Jose Rizal had many beautiful memories of his childhood in his native town Calamba. It’s scenic beauties and it’s industrious, hospitable, and friendly folks profoundly affected his mind and character. The happiest period of Rizal’s life was spent in this lakeshore town.
The first memory of Rizal, in his infancy, was in the family garden when he was 3yrs. old. Because he was a frail, sickly and undersized, he was given the tenderest care by his parents. His father built a Nipa cottage for him to play in the daytime.
Another childhood memory was the daily Angelus prayer. By nightfall, his mother gathered all the children at the house to pray the Angelus.
He also remembered the aya (nurse maid) related to the Rizal children amy stories about the fairies; tales of buried treasure and trees blooming with diamonds, and other fabulous stories.
Of his sisters, Jose loved most the little Concha ( Concepcion), who was a year younger than him. He played with her and from her he learned the sweetness of sisterly love.
Unfortunately, Concha died of sickness in 1865 when she was only 3yrs. old. Jose cried bitterly at losing her. The death of Concha brought him his first sorrow.
Rizal grew up a good catholic. At age of 3, he would take part in the family prayers. When he was 5yrs. old, he was able to read the Spanish family bible.
He loved to go to church, to pray, to take part in novenas, and to join religious processions.
One of the men he esteemed and respect in Calamba was the scholarly Father Leoncio Lopez, the town priest. He used to visit him and listen to his stimulating opinions on current events and sound philosophy of life.
On June 6, 1868, Jose and his father left Calamba to go on a pilgrimage to Antipolo, in order to fulfill his mother’s vow, which was made when Jose was born. After praying at the shrine of the Virgin of Antipolo, Jose and his father went to Manila to visit Saturnina, who was a boarding student in La Concordia College in Santa Ana.
Of the stories told by Dona Teodora, Jose remembered the Story of the Moth. The tragic fate of the young moth, which “died a martyr to it’s illusions”, left a deep impress on Rizal’s mind. He justified such noble death, asserting that “to sacrifice one’s life for it”, meaning for an ideal, is “worthwile”. And, like that young moth, he was fated to die as a martyr for a noble ideal.
At age of 5, he began to make sketches with his pencil and to mould in his clay and wax objects. Jose had the soul of a genuine artist. He also loved to ride the pony that which his father gave him and take long walks in the meadows and lakeshore with his black dog named Usman.
Aside from his sketching and sculpturing talent, Rizal possessed a God-given gift for literature. At age of 8, Rizal wrote his first poem in the native language entitled Sa Aking Mga Kababata (To My Fellow Children).
After writing his first poem, Rizal who was then 8yrs. old, wrote his first dramatic work which was a Tagalog comedy.
Rizal was also interested in magic. He learned various tricks, such as making a coin disappear and making a handkerchief vanish in thin air. He read many books on magic and attended performances of the famous magicians in the world.