Dr. José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda (June 19, 1861 – December 30, 1896, Bagumbayan), was a Filipino polymath, nationalist and the most prominent advocate for reforms in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era.
He is considered a national hero of the Philippines, and the anniversary of Rizal’s death is commemorated as a Philippine holiday called Rizal Day. Rizal’s 1896 military trial and execution made him a martyr of the Philippine Revolution.
The seventh of eleven children born to a wealthy family in the town of Calamba, Laguna, Rizal attended the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, earning a Bachelor of Arts. He enrolled in Medicine and Philosophy and Letters at the University of Santo Tomas and then traveled alone to Madrid, Spain, where he continued his studies at the Universidad Central de Madrid, earning the degree of Licentiate in Medicine. He attended the University of Paris and earned a second doctorate at the University of Heidelberg.
Rizal was a polyglot conversant in at least ten languages. He was a prolific poet, essayist, diarist, correspondent, and novelist whose most famous works were his two novels, Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. These are social commentaries on the Philippines that formed the nucleus of literature that inspired dissent among peaceful reformists and spurred the militancy of armed revolutionaries against the Spanish colonial authorities.
As a political figure, Jose Rizal was the founder of La Liga Filipina, a civic organization that subsequently gave birth to the Katipunan led by Andrés Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo. He was a proponent of institutional reforms by peaceful means rather than by violent revolution. The general consensus among Rizal scholars, however, attributed his martyred death as the catalyst that precipitated the Philippine Revolution.
Chronology of Events
1848, June 28 Rizal’s parents married in Kalamba, La Laguna: Francisco Rizal-Mercado y Alejandra (born in Biñan, April 18, 1818) and Teodora Morales Alonso-Realonda y Quintos (born in Sta. Cruz, Manila, November 14, 1827)
1861, June 19 Rizal born, their seventh child
1861, June 22 Christened as José Protasio Rizal-Mercado y Alonso-Realonda
1870, age 9 In school at Biñan under Master Justiniano Aquin Cruz
1871, age 10 In Kalamba public school under Master Lucas Padua
1872, June 10, age 11 Examined in San Juan de Letran college, Manila, which, during the Spanish time, as part of Sto. Tomás University, controlled entrance to all higher institutions
1872, June 26 Entered the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, then a public school, as a day scholar
1875, June 16, age 14 Became a boarder in the Ateneo
1876, March 23, age 15 Received the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree, with highest honors, from Ateneo de Manila
1877, June Entered Sto. Tomás University in the Philosophy course
1877, November 29 Awarded diploma of honorable mention and merit by the Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Country, Amigos del País, for the prize poem
1878, June, age 16 Matriculated in the medical course. Won Liceo Artistico-Literario prize, in poetical competition for “Indians and Mestizos”, with the poem “To the Philippine Youth”
Wounded in the back for not saluting a Guardia Civil lieutenant whom he had not seen. The authorities ignored his complaint
1880, April 23, age 19 Received Licco Artístico-Literariodiploma of honorable mention for the allegory, “The Council of the Gods”, in competition open to “Spaniards, mestizos and Indians”. Unjustly deprived of the first prize
1880, December 8 Operetta “On the Banks of the Pasig” produced
1881, age 20 Submitted winning wax model design for commemorative medal for the Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Country centennial
1882, May 3, age 21 Secretly left Manila taking a French mail steamer at Singapore for Marseilles and entering Spain at Port Bou by railroad. His brother, Paciano Mercado, furnished the money
1882, June Absence noted at Sto. Tomás University, which owned the Kalamba estate. Rizal’s father was compelled to prove that he had no knowledge of his son’s plan in order to hold the land on which he was the University’s tenant
1882, June 15 Arrived in Barcelona
1882, October 3 Began studies in Madrid
1886 Received degree of Licentiate in Medicine with honors from Central University of Madrid on June 19 at the age of 24
- Clinical assistant to Dr. L. de Wecker, a Paris oculist.
- Visited Universities of Heidelberg, Leipzig, and Berlin
1887, Feb. 21, age 26 Finished the novel Noli Me Tangere in Berlin
- Traveled in Austria, Switzerland and Italy
1887, July 3 Sailed from Marseilles
1887, August 5 Arrived in Manila. Traveled in nearby provinces with a Spanish lieutenant, detailed by the Governor-General, as escort
1888, Feb Sailed for Japan via Hong Kong
1888, Feb. 28 to April 13, age 27 A guest at the Spanish Legation, Tokyo, and traveling in Japan
1888, April-May Traveling in the United States
1888, May 24 In London, studying in the British Museum to edit Morga’s 1609 Philippine History
1889, March, age 28 In Paris, publishing Morga’s History. Published “The Philippines A Century Hence” in La Solidaridad, a Filipino fortnightly review, first of Barcelona and later of Madrid
1890, February to July, age 29 In Belgium finished El Filibusterismo which is the sequel to Noli Me Tangere.
