Rizal’s own story of his life by José Rizal


Words by José Rizal

(Arranged from Chas. Derbyshire’s translation; lines in different order.)

Tune of “The Wearing of the Green”




Words by José Rizal

(Chas. Derbyshire’s translation)

Music by Juan Hernandez







National Book Company





Dr. W. W. Marquardt suggested this book.

Miss Josephine Craig advised and assisted in the selections.

Hon. C. E. Yeater read and criticised the original manuscript.

Miss M. W. Sproull revised the translations.

Dean Francisco Benitez acted as pedagogical adviser.

Miss Gertrude McVenn simplified the language for primary school use.

Mr. John C. Howe adapted and arranged the music.

Mr. Frederic H. Stevens planned the make-up and, in spite of wartime difficulties, provided the materials needed.

Mr. Chas. A. Kvist supervised the production.

Mr. C. H. Noronha, who, in 1897, in his Hongkong magazine Odds and Ends, first published Rizal’s farewell poem “My Last Thought”, was the careful and obliging proofreader.

Assistant Insular Architect Juan Arellano, a colleague of the editor on the Dapitan Rizal national park committee, designed the sampaguita decorations.

Mr. A. Garcia achieved creditable illustrations out of poorly preserved photographs whose historical accuracy has not been impaired by the slightest embellishment.

And the entire establishment of Messrs. E.C. McCullough & Company—printers, pressmen and bookbinders—labored zealously and enthusiastically to do credit to the imprint: “Made in Manila—The Work of Filipinos”.[8]


The Memory of Rizal is kept alive in many ways:

1. A province near Manila bears his name.

2. The anniversary of his death is a public holiday.

3. A memorial school has been built by the Insular Government in his native town.

4. His home in exile has been made a national park.

5. The first destroyer of the future Philippine navy is named “Rizal”.

6. Rizal’s portrait appears on the two-peso bill.

7. Rizal’s portrait appears on the two-centavo postage stamp.

A 2-centavo postage stamp

A two-peso bill

A 2-centavo stamped envelope

A Philippine post card





  •       Page
  • Rizal’s pencil sketch of himself       1
  • Rizal at 14       4
  • Rizal’s painting of his sister Saturnina       6
  • Rizal’s portrait on Philippine postage and money       8
  • Rizal’s home, Kalamba       12
  • Rizal’s mother and two of his sisters       16
  • Clay model of dog and cayman combat       17
  • Where Rizal went to school in Biñan       18
  • Rizal monument, Biñan       24
  • Santa Rosa Gate, on Biñan-Kalamba road       26
  • Model of a Dapitan woman at work       28
  • Rizal’s uncle       29
  • Rizal’s uncle’s home in Biñan       30
  • Guardia Civil soldier       31
  • Rizal’s mother       33
  • Rizal’s father       34
  • One of Rizal’s teachers, Terracotta bust by Rizal       36
  • Padre Sanchez, Rizal’s favorite teacher in the Ateneo       37
  • Carving of the Sacred Heart, made by Rizal in the Ateneo       44
  • Wooden bust of Rizal’s father       45
  • Rizal at 18       48
  • Rizal’s sacrifice of his life       57
  • Professor Burgos       58
  • The lake shore at Kalamba       60
  • A Manila school girl, drawn by Rizal       62[10]
  • Rizal in Paris       64
  • Rizal at 30       66
  • Crayon portrait of Rizal’s cousin Leonore       70
  • Dapitan plaza and townhall       80
  • Wooden medallion of Mrs. José Rizal       84
  • Chalk pipehead, Rizal’s last modeling       86
  • Rizal at 27       90
  • Manila skyline, sketched by Rizal       92
  • Rizal at 22       104
  • Rizal at 24       106
  • Rizal at 26       108
  • Rizal at 28, from a group picture       110
  • Rizal at 28, profile       114
  • Rizal Mausoleum, Luneta, Manila       118
  • Noli Me Tangere manuscript-cover design, by Rizal       120
  • El Filibusterismo manuscript-cover, lettered by Rizal       121
  • Portrait of Rizal at time of finishing El Filibusterismo       121
  • Los Baños house where El Filibusterismo was begun, drawn by Rizal       121
  • Diploma of Merit awarded Rizal for allegory “The Council of the Gods”       123
  • Silver pen prize won by Rizal for poem “To Philippine Youth”       125
  • Alcohol lamp in which Rizal hid poem “My Last Thought”       125





—Autographic quotation from Rizal.


  •       Page
  • Rizal’s Song “Hymn to Labor”       2
  • Rizal’s Song “Maria Clara’s Lullaby”       3
  • My Boyhood       13
  • My First Reading Lesson       49
  • My Childhood Impressions       59
  • The Spanish Schools of My Boyhood       61
  • The Turkey that Caused the Kalamba Land Trouble       65
  • From Japan to England Across America       69
  • My Deportation to Dapitan       73
  • Advice to a Nephew       81
  • Filipino Proverbs       83
  • Filipino Puzzles       84
  • Rizal’s “Don’ts”       85
  • Poem: Hymn to Labor       87
  • Memory Gems from Rizal’s Writings       91
  • Mariang Makiling       93



  • The Memory of Rizal       8
  • Rizal Chronology       101
  • A Reading List       119
  • Philippine National Hymn (by José Palma)       126
  • Song: Hail, Philippines (by H. C. Theobald)       128



Rizal-Mercado home, Kalamba. Here José Rizal was born. The family lost this building, along with most of their other property, in the land troubles. Governor-General Weyler sent soldiers to drive them out, though the first court had decided in their favor and an appeal to the Supreme Court had not yet been heard. Later, the upper part of the building was rebuilt.






