Paciano Rizal: Pinoy Hero's Big Brother
ON HIS ADVICE, the national hero dropped the last three names in his full name and thus enrolled at the Ateneo as ‘Jose Protasio Rizal.’
Paciano,the second of eleven children of Don Francisco and Doña Teodora, is theonly brother of Dr. Jose Rizal. When he was a student at the College of San Jose, Paciano had used “Mercado” as his last name.But because he had gained notoriety with his links to Father Burgos of the ‘Gomburza,’ he suggested that Jose use the surname ‘Rizal’ for his own safety.
The Surname Rizal
Had their forefathers not adopted other names, then Jose and Paciano could have been known as ‘Lamco’ brothers.
Their paternal great-great grandfather, Chinese merchant Domingo Lamco, adopted the name ‘Mercado’ which means ‘market’. But Jose’s father, Francisco, who eventually became primarily a farmer, adopted the surname ‘Rizal’ (originally ‘Ricial’,which means ‘the green of young growth’ or ‘green fields’). The name was suggested by a provincial governor who is a friend of the family. The new name, however, caused confusion in the commercial affairs of the family. Don Francisco thus settled on the name ‘Rizal Mercado’ as a compromise, and often just used his more known surname ‘Mercado’.
Commenting on using the name ‘Rizal’ in Ateneo, Jose once wrote: “My family never paid much attention [to our second surname Rizal], but now I had to use it, thus giving me the appearance of an illegitimate child!”
But this very name suggested by Paciano to be used by his brother had become so well known by 1891, the year Jose finished his El Filibusterismo. As Jose wrote to a friend, “All my family now carry the name Rizal instead of Mercado because the name Rizal means persecution! Good! I too want to join them and be worthy of this family name...”
Paciano Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda was born on March 7, 1851 in Calamba, Laguna. According to Filipino historian Ambeth R. Ocampo, Paciano was fondly addressed by his siblings as ‘ñor Paciano,’ short for ‘Señor Paciano’. The 10-year older brother of Jose studied at San Jose College in Manila, became a farmer, and later a general of the Philippine Revolution.
Had Paciano owned a Facebook account and you were his friend, you would not be entertained that much by looking at his photo albums. Paciano had only two known pictures—one is a ‘stolen shot’ by a nephew during a family reunion, and the other, taken posthumously, of his corpse. A descendant explained that Paciano—unlike his brother who even frequented photo studios for his pictures—did not want to be photographed. The reason was that “he was a wanted man in the past and if there were no photographs of him, then it would be hard for the authorities to arrest him. He could walk everywhere without being recognized” (Ocampo, p. 43).
According to his grandchildren, Paciano had a very fair complexion and rosy cheeks. His descendants were quick to add that their lolo was more handsome than the national hero, and much taller, about 5’7” to 5’9. “When he died and the body was brought to the funeraria, his feet stuck out of the coffin, which was too small for him” (as quoted in Ambeth Ocampo, p. 43).
This description though was neither relative nor one-sided, for it was confirmed by Jose Rizal himself. In a letter to Blumentritt, he wrote: “[Paciano] is more refined and serious than I, taller, more slender, and fairer in complexion than I with a nose that is fine, beautiful and sharp pointed, but he is bow-legged” (as quoted in Ambeth Ocampo, p. 43).
Paciano, Burgos, and the Gomburza
When Jose was about to study in Manila, Paciano was studying at the College of San Jose, living and working with his teacher Dr. Jose Burgos, a dignified and courageous Filipino priest.Jose Burgos, just like some other Filipino priests that time such as Mariano Gomez and Jacinto Zamora, was seeking reform within the Catholic Church. Promoting equal rights for Filipino and Spanish priests in the country and advocating the secularization of local churches, they openly denounced the practice of throwing Filipino priests out of their churches to make place for Spanish friars.
