Jose Rizal Essay Sample
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Jose Rizal Essay Sample
Jose Rizal was born to the wealthy Mercado-Rizal family in Calamba, Laguna of the Philippines. The Mercado-Rizals were considered one of the most prestigious Filipino families during their time. Jose Rizal came from the 13-member family consisting of his parents, Francisco Mercado II and Teodora Alonso Realonda, and nine sisters and one brother. His parents were leaseholders of a hacienda and an accompanying rice farm by the Dominicans. From an early age, Jose Rizal Mercado showed a precocious intellect. He learned the alphabet from his mother at 3, and could read and write at age 5. Upon enrolling at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, José dropped the last three names that make up his full name, on the advice of his brother, Paciano Rizal, and the Mercado-Rizal family, thus rendering his name as “José Protasio Rizal”. Of this, Rizal writes: “My family never paid much attention [to our second surname Rizal], but now I had to use it, thus giving me the appearance of an illegitimate child!” This was to enable him to travel freely and disassociate him from his brother, who had gained notoriety with his earlier links to Gomburza. From early childhood, José and Paciano were already advancing unheard-of political ideas of freedom and individual rights which infuriated the authorities.
Despite the name change, José, as “Rizal” soon distinguished himself in poetry writing contests, impressing his professors with his facility with Castilian and other foreign languages, and later, in writing essays that were critical of the Spanish historical accounts of the pre-colonial Philippine societies. Indeed, by 1891, the year he finished his El filibusterismo, this second surname had become so well known that, as he writes to another friend, “All my family now carry the name Rizal instead of Mercado because the name Rizal means persecution! Good! I too want to join them and be worthy of this family name…”.
Rizal, 11 years old, a student at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila Rizal first studied under Justiniano Aquino Cruz in Biñan, Laguna before he was sent to Manila. As to his father’s request, he took the entrance examination in Colegio de San Juan de Letran and studied there for almost three months. He then enrolled at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila and graduated as one of the nine students in his class declared sobresaliente or outstanding. He continued his education at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila to obtain a land surveyor and assessor’s degree, and at the same time at the University of Santo Tomas where he did take up a preparatory course in law. Upon learning that his mother was going blind, he decided to switch to medicine at the medical school of Santo Tomas specializing later in ophthalmology.
José Rizal as a student at the University of Santo Tomas
Without his parents’ knowledge and consent, but secretly supported by his brother Paciano, he traveled alone to Madrid, Spain in May 1882 and studied medicine at the Universidad Central de Madrid where he earned the degree, Licentiate in Medicine. Also, he also attended medical lectures at the University of Paris and the University of Heidelberg. In Berlin he was inducted as a member of the Berlin Ethnological Society and the Berlin Anthropological Society under the patronage of the famous pathologist Rudolf Virchow. Following custom, he delivered an address in German in April 1887 before the Anthropological Society on the orthography and structure of the Tagalog language. He left Heidelberg a poem, “A las flores del Heidelberg”, which was both an evocation and a prayer for the welfare of his native land and the unification of common values between East and West.
At Heidelberg, the 25-year-old Rizal, completed in 1887 his eye specialization under the renowned professor, Otto Becker. There he used the newly invented ophthalmoscope (invented by Hermann von Helmholtz) to later operate on his own mother’s eye. From Heidelberg, Rizal wrote his parents: “I spend half of the day in the study of German and the other half, in the diseases of the eye. Twice a week, I go to the bierbrauerie, or beerhall, to speak German with my student friends.” He lived in a Karlstraße boarding house then moved to Ludwigsplatz. There, he met Reverend Karl Ullmer and stayed with them in Wilhelmsfeld, where he wrote the last few chapters of Noli Me Tángere. Rizal was a polymath, skilled in both science and the arts. He painted, sketched, and made sculptures and woodcarving. He was a prolific poet, essayist, and novelist whose most famous works were his two novels, Noli Me Tángere and its sequel, El filibusterismo.
These social commentaries during the Spanish colonization of the country formed the nucleus of literature that inspired peaceful reformists and armed revolutionaries alike. Rizal was also apolyglot, conversant in twenty-two languages. Rizal’s multifacetedness was described by his German friend, Dr. Adolf Meyer, as “stupendous.” Documented studies show him to be a polymath with the ability to master various skills and subjects. He was an ophthalmologist, sculptor, painter, educator, farmer, historian, playwright and journalist. Besides poetry and creative writing, he dabbled, with varying degrees of expertise, in architecture, cartography, economics, ethnology, anthropology, sociology, dramatics, martial arts, fencing and pistol shooting. He was also a Freemason, joining Acacia Lodge No. 9 during his time in Spain and becoming a Master Mason in 1884.
