José Rizal

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José Rizal

José Protacio Mercado Rizal y Alonso Realonda (born June 19, 1861 in Calamba City , Luzon , † December 30, 1896 in Manila ) was a Filipino writer , patriot , doctor and Freemason , whose life and literary work were an inspiration for the Philippine independence movement including the Katipunan . He is the national hero of the Philippines .

Rizal made extensive trips to Belgium , England , France , Hong Kong , Japan , Switzerland , Spain , Austria-Hungary and through the USA . He also lived in Germany for a long time and successfully studied medicine in Heidelberg . In Wilhelmsfeld near Heidelberg there is a monument dedicated to him . In Ulm, he illustrated children's books , including the new illustration of the “ Max and Moritz ” stories and translated Schiller's Wilhelm Tell into Tagalog, the Filipino language. He was friends with one of the best experts in the Philippines, Ferdinand Blumentritt in Litoměřice , where a memorial was erected for him. In 1887 he became a member of the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory .

Family history

Rizal at the age of 11 as a student at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila

Rizal was the seventh of eleven children of Francisco Rizal Mercado and Teodora Alonso and was born in the city of Calamba in the province of Laguna . Rizal was considered a Chinese mestizo , as he was descended from Domingo Lam-co in the fifth generation. The latter immigrated from the Fujian Province of China to the Philippines at the end of the 17th century, married the Chinese mestizo Inés de la Rosa and set up shop as a trader. Due to a decree of the Governor General, Lam-co had to choose a Spanish surname and chose the surname “Mercado”, which meant “market” and referred to his professional activity. Rizal's mother, Teodora, was the daughter of the granddaughter Lam-cos (Brígida de Quintos) and a Spanish-Filipino mestizo (Lorenzo Alberto Alonso).

From then on, the family lived under the surname Mercado. José Rizal kept this name until he enrolled in the Ateneo Municipal de Manila. After his older brother Paciano Rizal Mercado got into trouble with the Spanish colonial government because of his connections to the executed Filipino priest José Burgos , the latter persuaded his younger brother to change his surname to “Rizal” (green as a rice stalk) in order not to attract the attention of the authorities to draw on.


Rizal left for Manila to study at Ateneo Municipal de Manila (now Ateneo de Manila University ), where he received the title of Bachelor of Philosophy (Abitur) in 1877 and was supported by Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista . He continued his education at Ateneo to become a land surveyor and at the same time enrolled in the University of Santo Tomás for the subjects of literature and philosophy. When he learned that his mother was blind, he decided to study medicine, but dropped out because he felt discriminated against by the priests at the university. Instead, he finished his medical studies at the Universidad Central de Madrid in Spain, where he had meanwhile left, and received the final grade “excellent”. He then moved to Paris and specialized in an eye clinic as an ophthalmologist. He then moved to Heidelberg, where he practiced ophthalmology as an employee of the renowned ophthalmologist Otto Becker .

During his stay in London he was particularly supported by his friend and frequent host , Reinhold Rost , the chief librarian of the India Office Library , who a. at the Spanish royal family for his return home.

Rizal was accepted into the Freemasons ' Union in 1884 , his lodge was the Acacia Lodge No. 9 in Madrid . In 1892 he founded the Filipino lodge La Liga Filipina .

Works and Heritage

José Rizal (left), Marcelo H. del Pilar (center), Mariano Ponce (right)
Pencil drawing by Rizal, depicting Leonor Rivera – Kipping . She was the model of the fictional character María Clara from the novel Noli me tangere .

Rizal's books, especially his most famous work Noli me tangere ( Don't touch me ), which was published in Berlin in 1887 in Spanish, criticized the prevailing socio-political system and above all the abuse of power by the Roman Catholic Church and the Spanish priests and monks. In Noli me tangere , corruption, land grabbing and even sexual abuse of native women by Spanish monks are depicted or implied. His second and more dramatic work, El filibusterismo ( The Rebellion ), which builds on the first and was published in Ghent (Belgium) in 1891 , deals with the general turmoil and dissatisfaction with the Spanish colonial power. This brought Rizal, who came from a wealthy, Sino-Mestizo family, into opposition to the ruling Spanish authorities. Education and knowledge were considered life-threatening in the colonial Philippines, especially in relation to the powerful Roman Catholic Church and the Spanish monastic order - his works were expressly forbidden. He also set a literary monument to the executed GOMBURZA group .

He was a leading member of the propaganda movement of Filipino students in Europe and wrote political articles for their newspaper La Solidaridad . Among other things, he demanded that the Philippines become a Spanish province, Filipino seats in the Spanish Parliament ( Cortes ), the replacement of Spanish priests in the Philippines by locals, freedom of speech and assembly and equality before the law for all residents of the Philippines. In 1892 he returned from Europe to the Philippines and founded the reformist League Filipina , which was immediately dissolved by the Spanish governor.

His works Noli me tangere and El filibusterismo were first translated into Tagalog by the most famous Tagalog poet Patricio G. Mariano ; 17 and 20 years after his death and made accessible to larger sections of the population.

