Saturnina Rizal

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Saturnina Mercado Alonso Rizal – Hidalgo (1850 – 1913) was the eldest daughter of Don Francisco Mercado and Dona Teodora Alonso and sister of the Philippine National hero, Jose Rizal.

Personal Life

Saturnina Rizal was married to Manuel Hidalgo of Tanauan, Batangas. Together, they had five children: (1) Alfredo, (2) Adela, (3) Abelardo, (4) Amelia, and Augusto. She died at the age of 63.

Relationship with Rizal

In the collection of Rizal’s 225 letters to and from his family during his lifetime, 9 were personal exchanges between him and Saturnina, and another 32 were addressed to Saturnina’s husband and Jose’s brother-in-law, Manuel Hidalgo. It was apparent in their letters that Manuel or Maneng as he was fondly called shared a very close brotherly relationship with Rizal, even when the latter was out of the country. They never failed to stay in touch.

Saturnina, as the eldest sister, reported daily events and happenings in Calamba and told stories about her children and their relatives in vivid detail. She also told news about their sisters and their nieces and nephews. She would often share her experiences giving birth to her children and each of their progress and growth. Even the agricultural condition of Calamba, deaths and marriages of their friends and distant relatives were diligently reported by Saturnina to her brother overseas.

In Saturnina’s letter to Rizal dated September 26, 1882, she expressed her longing for her brother who was then in Madrid. She said she was deeply saddened to learn that before Rizal left for Madrid, he passed by the Hidalgo’s residence. Unfortunately, she was asleep at the time, so Rizal was not able to bid farewell to her. And spoken like a true caring and concerned big sister, she mentioned she was worried about Rizal’s life in Madrid when she learned that he was only able to bring a small amount of money. So she told Rizal she would send him a diamond ring and asked to whom she should send it to so the ring may somehow aid his financial challenges in Spain.

Rizal later shared to his sister in letter that his Tagalog is already failing because of his lack of practice, that’s why he requested her to write him letters in Tagalog. He also expressed his desire to see his nephew and Saturnina and Manuel’s first born, Alfredo or Freding, asking to send him a picture of Freding. Sad news of the death of her fourth child, Amelia reached Rizal along with the news of Maneng’s arrest on Christmas day and exile, and their parents’ eviction from their home in Calamba.

In Rizal’s last letter to Saturnina in 1893, he invited her over to Dapitan saying that she will enjoy trading in the Mindanao province. He also expressed his delight having heard the news of Saturnina’s joyous delivery to her youngest child, Augusto.

Other details on Saturnina’s life was told in the letters of her husband Manuel Hidalgo to Rizal. Rizal affectionately addressed Saturnina in his letters as Sra. Neneng.


Saturnina and Manuel were blessed with five children, namely: Alfredo or Freding, Adela, Abelardo, Amelia and Augusto. Amelia died in 1888. Her body was not immediately buried according to Saturnina’s letter to Rizal on September 6 1890, explaining that their persecutors tried to prevent the body from entering the church. Only Alfredo and Adela were married and had children.

Alfredo married Aurora Tiaoqui' with whom he had 3 children, Angel, Armando and Lourdes. The eldest grandson, Angel was connected to Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission. He later went on to teach English at the Far Eastern University in the Philippines. Armando was married to Elsa Villaroman and together were blessed with 6 children: (1) Cecilia, (2) Raul, (3) Alfonso, (4) Carmela, (5) Manuel and (6) Albert. Lourdes remained unmarried.

Adela, on the other hand, married Jose Ver and had 5 children: (1) Jose Jr., (2) Bernardino, (3) Emma, (4) Purisima and (5) Aurora.


  • Berango, Antonio R., Buhay at Pag-Ibig ni Dr. Jose P. Rizal sa Tula, St. Pauls, Makati City,
  • Zaide, Gregorio F. and Zaide, Sonia M. Jose Rizal: Buhay, mga ginawa at mga sinulat ng isang henyo, maunulat,syentipiko, at pambansang bayani, All Nations Publishing Co., Inc., 1999

External Links

  • Rizal's letters [1] (Accessed July 5 2011)



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