José Rizal wrote the first three chapters in 1878. He was seventeen years old at that time.



My Birth and Earliest Years in Kalamba

I was born on Wednesday, the nineteenth of June, 1861. It was a few days before the full of the moon. I found myself in a village. I had some slight notions of the morning sun and of my parents. That is as much as I can recall of my baby days.

The training which I received from my earliest infancy is perhaps what formed my habits. I can recall clearly my first gloomy nights, passed on the azotea of our house. [14]They seem as yesterday! They were nights filled with the poetry of sadness and seem near now because at present my days are so sad. On moonlight nights, I took my supper on the azotea. My nurse, who was very fond of me, used to threaten to leave me to a terrible but imaginary being like the bogey of the Europeans if I did not eat.

I had nine sisters and a brother. Our father was a model parent. He gave us the education which was suitable in a family neither rich nor poor. He was thrifty. By careful saving, he was able to build a stone house. He also bought another house; and he put up a nipa cottage on our plot of irrigated ground. The cottage was shaded by bananas and trees.

At nightfall, my mother had us all say our prayers together. Then we would go to the azotea or to a window to enjoy the moonlight; [15]and my nurse would tell us stories. Sometimes sad and sometimes gay, nurse’s stories were always oriental in their imagination. In these stories, dead people, gold, and plants on which diamonds grew were all mixed together.

When I was four years of age, my little sister Concha died, and for the first time I cried because of love and sorrow. Till then I had shed tears only for my own faults, which my loving, prudent mother well knew how to correct.

I learned to write in my own village. My father looked after my education. He paid an old man, who had been his schoolmate, to teach me the first steps in Latin. This teacher lived in our house till he died, five months later. He had been in almost perfect health and it was at the moment of death that he received extreme unction.[16]

Mrs. Rizal-Mercado and her two daughters, Saturnina, the eldest, and Trinidad, then a baby


In June of 1868, I went to Manila with my father. That was just after the birth of Trinidad, the third sister younger than myself. We went in a casco which turned out to be a clumsy boat. I shall not try to tell how happy I was at each new stop on the banks of the Pasig. Beside this same river, a few years later, I was to be very sad. We went to Cainta, Taytay, and Antipolo, and then to Manila. In Santa Ana I visited my eldest sister, Saturnina, who at that time was a student in La Concordia College. Then I returned to my village and remained until 1870.

A dog and cayman combat modeled at Dapitan in 1894. The dog was Rizal’s own, and looked like one that had been his boyhood companion at Kalamba


Where Rizal went to school in Biñan: site of Master Justiniano’s house, which burned down many years ago




My Schooling in Biñan

Biñan is a town about one and one-half hour’s drive from my own town, Kalamba. My father was born in Biñan, and he wished me to go there to continue the study of Latin, which I had just begun. He sent me over one Sunday in the care of my brother. The parting from my family was tearful on the side of my parents and my sisters, but I was nine years old and managed to hide my own tears. We reached Biñan at nightfall. We went to an aunt’s house where I was to live. When the moon came up, a cousin took me around the town. Biñan appeared to me large and wealthy but neither attractive nor cheerful.[20]

My brother left me after he presented me to the schoolmaster, who, it seemed, had been his own teacher. The schoolmaster was a tall, thin man with a long neck and a sharp nose. His body leaned slightly forward. He wore a shirt of sinamay that had been woven by the deft fingers of Batangas women. He knew Latin and Spanish grammar by heart; but his severity, I believe now, was too great. This is all that I remember of him. His classroom was in his own house, only some thirty meters from my aunt’s home.

When I entered the classroom for the first time, he said to me:

“You, do you speak Spanish?”

“A little, sir,” I answered.

“Do you know Latin?”

“A little, sir,” I again answered.

Because of these answers, the teacher’s son, who was the worst boy in the class, began to make fun of me. He was some years my elder [21]and was taller than I, yet we had a tussle. Somehow or other, I don’t know how, I got the better of him. I bent him down over the class benches. Then I let him loose, having hurt only his pride. After this, possibly because of my small size, my schoolmates thought me a clever wrestler. On going from the class one boy challenged me. He offered me my hold, but I lost and came near breaking my head on the sidewalk.

I do not want to take up time with telling about the beatings I got, nor shall I attempt to say how it hurt when I received the first ruler blow on my hand. I used to win in the competitions, for no one happened to be better than I. I made the most of these successes. But in spite of the reputation I had of being a good boy, rare were the days in which my teacher did not [22]call me up to receive five or six blows on the hand. When I went out with my companions, they jokingly called me nicknames. But individually they used to be so kind to me that I thought little of their teasings. A few of them were very good and always treated me well. Among these few was a second cousin of mine. Later, some of them were my schoolmates in Manila and then it became my turn to tease.

Near the house of my teacher, Justiniano Aquin Cruz, lived his father-in-law, generally called Juancho. Juancho was an aged artist who let me help him with his paintings. I had already such a liking for this art that our schoolmates called José Guevarra, another pupil, and myself the class painters.


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