– Published “The Indolence of the Filipino” in La Solidaridad
1890, August 4 Returned to Madrid to confer with his countrymen on the Philippine situation, then constantly growing worse
1891, January 27 Left Madrid for France
1891, November, age 30 Arranging for a Filipino agricultural colony in British North Borneo
- Practiced medicine in Hong Kong
1892, June 26, age 31 Returned to Manila under Governor-General Despujol’s safe conduct pass
- Organized a mutual aid economic society: La Liga Filipina on July 3.
1892, July 6 Ordered deported to Dapitan, but the decree and charges were kept secret from him.
- Taught school and conducted a hospital during his exile, patients coming from China coast ports for treatment. Fees thus earned were used to beautify the town. Arranged a water system and had the plaza lighted
1896, August 1, age 35 Left Dapitan en route to Spain as a volunteer surgeon for the Cuban yellow fever hospitals. Carried letters of recommendation from Governor-General Blanco
1896, August 7 to September 3 On Spanish cruiser Castilla in Manila Bay
- Sailed for Spain on Spanish mail steamer and just after leaving Port Said was confined to his cabin as a prisoner on cabled order from Manila. (Rizal’s enemies to secure the appointment of a governor-general subservient to them, the servile Polavieja had purchased Governor-General Blanco’s promotion.)
1896, October 6 Placed in Montjuich Castle dungeon on his arrival in Barcelona and the same day re-embarked for Manila. Friends and countrymen in London by cable made an unsuccessful effort for a Habeas Corpuswrit at Singapore. On arrival in Manila was placed in Fort Santiago dungeon
1896, December 3 Charged with treason, sedition and forming illegal societies, the prosecution arguing that he was responsible for the deeds of those who read his writings
- During his imprisonment Rizal began to formulate in his mind his greatest poem who others later entitle, “My Last Farewell.”(later concealed in an alcohol cooking lamp)
December 12 Rizal appears in a courtroom where the judges made no effort to check those who cry out for his death
1896, December 15 Wrote an address to insurgent Filipinos to lay down their arms because their insurrection was at that time hopeless. Address not made public but added to the charges against him
1896, December 27 Formally condemned to death by a Spanish court martial
- Pi y Margall, who had been president of the Spanish Republic, pleaded with the Prime Minister for Rizal’s life, but the Queen Regent could not forgive his having referred in one of his writings to the murder by, and suicide of, her relative, Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria.
1896, December 29 Completes and puts into writing “My Last Farewell.” He conceals the poem in an alcohol heating apparatus and gives it to his family. He may have also concealed another copy of the same poem in one of his shoes but, if so, it is lost in decomposition in his burial
1896, December 30, age 35 years, 6 months, 11 days Roman Catholic sources allege that Rizal marries Josephine Bracken in his Fort Santiago death cell to Josephine Bracken; she is Irish, the adopted daughter of a blind American who came to Dapitan from Hong Kong for treatment.
- Shot on the Luneta, Manila, at 7:03 a.m., and buried in a secret grave in Paco Cemetery. (Entry of his death was made in the Paco Church Register among suicides.)
1897, January Commemorated by Spanish Free-masons who dedicated a tablet to his memory, in their Grand Lodge hall in Madrid, as a martyr to Liberty
1898, August Filipinos who placed over it in Paco cemetery, a cross inscribed simply “December 30, 1896″, sought his grave, immediately after the American capture of Manila. Since his death his countrymen had never spoken his name, but all references had been to “The Dead”
1898, December 20 President Aguinaldo, of the Philippine Revolutionary Government, proclaimed December 30th as a day of national mourning
1898, December 30 Filipinos held Memorial services at which time American soldiers on duty carried their arms reversed
1911, June 19 Birth semi-centennial observed in all public schools by an act of the Philippine Legislature
1912, December 30 Rizal’s ashes transferred to the Rizal Mausoleum on the Luneta with impressive public ceremonies
Source: Order of the Knights of Rizal