad”. Purposely, the alliance was some sort of a mutual aid and a self-help society which provided funds for academic scholars, cooperative development endeavors and assisted people for their legal problems for free. Predominantly, the unforgettable legacy of “La Liga Filipina” was it served as a catalyst for the birth of Katipunan, under Andres Bonifacio.


The Unknown Facts about Rizal’s Life

In the advent of the 19th century, the life and times of this worst critic and nemesis of the Spanish regime was considered to be as “the most documented piece;  in the place of Philippine history  in and  around the world”. These well-written biographical sketches, even the most concise ones were too descriptive; about his inspiring life as a writer; as well as the other exciting phases of his well-endowed personality in general. However, some of his famous biographers have found it too difficult to translate his most emotionally-bombastic works of art due to his  incredible and striking wisdom of being a”multi-linguist”.

Accordingly both historians and biographers had drawn references and inspirations from Rizal’s well-preserved travel diaries. As far as their keenest and in -depth personal insights of Rizal were concerned, their exact statement was: “A young Asian encountering the West for the first time”.


His Colorful Biography

Among the things which were included in one of his widely -circulated and controversial biographies were his later journeys of Japan and Europe, the United States and Hong Kong. Also, from December 1891 to 1892 of the sixth month of the year, Rizal and his ever-supportive family had lived at No.2 Rednaxela Terrace. On the other hand, his ophthalmology clinic was located at 5 D’ Aguilar Street, Central District, Hong Kong Island. He was treating a lot of patients afflicted with various kinds of visual impairments from 2:00 P.M.-6:00 P.M. Apart from being a notable eye doctor his unbelievable life philosophies, this pious and genius freedom fighter and son of the Filipino Race had been romantically linked with a dozen of beautiful women and a lot more.

Speaking about his colorful love life, he had first experienced the promptings of love when he had fallen for Gertrude Becket, of London. After that relationship, many others had followed soon. They were: Nelly Boustead, a last descendant of a Japanese family, Seiko Usui, Leonor Valenzuela and the greatest love of his life, Leonor Rivera. She had dearly personified the character of Maria Clara, in Rizal’s best-selling novels, “Noli Me Tangere”, and “El Filibusterismo”. Briefly, their love story all began when they met each other in Manila; when the goddess of beauty, Leonor Rivera was only 13 years old. From then on, they had showed love and affection for one another through meaningful love letters. Thus, it officially had started with an epistle of love, prior to Jose Rizal’s departed for Europe on May 3, 1882.

Jose Rizal Statue (Photo Courtesy: Ome Santos @akosiome_pf on instagram)

Jose Rizal Statue (Photo Courtesy: Ome Santos @akosiome_pf on instagram)

Dapitan Asylum

When Jose Rizal was involved in subversive activities in 1892 of July, he was deported to Dapitan, a province in Zamboanga. While he was in the said place, Rizal did other noble deeds for the less-privileged like putting up a school, the construction of an efficient water system and he had taught the natives of Dapitan; all about horticulture and farming respectively.

Rizal’s Last Moments

In the year 1896, the Katipunan was in full swing. The organization was dubbed as the “nationwide rebellion” which had paved the way for the Declaration of Independence and the historical inauguration of Asia’s first constitutional republic. To detach himself from the rebellious group, he had freely volunteered to serve in Cuba using his profession as a doctor. There, he treated people who were epidemically victimized by yellow fever.

After having his en route to Cuba after his visit to other countries, he got arrested and was jailed in Montjuic Castle in Barcelona, Spain. After serving his term, he was back on trial for the same charge in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. During his biased court trial, he was tried by a court martial for other serious charges like sedition and conspiracy.

As expected, he was found guilty on all these charges and was subjected to death, which was final and executory. He was then detained in Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila, and months before his execution in Bagumbayan.


The Execution of Rizal

Hours before his bitter execution by a group of Filipino soldiers from an army of the Spanish regime, a back up group of platoon soldiers was also instructed to readily shoot the original executioners of Jose Rizal, if they would fail to comply with the orders of their superiors. Before succumbing to death by firing squad on December 31, 1898, his last words were, “Consummatum Est”. –  It is finished.

After that unfortunate event in the pages of Philippine history, Dr. Jose Rizal’s remains was buried in Paco Cemetery, Manila, without any markings of identification on his dearly beloved grave.  In this respect, her sister Narcisa had found out a graveyard which was described as “a freshly turned earth site” with guards posted by its side, the family had finally decided to mark it the initials ‘RPJ,” His initials when written in reverse.

In summary, Jose Rizal is an epitome of the true apostle of nationalism, a man of unwavering national integrity and character, with a pure and clean spirit for the Filipinos; who have longed search for freedom without much utilization of financial resources and armaments. With this historical victory, Rizal was able to show his unconditional love and service to his beloved Philippines through his writings, which will never wither though many years had passed since Philippine history had known him far and beyond its colorful pages.

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