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A visit to Rizal's home on his 152nd birth anniversary

What better way to celebrate the birth of the National Hero than visit the house—indeed, the very room—in which he was born? On two separate shows, Unang Hirit and Kape at Balita, GMA got to tour the interiors of both the house and the Rizal family life.

A P24,000 replica

Technically, the building and nearly everything in it are mere replicas of the original house, dating from 1952. World War II fires had their way with the house before the government bought the ruins for P24,000—a whopping price at the time. The National Historical Commission keeps the house well-preserved to this day.

"Kung nabubuhay si Dr. Jose Rizal, hindi siya magkakamali ito'y kanyang tahanan," said curator Olga Palacay. "Kaparehong-kapareho ng kanyang tahanan."

Except for the cordoned-off areas, diagrams, and statues of the national hero as a child, of course.

According to Palacay, the house was rebuilt, as mandated by Executive Order 145 under President Elpidio Quirino, using contributions from both public and private school kids.

She said that Rizal's younger sister Trinidad was still alive in 1952 when the house was rebuilt. She was regularly consulted by architect Juan Nakpil with regard to the look of the house and the size of things.

Even today, descendants of the Rizal family continue to visit the house, Palacay said.

Good dinners and sparkling conversation

A visitor at the Rizal house would first encounter their formal dining room, which Francisco Mercado and Teodora Alonso—his parents—used for receiving guests and other prominent members of society. The same room also served as the library, which housed a collection of over a thousand books.

The family actually partook of their meals in the smaller dining room located toward the front of their house. Afterward, they entertained themselves with gaslit conversation by the living room window, as there was no electricity back in the day. In fact, another low table surrounded by three three-seater chairs on three sides comprise the living room.

When asked why the formal dining room's table in particular was rather low, Palacay responded that people were shorter back in the day.

The physics of bedrooms

Indeed, Jose Rizal's own bed was shorter in length than expected, as the National Hero was around 5'2" or 5'3" in height and of medium build.

He shared a modestly-sized room, complete with a two-sink washstand, with his older brother Paciano—a room that appears to shrink when one considers that the sisters occasionally slept on banigs on their brothers' floor when they got tired lying side by side on the floor of their own room.

One is unable to tell whether the room belonging to the sisters is of the same dimensions as the room of the two brothers, as there is more furniture lining the room: a single bed, Trinidad's original sewing machine, a few drawers, and a divan.

The master's bedroom, where Dr. Rizal was born, is bigger than either of the rooms of the Rizal brood.

On Kape at Balita, reporter Michael Fajatin commented upon entering the master's bedroom that one could really tell what the values of the day were. Judging by the sparseness of the furniture and wall decorations and the almost under-utilized space, it may be safe to say that "simplicity" and "cleanliness" are among those values.

Garden of delights

In one corner of the property's spacious garden stands a replica of the bahay kubo the Rizal brood used as a playhouse. It is said that, even when he was grown, Rizal would still pass the time in that hut, possibly crafting some of his works of art and poetry that survive today.

A group of tents were planted at certain points, some of them shadowing the small stage, podium, and practicing choir all commissioned for the celebration.

At 7 a.m., flowers were offered at the different Rizal shrines, most notably at the house in Calamba.

Come one, come all—especially the youth

When asked how she felt about handling such a big responsibility, Palacay replied, "Natutuwa ako na nagtiwala ang opisina sa aking kakayahan para mangasiwa bilang isang kurador."

She invited one and all to come visit the Rizal House in Calamba—especially the youth, whom she recalled Rizal saw as "the hope of the nation."

"Kayo ang tinitingala ng mga mamamayan," she said.

The Rizal House in Calamba, Laguna is open to visitors from Tuesday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Vida Cruz/BM, GMA News

Tags: joserizal, rizal