José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Realonda a.ka. José Rizal is a Filipino icon in Philippine history. He is being adored by young Filipinos both in the local and international because of his extraordinary intellectual abilities. Rizal is the catalyst in the nation’s hunger for freedom and revolution using only his brain, pen, and paper.

This short article summarizes the major life events of a young Filipino man who chose to be different for the good of his land and countrymen. The Chronology of The Life of José Rizal is a straight-forward approach from his birth, education, recognitions, travels, and his death. Learn about Rizal’s well-spent life!

A Chronology of The Life of José Rizal

Rizal’s Early Childhood

1848, June 28.—Rizal’s parents married in Kalamba, La Laguna: Francisco Rizal-Mercado y Alejandra (born in Biñan, April 18, 1818) and Teodora Morales Alonso-Realonda y Quintos (born in Sta. Cruz, Manila, Nov. 14, 1827).

1861, June 19.—Rizal was born, their seventh child. June 22.—Christened as José Protasio Rizal-Mercado y Alonso-Realonda.

Rizal’s Education in The Philippines

1870, Age 9.—In school at Biñan under Master Justiniano Aquin Cruz.

1871, Age 10.—In Kalamba public school under Master Lucas Padua. [102]

1872, June 10. Age 11.—Examined in San Juan de Letran College, Manila, which, during the Spanish time, as part of Sto. Tomás University, controlled entrance to all higher institutions.

June 26.—Entered the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, then a public school, as a day scholar.

1875, June 14. Age 14.—Became a boarder in the Ateneo.

1876, March 23. Age 15.—Received the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree, with highest honors, from Ateneo de Manila. June.—Entered Sto. Tomás University in Philosophy course.

Rizal’s Awards and Recognitions

1877, June. Age 16.—Matriculated in the medical course. Won Liceo Artístico-Literario prize, in poetical competition for “Indians and Mestizos”, with the poem “To Philippine Youth.” [103]

Nov. 29.—Awarded diploma of honorable mention and merit by Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Country, Amigos del País, for prize poem.

1880, April 23. Age 19.—Received Liceo Artístico-Literario diploma of honorable mention for allegory “The Council of the Gods,” in a competition open to “Spaniards, mestizos, and Indians.” Unjustly deprived of first prize.

Dec. 8.—Operetta “On the Banks of the Pasig” produced.

1881. Age 20.—Submitted winning wax model design for a commemorative medal for the Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Country centennial.

Wounded in the back for not saluting a Guardia Civil lieutenant whom he had not seen. His complaint was ignored by the authorities.

Rizal’s Escape and Studies Abroad

1882, May 3. Age 21.—Secretly left Manila, with a passport of a cousin, taking at Singapore a French mail steamer for Marseilles and entering Spain at Port Bou by railroad. Money furnished. by his brother, Paciano Mercado.

June.—Absence noted at Sto. Tomás University, which owned Kalamba estate. Rizal’s father was compelled to prove that he had had no knowledge of his son’s plan in order to hold the land on which he was the University’s tenant.

July–Nov.—A student in Barcelona.

Nov. 3.—Began studies in Madrid.

1885, June 19. Age 24—Received degree of Licentiate in Medicine with honors from Central University of Madrid. [106]

1886, June. Age 25—Received degree of Licentiate in Philosophy, with honors and special mention in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, from Central University of Madrid.

Clinical Assistant to Dr. L. de Weckert, a Paris oculist.

Visited Universities of Heidelberg, Leipzig, and Berlin.

Rizal’s famous novels, ‘Noli Me Tangere’ and ‘El Filibusterismo’

1887, Feb. 21. Age 26—Finished novel Noli Me Tangere in Berlin.

Traveled to Austria, Switzerland, and Italy.

July 3.—Sailed from Marseilles.

Aug. 5.—Arrived in Manila. Traveled in nearby provinces with a Spanish lieutenant, detailed by the Governor-General, as an escort.

1888, Feb.—Sailed for Japan via Hongkong.

Feb. 28.–Apr. 13. Age 27—A guest at Spanish Legation, Tokyo, and traveling in Japan. [108]

April–May.—Travelling in the United States.

May 24.—In London, studying in the British Museum to edit Morga’s 1609 Philippine History.

1889, March. Age 28.—In Paris, publishing Morga’s History. Published “The Philippines A Century Hence” in La Solidaridad, a Filipino fortnightly review, first of Barcelona and later of Madrid.

