Jose Rizal is dubbed as the pride of the Malayan race. He was born on June 19, 1861, in Calamba, Laguna, Philippines.
At the age of 3, Jose Rizal learned the alphabet from his mother; at 5, while learning to read and write, he already showed inclinations to be an artist. He astounded his family and relatives by his pencil drawings and sketches and by his moldings of clay. He wrote a Tagalog poem at 8, “Sa Aking Mga Kabata”.
In 1877, he obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree with an average of “excellent” from the Ateneo Municipal de Manila at the age of 16. The same year, he enrolled in Philosophy and Letters at the University of Santo Tomas, at the same time took courses leading to the degree of surveyor and expert assessor at the Ateneo. He finished the course on March 21, 1877 and passed the Surveyor’s examination on May 21, 1878. Because of his age, 17, he was not granted license to practice the profession until December 30, 1881.
In 1878, he enrolled in medicine at the University of Santo Tomas. On May 3, 1882, he sailed for Spain where he continued his studies at the Universidad Central de Madrid. On June 21, 1884, at the age of 23, he was conferred the degree of Licentiate in Medicine and on June 19,1885, at the age of 24, he finished his course in Philosophy and Letters with a grade of “excellent.”
He traveled extensively in Europe, America and Asia. He mastered 22 languages: Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Malayan, Portuguese, Russian, Sanskrit, Spanish, Tagalog, and other native dialects.
A genius, he was an architect, artists, businessman, cartoonist, educator, economist, ethnologist, scientific farmer, historian, inventor, journalist, linguist, musician, mythologist, nationalist, naturalist, novelist, ophthalmic surgeon, poet, propagandist, psychologist, scientist, sculptor, sociologist, and theologian.
He was published works that bears enlightenment for the suppressed. In March 1887, NOLI ME TANGERE, a satirical novel published in Berlin; on September 18, 1891, EL FILIBUSTERISMO, his second novel and a sequel to the NOLI, was printed in Ghent. Because of his fearless exposures of the injustices he was imprisoned from July 6, 1892 to July 15, 1892 for subversion.
While a political exile, he engaged in agriculture, fishing and business; he maintained and operated a hospital; he conducted classes and taught languages and the Arts. He entered into correspondence with renowned men of letters and sciences abroad. His sincerity and friendliness won for him the trust and confidence of those assigned to guard him; his intelligence and humility gained for him the respect and admiration of prominent men of other nations; his courage and determination to uplift the welfare of his people were feared by his enemies.
In his prison cell, he wrote an untitled poem known as “Ultimo Adios” and considered a masterpiece and a living document which expressed his love of country and his countrymen.
He was convicted of rebellion and was executed on December 30, 1986.
JOSE RIZAL is the national hero of the Philippines