THE WAY I SEE IT | Susan Amoroso
One hundred sixty years ago on June 19, 1861 in Calamba, Laguna, a male child was born to Francisco Rizal Mercado and Teodora Alonso Realonda. This baby was named Jose Protacio Rizal y Alonso Mercado Realonda who were big lease landholders of a hacienda and rice farms owned by the Dominican friars at that time. He was one of nine brothers and two sisters.
This boy with chinito eyes and small stature grew up intelligent, kind and wise beyond his years. Today more than a hundred years after his remarkable death by execution at the age of 33, he is known as Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero of this beloved country of ours, the Philippines.
I wonder what would be his take on what is happening in our country today, much more in the global sphere. I would like to think of him as a well-rounded logical person with a very scientific mind who would not be fooled by fake science and false narratives. He had world class education which very few people in his time could boast.
He studied at the Universidad Central de Madrid where he earned the degree of Licentiate in Medicine. He attended medical lectures at the University of Paris and University of Heidelberg. In Berlin, he was inducted as a member of the Berlin Ethnological Soceity and the Berlin Anthropological Society.
Of course we all know he was a product of the Ateneo Municipal de Manila where he studied and obtained a land surveyor and assessor’s degree. Rizal was also a product of the Pontifical University of Sto. Tomas (UST) where he studied law and jurisprudence and studied medicine. All his grades were sobresaliente or excellent. He received his four-year practical training in medicine at the Ospital de San Juan De Dios in Intramuros. Later when he learned his mother was going blind he successfully operated on the eyes of his mother.
He was not only a medical doctor but he was an engineer, a philosopher, a poet and a novelist and a painter. More over he is a revolutionary and a visionary. As a novelist he wrote the Noli Me tangere and the El Filibusterismo, two books written in Spanish that irked the Spanish friars and led to his execution as a martyr of Philippine revolution on December 30, 1896 in Luneta, now Rizal Park.
It is in my opinion that every school child in this country must not be given his elementary and high school diploma without getting educated about Dr. Jose Rizal, his ideals and his entire persona. Almost all important countries in the world has a statue or bust of him. His memorials can be found in the United States, Germany, Japan, Spain and other parts of the world. His name and face is imprinted in every one Philippine peso coin. His monument is fiercely guarded 24 hours by Philippine national guards. Numerous streets and national highways all over the country is named after him.
Dr. Rizal is an inspiration to all Filipinos. He was even revered as a saint by some die hard Rizalistas. In fact a cult exists that venerate and honor him. This was personally known to me when I visited the home of a schoolmate in Pandacan, Manila. Rizal’s photographs, memorabilia and a Rizal shrine, almost like an altar was there for visitors to behold. I learned later that the family belong to a Rizal cult.
There are many facets in Rizal’s life that are worth emulating. To follow in his footsteps as a good and excellent student is one small step for all Filipino youth to do.