Thinking about Rizal one hot summer afternoon, I decided to drive to Laguna and visit the birthplace of my hero. From Cubao, it took me almost two hours to reach Calamba. I arrived at at three in the afternoon and quickly found the old house of Dr. Rizal, which is the most important landmark in Calamba.
Even to this day, Rizal's house makes a striking impression. It is the biggest house in the area. It was here that Rizal was born. I closed my eyes for a moment to visualize in my mind what it was like standing in front of this beautiful house. Instead of cars, there were horse-drawn carriages. Instead of people in modern clothes, I visualize men and women wearing 19th century Barong Tagalogs and Maria Clara attires. Visiting Rizal's house was like a time travel to the world of the young Jose Rizal.
On June 19, 1861, Rizal was born inside that house and was the seventh among the eleven children of Don Francisco and Dona Teodora. He was baptized “José Rizal y Mercado” at the Calamba Church right next door. Young Jose was the first in the family to use the name Rizal in accordance with the 1849 decree of then Governor Narciso Claveria to change the surnames of Filipinos.
In 1891, due to Rizal's activism, the family came under attack of the friars who own the land where the Rizal house stood. Rizal's family was evicted from the house due to pressure from the friars. Eventually the house was sold to a Spaniard named Don Isidro for 24,000 pesos. Rizal's mother and sisters transferred to Hongkong where they reunited with Rizal in a place called Rednaxela Terrace, where Rizal maintained an eye-clinic. Meanwhile other family members sought refuge with relatives in Binan.
The Rizal house was destroyed during the Second World War, and after the war, the Philippine government bought what remained of the property for 27,000 pesos. Then in 1948, by virtue of Executive Order No. 145 signed by President Elpidio Quirino, the house was rebuilt by architect Juan F. Nakpil. Funded in part through schoolchildren contributions, Nakpil rebuilt the Rizal house exactly as it looked like during Rizal's time, using as reference old photos, the written memoirs of Rizal, and the recollections of Rizal's surviving siblings and relatives.The re-built house was inaugurated in 1950 and opened to public.
Viewing the house today, one would imagine that the Rizal's were one of the richest families in Calamba during those times. Imagine a huge house like this complete with daughters' bedrooms, sons' bedrooms, two dining rooms, a master's bedroom, a huge library, a living room, cocina, and toilet and bath! Not to mention the garage for the horse-drawn carriage owned by the family, and the huge backyard. Indeed, only the richest principalias of town like the Rizals were the only ones able to build a house like this. In today's standards, the house could qualify as a mansion.
At present, though, the Rizal house has become a shrine that serves as a museum containing some original furniture, books, and memorabilia that once belonged to the Rizal family (donated in part by Rizal family). On the grounds are statues of the boy Rizal and his pet dog. The lot is also where Rizal’s parents remains were transferred.
The original karwahe (carriage) of the Rizal family, still intact after all these years. Unfortunately, the horse died many many years ago.
The living room.
Rizal's bedroom. The bed was a replica of the original one used by Rizal.
The family well located at the back of the house
A most important seat in the house. No instant flush, though.
The back of the Rizal house
A replica of the little nipa playhouse that Rizal's father built for his son, Pepe