Jose Rizal’s early childhood start in Calamba, Laguna his own hometown. He had many happy and beautiful memories. He grew up with loving parents, thoughtful and caring siblings. He spent his childhood at the lake shore town of Calamba with its scenic beauty and the majestic Mt. Makiling a few kilometers away from their home. He enjoyed the vibrant beauty of Laguna de Bay, a beautiful in Land Lake with verdant tall trees and plants that surround it. Where in the middle part of the lake was the beautiful island of Talim. And the on the far north of the town lies the famous mountain shrine of Miraculous Lady of Peace and Good Voyage of Antipolo where his mother vowed to the virgin that he would be taken to her sanctuary by the way of pilgrimage.
At the age of three his mother teaches him how to read the alphabet together with his sisters. Jose grew up as a good catholic. He takes part of the family daily prayers. When he was three he was a frail and sickly and small for his age. Because of these his parents and his siblings had given him their tenderness and care. When he was four he experience his first sorrow; the death of his sister Concha at the Age of three due to sickness. He really grieved the death of Concha because she was his playmate and he learns from her the sweetness of sisterly love. Jose cried bitterly and brought sorrow to the whole family. At the age of five he can read the Spanish bible and he showed inclinations to be an artist whiles his learning to read and to write. He amazes his family and his relatives by his pencil drawings and sketches and his molding of clay. He loved go to the church, to pray, to take part in novena, and to join religious procession.
One of the men that he esteemed and greatly respects in Calamba was the town priest Fr. Leoncio Lopez a scholar. He used to visit him and listen to his stimulating opinions on current events and sound philosophy of life. At the age of eight he wrote his tagalog poem entitled “sa aking mga kababata” with theme that revolve on one’s love for its language. At his young age he showed with an artistic talent. He loved to spend his time observing beauty of the surroundings. He spends much of his time in making images instead of playing. His sister used to laugh at him. But he never says any words to them. In his childhood he revealed his poetic mind. He started to write short verses on the paper or on the pages of his sister’s book. He loved to listen to his mother stories. His favorite story was story of the moth. He was impressed to the young moth because he sacrifices his life for a noble cause. His father built him a nipa hut in their garden where he can play and rest during day time.
His parents hire him a kind old woman as his nurse maid to look after his needs and comfort. He used to call her ‘Aya’. His Aya used to read him stories of fairies, tales of buried treasures, and tree blossoms of diamond, legend, folk tale. When some of the time that he wouldn’t ate his dinner his Aya would frighten him of ‘the aswang’, ‘the nono’, ‘tikbalang’ or the bearded and turbaned Bombay who could come and take him away if he would not ate. One of his fond memories during his childhood was the daily prayer. His mother would gather them for a religious activity, the Angelus. They also pray the rosary nightly. He enjoyed the nocturnal walk in the town during full moon.
On June 6 1868 he had his first trip with his father to the lake of Calamba going to the miraculous shrine Antipolo. To fulfill his mother vow that she should take the child to the shrine. She vowed there that she and the child should survived the delivery. The deliveries almost cause the death of his mother. He and his father rode a casco and sailed over the Pasig River. He was happy on his first voyage. He was amaze in the beauty of the watery expanse, the silence of the night and the luminous rays shone on the surface of the wide lake the following morning. After praying at the shrine they proceed to Manila to visit his sister Sutunina who’s studying at La Concordia College in Santa Ana. It was his first travel outside Laguna.
Rizal’s early education
* In Calamba
It was a typical for a son of an ilustrado family to receive the four R’s methods of teaching; reading; writing; arithmetic; religion. The instruction was strict and rigid. The knowledge was forced to the mind of the students by the means of tedious memory method aide by the teachers whip. Jose first teacher was his mother. She taught him how to read and write. In his memoir he wrote ‘my mother taught me how to read and to say haltingly the humble prayers witch I raised fervently to God’. As a tutor his mother was patience, conscientious, and understanding. It was her who discovered her son talent in poetry. Accordingly she encouraged her son to write poem and to lighten the monotony of memorizing the alphabet. His parents hired him a tutors to help him and give him lesson at home. His first tutor was Maestro Celestino. His second tutor was Maestro Lucas Padua. And later on his father hired a classmate. He taught him the rudiments of Latin and Spanish.
