The first teacher of Rizal was his mother. On her lap, he learned at the age of 3, the alphabet and the prayers.
Rizal’s parents employed private tutors to give him lessons at home. The first was Maestro Celestino and the second, Maestro Lucas Padua. Later, an old man named Leon Monroy, a former classmate of Rizal’s father, became his tutor.
One Sunday afternoon in June, 1869, Jose and his brother Paciano left Calamba for Binan. The next morning (Monday) Paciano brought Jose to the school of Maestro Justiniano Aquino Cruz.
In the afternoon of his first day in school, Jose met the bully, Pedro. He was angry at this bully for making fun of him during his conversation with the teacher. Jose challenged Pedro to a fight. Jose, having learned the art of wrestling from his athletic Tio Manuel, defeated the bigger boy.
After the class, a classmate named Andres Salandanan challenged him to an arm-wrestling match. Jose, having the weaker arm,he lost and nearly cracked his head on the sidewalk.
Near the school was the house of an old painter, called Juancho. Jose spent hours at the painter’s studio. Juancho freely gave him lessons in drawing and painting. Jose and his classmate, Jose Guevarra, who also loved painting, became apprentices of the old painter.
In academic studies, Jose beat all Binan boys. He surpassed them all in Spanish, Latin, and other subjects.They were all jealous of his intellectual superiority.
Before the Christmas season in 1870, Jose received a letter from his sister Saturnina, informing him of the arrival of the steamer Talim which would take him from Binan to Calamba. He left Binan on Saturday afternoon, December 17, 1870.
On the night of January 20, 1872, the Gom-Bur-Za (Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora), despite the archbishop’s plea for clemency because of their innocence, were executed at sunrise, February 17, 1872, by the order of Governor General Izquierdo. Their martyrdom was deeply mourned by the Rizal family especially Paciano and many other patriotic families in the Philippines.
Before June of 1872, Dona Teodora was suddenly arrested on a malicious charge that she and her brother, Jose Alberto, tried to poison the latter’s perfidious wife. After arresting Dona Teodora, the sadistic Spanish lieutenant forced her to walk from Calamba to Santa Cruz (capital pf Laguna Province), a distance of 50 kilometers. Upon arrival in Santa Cruz, she was incarcerated at the provincial prison, where she languished for two years and a half until the Manila Royal Audiencia (Supreme Court) acquitted her of the alleged crime.
Scholastic Triumphs at Ateneo de Manila (1872-1877)
Jose, who had not yet celebrated his 11 th birthday, was sent to Manila. He studied in the Ateneo Municipal, a college under the supervision of the Spanish Jesuits.
On June 10, 1872, Jose, accompanied by Paciano, went to Manila. He took the entrance exams on Christian doctrine, arithmetic, and reading at the College of San Juan de Letran, and passed them. But his father changed his mind and decided to send him to Ateneo instead.
At first, Father Magin Ferrando, the college registrar, refused to admit him for two reasons: (1) he was late for the registration and (2) he was sickly and undersized for his age. Rizal was then 11yrs. old. However, upon the intercession of Manuel Xerez Burgos, nephew of Father Burgos, he was admitted.
He boarded in a house outside Intramuros, on Caraballo St., 25 min. walk from the college.
The system of education in the Ateneo was more advanced than that of other colleges in that period. It trained the character of the student by rigid discipline and religious instruction. It promoted physical culture, humanities, and scientific studies.
Students were divided into two groups, namely: the “ Roman Empire” consisting of the internos (boarders) and the “Cathaginian Empire” composed of the externos (non-boarders). The best student in each “empire” was the emperor; the second best, the tribune; the third best, the decurion; the fourth best, the centurion; and the fifth best, the standard-bearer.
On his first day of class in June 1872, he met his first professor named Fr. Jose Bech. Being a newcomer and knowing little Spanish, Rizal was placed at the bottom of the class. At the end of the month, he became “emperor”. He was the brightest pupil in the whole class, and he was awarded a prize.
To improve his Spanish, Rizal took private lessons in Santa Isabel College during noon recesses at three pesos.
On March, 1873, Rizal returned to Calamba for summer vacation. Without telling his father, he went to Santa Cruz to visit his mother in prison.
In his second term in school he once more became “emperor”. At the end of the school year, he received excellent grades in all subjects and a gold medal. He triumphantly returned to Calamba in March, 1874 for the summer vacation.
