Orignally surnamed Mercado, the Rizal family, as it became later known, was one of the prominent and influential families of Calamba. The Mercados acquired their fortune through the industry of both Francisco and Teodora. They were the first to build a bahay na bato to own a carruaje (horse-drawn carriage); to maintain a personal library; and to send their children to colleges in Manila.
Aside from being one of the wealthiest families in the town, they were also highly esteemed and were known for being hospitable and cultured, participating in many social, cultural and religious gatherings and events in their community.
Rizal's ancestry and parents
Running in Rizal’s blood were mixtures of different races. Austin Craig accounted that Rizal had a trace of chinese ancestry that came from a businessman named Domingo Lam-Co, the ancestor of Rizal’s father, who was born in Chinchew, China. From Amoy, China where he was residing then, Lam-Co migrated to and invested in the Philippines in the late 17th century and married a half-breed Chinese-Filipina named Ines dela Rosa.
Rizal apparently came from a Chinese-Filipino descent – Francisco Mercado Y Chinco. Francisco Mercado was born in Biñan, Laguna on May 11, 1818. He took up Philosophy and Latin in the Colegio de San Jose in Manila. After his parents’ death, he moved to Calamba. There he became a tenant farmer of the Dominican-owned hacienda and later became one of the town’s wealthiest men. He was able to establish a private library and kept carriage. The name ‘Francisco’ was in high honor in Laguna for it had belonged to a famous sea captain who had been given the ENCOMIENDA of BAY for his services.
Rizal’s mother Teodora Alonso came from the clan of Lakan Dula, known as the last Malay king of Tondo. She was also traced to Eugenio Ursua whose ancestors came from Japan. She was the second daughter of Lorenzo Alberto Alonso who was a former representative of Spanish Cortes and Brigida de Quintos whose parents were Manuel de Quintos, of a well-known family in Pangasinan and Regina Ursua who was the daughter of Benigna and Eugene Ursua.
As already noted, Teodora Alonso had a trace of Japanese ancestry. Moreover, she was of Ilocano-Tagalog-Chinese-Spanish descent. Combining the paternal and maternal ancestry, therefore Jose Rizal was born with Malay, Chinese, Japanese and Spanish lineages in his blood. Teodora Alonzo died on August 16, 1911 at the age of 84.
Domingo Lam-Co, the great-great-grandfather of Jose Rizal, decided to use Mercado as his surname in 1731 to match his profession, being a merchant. He used this surname from 1731 to November 11, 1849 as soon as Governor-General Narciso Claveria posed a regulation that requires them to make use of Spanish family names. Meanwhile, for Don Francisco Mercado, Rizal’s father, Rizal was used, which means new pasture or greenfield.
The Rizal family’s traditions are bound by spirituality and firm moral ground. Everyday, they used to gather to pray the rosary. Their mother would often tell the children to gather up so they can say their prayers together.
They were filled with obedience, virtue, as well as mutual respect and love for each other, especially for their parents. The Rizal children addressed their parents as “Tatay” and “Nanay”.
Hence, when Jose lost his little sister Concha in 1865, he grieved bitterly. For the first time, according to him, he cried because of sorrow and love.
The children also learned a lot from their first teacher, their mother Dona Teodora. She was loving, kind, and indulgent, but can be a true disciplinarian. There was actually one occasion when Jose refused to wear a sinamay camisa since it was rough and coarse. Because of his disobedience, his mother spanked him. Hence, he learned his lesson so well.
Aside from this, Dona Teodora also taught her children to read the Bible. She translated those passages they did not understand to inculcate in them the value of spirituality and goodness out of reading the Holy Scripture.
A family of 13, they are paternally of Chinese ancestry and maternally descendants of a maharlika class. Jose Rizal was a mestizo from both East and West with blood from native, Chinese, Japanese and Spanish races.