José Rizal’s life is one of the most documented of 19th century Filipinos due to the vast and extensive records written by and about him. Almost everything in his short life is recorded somewhere, being himself a regular diarist and prolific letter writer, much of the material having survived. His biographers, however, have faced difficulty in translating his writings because of Rizal’s habit of switching from one language to another. They drew largely from his travel diaries with their insights of a young Asian encountering the West for the first time. They included his later trips, home and back again to Europe through Japan and the United States, and, finally, through his self-imposed exile in Hong Kong.
Shortly after he graduated from the Ateneo Municipal de Manila (now Ateneo de Manila University), Rizal (who was then 16 years old) and a friend, Mariano Katigbak, came to visit Rizal’s maternal grandmother in Tondo, Manila. Mariano brought along his sister, Segunda Katigbak, a 14-year old Batangueña from Lipa, Batangas. It was the first time they met and Rizal described Segunda as “rather short, with eyes that were eloquent and ardent at times and languid at others, rosy–cheeked, with an enchanting and provocative smile that revealed very beautiful teeth, and the air of a sylph; her entire self diffused a mysterious charm.” His grandmother’s guests were mostly college students and they knew that Rizal had skills in painting. They suggested that Rizal should make a portrait of Segunda. He complied reluctantly and made a pencil sketch of her.
Unfortunately for him, Katigbak was engaged to Manuel Luz. From December 1891 to June 1892, Rizal lived with his family in Number 2 of Rednaxela Terrace, Mid-levels, Hong Kong Island. Rizal used 5 D’Aguilar Street, Central district, Hong Kong Island as his ophthalmologist clinic from 2 pm to 6 pm. This period of his life included his recorded affections of which nine were identified. They were Gertrude Beckett of Chalcot Crescent (London), wealthy and high-minded Nelly Boustead of the English and Iberian merchant family, last descendant of a noble Japanese family Seiko Usui(affectionately called O-Sei-san), his earlier friendship with Segunda Katigbak, Leonor Valenzuela, and eight-year romantic relationship with a distant cousin, Leonor Rivera (popularly thought to be the inspiration for the character of María Clara in Noli Me Tángere) Relationship with Josephine Bracken
Further information: Josephine Bracken
In February 1895, Rizal, 33, became acquainted with an Irish woman from Hong Kong named Josephine Bracken when she accompanied her blind adoptive father, George Taufer, to have his eye checked by Rizal. After frequent visits, Rizal and Bracken soon fell in love with each other and later applied for marriage, but because of his bad reputation from his own writings and political stance, the local priest Father Obach, only agreed to the hold the ceremony if Rizal could get a permission from the Bishop of Cebu. He was unable to obtain an ecclesiastical marriage because he would not return to Catholicism.
After accompanying her father to Manila on her return to Hong Kong and before heading back to Dapitan to live with Rizal, she introduced herself to members of his family in Manila. His mother suggested a civil marriage who believed it as a lesser sacrament, and would be less sinful to Rizal’s conscience than making any sort of political retraction in order to gain permission from the Bishop. He, nonetheless, considered Josephine to be his wife and the couple lived together in Talisay in Dapitan. Reportedly, the couple had a child, Francísco Rizal y Bracken, who was stillborn and only lived for a few hours. Return to Philippines (1892-1896)
Exile in Dapitan
Upon his return to Manila in 1892, he formed a civic movement called La Liga Filipina. The league advocated these moderate social reforms through legal means, but was disbanded by the governor. At that time, he had already been declared an enemy of the state by the Spanish authorities because of the publication of his novel. Rizal’s pencil sketch of Blumentritt.
Rizal was implicated in the activities of the nascent rebellion and in July 1892, was deported to Dapitan in the province of Zamboanga, a peninsula of Mindanao. There he built a school, a hospital and a water supply system, and taught and engaged in farming and horticulture. Abaca, then the vital raw material for cordage and which Rizal and his students planted in the thousands, was a memorial. The boys’ school, which taught in Spanish, and included English as a foreign language (considered a prescient if unusual option then) was conceived by Rizal and antedated Gordonstoun with its aims of inculcating resourcefulness and self-sufficiency in young men. They would later enjoy successful lives as farmers and honest government officials. One, a Muslim, became a datu, and another, José Aseniero, who was with Rizal throughout the life of the school, became Governor of Zamboanga.
