José Rizal.

Rizal's own story of his life online

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Produced by Jeroen Hellingman and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at for Project




National Book Company

Registered in the Philippine Islands

Printed in the United States of America (Philippine Islands)
Press of E. C. McCullough & Co., Manila, P. I.


Dr. W. W. Marquardt suggested this book.

Miss Josephine Craig advised and assisted in the selections.

Hon. C. E. Yeater read and criticised the original manuscript.

Miss M. W. Sproull revised the translations.

Dean Francisco Benitez acted as pedagogical adviser.

Miss Gertrude McVenn simplified the language for primary school use.

Mr. John C. Howe adapted and arranged the music.

Mr. Frederic H. Stevens planned the make-up and, in spite of wartime
difficulties, provided the materials needed.

Mr. Chas. A. Kvist supervised the production.

Mr. C. H. Noronha, who, in 1897, in his Hongkong magazine Odds and
Ends, first published Rizal's farewell poem "My Last Thought", was
the careful and obliging proofreader.

Assistant Insular Architect Juan Arellano, a colleague of the editor
on the Dapitan Rizal national park committee, designed the sampaguita

Mr. A. Garcia achieved creditable illustrations out of poorly preserved
photographs whose historical accuracy has not been impaired by the
slightest embellishment.

And the entire establishment of Messrs. E.C. McCullough &
Company - printers, pressmen and bookbinders - labored zealously and
enthusiastically to do credit to the imprint: "Made in Manila - The
Work of Filipinos".

The Memory of Rizal is kept alive in many ways:

1. A province near Manila bears his name.

2. The anniversary of his death is a public holiday.

3. A memorial school has been built by the Insular Government in his
native town.

4. His home in exile has been made a national park.

5. The first destroyer of the future Philippine navy is named "Rizal".

6. Rizal's portrait appears on the two-peso bill.

7. Rizal's portrait appears on the two-centavo postage stamp.



Rizal's pencil sketch of himself 1
Rizal at 14 4
Rizal's painting of his sister Saturnina 6
Rizal's portrait on Philippine postage and money 8
Rizal's home, Kalamba 12
Rizal's mother and two of his sisters 16
Clay model of dog and cayman combat 17
Where Rizal went to school in Biñan 18
Rizal monument, Biñan 24
Santa Rosa Gate, on Biñan-Kalamba road 26
Model of a Dapitan woman at work 28
Rizal's uncle 29
Rizal's uncle's home in Biñan 30
Guardia Civil soldier 31
Rizal's mother 33
Rizal's father 34
One of Rizal's teachers, Terracotta bust by Rizal 36
Padre Sanchez, Rizal's favorite teacher in the Ateneo 37
Carving of the Sacred Heart, made by Rizal in the Ateneo 44
Wooden bust of Rizal's father 45
Rizal at 18 48
Rizal's sacrifice of his life 57
Professor Burgos 58
The lake shore at Kalamba 60
A Manila school girl, drawn by Rizal 62
Rizal in Paris 64
Rizal at 30 66
Crayon portrait of Rizal's cousin Leonore 70
Dapitan plaza and townhall 80
Wooden medallion of Mrs. José Rizal 84
Chalk pipehead, Rizal's last modeling 86
Rizal at 27 90
Manila skyline, sketched by Rizal 92
Rizal at 22 104
Rizal at 24 106
Rizal at 26 108
Rizal at 28, from a group picture 110
Rizal at 28, profile 114
Rizal Mausoleum, Luneta, Manila 118
Noli Me Tangere manuscript-cover design, by Rizal 120
El Filibusterismo manuscript-cover, lettered by Rizal 121
Portrait of Rizal at time of finishing El Filibusterismo 121
Los Baños house where El Filibusterismo was begun, drawn
by Rizal 121
Diploma of Merit awarded Rizal for allegory "The Council
of the Gods" 123
Silver pen prize won by Rizal for poem "To Philippine
Youth" 125
Alcohol lamp in which Rizal hid poem "My Last Thought" 125


Handwritten quote: It is commonly said that the life of a
good writer is best read in his works.

- Autographic quotation from Rizal.


Rizal's Song "Hymn to Labor" 2
Rizal's Song "Maria Clara's Lullaby" 3
My Boyhood 13
My First Reading Lesson 49
My Childhood Impressions 59
The Spanish Schools of My Boyhood 61
The Turkey that Caused the Kalamba Land Trouble 65
From Japan to England Across America 69
My Deportation to Dapitan 73
Advice to a Nephew 81
Filipino Proverbs 83
Filipino Puzzles 84
Rizal's "Don'ts" 85
Poem: Hymn to Labor 87
Memory Gems from Rizal's Writings 91
Mariang Makiling 93


The Memory of Rizal 8
Rizal Chronology 101
A Reading List 119
Philippine National Hymn (by José Palma) 126
Song: Hail, Philippines (by H. C. Theobald) 128



José Rizal wrote the first three chapters in 1878. He was seventeen
years old at that time.


