The Life of Jose Rizal: Philippine Patriot
Rizal's Early Childhood
JOSE PROTASIO RIZAL MERCADO Y ALONZO REALONDA, the seventh child of Francisco
Engracio Rizal Mercado y Alejandro and his wife, Teodora Morales Alonzo Realonda y
Quintos, was born in Kalamba, June 19, 1861.
He was a typical Filipino, for few persons in this land of mixed blood could boast a
greater mixture than his. Practically all the ethnic elements, perhaps even the Negrito in
the far past, combined in his blood. All his ancestors, except the doubtful strain of the
Negrito, had been immigrants to the Philippines, early Malays, and later Sumatrans,
Chinese of prehistoric times and the refugees from the Tartar dominion, and Spaniards of
old Castile and Valencia-representatives of all the various peoples who have blended to
make the strength of the Philippine race.
Shortly before Jose's birth his family had built a pretentious new home in the center of
Kalamba on a lot which Francisco Mercado had inherited from his brother. The house
was destroyed before its usefulness had ceased, by the vindictiveness of those who hated
the man-child that was born there. And later on the gratitude of a free people held the
same spot sacred because there began that life consecrated to the Philippines and finally
given for it, after preparing the way for the union of the various disunited Chinese
mestizos, Spanish mestizos, and half a hundred dialectically distinguished "Indians" into
the united people of the Philippines.
Jose was christened in the nearby church when three days old, and as two out-of-town
bands happened to be in Kalamba for a local festival, music was a feature of the event.
His godfather was Father Pedro Casanas, a Filipino priest of a Kalamba family, and the
priest who christened him was also a Filipino, Father Rufino Collantes. Following is a
translation of the record of Rizal's birth and baptism: "I, the undersigned parish priest of
the town of Calamba, certify that from the investigation made with proper authority, for
replacing the parish books which were burned September 28, 1862, to be found in Docket
No. 1 of Baptisms, page 49, it appears by the sworn testimony of competent witnesses
that JOSE RIZAL MERCADO is the legitimate son, and of lawful wedlock, of Don Francisco
Rizal Mercado and Dona Teodora Realonda, having been baptized in this parish on the
22d day of June in the year 1861, by the parish priest, Rev. Rufino Collantes, Rev. Pedro
(Signed) LEONCIO LOPEZ.
Jose Rizal's earliest training recalls the education of William and Alexander von
Humboldt, those two nineteenth century Germans whose achievements for the prosperity
of their fatherland and the advancement of humanity have caused them to be spoken of as
the most remarkable pair of brothers that ever lived. He was not physically a strong child,
but the direction of his first studies was by an unusually gifted mother, who succeeded,
almost without the aid of books, in laying a foundation upon which the man placed an
amount of well-mastered knowledge along many different lines that is truly marvelous,
and this was done in so short a time that its brevity constitutes another wonder.