Jose called him Maestro Leon Manroy. He stayed at Rizal’s home. But unfortunately Manroy died five months later. So they let their gifted child send to a private school in Biñan And about of this time his mother two cousins frequented in Calamba, Uncle Manuel Alberto saws Jose frail body. Concern him the physical development of his young nephew and taught him the letter of love for the open air. He also developed Jose’s great admiration of the nature beauty. While his Uncle Gregorio, the scholar installed him the love of education. He advised him to worked hard and perform task very carefully. And learn to be swift and as a thorough; to be independent thinker and make visual pictures of everything.
* In Biñan, Laguna
On Sunday afternoon of June 1869 after the very tearful moment of parting with his sisters and kissing the hand of his parents Jose together with his brother Paciano left Calamba for Biñan. Paciano act as his second father. After one and half hour of traveling in caromata they reached the house of their Aunt where he is supposed to stay. At that very night, Jose together with a cousin named Leondro went into sightseeing in the town but he never appreciated it because he felt home sick. “In the moon light, I remember my home town, my idolize mother, my solicitous sister. Ah! How sweet to me was Calamba, my own home town, in spite of the fact that was not as wealthy as Biñan.” He murmurs. By the next day his brother Paciano brought him to the school of Maestro Justiniano Aquino Cruz, a former teacher of Paciano. It was 30 meters away from their Aunt house. The school was the house of Maestro justiniano. It was a small nipa hut.
When Paciano left Jose was assign to his seat. Then the teacher asked him;”do you know Spanish?” the lad reply “a little sir.” He again asked him;”do you know Latin?” “A little sir” he also replies. Everybody laugh at him especially Pedro the son of Maestro Justiniano. But the teacher sharply stopped the noise and begun to start the class for that day. Jose describe the teacher in Biñan as follow; “he was a tall , thin, long-necked, with sharp nose and a body slightly bent forward, and he used to wear a sinamay shirt, woven by the skilled hands of the women of Batangas. He knew by the heart the grammars by Nebrija and Gainza. Add to this severity that in my judgment was exaggerated and you have a picture, perhaps vague, that I have made of him, but I remember only this.” At the very first day of his studies in Biñan Jose met a fight. It was during the teacher’s siesta that he met the bully Pedro, he was angry with this bully because Pedro was making fun of him during his conversation with the teacher.
Jose challenged Pedro to have a fight with him. The latter accepted the fight, thinking that Jose was small and younger than him. The two boys had wrestling furiously inside the classroom, much to the glee of their classmates. Jose having learned the art of wrestling from his Tio Manuel and have the courage he defeated the bigger boy. Those facts make him popular to their school. After that afternoon a classmate named Andres Salandanan challenge him for an arm wrestling match. They went into the sidewalk of the house and started the fight. Jose having the weaker hand defeated the fight and almost cracked his head. In the succeeding days he had many fight with the boys of Biñan.
He was not a quarrelsome in nature but he never ran away from the fight. In academic studies, Jose beat the Biñan boys. He surpassed them all in Spanish, Latin and other subjects. Some of his classmates were jealous of his intellectual superiority. The wicked classmates accuse him before the teacher even though without any reasons. Which in spite of his progress he received many whippings and a strokes of ferule. Rare was the day when he was not stretched on the bench for a whipping or punished with five or six blows on the open palm. Jose’s reaction to all these punishments was one of intense resentment in order to learn and thus carry out his father’s will. Jose spent his leisure time in the house of Maestro Justiniano’s father-in-law, which was a master painter.