Jose Rizal was born the son of a Filipino father, Francisco Mercado, and a Chinese mother, Teodora Alonso Realonda. He was born on June 19, 1861. He came from a large family of nine girls and two boys. They lived in Calanba, Laguna of the Phillipines.The family was wealthy and owned a hacienda and a rice farm. Though they were wealthy, the family was discriminated against as neither parent was born on the peninsula
FACT 1: Jose displayed a keen intellect from a very early age. He learned his alphabet from his mother at age 3 and could read and write by the time he was 5. He first studied under Justiniano Cruzin Laguna. He later took the college entrance exam for Colegio de San Juan de Letran, but enrolled at Ateneo Municipal de Manila.
FACT 2: He was named Jose Protasio Mercado Rizal y Alonza Realonda, according to the Spanish naming custom. The first part of the name contains the paternal family name and the second part the maternal family name. The paternal family name has two surnames, Mercado and Rizal. When Jose enrolled Ateneo Municipal de Manila he dropped the name Mercado, keeping only Rizal as his surname.
FACT 3: He graduated from the Ateneo Municipal de Manila as one of nine outstanding students. He continued to study and obtained a land surveyor and assessor’s degree. At the same time he joined the University of Santo Tomas where he took a preparatory course in law. Upon hearing that his mother was going blind, he switched to medicine at the medical school of Santo Tomas.He later specialized in ophthalmology.
FACT 4: With his brothers support and without his parents knowledge, he travelled to Madrid, where he obtained his Licentiate in Medicine from the Universidad Central de Madrid.
FACT 5: He lived in Europe from 1882 to 1892. During this period he devoted himself to the reform of Spanish rule in his home country, the Philippines .However he did not advocate independence.
FACT 6: During his stay in Europe he established himself as the leading spokesperson for the Philippine reform movemen, through his writings. In 1886, he published his first book ‘Noli me tangere (The Social Cancer). The book was an exposure of the evils of Spanish rule in the Philippines. His second book, El filibusterismo (The Reign of Greed) was published in 1891.
FACT 7: He wanted to show the world and the native Filipinos that the Philippines had a long history that pre dated the coming of the Spaniards. In 1890, he published an annotated version of Antonio Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas. It was reprinted in 1958.
FACT 8: He became the leader of the Propaganda Movement, contributing numerous articles to its newspaper, La Solidaridad, published in Barcelona. His own political program included integration of the Philippines as a province of Spain, representation in the Cortes (the Spanish parliament), the replacement of Spanish friars by Filipino priests, freedom of assembly and expression, and equality of Filipinos and Spaniards before the law.
FACT 9: On his return to the Philippines in 1892, he founded the Liga Filipina, a non-violent reform society. For this he was deported to Dapitan in Mindanao.He remained in exile for the next 4 years. Following a revolt against Spain by the Katipunan, a secret nationalist society, Rizal was arrested and tried for sedition. Though he had no part in this insurrection he was found guilty and publicly executed by firing squad..
FACT 10.His martyrdom convinced Filipinos that there was no alternative to independence from Spain. On the eve of his execution, while confined in Fort Santiago, Rizal wrote “Último adiós” (“Last Farewell”), a masterpiece of 19th-century Spanish verse. Today he is a hero in the Philippines and a province is named after him. Some religious cults have even made him a saint.