Rizal's Secrets (Part 2)

This post is a continuation of Rizal's Secrets (Part 1), if you wish to read the first part of the article, click here.

Issue #4: Rizal and his Money Matters

We have known that the Rizal family belonged from the medium to upper class families during their time – and some say that they had the surname “Rizal” which represented the rice fields that they have owned, and they also bragged for biggest library in their place, which is one indicator of wealth at that time.

But digging his own biography and lifestyle, it is discovered that our national hero is not (really not!) extravagant.  Even the wealthy Rizal’s had difficulties sending Jose his allowance, and sometimes, Jose did not receive anything at all. This means that even our most famous heroes and personalities had normal lives as we people do have.

There were three incidents that shown our Jose’s thrift:

He was once invited in a New Year gathering, which is considered a “patak-patak” celebration, in which he was tasked to be bringing the champagne. He did not like to be sponsoring drinks in a celebration, so, he stood in front of the people in a killjoy fashion (aside from his teachings that deals with taking our studies seriously, and to avoid vices such as drinking, gambling, and womanizing) told them with pride, that he is NOT paying the money spent on the champagne. Inabonohan lang nya. So before he leaves, will everyone pay their share? Everyone was stopped in their celebrating and thought it was just a joke, but they knew he was serious when he passed his hat down to serve as a container.

Another is when his allowance was delayed. He didn’t want his German landlady to know that he was missing his meals, so he would leave his apartment during lunch and dinner time and walk around the city, peeking and salivating while watching the Germans eat and munch in restaurants and bars. When he went back for about an hour or two, he would return to his apartment to give the impression to his landlady that he had gone out to eat. Looking at Rizal’s accounts, it was discovered that what Rizal ate for his breakfast were a sip of hot chocolate, a cup of rice, and sardinas secas. What is sardinas secas? It was the Filipino all-time favourite, TUYO. Jose Alejandrino, who travelled with Rizal in Belgium, tells about how thrifty Rizal was. He said that before checking in a hotel, Rizal would ask the manager how much a room with and without breakfast is. He would usually choose the room without breakfast to save on money so that he would use to buy alcohol, tea, and a box of biscuits which would he divide equally between himself and Alejandrino. For me, it was an intelligent but unfortunate and pitiful experience for our hero.

Another issue is “was Rizal really hygienic?” The answer is no. In a letter, he says: On my return home, I will bathe to my heart’s content. You would not believe me that since the middle of August (to the end of December 1882), I have not taken a bath and I do not perspire either. That is how it is here. It is really cold, and really expensive to take a bath. The cost of each bath is 35 cents.

He would have been thrifty at all times, but sometimes, he might do some luxury for himself (or what we may call “expensive mistakes”). While travelling, Rizal always complained about obligatory tipping. I wonder how he would have reacted to restaurants today that add a 10 percent (or more) service charge to the bill. One expensive mistake is because he always travelled first-class. Did he ever consider travelling “tourist class” or “economy”?  Maybe not. Rizal may have been an innocent abroad, but definitely has style.

Issue #4: What Rizal Really Wanted

We have given our national hero with too much recognition, we have statues of him almost everywhere, and we even tagged his name on many things, just like Rizal cement, and J. Rizal Street, no-class days during December 30 and June 19. Anyone who had experienced this kind of treatment would be so much overwhelmed, so are we. But who would think that our national hero did not want this kind of treatment? During his last days, he wrote a letter addressed to his family, which instructs them to “bury me in the ground. Place a stone and cross over it. Put my name, the date of my birth, and of my death. Nothing more. If later you wish to surround my grave with a fence, you may do so. No anniversaries. I prefer Paang Bundok.”

I would think that Rizal would rise from the dead knowing that none of these instructions have been followed, except for the fence that has surrounded his own grave. He is not buried in the ground, but is placed under a stone monument; and no cross on his grave. He is not buried in Paang Bundok, where Cementerio del Norte is located, but in Luneta where he was shot. The grave marker told everything – his biography and his works, which he expected to be carrying only his date of birth and death. And every year, the president of the Philippines, together with some other groups, made a death-anniversary Rizal Day Program dedicated to a person who didn’t like any.

This just means that Rizal’s last letters to his family reveal more than meets the eye.

Issue #6: Rizal, the Ultimate Violator of His Own Aphorism

One of the most famous teachings of Rizal was the cliché “Ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika ay masahol pa sa hayop at malansang isda.” He wrote for his country. But did he really love his language? There is a joke circulating everywhere in the internet that caught my attention.

“Jose Rizal: Inday, ang hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika ay mas masahol pa sa hayop at malansang isda.
Inday: Thank you for your wonderful words of wisdom. But don’t you know that I already read all your writings? Unfortunately, I was disappointed because your two novels were written in Spanish and Latin. So, therefore, you are the ultimate violator of your own aphorism.
Jose Rizal: (nosebleed)”

Reading the abovementioned joke, you might be wondering if Rizal really is an advocate of his own language. It is true that the “Noli” and “El Fili” are written in other languages, and later translated into Filipino. Rizal’s unknown third novel, the Makamisa, was intentionally written using his mother tongue, but still, finding it hard, shifted back to using Spanish. With this, would we still call him loyal? The answer is yes. The mere fact that he wrote these novels to defend the country is strong loyalty. The will to die for the country without pain or hesitancy is already a big factor.


There are more things to discover about our national hero. Filipinos are often crushed by Rizal’s academic and literary excellence, but that is only half of the story. They fail to see the time and effort that Rizal invested in everything he excelled in. We will only know and appreciate Rizal by reading his correspondence which is not present in comics and videotape versions. Our task is to see beneath Rizal’s greatness and realize our capacity for greatness.

This is my work, and work means property. Please do not claim this article or yours or whatsoever.. I do not claim those others' works cited, however, I've acknowledged them all. So, go on and read! I personally commend Mr. Ambeth R. Ocampo for giving us a lot of information that may concern our national hero! Maraming salamat po, sir!

1 comment:

  1. regarding Rizal talaga, si Doc Ambeth ang binabasa ko rin kasi nakakatuwa ang pagkkwento niya. Akala ko din dami ko na alam kay Rizal, pero hindi pala. :)


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