- Francisco Mercado (b. May 11, 1818 – d. January 5, 1898), the father of Jose Rizal and considered the patriarch of the family, was a native of Biñan, Laguna. He was an educated and industrious farmer who studied Latin and philosophy at Colegio de San Jose in Manila. Of Chinese ancestry, his great grandfather Domingo Lam-Co was a native of Chinchew (now Quanzhou), China who married the Filipina Ines de la Rosa. One of the couples' children was Francisco Mercado, who later married Cerila Bernacha. Bernacha gave birth to Juan Mercado who became Cerila Alejandro's husband and Francisco's father. Both Francisco's father, Juan, and grandfather, Francisco, became Capitanes or town mayors of Biñan. Upon the death of his mother, Francisco moved to Calamba where he became a tenant and farmer of a large Dominican estate. On 28 June 1848, he married Teodora Alonzo Realonda. In 1850 he petitioned the court to change the family name to Rizal, with all their children being surnamed as such.
- Teodora Alonzo Realonda (b. November 8, 1826 – d. August 16, 1911), a Manileña, was a highly educated Filipina who graduated from the Colegio de Santa Rosa. Of Spanish and Japanese ancestry, Teodora was a talented woman whose interests lay in literature, culture, and business, and was well-versed in Spanish. She helped her husband in farming and in their business. She devoted herself to the children's education and growth as morally-upright individuals. Teodora's lineage can be traced to Lakandula, the greatest ruler of Tondo. Her great grandfather, who was of Japanese blood, was Eugenio Ursua (Ochoa). Her maternal grandfather was Manuel de Quintos who was a popular lawyer in his time, while her paternal grandfather was Cipriano Alonso who belonged to Biñan's long list of Capitanes. Teodora was second child of Lorenzo Alberto Alonzo, an engineer and a recipient of the most sought decoration, the Knight of the Grand Order of Isabela the Catholic and Order of Carlos III; and Brigida de Quintos, a fair and well-educated lady. With her vision failing in old age, her son took up medicine, specializing in opthalmologoy, in order to cure her.
- Saturnina Rizal (1850 – 1913), also known as “Neneng,” was the eldest of the Rizal children. She married Manuel Hidalgo, affectionately called "Maneng" by Rizal, who was a native of Tanauan, Batangas.
- Paciano Rizal (b. March 7, 1851 – d. 1930) was the elder and only brother of Jose Rizal. Being a decade older than Rizal, Paciano became a second father to his sibling. He succeeded in sending the young Jose (Pepe) to Europe to study, giving the latter 700 pesos upon departure. During the younger years Paciano would continue supporting his brother financially. After the death of Jose, Paciano joined the Revolution and was later appointed general of the revolutionary forces in Laguna. His common-law wife was Severina Decena. He died in Los Baños, Laguna on April 13, 1930. Their only child Emiliana Rizal married her first cousin Antonio Rizal Lopez Jr., the son of Narcisa Rizal with Antonio Lopez Sr.
- Narcisa Rizal (1852 – 1939) was the third child of Francisco and Teodora. She was a teacher and a musician by profession, and married Antonino Lopez who was a school teacher in Morong, Rizal.
- Olympia Rizal (1855 – 1887) was the fourth child of the brood who married Silvestre Ubaldo, a telegraph operator from Manila.
- Lucia Rizal (1857 – 1919) was the fifth child of the Rizal family who was married to Mariano Herbosa of Calamba. She died in 1887.
- Maria Rizal (1859 – 1945) was the sixth of the eleven children who married Daniel Faustino Cruz of Biñan, Laguna.
- Concepcion Rizal (1862 – 1865), also known as “Concha,” was the eight child of the Rizals, who died at the age of three.
- Josefa Rizal (1865 – 1945) was the ninth child and affectionately called Panggoy. She remained a spinster throughout her life.
- Jose Rizal (June 19, 1861- December 30, 1896), later to become the Philippine national hero, was the second son and seventh child.
- Trinidad Rizal (1868 – 1951) was the tenth child who, like Josefa, died without a husband.
- Soledad Rizal (1870 – 1929) was the youngest of the brood who later married Pantaleon Quintero, a native of Calamba.