He visited his mother again in the provincial jail. He told his mother that he had a dream that she would be released in three months and it became true.
It was during the summer vacation in 1874 in Calamba when Rizal began to take interest in reading romantic novels. His first favorite book was The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas. As a voracious reader, he read not only fiction, but also non-fiction. Later Rizal read Travels in the Philippines by Dr. Feodor Jagor.
In June 1874, Rizal returned to the Ateneo for his junior year. He won only one medal- in Latin. He failed to win the medal in Spanish because Spanish was not fluently sonorous. At the end of the school year (March 1875), Rizal returned to Calamba for the summer vacation.
During his fourth year in Ateneo on June 16, 1875, he became an interno in the Ateneo. One of his professors that time was FR. Francisco de Paula Sanchez, a great educator and scholar. He topped all his classmates in all subjects and won five medals at the end of the school term.
On Commencement Day, March 23, 1877, Rizal, who was16yrs. old received the degree of Bachelor of Arts, with the highest honors.
Rizal was a member of the academy of Spanish Literature and the Academy of Natural Sciences. Aside from writing poetry, he devoted his spare time to fine arts. He studied painting under the famous Spanish painter. Rizal, to developed his weak body, engaged himself in gymnastics and fencing.
The first poem Rizal wrote during his days in the Ateneo was Mi Primera Inspiracion (My First Inspiration) which was dedicated to his mother on her birthday. He also wrote Through Education Our Motherland Receives Light and The Intimate Alliance Between Religion and Good Education which showed the importance of religion in education.
Shortly after his graduation, Rizal, who was then 16yrs old, experienced his first romance. The girl was Segunda Katigbak, a pretty 14 year-old Batanguenia from Lipa. Rizal came to know Segunda more intimately during his weekly visits in La Concordia College. It was indeed “love at first sight”. But it was hopeless since the very beginning because Segunda was already engaged to her townmate, Manuel Luz.
Rizal arrived by steamer in his hometown. He was saddened to find out about his mother’s growing blindness.
April 1877 - Rizal at 16 years old, matriculated in the University of Sto . Tomas taking the course on Philosophy and Letters. He enrolled in this course for two reasons: (1) his father liked it and (2) he was "still uncertainas to what career to pursue"
1877-78 -During his first term he studied Cosmology, Metaphysics, Theodicy, and History of Philosophy
-Also studied in Ateneo and took the vocational course leading to the title of perito agrimensor (expert surveyor). He excelled in all subjects obtaining gold medals in agriculture and topography. At the age of 17, he passed the final examination in the surveying course but he could not be granted at the title because he was below age. The title was issued to him on November 25, 1881 . He was then a Thomasian, he frequently visited the Ateneo. He had so many beautiful memories and whose Jesuit professors. He continued to participate actively in the Ateneo's extra-curricular activities. He was the president of the Academy of Spanish Literature and secretary of the Academy of Natural Sciences . He also continued his membership in the Marian Congregation of which he was the secretary
1878-79 -During the following term he received the Ateneo Rector's Advice to study medicine, enrolling simultaneously in the preparatory medical course and the regular first yer medical course.
Romances with Other Girls - Romantic dreamer "nevtar of love". His sad experience with first love made him wiser in the ways of romance. After losing Segunda Katigbak, he paid court to a young woman in Calamba. He called her simply "Miss L" (fair with seductive and attractive eyes. He suddenly stopped his wooing and the romance died natural death. Nobody knows who this woman was. He did not gave her name and gave two reasons for his change of heart namely: (1) the sweet memory of Segunda was still fresh in his heart and (2) his father did not like the family of "Miss L"
During his sophomore yaer at the University of Santo Tomas , he borded the house of Dona Concha Leyva in Intramuros. The next door neighbors were Capitan Juan and Capitana Sanday Valenzuela from Pagsanjan, Laguna who had a charming daughter named Leonor. He courted her, was a tall girl with aregal bearing. Sent her love notes written in invisible ink. Orang (pet name of Leonor Valenzuela). Her next roamance was with another Leonor -- Leonor Rivera, his cousin from Camiling.
1879 - start of junior yaer at the university, he liveed in "Casa Tomasina". His landlord-uncle had a pretty daughter, Leonor, a student at La Concordia College. Between them sprang a beautiful romance. Named her "Taimis" in order to camouflage their intimate relationship from their parents and friends.
