Josefa Rizal

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Josefa Rizal (b. 1865-d. 1945) was the ninth of the 11 children of Francisco Mercado and Teodora Alonso.

Life and Family

Don Francisco Mercado and Dona Teodora Alonso were strict parents. They believed in the maxim “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” The Rizal family heard mass every Sunday and during Christian holidays. At home, they practiced praying the angelus and the rosary. After every family prayer, all their siblings kissed the hands of their parents.

Josefa Rizal or Panggoy had epilepsy, a common chronic neurological disorder characterized by seizures. These seizures are transient signs and/or symptoms of abnormal, excessive or hypersynchronous neuronal activity in the brain. Due to lack of medical resources to cure her illness during that time, she became a spinster.

Josefa Rizal died at the age of 80.


  • Zaide, Gregorio F. Jose Rizal: Life, Works and Writings. Reprint, Mandaluyong City: National Bookstore, Inc., 2005.

Related Resources

  • To access full-text of José Rizal's literary works and correspondence, visit The Complete José Rizal collection at



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