My Birth and Earliest Years in Kalamba

I was born on Wednesday, the nineteenth of June, 1861. It was a few
days before the full of the moon. I found myself in a village. I had
some slight notions of the morning sun and of my parents. That is as
much as I can recall of my baby days.

The training which I received from my earliest infancy is perhaps
what formed my habits. I can recall clearly my first gloomy nights,
passed on the azotea of our house. They seem as yesterday! They were
nights filled with the poetry of sadness and seem near now because
at present my days are so sad. On moonlight nights, I took my supper
on the azotea. My nurse, who was very fond of me, used to threaten
to leave me to a terrible but imaginary being like the bogey of the
Europeans if I did not eat.

I had nine sisters and a brother. Our father was a model parent. He
gave us the education which was suitable in a family neither rich
nor poor. He was thrifty. By careful saving, he was able to build
a stone house. He also bought another house; and he put up a nipa
cottage on our plot of irrigated ground. The cottage was shaded by
bananas and trees.

At nightfall, my mother had us all say our prayers together. Then
we would go to the azotea or to a window to enjoy the moonlight;
and my nurse would tell us stories. Sometimes sad and sometimes gay,
nurse's stories were always oriental in their imagination. In these
stories, dead people, gold, and plants on which diamonds grew were
all mixed together.

When I was four years of age, my little sister Concha died, and for
the first time I cried because of love and sorrow. Till then I had
shed tears only for my own faults, which my loving, prudent mother
well knew how to correct.

I learned to write in my own village. My father looked after my
education. He paid an old man, who had been his schoolmate, to teach
me the first steps in Latin. This teacher lived in our house till he
died, five months later. He had been in almost perfect health and it
was at the moment of death that he received extreme unction.

In June of 1868, I went to Manila with my father. That was just after
the birth of Trinidad, the third sister younger than myself. We went in
a casco which turned out to be a clumsy boat. I shall not try to tell
how happy I was at each new stop on the banks of the Pasig. Beside
this same river, a few years later, I was to be very sad. We went
to Cainta, Taytay, and Antipolo, and then to Manila. In Santa Ana I
visited my eldest sister, Saturnina, who at that time was a student
in La Concordia College. Then I returned to my village and remained
until 1870.


My Schooling in Biñan

Biñan is a town about one and one-half hour's drive from my own town,
Kalamba. My father was born in Biñan, and he wished me to go there to
continue the study of Latin, which I had just begun. He sent me over
one Sunday in the care of my brother. The parting from my family was
tearful on the side of my parents and my sisters, but I was nine years
old and managed to hide my own tears. We reached Biñan at nightfall. We
went to an aunt's house where I was to live. When the moon came up,
a cousin took me around the town. Biñan appeared to me large and
wealthy but neither attractive nor cheerful.

My brother left me after he presented me to the schoolmaster, who,
it seemed, had been his own teacher. The schoolmaster was a tall,
thin man with a long neck and a sharp nose. His body leaned slightly
forward. He wore a shirt of sinamay that had been woven by the deft
fingers of Batangas women. He knew Latin and Spanish grammar by heart;
but his severity, I believe now, was too great. This is all that I
remember of him. His classroom was in his own house, only some thirty
meters from my aunt's home.

When I entered the classroom for the first time, he said to me:

"You, do you speak Spanish?"

"A little, sir," I answered.

"Do you know Latin?"

"A little, sir," I again answered.

Because of these answers, the teacher's son, who was the worst boy in
the class, began to make fun of me. He was some years my elder and
was taller than I, yet we had a tussle. Somehow or other, I don't
know how, I got the better of him. I bent him down over the class
benches. Then I let him loose, having hurt only his pride. After this,
possibly because of my small size, my schoolmates thought me a clever
wrestler. On going from the class one boy challenged me. He offered
me my hold, but I lost and came near breaking my head on the sidewalk.

I do not want to take up time with telling about the beatings I
got, nor shall I attempt to say how it hurt when I received the
first ruler blow on my hand. I used to win in the competitions,
for no one happened to be better than I. I made the most of these
successes. But in spite of the reputation I had of being a good boy,
rare were the days in which my teacher did not call me up to receive
five or six blows on the hand. When I went out with my companions,
they jokingly called me nicknames. But individually they used to
be so kind to me that I thought little of their teasings. A few of
them were very good and always treated me well. Among these few was
a second cousin of mine. Later, some of them were my schoolmates in
Manila and then it became my turn to tease.

