This grand house in Calamba is a reproduction of the house where our national hero was born on June 19, 1861. He was christened Jose Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda. His parents were Francisco Mercado and Teodora Alonso.
In time, he would become the best mind of his generation – the writer of two political novels that would influence the course of Philippine history; an artist; a poet; a linguist conservant in several languages; an eye doctor of renowned skill; a reformer and intellectual revolutionary; a citizen of the world but first and last a Filipino who lived and died for his country.
Rizal lived in the Calamba house until he started his formal studies in Binan. At the age of nine, he left for Manila to study at the Ateneo Municipal. Further studies would take him as far away as Europe. Yet throughout his life, during the many years spent in foreign lands and in exile in Dapitan, he longed for his home in Calamba, “like a weary swallow,” aching for the nest of his birth.
Rizal remembered many things about the house. The nipa hut in the garden was where he sketched and sculpted. In the kitchen he learned the alphabet and in the bedroom his prayers. In the library, he discovered books and a vast world beyond his hometown. On the azotea, he listened to his yaya’s stories of “skeletons and buries treasures, and trees that bloomed with diamonds.”
The Rizal House, now a shrine, recaptures the era of Jose’s boyhood. It is built along the architectural style of the Spanish period.
The ground floor holds various exhibits, facsimile of Rizal’s manuscripts and drawings.
The second floor is devoted to the family’s living quarters. The first thing you see is the caida, which also served as Francisco Mercado’s library. A doorway connects the caida to the sala flanked by three bedrooms – the boy’s room, which Rizal shared with his older brother Paciano; the girl’s room for his nine sisters; and the master bedroom with a four-poster bed in which Rizal was born.
Beyond the sala is the informal dining room above which hangs a punkah, a large rectangular fan of Indian influence. Close by is the kitchen and the azotea, below which is the old well, one of the surviving features of the original house.
A separate structure, built in 1997, houses a library, an audio-visual room and a Rizaliana gallery. The gallery contain artifacts from the hero’s later years such as a fragment of the coat he was wearing when he was executed.
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