Teodora Alonso Realonda y Quintos (9 November 1827 - 16 August 1911) was the mother of Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal. Coming from a well-bred and affluent family, Alonso was Rizal's first teacher. She had a profound influence on Rizal's development and was the latter's inspiration in taking up medicine.
Alonso was born in Meisik, Tondo, Manila to a wealthy family. She was the second and youngest daughter of Lorenzo Alberto Alonso and Brigida de Quintos. Her father was a former capitan-municipal of Biñan, Laguna, a representative to the Spanish Cortes, a Knight of the Order of Isabela the Catholic, and a surveyor by profession. Meanwhile, her mother was a well-educated housewife who attended to her family's needs.
Coming from an affluent family, Alonso received her formal education from the Colegio de Santa Rosa in Manila. Just like her mother, she was well-educated and highly cultured, having substantial knowledge in literature and mathematics.
When Alonso turned 20 years old, she married Francisco Mercado of Biñan, Laguna. The couple resided in Calamba where they engaged in agriculture. They had a farm where they raised corn, rice, and sugarcane. They also set up a textile business and operated sugar and flourmills and homemade hand press. They even opened a small store at the ground floor of their house.
Alonso and Mercado had 11 children: Saturnina, Paciano, Narcisa, Olimpia, 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 and specialize in ophthalmology in order to treat Teodora's failing eyesight.
In 1871, Alonso was accused of poisoning her brother's wife. She was imprisoned for two and a half years before she was acquitted.
In 1890, their family moved to Manila after they were ejected from their Calamba residence as a result of a land conflict between Dominicans and the Filipino tenants. After a year, Alonso was once again arrested for failing to use her Hispanized surname Realonda de Rizal. At the age of 64, she was made to walk 50 kilometers to Sta. Cruz, Laguna with her daughter under the custody of a civil guard. After four days of traveling, they arrived at Sta. Cruz. The governor was deeply touched and released them afterward.
The family decided to join Rizal in Hong Kong in 1891 to live peacefully.
In 1896, Rizal was sentenced to death after a mock trial. Alonso made an appeal to the governor-general to spare his son's life, but this was in vain. On 30 December 1896, Rizal was executed in Bagumbayan.
Life after Rizal’s Death
In August 1898, Narcisa got the permission to get his brother's body. The family discovered that his body was never even put in a coffin. The Philippine Legislature offered Alonso a lifetime pension as a token of gratitude when Rizal was declared the national hero. She politely refused it and said: "My family has never been patriotic for money. If the government has plenty of funds and does not know what to do with them, better reduce the taxes."
She died on 16 August 1911, 15 years after Rizal's execution.
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- National Historical Commission of the Philippines. 2015. Martyrs & Patriots. Accessed 3 April 2021. https://nhcp.gov.ph/resource/filipinos-in-history/martyrs/.
- Varias-de Guzman, Jovita. 1967. Women of Distinction: Bographical Essay on Outstanding Filipino Women of the Past and the Present. Philippines: Bukang Liwayway.
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- To access full-text of José Rizal's literary works and correspondence, visit The Complete José Rizal collection at Filipiniana.net.