Want to see early sketches done by our national hero? This is not the only memorabilia to spot at the Rizal Shrine in Calamba
June 19 of this year marked the 155th birthday of the Philippines’ national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. If you want to commemorate his life, it’s easy enough to read books about him or watch movie depictions of his life. But why not make a little effort by stretching your legs and visiting the Rizal Shrine in his hometown of Calamba, Laguna, instead?
A massive residential structure located along J.P. Rizal Street, the Rizal Shrine is an exact reproduction of Rizal’s home, where he lived with parents Francisco Mercado and Teodora Alonso and his 10 siblings. In case you have yet to personally see the home, here’s a rundown of the history of the property, as well as what you should expect during your visit, in numbers.
The number of years it took Rizal’s father, Francisco, to build the home
Said to be a typical “bahay na bato,” the original home consisted of adobe, bricks, and hardwood, and possessed the aesthetics of a usual upper-class Filipino home during the Spanish era. The sliding windows are adorned with capiz shells and the roof with red ceramic tile. Also on the property is a nipa hut where Rizal is said to have learned to draw and sculpt.
A replica of the Rizals' nipa hut (Photo by Ramon FVelasquez via Wikimedia Commons)
The number of books Rizal’s father is said to have owned and kept in the home’s library, or caida
During the time, it was said to be the largest library in Calamba. Aside from the caida, other rooms in the upper portion of the house are three bedrooms, formal dining room for the family’s prominent guests, the living room, the informal dining area (also called the comedor), and the bathroom. Downstairs, a stable was built to keep the horses and carriages. Another notable part of the house is an old well, which remains to be the only surviving part of the original structure (and has since been turned into a wishing well by visitors).
The year the Spanish government seized the home
Although Jose’s brother Paciano was able to reoccupy the home during the revolution, they lost ownership of the property again to the Spanish friars. Later on, it was sold off, destroyed during the Second World War, and eventually demolished.
Jose and brother Paciano's bedroom and the family seating area (Photos by Ramon FVelasquez via Wikimedia Commons)
The price the Philippine government paid to purchase what remained of the home
In 1945, President Elpidio Quirino passed Executive Order No. 145 to rebuild the home exactly the way it was with National Artist for Architecture Juan F. Nakpil taking the lead on the project. During the reconstruction, Jose’s younger sister Trinidad was still alive, and was regularly consulted by Nakpil to ensure the faithfulness of their ancestral home’s replica.
The inauguration year of the completed replica
June 19 of the year was supposed to have been Rizal’s 89th birthday. It was on this day that the home was revealed to the public as a museum for Rizal’s memorabilia. In 1998, which is the centennial celebration of Philippine independence, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) decided that the home should contain artifacts from Rizal’s childhood, so exhibits seen in the home are exact copies of the hero’s baptismal certificate, as well as his writings and drawings as a child.
A young Jose Rizal in bronze and the original Rizal home well (Photos by Ramon FVelasquez via Wikimedia Commons)
The average number of visitors every year
To ensure that guests will have a well-rounded experience and a full understanding of the life of Rizal, the home has been modernized to include an audio-visual room, as well as a museum that contains historical artifacts related to the hero’s life. Also, artist Dudley Diaz created a life-size sculpture of a young Rizal standing alongside his dog, an artwork that can be seen in the garden of the home.
The year when the Rizal home was repainted from white to green
According to the NHCP, this is to commemorate the family’s last name Rizal, which comes from the term “ricial” or “green fields” in Spanish.
The Rizal Shrine is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, 8 AM to 4 PM.
Main photo by Ramon FVelasquez via Wikimedia Commons
Sources: wikipedia.org, lagunatravelguide.com, gmanetwork.com, canadianinquirer.net