Jose Rizal (Jose Protasio Rizal Mercado y Realonda) is considered as the Philippines' National Hero. Most commonly referred by his family as Pepe, Rizal was born on June 19, 1961 in the town of Calamba in the province of Laguna in the Philippines. He was the seventh child of the eleven offspring of his proud parents Francisco Engracio Mercado Rizal y Alejandro and Teodora Morales Alonzo Realonda y Quintos. His siblings were Saturnina, Paciano, Narcissa, Olimpia, Lucia, Maria, Jose, Concepcion, Josefa, Trinidad and Soledad. It has been said that the Mercado-Rizal's blood had traces of Japanese, Spanish, Malay and even Negrito blood aside from Chinese.
Rizal got his first education in a typical schooling in Calamba and Biñan in Laguna. His mother was his first teacher. Rizal recounting the times with her wrote in his student memoir, "My mother taught me how to read and to say haltingly the humble prayers which I raised fervently to God." Thus it was her that first discovered Rizal's apparent talent in poetry.
After his schooling in Biñan, he then proceeded to take his college education taking up Bachelor of Arts in Ateneo Municipal de Manila and later on attended medicine in the University of Santo Tomas. He continued his studies at the Universidad Central de Madrid in Madrid, Spain, earning the degree of Licentiate in Medicine. He also attended the University of Paris and earned a second doctorate at the University of Heidelberg.
Rizal's various life experiences made him grew to become a multi- talented individual whose mark leaves a secure place in history. A born genius, Rizal was a polyglot as he was conversant in twenty- two languages. He was also known as a prolific poet, essayist, diarist, correspondent, actor, anthropologist, botanist, businessman, educator, humorist, ophthalmologist, philosopher, scientist, engineer, sociologist, sculptor and novelist, among others. Rizal's two famous novels, the Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) and El Filibusterismo earned him a great following and likewise enemies. A social commentary on the rule of the Spanish colonizers, these novels made it possible for the Filipinos' patriotism to be awakened and consequently unite to one single aim.
His founding of the La Liga Filipina, a civic organization gave birth to the Katipunan which was led by Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Aguinaldo. A strong proponent of Philippine self- government through peaceful institutional reform, he likewise did not take away the possibility of having to resort to violent revolution if the need arises.
And following Rizal's execution by the Spaniards at Bagumbagan (which is now known as Luneta Park) on December 30, 1896 through a firing squad, the Philippine Revolution was ignited. It has been said that it was on the eve of his execution that Rizal wrote his famous poem, Me Ultimo Adios.
Now, a statue stood at the place where the execution happened in Luneta and inscribed on it were these words:
"I want to show to those who deprive people the right to love of country, that when we know how to sacrifice ourselves for our duties and convictions, death does not matter if one dies for those one loves – for his country and for others dear to him."- Dr. Jose P. Rizal
Today there have been several controversies unearthed surrounding the life of Rizal especially that of his family. Some were bound to arouse our attention while others were plainly ridiculous, like some claims regarding Adolf Hitler as an estrange son of Rizal.