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Nadj Villaver | BravoFilipino

Aside from being the national hero, how well do you know Jose Rizal? Here are some interesting facts about him that will make us understand more his personality:

  1. Jose Rizal was born with a tiny, frail-looking body and a big head on June 19,1861, Wednesday, between eleven and midnight, a few days before full moon. Related to the prophesy of Fr. Rufino Collantes, the parish priest of Calamba, Laguna and who baptized Rizal on June 22, 1861, when he told Mrs Teodoro Mercado Rizal that she “should take care of his child, for someday he will become a great man.” And so, at the course of Rizal’s life, his “big head” indeed contributed multifarious, patriotic great events towards the shaping of  the Filipino nationhood.
  2. Jose Rizal was bullied when he was just 8 years old. His first experience of being bullied in school happened when he studied in Binan, Laguna (1869).  During that incident, the small Rizal fought back his tall classmate, Pedro, the son of his teacher and the naughtiest boy in the class. Luckily, Rizal defeated him to the surprise of his other classmates..  Another similar incident, when Rizal was challenged by his classmate, Andres Salandanan, a bigger and stronger boy, to a “one-armed wrestling match”. Unluckily, he lost and he “almost dashed his head against the sidewalk of the house.” Nevertheless, his classmates remained with high respect to him.
  3. Jose Rizal almost got drowned when his cousin Leandro (in Binan,Laguna) pushed him into the river.  The water was too deep for his height.  Luckily, his cousin saved him by pulling one of his feet.  When they returned home, Rizal’s aunt gave him “some lashes with a slipper and a good reprimand.” He was then only eight years old. Was that “act of rescue” destined him really to his noble mission?
  4. Rizal, aged eight years old, after his first-year study in Binan, Laguna, boarded a steamer for the first time in his life. This beautiful steamer named Talim took him to Calamba, his hometown, where his family was excitedly awaiting his return. He travelled alone. Moving ahead of time, 1882, Rizal began to travel for the first time to Europe. Admiring the beautiful scene of the sea and the different places of Asia, Middle Ease and Europe first through the SS Salvador which carried him to Singapore (May 3, 1882) then SS Djemnah to Marseilles, France (June 12, 1882). Again, he travelled without a member of his family. He was twenty-one years old. This new journey of his life marked the beginning of preparation of his becoming a “renaissance man” of the East.
  5. Jose Rizal wrote in his Memoirs of a Student in Manila that “the light is the most beautiful thing there is in creation and that it is worthy for a man to sacrifice his life for it.”
  6. Jose Rizal’s patriotic sentiments as an exquisite sensibility was developed when he was second year in Ateneo Municipal, Manila (1873-1874).
  7. Jose Rizal’s first article in La Solidaridad, the newspaper of the Filipino expatriates in Barcelona, Spain was entitled Los Agricultores Filipinos (The Filipino Farmers).  This was published on March 25, 1889. His pen name was Dimas Alang. The next articles of Rizal made him a “mark man” for the Spanish authorities in the Philippines and a “fearless voice” of the Reformists, “indios” and foreign sympathizers.
  8. Jose Rizal planned to establish a “New Calamba” in Sandakan, Sabah, North Borneo in 1892.  Owned by a rich British North Borneo Company, the resettlement area has a 5,000 acres of rent-free land for the first three years.  Here in Sandakan, Rizal wanted to bring all the Calamba displaced families, including Rizal’s, and those Filipino families and expatriates who desired to migrate and live permanently as freemen and contented in life.  This Rizal’s plan called North Borneo Colonization Project, however, was never realized because Governor General Eulogio Despujol did not approve it. His reasons were: “The Philippines lacked laborers,” “it was not very patriotic to go off and cultivate foreign soil,” and “the Filipino colony would be a big shame to the Spanish colonial administration in the Philippines.”
  9. Jose Rizal challenged bravely three persons to a duel.  First, to his friend and fellow reformist, Antonio Luna, who was sober that he blamed Rizal for the romantic break up   of him with Ms. Nellie Boustead, a beautiful French woman.  Rizal denied this unfounded claim and much that he could not accept the slanderous statements of Luna to the woman. Fortunately, when Luna was pacified, he apologized to Rizal and the latter accepted it. This incident happened during the gathering of Filipinos in Madrid, Spain.  Second, to Wenceslao S. Retana, a Spanish writer who attacked Filipinos including Rizal and his family in various newspapers in Madrid and other cities in Spain. When Rizal could no longer hold his temper because Retana was insulting and downgrading his family and friends in Calamba, Rizal bravely sent his challenge to a duel to Retana: A message that ‘Only Retana’s blood or apology could vindicate the good name of Rizal’s family and friends.’ Frightened and forewarned that he had no match to Rizal, Retana immediately apologized (to Rizal) and since then, became a great admirer of Rizal, even wrote a lengthy biography of the honorable man (Rizal), and glorified his (Rizal) martyrdom.  Third, to Mr. Juan Lardet, a French businessman, who complained to Rizal in Dapitan that the lumber he bought (from Rizal) were of poor quality. When Rizal, a man of honor, heard his unsavory comments and still kept insulting him for not being a truthful man, the latter got angry. And so, Rizal challenged him to a duel. Knowing that he (Lardet) had no match to Rizal, he apologized immediately to Rizal.
  10. Jose Rizal had an eight-month prematurely still born baby in Dapitan, Zamboanga del Norte. He named him Pedro according to his sisters; others said, Rizal named his baby boy Francisco after his father, Don Francisco Mercado. Before Rizal buried his child in a secluded site not far from his house, he made a pencil sketch of him and kept it on the jacket of his medical book.   Rizal’s child lived for only three hours.
  11. Jose Rizal would have married Ms. Nellie Boustead, a highly intelligent, elegant and beauteous, a vivacious in temperament and morally upright, French woman. Because Rizal’s stay as a guest in the residence of the Boustead family in Biarritz, Northern France led him to a serious romance with Ms. Boustead. However, his short-lived romantic relationship with Ms Boustead ended when he (Rizal) himself did not conform to Nellie’s plead that he be converted to Protestantism and, also, that of Nellie’s  mother’s  disapproval.
  12. Jose Rizal’s medical services alone ennobled him in the eyes of the people of Dapitan and nearby towns.  They brought him their fevers, broken bones, tumors, tuberculosis, typhoid, and even leprosy.  He treated them equally, regardless of station, wealth, and calling.  He even attended to a sick friar! ..Eggs, chickens, pigs, grain, and profound love and gratitude – these were the “fees” Rizal received from his patients.  He cured an herbal doctor, or herbolario, who could not cure his own ailment, and received from him a cow and several chickens.  A more affluent patient whose sight had improved gifted the doctor with a set of optical instruments.  Rizal, the ophthalmic surgeon, was regarded as something of a miracle-worker.  Onlookers marveled as his deft fingers operated on cross-eyed patients with a pair of scissors.


Jose P.Rizal, Memoirs of Students on Manila.

Asuncion Lopez-Rizal Bantug, Indio Bravo. The Story of Jose Rizal. Makati City. Tahanan Books, @1997.

Gregorio F. Zaide and Fe M. Zaide, JOSE RIZAL: Life, Works and Writings of a Genius, Writer, Scientist and National Hero. Second Edition. Quezon City. All Nations Publishing Co., Inc. @ 1999.

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