- Domingo Lam-Co, the family root, arrived from Amoy, China in 1660s and changed his name to Mercado in 1697. He married late in life.
- Francisco Mercado y Chinco, the first son of Domingo Lam-co.
- Juan Mercado y Monica, youngest son of Francisco Mercado y Chinco, a captain in the Spanish army
- Petrona, Potenciana and Francisco Mercado, Sr., children of Juan Mercado. The youngest Francisco Mercado, Sr. was the father of Jose Rizal, Francisco Mercado (Junior).
Jose’s relatives who influenced him greatly mostly consisted of his mother’s brothers: Tio Jose, Tio Manuel, and Tio Gregorio.
- Tio Jose - He is the youngest among the siblings of Teodora, and was schooled in Calcutta, India. He was Jose Rizal’s inspiration as he sketches and paints. Tio Jose encouraged him to engage in sculpturing.
- Tio Manuel - Known to be big and strong, he influenced Jose to visit the outdoors, do long walks with his pet black dog, Usman, and even go horseback riding with his horse, castaño.
- Tio Gregorio - Through his Tio Gregorio, Jose learned the value of hard work, careful observation of life, as well as independent thinking. Through him, Jose likewise became interested in the printed page.
- Ancheta, Celedonio A. Jose Rizal's Life and His Complete Works. Diliman, Quezon City: National Bookstore, Inc., 1977.
- Bantug, Asuncion Lopez-Rizal. Indio Bravo: The Story of Jose Rizal. Manila: Tahanan Books, 1997.
- Bantug, Asuncion Lopez. "Lolo José", 2nd edition. Quezon City: Vibal Foundation, 2008.
- Craig, Austin. Lineage, Life and Labors of Jose Rizal. Manila: Philippine Education Co., 1913.
- Laubach, Frank C. Rizal: Man and Martyr. Manila: University of the Philippines Press, 1936.
- National Historical Institute. "Letters between Rizal and Family Members (1876-1896)." Manila: NHI, 1993.
- Ocampo, Esteban A. de. "The Rizal Family." Manila: self published, 1954.
- Sta. Maria, Felice Prudente. In Excelsis: The Mission of Jose P. Rizal – Humanist and Philippine National Hero. Makati City: Studio Five Designs, Inc., 1996.
- Zaide, Gregorio F. Jose Rizal: Life, Works and Writings. Reprint, Mandaluyong City: National Bookstore, Inc., 2005.
- Correspondence to and from Jose Rizal and related books Accessed on 16 May 2009
- Rizal family tree, up to fourth generation, from Asuncion Lopez Bantug's book Lolo Jose 1st edition (1988)Accessed on 16 May 2009
- Vibal Foundation blog post on the launch of Rizal's grandniece Asuncion Lopez Bantug's 2nd edition of Lolo Jose, together with other members of the present Rizal family Accessed on 16 May 2009
- Vibal Foundation interview with Ana Maria Belen Bantug Tan and her brother Arturo, both great grandchildren of Jose Rizal Accessed on 16 May 2009
- Chapter 3 of Austin Craig's Lineage, Life and Labors of Jose Rizal, describing the immediate Mercado family, published on Filipiniana.net Accessed on 16 May 2009
- Photos of each of the Rizal siblings on the Rizal website Rizal.tk by Jennylyn N Fernandez Accessed 16 May 2009
- 13 June 2003 E-balita interview with Rizal grandnieces, Asuncion Lopez Bantug, Carmen Consunji and Natividad Francisco Accessed 16 May 2009
- Extensive Rizal genealogical chart contributed to by family members up to the 6th generation, maintained by Job Guerrero Elizes Accessed on 16 May 2009
- Inquirer columnist Wilson Lee Flores on Jose Rizal's Chinese ancestry and the commemorative visit of the Rizal family to their origins in Sionque, near Jinjiang City, Fujian, in south China Accessed on 16 May 2009
- To access full-text of José Rizal's literary works and correspondence, visit The Complete José Rizal collection at Filipiniana.net.