By Phin Upham
Jose Rizal was one of 11 children born to Francisco engracio Rizal Mercado y Alejandro and Teodora Morales. He chose to adopt a shortened version of that name as an adult, which was how he became known and preferred to be addressed.
During his youth, his mother became blind. This sparked a lifelong passion in the young Jose to study Ophthalmology in the hopes that he could cure her blindness. He became a student of the University of Santo Tomas in 1878 with this goal at the forefront of his mind.
His insatiable thirst for knowledge took him first to Spain and then to France, where he finally completed his specialization in the eye during 1887.
During this period of his life, he also began creative pursuits. He wrote a novel entitled “Noli Me Tangere”, which contained harsh criticisms of Spanish colonial rule of the Philippines. He became active in a Spanish newspaper called “La Solidaridad”, where he wrote poignantly of the struggles Filipinos were going through back home.
Rizal wrote passionately about freedom of speech, freedom to assemble and equal rights for his Filipino bretheren.
His dedication to the cause branded him an enemy of the state in 1890, as Spain became increasingly angry with the writer who was singlehandedly exposing their faults. For these crimes, he was exiled to Dapitan in 1892. It was there that he built a school for boys, founded a hospital and helped to build and maintain a water supply for the people.
He was arrested en route to Cuba, where he was extradited to Manilla and tried for his crimes. After he was found guilty, he was executed by firing squad.
About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or Facebook page.