Sentencing and execution

Memorial plaque on the house at Jägerstrasse 71 in Berlin-Mitte

As a result of his political activities against the Spanish government of the islands, he was brought to justice. First he was sentenced to exile in Dapitan in the province of Zamboanga del Norte (in Mindanao ). There Rizal built a school and a hospital. He also constructed a water supply system for the population. After serving his sentence in 1896, he sought to serve on behalf of Spain, a request that was personally approved by the Spanish governor. He left for Cuba to work as a medic for the Spanish army; but then the Philippine Revolution broke out. He was arrested on board the ship in Barcelona and taken back to the Philippines. He was convicted of incitement to rebellion and treason, although despite personal invitations he refused to participate in the Katipunan revolutionary movement . Quote from his last letter: Prof. Ferdin. Blumentritt - My dear brother: When you have received this letter, I'll be dead. Tomorrow at 7:00 am I will be shot but I am innocent of the crime of rebellion. - I'm dying with peace of mind.

On December 30th, Rizal was executed in Bagumbayan (now called Rizal Square ) in Manila . On the day before his death, he had crossed out the ethnic designation “mestizo chino” (Chinese hybrid) on the confirmation of his death sentence and replaced it with “indio” (local), thus declaring himself to the people. The night before his execution he also wrote the poem "Mi último adiós" (My last farewell), which he secretly gave to his sister. The poem became an inspiration to the Filipino revolutionaries of the time, but was also read decades later by Indonesian revolutionaries before decisive battles.


Monument in Rizal Park in Manila
Monument to José Rizal in Litoměřice

In Rizal Park , Manila, there is a large memorial at the place where he was shot, created by the Swiss Richard Kissling , with the inscription: “ I want to show to those who deprive people the right to love of country, that we indeed 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. “(I want to show those who deny people the right to love their country that we do indeed know how to sacrifice ourselves for our duties and beliefs; death doesn't count for dying for those we love - for his country and for others who are dear to one.) In 1972 the Philippines minted a 1 piso coin in his memory .

Furthermore, in Manila , in the Intramuros district , there is the fortress Fuerza de Santiago from Spanish colonial times, in which Rizal was imprisoned before his execution. The fortress now houses a museum, in which, among other things, exhibits by and about Rizal can be seen, for example the text of the poem “Mi último adiós” in several languages, including German, and a shrine (Rizal Shrine) in honor of Rizal. The dungeon is also still there and can be visited. The Jose Rizal Memorial Protected Landscape was established in Dapitan City on April 23, 2000 ; it contains the house in which Rizal lived in exile.

December 30th is a national holiday in the Philippines in honor of Rizal.

Two universities bear the name of José Rizal, the José Rizal University in Mandaluyong City and the José Rizal Memorial State University in Dapitan City.

The German School Manila also bore his name for a long time.

A statue of Rizal and busts of his companions can also be found in the Rizal Park in Wilhelmsfeld , Baden-Württemberg, established in 1978 .



  • Noli me tangere. Insel, Frankfurt am Main 1987, ISBN 3-458-14585-0 . (German; 100 years after the original edition)
  • The rebellion. Translated from the Filipino Spanish by Gerhard Walter Frey. MORIO Verlag, Heidelberg 2016, ISBN 978-3-945424-29-2 . (Original title "El Filibusterismo")


  • Bernhard Dahm: José Rizal, the national hero of the Filipinos. (= Personality and history. Volume 134). Muster-Schmidt, Göttingen / Zurich 1989, ISBN 3-7881-0134-2 .
  • Donko, Wilhelm: Austria-Philippines 1521–1898 - Austrian-Filipino points of reference, relationships and encounters during the period of Spanish rule. Publisher, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-8442-0853-5 . (On the subject of J. Rizal and his friendship with Ferdinand Blumentritt, pp. 243–292)
  • In 2005, Gerhard Frey published the book Conflicts in the series Heidelberger Jahrbücher . In the chapter: Violence or non-violence in conflict resolution: alternatives in Friedrich Schiller and José Rizal , the two different approaches to conflict resolution in their works Wilhelm Tell and Noli me tangere. ISBN 3-540-27078-7 .
  • Annette Hug: Wilhelm Tell in Manila. Roman, Verlag Das Wunderhorn, 1st edition March 17, 2016, 192 pages, ISBN 978-3884235188 .

Web links

Commons : José Rizal  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Tilmann Baumgärtel: Our national hero - the little ophthalmologist from a Chinese immigrant family.
  2. Brief biography of Bautista
  3. ^ Oskar Weise, Der Orientalist Reinhold Rost (1897), pp. 49 and 65
  5. ^ A b Robert A. Minder: Freemason Politicians Lexicon. Studienverlag, Innsbruck 2004, ISBN 3-7065-1909-7 , p. 292.
  6. ^ Biography of Patricio G. Mariano
  7. Original spelling. Letter reproduced e.g. B. in: Jindřich Tomas: José Rizal, Ferdinand Blumentritt and the Philippines in the New Age, 2008.