Teodora Alonso

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Teodora Alonzo, the mother of Jose Rizal

Teodora Morales Alonzo Realonda y Quintos (b. 9 November 1827 - d. 16 August 1911) was the mother of Philippine national hero Jose Rizal, and a native of Sta. Cruz, Manila. She was known for being a disciplinarian as well as a dedicated, courteous and hard-working mother. As the young Rizal's first teacher, she had a profound influence on his development and was his inspiration in taking up medicine.

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Early life

Teodora was the second child of Lorenzo Alonso and Brijida de Quintos. Lorenzo was a capitan-municipal of Biñan, Laguna, a representative in the Spanish Cortes, a Knight of the Order of Isabela the Catholic and a surveyor by profession. Brijida de Quintos was an educated housewife who attended to her family's needs. In accordance to the decree issued by Governor-General Narciso Claveria in 1849, their family adopted the surname "Realonda." Coming from an able family, Teodora had her formal education at the Colegio de Santa Rosa in Manila. Just like her mother, she was well-educated and highly cultured, and had knowledge in literature and mathematics.

Married life

When Teodora turned 20 years old, she married Francisco Mercado who was a native of Biñan, Laguna. The two resided in Calamba where they engaged in agriculture. They achieved prosperity because of their industry, not to mention Teodora's efficiency at managing both the farm and the family's finances. She even set up her own textile business, a sugar and flour mill, and a small store at the ground floor of their house.

Teodora and Francisco had eleven children: Saturnina, Paciano, Narcisa, Olympia, Lucia, Maria, Jose, Concepcion, Josefa, Trinidad and Soledad. It was said that she suffered the most when she gave birth to Jose. All their children were sent to respected colleges in Manila, but Jose was the only child sent to Europe. He was inspired to take up medicine - specifically opthalmology - in order to treat Teodora's failing eyesight.

Persecution

As the mother of a perceived enemy of the Spanish authorities, Teodora was often made a target. She was imprisoned for two and a half years on trumped-up charges of poisoning her brother's wife, but was finally acquitted and released after being defended by two of Manila's most famous lawyers. She was made to walk fifty kilometers to Sta. Cruz, Laguna, for failing to use her "Hispanicized" surname, Realonda de Rizal, instead of Alonzo. Her family was ejected from their lands in Calamba as a result of a land conflict between Dominicans and the Filipino tenants. The family moved to Manila, but the Spanish persecution still followed.

Teodora joined Rizal in Hong Kong in 1891 and kept a house in Dapitan where her son was in exile. She returned to Manila to visit her husband and made an appeal to the governor-general, but this was in vain.

Life after Rizal’s Death

On August 1898, Narcisa Rizal-Lopez got the permission to get the body of Rizal and found out that Rizal’s body was never even put in a coffin. The legislature offered her a lifetime pension as a token of gratitude when Rizal was declared the national hero of the Philippines. She politely refused it. She said: "My family has never been patriotic for the money. If the government has plenty of funds and does not know what to do with them, it's better to reduce the taxes." Teodora even witnessed the declaration of the monument of Rizal. She was very old then and her mind and memory failing. She died few weeks later.

For about two years, Alonso took only milk. She was so weak that her stomach cannot tolerate solid foods. On August 16, 1911 at around 4:53pm, Alonso died in her home in San Fernando Street, Binondo, Manila.

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