José Protasio Rizal Mercado y Realonda, before having known to everyone as a national hero of the Philippines, has undergone several stages of academic preparations prior to reaching his plenty accomplishments. First Teacher Going back to the roots of his academic learning, Rizal was first taught by his very own mother, Doña Teodora, with Latin alphabet and Catholic prayers, making her his first teacher like most mothers. With this, Rizal could partly read the Spanish family Bible as a child, specifically at the age of five. Biñan, Laguna Moving on to the next stage of Rizal’s academic preparation, which focuses in Biñan, Laguna, is actually the place where Rizal received his first formal schooling under the teachings of Maestro Justiniano Aquino Cruz in his nipa hut as their academe. While studying, Rizal got involved with several extracurricular activities with his other classmate, Jose Guevarra, both becoming apprentices of old Juancho and dubbed as “the favorite painters of the class”. Furthermore, it was during his days in Biñan when he started to manifest his exceptional self. Due to his brilliance, Pedro, the son of maestro Cruz was irked by Rizal and the qualities he brings especially when Rizal answered “a little” when asked if he knew Spanish and Latin on their first day. Irked Pedro has become Rizal’s bully and challenges him to a fistfight after their classes. Despite the fact of being smaller compared to Pedro, Rizal accepted the challenge but eventually lost, as Pedro appeared to be stronger compared to him. Ateneo After his first few years in formal schooling in Biñan, Laguna, Rizal attended Ateneo de Manila that was formerly known as Escuela Pia (Charity School) before the World War II. It was a school established by the city government of Manila in 1817 for the city’s poor boys. The school’s management was then entrusted to the Spanish Jesuits in 1859. Presently, it is known to be one of the country’s most prestigious institutions of learning. Going back to Rizal, he was known to be the most brilliant Atenean during his time, garnering the label “the pride of the Jesuits” and graduated with highest honors and earned the degree of Bachelor of Arts – equivalent to high school diploma of today’s curriculum. Rizal took private Spanish Lessons at the Santa Isabel College during noon breaks whose payment costs P3 for 3 extra hours. He invested his literary knowledge wholeheartedly under the teachings of his favorite Jesuit Professor, Father Sanchez, and painting under the famous Spanish painter, Agustin Saez and sculpture under Romualdo de Jesus, a noted Filipino sculptor. Aside from these talent-enhancing lessons he had, Rizal was actively engaged to extracurricular activities such as earning the position of secretary in a religious organization, the Marian Congregation. Apart from this, he was also a member of the Academy of Spanish Literature and the Academy of Natural Sciences. These groups were exclusive societies inside Ateneo, of which only the gifted ones are qualified for membership. UST On April 1877. Rizal was enrolled at the University of Sto. Tomas. His Bachelor of Arts degree easily qualified him to enter a university such as the aforementioned one. During his first year, he took up Philosophy and Letters because his father liked it and he was too undecided. In the following year, 1878, Rizal took up medicine because he wanted to be a physician that would cure his mother’s failing vision and because of Father Pablo Roman, the Father Rector of the Ateneo’s recommendation as he consulted him for a career choice. Ironically, Rizal’s mother was the only person who was against his decision in pursuing medicine for being afraid that Rizal’s too much learnings would put him to danger in relation to the three Filipino Fathers Burgos, Gomez, and Zamora’s execution on February 17, 1872 that was also affected by the fact that they had too much knowledge and that they were Filipinos as well. Going back to his UST education, he enrolled in a vocational course, leading to garnering the Perito Agrimensor (Expert Surveyor) title and excelled in all his subjects in surveying, as awarded with gold medals in Agriculture and Topography. He passed the final examination at the age of 17 but was not granted with the title because he was below the age requirement until November 25, 1881 when he was already 20 years old. After 5 years at the University of Santo Tomas, Rizal decided to continue his studies in Madrid, Spain because according to him, UST was not conductive to learning and that bigotry and racial discrimination against Filipinos and mestizos were rampant. Other than that, their ways of teaching were obsolete as well like those of laboratory apparatuses were kept inside their showcases instead of being used in their laboratory experiments. Such decision by Rizal was kept a secret that only his brother Paciano, sisters, uncle Antonio Rivera, and some close friends knew of his departure to keep his departure from being prevented by the Spanish authorities in Manila, therefore the use of ‘Mercado’ as his family name as obtained from his cousin was applied in order to outwit Manila’s Spanish authorities. Central University of Madrid Rizal left the country from the Port of Manila on May 3, 1882 on board the steamer Salvadora. He enrolled at the Unibersidad Central de Madrid taking two courses, Medicine and Philosophy & Letters. He also studied painting and sculpture in the Academy of San Carlos during his free time while taking private lessons in French, German and English by a tutor. In line with this, he also practiced fencing and shooting in the hall of Arms of Sanz y Carbonell. Rizal never got his doctorate in Medicine because he never submitted his doctoral thesis nor paid the corresponding fees. Although it is true that he took and passed the courses in History of Medicine, Surgical Analysis, and Normal Histology in 1884-1885. He wrote a request to the Universidad Central de Madrid from Geneva in June 1887 for the issuance of his licentiate degree that was paid in his behalf by Julio Llorente who was asked to send it to the government of Manila were it was “promptly lost”. Due to this, Rizal had to be content with “certified copy”, which he received from the Spanish Consul General in Hongkong in May 1896, eight years after his graduation. Rizal Becomes a Mason Rizal was impressed by how Spanish Masons freely speak against the government and the Church. With this, he joined the Masonry for 1. Going against the bad friars in the Philippines and their abuses who were unworthy of their priestly callings; 2. And to rival against the said friars with the help of the Masons as shield to use in his fight against the cruel forces of tyranny. Rizal has then become a excommunicated Roman Catholic who can neither go to Confession nor receive Holy Communion. He was outside the Roman Catholic church for 13 years but later sign the Retraction on the evening of his execution, embracing the religion of his birth and went to confession and received Holy Communion, marrying Josephine Bracken inside his death cell at Fort Santiago by Father Balaguer.