1890, Feb.–July. Age 29.—In Belgium and Holland, finishing El Filibusterismo (The Reign of Greed), which is the sequel to Noli Me Tangere.

Published “The Indolence of the Filipino” in La Solidaridad.

What you don’t know about Jose Rizal, The Philippines National Hero by Belgian Filipino Lovers

Rizal’s Mind-Revolt in Action

Aug. 4.—Returned to Madrid to confer with countrymen on the Philippine situation, then constantly growing worse. [110]

1891, Jan. 27.—Left Madrid for France.

Nov. Age 30.—Arranging for a Filipino agricultural colony in British North Borneo.

Practiced medicine in Hongkong.

1892, June 26. Age 31—Returned to Manila under Governor-General Despujol’s safe conduct.

Organized mutual aid economic society Liga Filipina.

July 6.—Ordered deported to Dapitan, but the decree and charges were kept a secret from him.

Taught school and conducted a hospital during exile, patients coming from China coast ports for treatment. Fees thus earned were used to beautify the town. Arranged a water system and had the plaza lighted. [112]

1896, Aug. 1. Age 35—Left Dapitan en route to Spain as a volunteer surgeon for the Cuban yellow fever hospitals. Carried letters of recommendation from Governor-General Blanco.

Aug. 7.–Sept. 3.—On Spanish cruiser Castilla in Manila Bay.

Sailed for Spain on Spanish mail steamer and just after leaving Port Said was confined to the cabin as a prisoner on cabled order from Manila. (Governor-General Blanco’s promotion had been purchased by Rizal’s enemies to secure the appointment of a governor-general subservient to them, the servile Polavieja.)

Oct. 5.—Placed in Montjuich Castle dungeon on arrival in Barcelona [113]and the same day re-embarked for Manila. Friends and countrymen in London by cable made an unsuccessful effort for a Habeas Corpus writ in Singapore. On arrival in Manila was placed in Fort Santiago dungeon.

Dec. 3.—Charged with treason, sedition and forming illegal societies, the prosecution arguing that he was responsible for the deeds of those who read his writings.

Dec. 12.—Wrote the poem “My Last Farewell” and concealed it in an alcohol cooking lamp, after appearing in a courtroom where the judges made no effort to check those who cried out for his death. [114]Dec. 15.—Wrote an address to insurgent Filipinos to lay down their arms because their insurrection was at that time hopeless. The address not made public but added to the charges against him.

Jose Rizal sentenced to Die

Dec. 26.—Formally condemned to death by a Spanish court-martial.

Pi y Margall, who had been president of the Spanish Republic, pleaded with the Prime Minister for Rizal’s life, but the Queen Regent could not forgive his having referred in one of his writings to the murder by, and suicide of, her relative, Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria. [116]

Dec. 30.—Married in Fort Santiago’s death cell to Josephine Bracken, Irish, the adopted daughter of a blind American who came to Dapitan for treatment.

Age 35 years, 6 months, 11 days. Shot on the Luneta, Manila, at 7:30 a. m., and buried in a secret grave in Paco Cemetery. (Entry of death made on the back flyleaf of Paco Church Register, among suicides.)

1897, Jan.—Commemorated by Spanish Freemasons who dedicated a tablet to his memory, in their Grand Lodge hall in Madrid, as a martyr to Liberty.

1898, Aug.—Grave sought, immediately after the American capture [117]of Manila, by Filipinos who placed over it, in Paco cemetery, a cross inscribed simply “December 30, 1896.” Since his death, his name had never been spoken by his countrymen, but all references had been to “The Dead” (El Difunto).

Dec. 30.—Memorial services held by Filipinos, and American soldiers on duty carried their arms reversed.

1911, June 19.—Birth semi-centennial observed in all public schools by an act of Philippine Legislature.

1912, Dec. 30.—Ashes transferred to the Rizal Mausoleum on the Luneta with impressive public ceremonies.

Read more about Jose Rizal and His life in Belgium, Will Jose Rizal be commemorated with a street name in Ghent?


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We are a dynamic team consisting of young and passionate - minded individuals who love Belgium and the Philippines. Our common desire is to bring and share valuable contents around culture, travel, relationship, family values, culinary, and lifestyle.

Visitors' Poll:

On 18th of September in 1891 José Rizal's book El Filibusterismo (The Reign of Greed) came of the printing press in Ghent.

Would you like to see the City of Ghent name a street after him to commemorate this historic event and evergreen story?