Near the house of my teacher, Justiniano Aquin Cruz, lived his
father-in-law, generally called Juancho. Juancho was an aged artist
who let me help him with his paintings. I had already such a liking
for this art that our schoolmates called José Guevarra, another pupil,
and myself the class painters.


My Daily Life in Biñan

Many of us lived in the same house. There were my aunt, two cousins,
and three half-cousins. My aunt was a very old lady, over seventy. She
used to sit on the floor and read the Bible in Tagalog. One cousin
was a maiden lady who liked very much to go to confession and to do
penances. The other cousin, her brother, was a widower.

One of the half-cousins was something of a tomboy. She was quick to
anger but frank and true-hearted. At times, we young folks played
in the street at night. Our elders did not permit us to play in the
house. The tomboy was two or three years older than I and taught me
games. She always treated me as if I were her brother.

My manner of life was simple. I heard mass at four if there were a
service so early, or studied my lessons at that hour and went to mass
afterwards. Then I went out in the yard and looked for mabolos. Then
came breakfast, which generally consisted of a plate of rice and two
dried sardines. There was class work till ten o'clock and after lunch a
study period. In the afternoon, there was school from two o'clock until
five. Next, there would be play with my cousins for a while. Study
and perhaps painting took up the remainder of the afternoon. By
and by came supper, one or two plates of rice with a fish called
ayungin. In the evening we had prayers and then, if it was moonlight,
a cousin and I would play in the street with the others. Fortunately,
I was never ill while away from home. From time to time, I went to my
own village. How long the trip seemed going, and how short coming back!

Many things happened which it would be tiresome to read. Finally,
there came a letter from my sister Saturnina which announced that the
steamer Talim would stop for me on a certain day. I said good-bye
to my numerous friends and teacher. To my teacher, I expressed my
sadness in leaving and my gratitude for his instruction. Although
he had punished me frequently, he did so, I now think, out of the
kindness of his heart; and his heart was heavy when he did it.

I left Biñan on Saturday afternoon, the seventeenth of December,
1870. I was then nine years old. For the first time, I saw what a
steamer really was. It seemed to me most beautiful and in every way
admirable. But I heard my cousin, who was with me, make remarks to
the banquero that were not complimentary to her speed. I was the only
passenger from Biñan. Two sailors put my baggage into a cabin. Then I
went to inspect it. I thought I was going to be without a cabin-mate,
but a Frenchman, Arturo Camps, who was a friend of my father, looked
after me. The journey seemed very long, but finally we arrived
at Kalamba.

Oh! how glad I was to see the shore! At once I wanted to jump
into the first banca. A deckhand took me in his arms and put me
into the captain's boat. Then the Frenchman came and four sailors
rowed us ashore. It is impossible to describe my joy when I saw a
servant waiting for us with a carriage. I jumped in and soon found
myself again in our home, happy in the love of my family. Here end
my recollections of that period of mingled sadness and gladness,
in which, for the first time, I came to know anybody of foreign birth.


The Injustice Done My Mother

(This chapter and the next one, Rizal wrote in 1879. At that time he
was eighteen years old.)

Some days after my return to Kalamba, my parents decided that I
should remain, and that later, I should go to Manila. I wanted to
study with a teacher of the town, even though I could learn no more
than multiplication, so I entered the village school.

At this time, an uncle of mine, Don José Alberto, returned from
Europe. He found that during his absence, his wife had left his
home and abandoned her children. The poor man anxiously sought his
wife and, at my mother's earnest request, he took her back. They
went to live in Biñan. Only a few days later the ungrateful woman
plotted with a Guardia Civil officer who was a friend of ours. She
accused her husband of poisoning her and charged that my mother was
an accomplice. On this charge, the alcalde sent my mother to prison.

I do not like to tell of the deep grief which we all, nine sisters
and brothers, felt. Our mother's arrest, we knew, was unjust. The
men who arrested her pretended to be friends and had often been
our guests. Ever since then, child though I was, I have distrusted
friendship. We learned later that our mother, away from us all and
along in years, was ill. From the first, the alcalde believed the
accusation. He was unfair in every way and treated my mother rudely,
even brutally. Finally, he persuaded her to confess to what they wished
by promising to set her free and to let her see her children. What
mother could resist that? What mother would not sacrifice life itself
for her children?

They terrified and deceived my mother as they would have any
other mother. They threatened to condemn her if she did not say
what they wished. She submitted to the will of her enemies and
lost her spirit. The case became involved until the same alcalde
asked pardon for her. But this was only when the matter was before
the Supreme Court. He asked for the pardon because he was sorry
for what he had done. Such was his meanness that I felt afraid of
him. Attorneys Francisco de Marcaida and Manuel Masigan, Manila's
leading lawyers, defended my mother and they finally succeeded in
having her acquitted. They proved her innocence to her judges, her
accusers and her hosts of enemies. But after how much delay? - After
two and a half years.

