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The Jose Rizal Shrine in Calamba, Laguna, the birthplace of the Philippines' national hero, is one of the most frequented historical and tourist sites in Laguna. An average of 270,000 tourists visit this shrine annually. According to the National Historical Institute (NHI), "It was in that house that the boy (Jose Rizal) was shaped and molded and who would become the finest expression of his race."
The present house/museum is just a replica of the original ancestral house of Rizal's family; the old house was destroyed during World War II. It was President Quirino who ordered the reconstruction of the national hero's home through the supervision of National Artist/architect Juan Nakpil and was inaugurated in 1950. According to the NHI, "Although its woodwork and masonry are new, it occupies the same area and is made of the same materials as the original house of the Mercados. Its ground floor of lime and stone, its upper story of the best hardwood."
The only surviving feature of the Spanis-Colonial house is a deep well that has become a "wishing well" for tourists and visitors. Unknown to many, the parents of Jose Rizal (Francisco Mercado and Teodora Alonzo) are buried near the narra tree about 20 meters away from the "wishing well." I can still remember when I was 12 years old, we had our field trip in Rizal Shrine where my classmates and I threw coins at the well to make a wish. (I can't remember what I wished for. Was it for world peace? :)) But I can still remember the gift shop located at the ground floor of the museum where I bought a book compilation of Rizal's poems (already translated into English).
On a more recent visit to Rizal's house, I had a sense of deja vu as I saw again the bedroom of Rizal and his brother, and that of his sisters and parents (contains a double bed where Rizal was said to have been born on June 19, 1861). Other items featured in the museum are Rizal's books and photographs, native utensils and artifacts used during the Spanish times, the black coat worn by rizal during his execution, and many others.
Since June 2009, there has been a controversy regarding the repainting of Rizal's house from the familiar white to a pale shade of green. The repainting was ordered by the National Historical Institute and according to NHI President Ambeth Ocampo, "the reason for painting Rizal’s house green highlights and informs visitors of the meaning of his surname. ...the Rizals who were also known by their other surname Mercado (market) chose 'Risal' from the 'Catalogo alfabetico de apellidos.' The word comes from the Spanish 'ricial' which describes a green field ready for harvest. It was hoped that after asking, 'Why is Rizal’s house green?' the visitor will get a relevant answer: the green hues are meant to honor the memory of the Rizal family and their way of life."
Well, do you agree with this reasoning? Come visit the repainted Rizal Shrine and decide for yourself.
MUSEUM HOURS (Source: National Historical Institute)
Rizal Shrine – Calamba City (RSC), Laguna – Tuesday to Saturday, 8:30 am to 12:00 nn and 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm
Contact#: (63) 49-54520110
How to get to Rizal Shrine:
By commuting from Manila: Ride a bus in Buendia (near the LRT station) going to Sta. Cruz. Then, get off at Calamba City near Chowking where there is a tricycle terminal. Ride a tricycle and tell the driver to drop you off at Rizal Shrine.
For a virtual image of the shrine, access this site:http://www.nhi.gov.ph/firefly/RSC_Facade.html
Through this virtual image, you may be able to see the streets leading to Rizal Shrine.
There is no entrance fee but donations to the Rizal Shrine for its upkeep are accepted. Some reminders from NHI Curator Ma. Luisa Valeza: "...visitors are supposed to give due respect to the place. That touching and taking pictures of artworks, eating and drinking inside the premises, smoking and of course, littering are strictly prohibited."
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