The Ultimate Sacrifice

José Rizal was born in 1861 in Calamba, Philippines in 1861. Early on his parents identified his special intellect. He could read and write at age 5. He trained to be a land surveyor but could not receive a license because he was only 17.

Since he could not work as a surveyor, he continued his education and graduated with a medical degree at age 23, and then a degree in Philosophy. He travelled to Germany to obtain another degree in Ophthalmology. He had hoped to help his mother who was going blind.

While in Europe, José learned 10 languages. He knew 22 languages in total. In addition to his formal education, he developed other skills especially in the arts: playwright, painter, sculptor, and novelist. It was his novels that led to him being labeled as a troublemaker. One of his novels was critical of the Catholic Church while others were critical of the Spanish government’s control of the Philippines.

When he fell in love, he was denied permission by the Catholic Church to marry. When he returned to the Philippines he was labeled an enemy of the state and was exiled to an island where he became a teacher.

At the time of this exile, citizens of the Philippines began to reject Spanish rule. The revolution grew violent against José’s wishes. In spite of José’s opposition to the violence, José was arrested and sentenced to death. A firing squad of Philippine soldiers was given the duty to execute him. Spanish troops were given orders to shoot the Filipino troops should they fail to execute José. He was buried in an unmarked grave with only a cloth covering his body. He was 35 years old.

José is considered to be the national hero of the Philippines for his writings that inspired Philippine independence. José Rizal was an extraordinary talent in many areas. He could have lived a very good life but chose instead to devote his life to helping his fellow citizens win independence. Hidden heroes often put aside personal wellbeing for the betterment of others.

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“Give me liberty, or give me death.”  – Patrick Henry

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