“Tambay muna tayo sa bahay ni Rizal (Let’s hang out at Rizal’s pad for a while).” I never thought I’d get to have a conversation where that phrase would actually be used.
We were chowing down mouthfuls of Chicken Joys and Jolli Spaghetti one afternoon in Calamba after doing a shoot in a Coke bottling plant. I was thinking since we’re in Canlubang already, why not check out its sights? It’s been years since I last visited the Rizal Shrine, the actual home of our National Hero, and it’s also been some time before I last read up about it on the net.
So with directions from the locals, we plied the dusty and blistering streets of Calamba on our way to Rizal’s house. I was surprised at how far it was, everything seemed so accessible via Google Map and it took us about an hour before we were prompted by our jeepney driver that we’re there already.
Rizal’s ancestral house is a green stone and hardwood affair similar to those found in Vigan. Destroyed during World War II, the lot was bought by the Government for a mere Php 27,000.00 and was restored with the help of National Artist for Architecture, Juan Nakpil.
Rizal’s parents, being both from Laguna, settled in Calamba after their marriage. Our National Hero was actually born here on June 19, 1861 and was christened José Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda.Seventh of eleven siblings, I guess he never had the middle child syndrome being the only Filipino Polymath (someone who’s an expert on a number of different fields) which is really something we Filipinos should be proud of. There are only a handful of people belonging in this category and among them are Leonardo Da Vinci, Pythagoras (remember your math?) and Isaac Newton, the elite of the elites.
Most see Rizal only as a Philippine Patriot, but he is definitely more than that. He was also an ophthalmologist, a poet, a journalist, a novelist, a biologist, a political scientist, a painter and polyglot (someone who can speak in multiple languages). Jose Rizal is definitely one cool and geeky guy.
Back to Rizal’s house, we were greeted by a Guardia Sibil as we entered the complex. It looked larger than what I remembered during my Grade 2 fieldtrip. We entered the ground floor where a number of paintings, artifacts and trivia about Rizal’s life are displayed and guarded by student volunteers.
The second floor replicates how Rizal might have lived his life through his boyhood years. The antique furniture scattered throughout the floor were all authentic period pieces. It’s just unfortunate that the originals were destroyed during the war. The house tour ends on a second floor balcony where a pail leads down to an old deep well, the only original feature of Rizal’s home that has been preserved.
Outside, the backyard has now been converted into a park with students chatting and resting along the lawn with a boyhood Rizal figure and his dog.
Surrounding the green space is a gallery of sorts housing dioramas, paintings, wardrobes, books and all sorts of Rizal-related artifacts.
One interesting thing that piqued my curiosity was the studies for the Rizal Park Monument. I didn’t know that Luneta’s landmark was selected through a design competition and the other designs were also quite remarkable.
The shrine closes down at 4PM and it was almost time when we finished touring the grounds. We checked out the memorabilia in the gift shop, had a few souvenir photos on the giant Rizal wall and it was time to go.
Too soon really; my first visit as a grade school student at Rizal Shrine was a blur and after so many years it was nice to solidify those memories back and augment it with what I now know about the greatest Filipino that ever lived. Jose Rizal is indeed one cool dude.
Rizal Shrine Calamba
J.P. Rizal Street corner F. Mercado Street
Calamba City, Laguna
Click to view location on Google Maps
Entrance Fee: Free
Open Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 8:00AM to 4:00PM
Phone Number: (049) 834-159