In Dapitan, the Jesuits mounted a great effort to secure his return to the fold led by Fray Sánchez, his former professor, who failed in his mission. The task was resumed by Fray Pastells, a prominent member of the Order. In a letter to Pastells, Rizal sails close to the ecumenism familiar to us today. – “We are entirely in accord in admitting the existence of God. How can I doubt his when I am convinced of mine. Who so recognizes the effect recognizes the cause. To doubt God is to doubt one’s own conscience, and in consequence, it would be to doubt everything; and then what is life for? Now then, my faith in God, if the result of a ratiocination may be called faith, is blind, blind in the sense of knowing nothing. I neither believe nor disbelieve the qualities which many attribute to him; before theologians’ and philosophers’ definitions and lucubrations of this ineffable and inscrutable being I find myself smiling.
Faced with the conviction of seeing myself confronting the supreme Problem, which confused voices seek to explain to me, I cannot but reply: ‘It could be; but the God that I foreknow is far more grand, far more good: Plus Supra!…I believe in (revelation); but not in revelation or revelations which each religion or religions claim to possess. Examining them impartially, comparing them and scrutinizing them, one cannot avoid discerning the human ‘fingernail’ and the stamp of the time in which they were written… No, let us not make God in our image, poor inhabitants that we are of a distant planet lost in infinite space. However, brilliant and sublime our intelligence may be, it is scarcely more than a small spark which shines and in an instant is extinguished, and it alone can give us no idea of that blaze, that conflagration, that ocean of light. I believe in revelation, but in that living revelation which surrounds us on every side, in that voice, mighty, eternal, unceasing, incorruptible, clear, distinct, universal as is the being from whom it proceeds, in that revelation which speaks to us and penetrates us from the moment we are born until we die.
What books can better reveal to us the goodness of God, his love, his providence, his eternity, his glory, his wisdom? ‘The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork’.” His best friend, professor Ferdinand Blumentritt, kept him in touch with European friends and fellow-scientists who wrote a stream of letters which arrived in Dutch, French, German and English and which baffled the censors, delaying their transmittal. Those four years of his exile coincided with the development of the Philippine Revolution from inception and to its final breakout, which, from the viewpoint of the court which was to try him, suggested his complicity in it.
He condemned the uprising, although all the members of the Katipunan had made him their honorary president and had used his name as a cry for war, unity, and liberty. He is known to making the resolution of bearing personal sacrifice instead of the incoming revolution, believing that a peaceful stand is the best way to avoid further suffering in the country and loss of Filipino lives. In Rizal’s own words, “I consider myself happy for being able to suffer a little for a cause which I believe to be sacred […]. I believe further that in any undertaking, the more one suffers for it, the surer its success. If this be fanaticism may God pardon me, but my poor judgment does not see it as such.”
In Dapitan, Rizal wrote “Haec Est Sibylla Cumana”, a parlor-game for his students, with questions and answers for which a wooden top was used. In 2004, Jean Paul Verstraeten traced this book and the wooden top, as well as Rizal’s personal watch, spoon and salter. Arrest and trial
By 1896, the rebellion fomented by the Katipunan, a militant secret society, had become a full-blown revolution, proving to be a nationwide uprising. Rizal had earlier volunteered his services as a doctor in Cuba and was given leave by Governor-General Ramón Blanco to serve in Cuba to minister to victims of yellow fever. Rizal and Josephine left Dapitan on August 1, 1896 with letter of recommendation from Blanco.
