IN PHOTOS: Jose Rizal's Birthplace in Calamba, Laguna

Two-storey house where Jose Rizal was born

Calamba. The city in Laguna that when mentioned to someone raised in the Philippines would put Jose Rizal in their mind. In June of 1861, the eventual national hero was born in town, his childhood being spent in the familial estate that stands today as a shrine in his honor within Calamba's bustling town center.

But the present two-story Spanish-colonial house where the polymath grew up is already a replica. In 1890, a rift between Rizal's family and the Spanish friars threw them out of their own home that then lead to its neglect. Come World War II, the house fell into wreckage. The government bought what has remained to the property and in 1949, then Pres. Quirino signed an order for the reconstruction upon the exact area that the original house had occupied, using the same materials it was formerly made of — ground floor made of bricks, upper floor consisting of hardwood and capiz shell windows, and red tile roof. The original white exterior walls though were repainted green in 2009.

Rizal Shrine keeps memorabilia of Rizal's younger years and his nationalistic journey across Europe where he spent much of his adulthood. These keepsakes are displayed in the shrine's six galleries.
Entrance to the galleries

The lower level holds the first three galleries featuring Jose's family roots, his childhood, his formal education and how the town of Calamba was like during his time. This part of the house served as servants' quarters and storage room in the past.
Door leading to the first gallery
 Gallery 1 features Jose Rizal's roots
Statue depicting Jose's mother while teaching him to read
 His mom, Doña Teodora Alonso y Realonda, became Pepe's first teacher
Scrapbooks containing facts about Rizal's parents and ten siblings
 Scrapbooks containing facts about Rizal's parents and ten siblings
Jose Rizal's hand-written genealogy
 Jose Rizal's genealogy

Calamba of Rizal's time
 Gallery 2 talks about Calamba of Rizal's time — the environment where he grew up
Calamba's outskirts
 ... and Calamba's outskirts
Jose Rizal's formal schooling
 Gallery 3 presents Jose's formal schooling
Jose Rizal's reading collection
 Rizal's reading collection
Chronology of Jose Rizal's education
 Chronology of his formal education

Upstairs, the family's living quarter serves as the fourth gallery.
Jose Rizal's birthplace - anteroom
 ANTEROOM | Library and waiting/dining room for the family's guests
Jose Rizal's birthplace - living room (sala)
 LIVING ROOM (sala) | Where their relatives and close friends were received
Jose Rizal's birthplace - girl's bedroom
 GIRL'S BEDROOM | Seems too small for Jose's nine sisters. It has the original sewing machine that Jose's eldest sibling owned.
Jose Rizal's birthplace - boy's bedroom
 BOY'S BEDROOM | Jose and his sole brother Paciano's room. Historically, Paciano sleeps on the bed while Jose's on the floor
Jose Rizal's birthplace - parent's bedroom
 PARENTS' BEDROOM | Largest of the three rooms. Pepe (Jose's nickname) was born in his parents' bedroom.
Jose Rizal's birthplace - kitchen
 KITCHEN | Though the family has kitchen helper, Doña Teodora was said to be an avid cook.

Jose Rizal's birthplace - bathroom
 Where every family member apparently had their "me time".
Jose Rizal's birthplace - azotea
 The azotea (veranda)

The last two galleries focus on Rizal's patriotic sojourn across Europe and his undertakings while writing his seminal novels — "Noli Me Tangere" and "El Filibusterismo". These are exhibited in a separate air-conditioned display room built in 1997, adjacent the bahay-na-bato.
Gallery 5 of Rizal Shrine Calamba
 Gallery 5 focuses on Rizal's journey to Europe (1882-1892)
Some of Rizal's photograph when he's in Europe
 Some of Rizal's photographs when he's in Europe. #swag
"El Filibusterismo", Rizal's second novel (1891)
 "El Filibusterismo", Rizal's second novel (1891)

The entire house is a reproduction except the flooring, which was discovered and utilized during the reconstruction, and the water hole which present generation visitors treat as wishing well.
Wishing well
 Wishing well
Deep well at Rizal Shrine Calamba
 The pail extends to the azotea so as to easily fetch water when needed in bathroom and kitchen

In the vast garden stand a bronze statue of young Rizal and his dog, and a replica of the bahay kubo (nipa hut) that Pepe used as his workshop and hideaway when he's a child. The statue was built in 1996 to commemorate Jose Rizal's centennial death anniversary.
Pepe's <i>bahay kubo</i>
 Pepe's bahay kubo
Bronze statue of young Rizal
 Pepe watches over their home (pardon my daughter, she really tends to ride over those animal figures)

National Artist for Architecture Juan Nakpil supervised the construction of the present house whose funds are sourced mainly from school children's contribution, says the shrine's historical marker.
Historical marker of Rizal Shrine Calamba
Historical marker plastered along J.P. Rizal Street

Right across the street stands St. John the Baptist Church, the church where Jose Rizal was baptized three days after he's born. The church baptistery is a recognized historical landmark as well.
Saint John the Baptist Church | Calamba, Laguna
 Saint John the Baptist Church | Calamba, Laguna

How to Get to Rizal Shrine Calamba

Hop on a bus (in bus stations near LRT Buendia Station) bound for Sta. Cruz, Laguna; then alight near Chowking Calamba where there are tricycles going to Rizal Shrine.

"I am neither immortal nor invulnerable, and my greatest joy will be able to see myself eclipsed by a multitude of our countrymen at the hour of my death. If one is killed or executed, twenty or thirty would hopefully take his place so that they may regret the execution and killing."

— Rizal's letter to Mariano Ponce, 27 June 1888

Rizal Shrine Calamba
Address: F. Mercado cor. J.P. Rizal St. Calamba, Laguna
Opens: Tuesday - Sunday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Entrance: FREE
Contact: (+63) 09175537198 / (049) 8341599


DJ Rivera is an I.T. professional, entrepreneur, travel blogger, writer and the online publisher of based in Rizal province, Philippines. Click here to know more.

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