Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Visit to Jose Rizal's House

I have been an admirer of Rizal for as long as I can remember. As a child, I heard countless stories about his greatness and heroism. Well, I wasn't sure if all the stories were true, but one thing I was certain of, Jose Rizal was a great man. Like most Filipino school children, I learned from school about his life and works, that he wrote two novels (back then I could pronounce the Noli Me Tangere perfectly but I always mispronounce the mouthful El Filibusterismo). I also learned from school that Rizal was shot by the Spaniards. Back then, I was very angry at the Spaniards.

As a young Manila student in the 1990s I collected books about Rizal. I usually purchased my books in the bangketas of Recto. I read the unexpurgated Noli Me Tangere and the El Filbusterismo that were both superbly translated into Tagalog by Maria Odulio De Guzman. Some of my early books on Rizal were the biographies by Gregorio F. Zaide, Rafael Palma, Leon Ma. Guerrero, and Austin Coates. All these books gave me a fascinating insight on the national hero. I still keep these books and I re-read them from time to time (especially when I'm not so enamored by my latest Hustler issue).

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.

Rizal's parents were Don Francisco Mercado and Donya Teodora Alonso, a well-to-do couple who originally came from Binan, Laguna. After they married, Rizal's parents migrated to Calamba where they built one of the first stone and hardwood houses there. The house was patterned after the "Bahay na Bato" architectural style that was popular among the ilustrados of the 19th century.

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.

I have photographed the entire house of Jose Rizal from room to room (including the bathroom!), and I would like to invite you to go with me today for this virtual tour of the National Hero's house. Of course, nothing beats going there yourself and immerse yourself with culture and history. But if you're too busy to make the drive down to Calamba, then consider this tour as your virtual introduction to Rizal's historic house and lovely hometown.

The famous landmark of Calamba, the gigantic jar which has all the Calamba towns written on its surface.

The street where he lived..the town plaza is at the left side and the town's church at the right.

A frontal view

A historical marker

The grand staircase that leads to the main hall of the house

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.

A window in the living room

A view from the front window of the Rizal house.

The comida or the dining room

The main dining room

The platera

The cocina

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

The Church of Calamba beside the Rizal house.


Mari said...

Great photos, Dennis. It's like I've been there already. Thanks for sharing.

jhenny said...

that is nice, i had never been in the house of rizal, i think that would be fun visiting there :)

alex said...


Leah said...

My dad is a big fan of Rizal as well. I'm sure he'd love to go and visit this place you took photos of. Aside from learning about him in history class, I also read some biography books about the Hero.

I hope to visit this place one day.

Gina said...

I've always wanted to visit Rizal's house in Calamba but unfortunately, I wasn't able to. When we went to Villa Escudero in Tiaong,Quezon, we took the bus from Manila and passed by Calamba and I was hoping that I would at least catch a glimpse of the house. Hindi nangyari :(
I would love to see his house someday , kahit replica (?) na lang ito. When I took Rizal Course in college, I got a flat 1 ,by the way! ;) So talagang, big Rizal Fan ako,ha.

alex said...


dodongflores said...

Glad to see this post Pareng Dennis. I'd been here myself in the earlier of 2003 but was not allowed photos inside the house of Rizal so I only got photos of the outside. Good the policy had change in time. I might also visit this place sometime again in the near future...

june said...

ang ganda ng loob at labas ng bahay ni rizal..sana makapunta din ako dun someday..anyway, thanks for sharing this beautiful pics..i really love it...

francis said...

nice blog... i already missed rizals house after i saw the pictures.. waaaaaahhh... im so glad that i have been there too even just for once.. takecare dennis

Anonymous said...

wow, this is fascinating, i always wanted to go there but i dont have money and time, well, at least i have an idea on the inside of the house, thanks very much, very interesting, informative and everything...

kimberLyy said...