1878 - When he was a freshman medical student at the University of Santo Tomas he experienced his first taste of Spanish brutality.
1879 - The Liceo Artistico-Literario(Artistic-Literary Lyceum) of Manila , a society of literary men and artists held a literary contest. It offered a prize for the best poem by Rizal, who was then eighteen years old, submitted his poem entitled A La Juvented Filipina(To the Filipino Youth).
1880 "The Council of the Gods" - The Artistic-Literary opened another literary contest to commemorate the fourthy centennial of the death of Cervantes Spain's glorified man-of-letters author of Don Quixote and the contest was opened to both filipinos and Spaniards. They awarded the first prize to Rizal's work because of its literary superiority over the others. Aside from the two prize-winning works Rizal produced other poems and a zarzuela, Junto al Pasig(Beside the Pasig)
May 1881 - (Summer month) He was still a medical student at the University of Santo Tomas went to pilgrimage to the town of Pakil , famous shrine of the Birhen Maria de los Dolores
Rizal was the champion of the Filipino students in their frequent fights against the arrogant Spanish students.
1880 - Rizal founded a secret society of Filipino students in the University of Santo Tomas called Companerismo (Comradeship) whose members were called "Companions of Jehu"
Rizal was unhappy at this Dominican Institution of higher learning because (1) the Dominican professor were hostile to him, (2) the Filipino students were racially discriminated against by the Spaniards, and (3) the method of instruction was obsolete and repressive. In his novel, El Filibusterismo, he described how the Filipino students were humiliated and insulted by their Dominican professor and how backward the method of instruction was especially the teaching of the natural sciences.
Rizal failed to win scholastic honors although his grades in the first year of the philosophy course were all "excellent" and were not impressive in the the four years of his medical course
After finishing the fourth year o0f his medical course he decided to study in Spain . He could no longer endure the rampant bigotry, discrimination, and the hostility in the University of Santo Tomas . Rizal did not seek his parents' permission and blessings to go abroad because they will disapprove.
November 3, 1882 - Rizal enrolled in the Universidad Central de Madrid (Central University of Madrid) in two courses -- Medicine and Philosophy and Letters. Aside from his heavy studies, he studied painting and sculpture in the Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando; took lessons in French, German, and English under private instructors; and practiced fencing and shooting in Hall of Arms of Sanz y Carbonell. His first thirst for knowledge of music, he visited the art galleries and museums and readbooks on all subjects under the sun, including military engineering in order to broaden his cultural background.
1882 -Rizal joined the Circulo Hispano-Filipino (Hispano Philippine Circle), a society of Spaniards and Filipinos. He wrote a poem entitled "Me Piden Versos" (They Ask Me For Verses) which he personally declaimed during the New Year's Eve reception of the Madrid Filipinos held in the evening of December 31, 1882
A favorite pastime on Madrid was reading instead of gambling and flirting with women. With the money he saved, he purchased books from second-hand bookstore. He was able to build a fair-sized private librarian. HIs collection of books included The Bible, Hebrew Grammar, Lives of the Presidents of the United States from Washington to Johnson, Complete Works of Voltaire(9 volumes), Complete Works of Horace (3 volumes) and etc.
March 1883 - Rizal joined the Masonic Lodge called Acacia in Madrid
November 15, 1890 - Rizal became a Master Mason
February 15, 1892 - Rizal was awarded the diploma as Master Mason by Le Grand Orient de France in Paris
November 20, 21 and 22, 1884 - Rizal involved in student demonstrations. These were caused by the address of Dr. Miguel Morayta, professor of history, at the opening ceremonies of the academic year, in which he proclaimed "the freedom of science and the teacher".
June 21, 1884 - Rizal completed his medical course in Spain . He was conferred the Degree of Licentiate in Medicine by the Universidad Central de Madrid
1884-85 - He studied and passed all subjects leading to the degree of Doctor of Medicine. Due to the fact, he did not present the thesis required for graduation nor paid the corresponding fees, he was not awarded his Doctor's diploma.
June 19, 1885 (his 24th birthday) - He was awarded the degree of Licentiate in Philosophy and Letters by the Universidad Central de Madrid. He bacame qualified to be a professor of humanities in any Spanish university. And by receiving his degree of Licentiate in Medicine he became a full-pledge physician, qualified to practice medicine.