It is common knowledge that Dr. Jose Rizal is the Philippine National Hero who chose to fight the battle with his quills, paved the way for our independence and died doing so. However, it has always been fascinating to learn things that weren’t discussed on classrooms and lectures, to divulge facts that make a famous character seem like just the rest of us. So here are 10 fun facts that most Filipinos might not know about Rizal.
1.Jose “Pepe” Rizal was bullied as a kid. As a kid. Rizal was too small for his age and made him a target of Pedro’s bullying, insulting Pepe in front of the other students at the school of Maestro Justiniano Cruz. Equipped with his Uncle Miguel’s teachings about the art of wrestling, Rizal challenged Pedro to a fistfight. Rizal won and became popular as he proved himself a worthy opponent.
2.Jose Rizal wrote his first poem at the age of 8. Entitled “Sa Aking Mga Kababata” [To My Fellow Youth]. And it depicts one’s fervent love for his native language and asking his own generation to embrace it like we all should.
3.Rizal was a Hyperpolyglot. He mastered 22 languages: Filipino, Ilokano, Bisayan, Subanon, Latin, Spanish, Greek, English, French, German, Arabic, Malay, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Dutch, Catalan, Japanese, Italian, Chinese, Portugese, Swedish and Russian.
4.Rizal was addressed by his European lover as the “little bad boy”. It is not a secret that Jose Rizal had his way with women. And on the series of letters that were discovered to be love messages for Rizal, a Belgian woman named Suzanne wrote : “There will never be any home in which you are so loved as that in Brussels. So, you little bad boy, hurry back.” Now, who can resist giggling on this information?
5.He was accepted as one of the few Renaissance man in the world. A man who had broad intellectual interest. He was an anthropologist, ethnologist, ophthalmologist, novelist, sociologist, educator, economist, architect, engineer, sculptor, painter, playwright, historian, journalist, farmer, dramatist, martial artist, and a cartographer, among other things.
6.Rizal liked playing the lottery. And he won one-third of the grand prize of Php 18,000.00 with ticket number 9736. He gave a portion to his father, a friend in Hong Kong and he spent the rest buying agricultural lands in Talisay.
7.Rizal jovially pinched his students who can’t answer his queries. During his exile in Dapitan, he was able to establish a school, he had 21 pupils who were never asked to pay for tuition but was required by Rizal to work for the community.
8.Rizal is believed to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. There is a religious sect in Calamba Laguna, “Rizalista”, used to be known as “Iglesia ng Watawat ng Lahi” [Banner of the Race Church]. They combine religion and patriotism and believe that the execution in Bagumbayan was just a phase that he had to endure to be in the presence of God. They also believe that Rizal is still alive and lives deep in the forest of Mount Makiling.
9.Rizal was rumored to be the father of Adolf Hitler. Because of his famed reputation as a Casanova, it was believed that he was involved with a beautiful woman living somewhere in the border of Germany and Austria. Funny how Filipino imagination wanders.
10.Moments before his death, Rizal was reported to remain in a tranquil state. Before his execution, Dr. Felipe Ruiz Castillo took his vital signs and was surprised to confirm that his pulse rate was normal. Rizal was indeed ready and unafraid of his fate.