José “Pepe” Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda also known as Dr. Jose Rizal was a Filipino nationalist, novelist, poet, ophthalmologist, journalist, and revolutionary. We all know that he is our great national hero who offered his life for our beloved country.
Jose (Pepe) Young Rizal (Dominic Guintu) grew up in Calamba, his mother Teodora Morales Alonzo Realonda y Quintos (Gloria Diaz) served as his teacher. He learned (Ang Kwento ng Gamugamu) from his mother. His father Francisco Engracio Rizal Mercado y Alejandra II (Ronnie Lazaro) advised him to go to school and said “Hindi lahat ng bagay ay natututunan dito sa bahay.”
The Mercado family is maltreated by the Spanish government. That’s why Jose Rizal (Cesar Montano) used Rizal as his last name instead of Mercado in his school days. His first romance was with his cousin Leonor Rivera (Mickey Ferriols) but it was a secret. He experienced and witnessed the abuse and cruelty of the Spanish who colonised our country for 333 years. Rizal also judged by Spanish friar and his fellow students due to his height which is 4’11 (1.50m). His mother has been imprisoned for two and a half years accused of poisoning her brother’s wife.
Jose’s brother, Paciano (portrayed by actor Ping Medina as the younger Paciano and at the same time by his real life father Pen Medina as the older Paciano) grew up witnessing the abuses of the clergy and the Spanish colonial government. Paciano’s teacher and close friend, Padre José Burgos was implicated in the Cavite Mutiny of 1872 and summarily executed.
Because of the Spanish vicious administration Rizal pursue to study abroad without the consent of his family. His brother Paciano urged Jose to go abroad. He traveled to France (1883) to observe how medicine was being practiced there and in order to specialize in ophthalmology. Among all branches, he chose this specialization because he wanted to cure his mother’s failing eyesight. There is no evidence about his diploma in France. He completed his medical course in Spain.
He even go overseas to fulfil his plan for the freedom of the Philippines. It was in Madrid (1887) that Rizal began writing Noli Me Tangere written in Spanish, his first novel was published in Berlin. It’s sequel, El Filibusterismo was first published in 1891 in Ghent, Belgium using the donations from Rizal’s friends. Rizal send his books in the Philippines that leads and contributes to the revolution against colonisers. Noli Me Tangere was translated in French too and published by one of the most respectable publishing houses (they publish most of the classics) in France, Editions Gallimard.
Jose Rizal arrived to Manila in 1892, and created an organization called La Liga Filipina in the house of Doroteo Ongjunco at Ilaya Street, Tondo, Manila together with Andres Bonifacio (Gardo Versoza). The publicised novel of Noli and El Fili, The La Liga Filipina and the newsletter La Solidaridad becomes a big issue against the friar and the Spanish government in the Philippines that made Rizal an enemy of the state. The Archbishop of Manila issued an order banning the possession and reading of his novel, an order that was later reinforced by the governor-general. All the books were burned by the Spanish friar.
When Rizal captured, he was exiled in Dapitan and meet his “dulce extranjera” (sweet stranger) Josephine Bracken (Chin Chin Gutierrez) they have their child named “Peter” by Josephine or “Francisco” the child did not live more than a few hours but it was born alive (died due to miscarriage). Rizal was then prisoned in Fort Santiago. Luis Taviel de Andrade (Jaime Fabregas) becomes his lawyer. Inside the Fort Santiago Rizal continuous his writing like the poem “Mi último adiós” (literally “Farewell, Beloved Fatherland”), He has a prisoner butler named Gabriel (Jhong Hilario), he always listen to Rizal’s story.
On 30th of December, 1896 Josephine and Rizal reunited at the cell in Fort Santiago for the last time. Rizal (aged 35) has been executed (firing squad) at Bagumbayan (now Luneta) in Manila.