Meanwhile my father decided to send me to Manila with my brother
Paciano. I was to take the entrance examinations for the secondary
course in the Ateneo Municipal. I arrived in Manila on June 10th,
1872. I found out for the first time what examinations were like. My
examinations were in Christian doctrine, arithmetic and reading,
in San Juan de Letran College. They gave me a passing mark and I
returned to my home. A few days later came the celebration of the
town festival, after which I went to Manila. But even then, I felt
that unhappiness was in store for me.


A Student in Manila

As I had hoped, I was taken to the Jesuit priest at that time in charge
of the Ateneo Municipal. He was Father Magin Fernando. At first he
was unwilling to admit me. One reason was I had come late. Other
reasons were that I did not seem strong and was very small for my
age. I was then eleven. But later, Doctor Manuel Xeres Burgos, a
nephew of the ill-fated Padre Burgos, spoke in my favor; and Father
Fernando admitted me.

I dressed myself in the uniform like the other students, wearing a
white coat, or americana, and a necktie, and entered the chapel of the
Jesuit Fathers to hear mass. What fervent prayers did I address to God!

After mass, I went to the classroom. There I saw a number of boys,
Spanish, mestizos and natives, and a Jesuit teacher. Father José Bech,
the teacher, was a tall man, thin and somewhat stooping, but quick in
his movements. His face was thin and pale, yet lively. His eyes were
small and sunken, his nose sharp and Grecian. His thin lips curved
downwards. He was a little eccentric, sometimes being out of humor
and intolerant; at other times amusing himself by playing like a child.

Some of my schoolmates were interesting enough to warrant mentioning
them by name. Florencio Gavino Oliva, a young man from my own province,
had great talent but he did not work steadily. The same thing was
true of Moisés Santiago, a mathematician and a penman. It was also
true of Gonzalo Manzano, who then held the position of "Roman Emperor."

In Jesuit colleges they divide the boys into two groups or
"empires," - one Roman and the other Greek. These two "empires" are
always at war. The boys of one "empire" always want to outdo those of
the other empire in all kinds of contests. Each group has a leader
who is called "Emperor." The "Emperor" wins his place by doing the
best work and standing the highest of anyone in his group. I was put
at the end of the line. I could scarcely speak Spanish, but I already
understood it.

After the religious exercises, I went out and found my brother waiting
to take me to my lodgings, which were about twenty-five minutes'
walk from the college. My brother did not wish to leave me in the
Walled City, which seemed very gloomy to me.

I lodged in a small house on Calle Caraballo, near an estero. The house
consisted of a dining room, a sala, a bedroom and a kitchen. An awning
covered the small space between the door and the steps. My landlady
was a maiden lady called Titay, who owed our family three hundred
pesos. Her mother, a good old woman, lived with her. There were besides
a crazy woman, quite harmless, and some Spanish mestizos in the house.

I must not speak of my sufferings, or of my troubles and pleasures. I
shall record only what happened in school during that year. By the
end of the first week, I was going up in the class. Then I began to
spend the siesta-time studying at Santa Isabel College. For this,
I paid three pesos a month. I went there with Pastor Millena, a boy
of my own age. A month later, I was "Emperor".

How pleased I was when I won my first prize, a religious
picture! In the first quarter I gained another prize, with the
grade "Excellent." After that I did not care to apply myself. I
had foolishly become dissatisfied because of something my teacher
said. Unfortunately, this continued until the end of the year and I
gained only second place in all my subjects. This gave me the grade of
"Excellent" but without any prize.

I spent the vacation at home and went with my eldest sister, Nening,
to Tanawan, for the town festival. This was in 1873. But our pleasure
was marred by the fact that our mother was not with us. I had gone
alone to see my mother without first sending word either to her or to
my father. This was at the close of the term in which I held second
place. I thought with what joy I would surprise her. Instead, we wept
in each other's arms. We had not seen each other for more than a year.

After vacation was over, I returned to Manila and enrolled in the
second year. Then I hunted lodgings in the Walled City. It was too
tiring to live so far away. I found a place at 6 Calle Magallanes
in the house of an elderly widow, Doña Pepay. Her daughter, also a
widow, lived with her. The name of the daughter was Doña Encarnación,
and her four sons were José, Rafael, Ignacio, and Ramón.

Nothing worth telling happened that year. My professor was the same
as in the previous year; but I had different schoolmates. Among them
I found three who had been with me in Biñan. At the end of this year,
I won a medal and returned to my town.

I again went alone to visit my mother in prison. Like another Joseph,
I prophesied to her from a dream that her release would take place

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Online LibraryJosé RizalRizal's own story of his life → online text (page 1 of 4)