Rizal was arrested en route to Cuba via Spain and was imprisoned in Barcelona on October 6, 1896. He was sent back the same day to Manila to stand trial as he was implicated in the revolution through his association with members of the Katipunan. During the entire passage, he was unchained, no Spaniard laid a hand on him, and had many opportunities to escape but refused to do so. While imprisoned in Fort Santiago, he issued a manifesto disavowing the current revolution in its present state and declaring that the education of Filipinos and their achievement of a national identity were prerequisites to freedom. Rizal was tried before a court-martial for rebellion, sedition, and conspiracy, was convicted on all three charges, and sentenced to death. Blanco, who was sympathetic to Rizal, had been forced out of office. The friars, led by then Archbishop of Manila Bernardino Nozaleda, had ‘intercalated’ Camilo de Polavieja in his stead, as the new Spanish Governor-General of the Philippines after pressuring Queen-Regent Maria Cristina of Spain, thus sealing Rizal’s fate. Execution
A photographic record of Rizal’s execution in what was thenBagumbayan. Moments before his execution on December 30, 1896 by a squad of Filipino soldiers of the Spanish Army, a backup force of regular Spanish Army troops stood ready to shoot the executioners should they fail to obey orders. The Spanish Army Surgeon General requested to take his pulse: it was normal. Aware of this the Sergeant commanding the backup force hushed his men to silence when they began raising “vivas” with the highly partisan crowd of Peninsular and Mestizo Spaniards. His last words were those of Jesus Christ: “consummatum est”,–it is finished. He was secretly buried in Pacò Cemetery in Manila with no identification on his grave. His sister Narcisa toured all possible gravesites and found freshly turned earth at the cemetery with guards posted at the gate.
Assuming this could be the most likely spot, there never having any ground burials, she made a gift to the caretaker to mark the site “RPJ”, Rizal’s initials in reverse. His undated poem, Mi último adiós believed to be written a few days before his execution, was hidden in an alcohol stove, which was later handed to his family with his few remaining possessions, including the final letters and his last bequests.:91 During their visit, Rizal reminded his sisters in English, “There is something inside it”, referring to the alcohol stove given by the Pardo de Taveras which was to be returned after his execution, thereby emphasizing the importance of the poem. This instruction was followed by another, “Look in my shoes”, in which another item was secreted. Exhumation of his remains in August 1898, under American rule, revealed he had been uncoffined, his burial not on sanctified ground granted the ‘confessed’ faithful, and whatever was in his shoes had disintegrated. In his letter to his family he wrote: “Treat our aged parents as you would wish to be treated…Love them greatly in memory of me…December 30, 1896.” He gave his family instructions for his burial: “Bury me in the ground.
Place a stone and a cross over it. My name, the date of my birth and of my death. Nothing more. If later you wish to surround my grave with a fence, you can do it. No anniversaries.” In his final letter, to Blumentritt – Tomorrow at 7, I shall be shot; but I am innocent of the crime of rebellion. I am going to die with a tranquil conscience. Rizal is believed to be the first Filipino revolutionary whose death is attributed entirely to his work as a writer; and through dissent and civil disobedience enabled him to successfully destroy Spain’s moral primacy to rule. He also bequeathed a book personally bound by him in Dapitan to his ‘best and dearest friend.’ When Blumentritt received it in his hometown Litoměřice (Leitmeritz) he broke down and wept.
Novels and essays
Noli Me Tángere, novel, 1887 (literally Latin for ‘touch me not’, from John 20:17) El Filibusterismo, (novel, 1891), sequel to Noli Me Tángere Mi Último Adiós, poem, 1896 (literally “My Last Farewell” ) Alin Mang Lahi” (“Whate’er the Race”), a Kundiman attributed to Dr. José Rizal The Friars and the Filipinos (Unfinished)
Toast to Juan Luna and Felix Hidalgo (Speech, 1884), given at Restaurante Ingles, Madrid The Diaries of José Rizal
Rizal’s Letters is a compendium of Dr. Jose Rizal’s letters to his family members, Blumentritt, Fr. Pablo Pastells and other reformers “Come se gobiernan las Filipinas” (Governing the Philippine islands) Filipinas dentro de cien años essay, 1889-90 (The Philippines a Century Hence) La Indolencia de los Filipinos, essay, 1890 (The indolence of Filipinos) Makamisa unfinished novel
Sa Mga Kababaihang Taga Malolos, essay, 1889, To the Young Women of Malolos Annotations to Antonio de Moragas, Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas (essay, 1889, Events in the Philippine Islands) Poetry
A La Juventud Filipina
El Canto Del Viajero
Canto Del Viajero
Canto de María Clara
Dalit sa Paggawa
Me Piden Versos
Mi primera inspiracion
Mi Ultimo Adiós
Por La Educación (Recibe Lustre La Patria)
Sa Sanggol na si Jesus
To My Muse (A Mi Musa)
Un Recuerdo A Mi Pueblo
A Man in Dapitan