ohh .. ang ganda ng mga pics ,, tnx for sharing it kc we need pictures for our project , maybe i can use it .. kc napak unti ng nakuha kong pics .. and actually , halos lahat ng furnitures sa house ni rizal is renovated na .. and the floor is so ingay , kc kahoy xa , and parang sa dmi ng pumupunta dun everyday , umiingay na , or bumibigay na , kea mejo nakakatakot na dn lakaran ,, this house is so nice .. tnx 4 sharing it ha .. namiss ko tuloy nung field3p , hehe .. tnx again !! im a 1st yr 2dnt .. and it so helpful talaga .. godbless ..

shayne said...

hi, i thought taking pictures inside rizal's house is prohibited? how are you able to take those pretty pictures??:)

Liberty Casaquite said...

Thanks for taking time to share photos of Rizal's house. My daughter's assignment is about Rizal's house. She's in Grade 2.

Anonymous said...

wow.nice shots.really fascinating.
i'm doin a research now for our project in my subject rizal.we are to make a dayorama of rizal's house in calamba,but i just can't find an image of their not yet renovated house.haist.just hoping i can still find a nice & better image.
but you're shots really are of great help.thanks for posting,!.i really appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

ei ahm ur post is beautiful but may i ask if u have pictures of rizal's ancestry i really need them plsssss
plss email me at esel_magsalin@yc

Anonymous said...

This is not the same house of Dr. Jose Rizal's parents as I remember it when on a class tour a long long time ago.

The one I remember was a modest house with small rooms. The huge jar(calan) in the plaza look the same, but the house is definitely the one as I remember it.

Boom Setias Dizon said...

good work on the photos, Sir. Well, written too.

Marites said...

thanks for posting this. it's really helpful as i'll be going there this month to visit:)

W. said...

Thanks for a great tour! Are you sure of the spelling of "karwahe" (carriage)? The Spanish word in use during Rizal's life would be "carruaje"

JUSTIN YU said...

thats great .....wala akong masabe.he is a great hero.

julie said...

thanks for sharing

nats said...

It's a pleasure having this site available in the internet because it help me a lot in my teaching of Geography, Civics and Culture! Thanks and more articles will be posted in this site!


Anonymous said...

To be a good benign being is to from a philanthropic of openness to the mankind, an cleverness to trusteeship unsure things beyond your own pilot, that can lead you to be shattered in uncommonly extreme circumstances as which you were not to blame. That says something uncommonly weighty relating to the prerequisite of the principled passion: that it is based on a trust in the unpredictable and on a willingness to be exposed; it's based on being more like a plant than like a prize, something rather fragile, but whose very precise attraction is inseparable from that fragility.

Anonymous said...

It is very weighty to accept for befitting custody of all your precious stones pieces so that they pattern quest of a lifetime. There are unalike approaches and ways to straight weird types of jewels be it gold, euphonious, pearls, diamond or gem stones. Outlined below-stairs are the heterogeneous ways by which you can take care of your accessories and maintain them gleaming and novel always.

Anonymous said...

very nice photos... i also suggest you visit the Emilio Aguinaldo Shrine in Cavite... i'm sure you will also enjoy and learn from the tour as you have had from Rizal's Shrine...more power to you. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

very nice!!!!! naka punta na ako dito dati pa elem. days pa, pero gusto ko pa rin bumalik dito ngayon.. salamat!!

Anonymous said...

sir, may kilala po ba kayo na author about life and works of rizal? we need an authorization na para maisalin ang content ng isang book for our thesis.. which is elearning about rizal. thanks in advance.

Dennis Villegas said...

gregorio f. zaide

Belinda Atienza Carlos said...

I am always a proud Calambena and proud of my ancestry, I truly miss my hometown, seeing these pictures make me all the more excited to visit there in the near future..Rizal's house and Kalan-Banga, the Catholic Church where I was baptized are the best landmarks of the town (now city) of Calamba!

Anonymous said...

Awesome and I love it. I am from Iloilo and i am planning to go there in Calamba to visit Rizal's homeland. Very beautiful blog and the pictures as well. Great job!-Andi