The Spanish priests took advantage of the mutiny by workers of the Cavite Arsenal in 1872 to get rid of Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora. They were falsely blamed for having stirred up the mutiny, court-martialed, and convicted. Later known in history as the Gomburza, an acronym denoting their surnames, all threewere executed on February 17, 1872 at Bagumbayan by having the garrote screwed into the backs of their necks until the vertebrae cracked.
On his part, Paciano was prevented from taking his final examinations because of his known connection with Burgos and for denouncing the injustice and abuses against Filipinos.
Paciano and the Spanish authorities
Paciano Rizal grew up being exposed to the exploitation of the Spanish clergy and colonial government. Because of his relationship with Burgos, Spanish authorities had put him in the ‘watch list’ long before Jose was spied on by officials. And even before Jose experienced to be exiled, Paciano had already gone through deportation to Mindoro in 1890 to 1891 for fighting for the rights of Calamba farmers.
Paciano deliberately exhibited a firm character in the face of the abusive Spanish colonizers. It is said that he once went to the Dominican estate house in Canlubang and was made to wait for a long time before the friars at last attended to him. Some months later, he let those friars experience the same thing when they went to his place to buy a reputedly good horse.
In November 1896, Paciano was arrested while Jose was in FortSantiagoprison. To extract evidence for Jose’s involvement in the revolution, Paciano was subjected to tortures for two agonizing days. Two officers took turns in thrashing him and crushing his fingers using thumbscrew. Hanged by the elbows and raised several feet, he was dropped repetitively until he lost consciousness.
But never did he sign any document that could incriminate his brother to any charge. Paralyzed for days, it is said that Paciano never completely recuperated from that torment.
The Calamba Agrarian Trouble
Paciano’s deportation to Mindoro had something to do with the Calamba agrarian trouble, also known as ‘Calamba hacienda question’. Being the elder son, he was given responsibilities not only in watching his younger siblings but also in the Mercado-Rizal farm. This thus put him in the forefront when an agrarian upheaval arose.
In December 1887, Governor General Emilio Terrero, induced by the contents of the Noli Me Tangere, ordered a government investigation of the way friar estates were run. In Calamba, the folks chose to beseech Jose Rizal’s assistance in collecting information and listing their comments as regards Dominican hacienda management.
It was thus exposed and recorded that the Dominican Order continually and arbitrarily increased the land rent or canon. It had been charging the tenants ridiculous fees for irrigation services and other agricultural improvements which were actually nonexistent. Excessive rates of interest were also charged for late payment of rent. And when the rent could not be paid, the tenants’ houses and belongings were confiscated. Since no receipts were issued for payments, some tenants were accused of not paying and thus dispossessed of their fields.
These findings, which the townsfolk, friar representatives, and government officials signed on January 8, 1888, were sent to the civil government. But the authorities had their necks held by the friars. Unsurprisingly, Rizal’s report did not resolve the agrarian trouble. Instead, the land occupied by the Rizal family and that toiled by Paciano and Don Francisco became the target of Dominican retaliation.
Paciano as Calamba leader
Angered enough by the grievances aired by the Calamba tenants, the Dominicans even raised the rent higher. Because the Rizal family had stopped paying the unreasonable rent, a lawsuit was filed to dispossess them of their lands. The agrarian uproar got worse as the Calamba case which was appealed to the Real Audiencia (highest court in the country) in 1888 had been won by the Dominicans in 1890.
Under Paciano’s leadership, the Calamba townsfolk prepared to elevate the case to the Tribunal Supremo (Supreme Court in Madrid). He actively corresponded with Jose who rushed to Madrid to seek legal assistance for his brother. Jose took the service of Marcelo H. del Pilar as their lawyer and tapped every influential person and association he could just to help Paciano win his fight. Unfortunately, Rizal found no Spanish authorities who would fully back up the Calamba tenants’ advocacy.
Meanwhile, Valeriano Weyler, the governor general who replaced the impartial Emilio Terrero, sent demolition teams to Calamba. Taking the friars’ side, he ordered to raze to the ground the tenants’ houses. Forced to leave the place within several hours, Rizal’s parents moved in with their daughter Narcisa. This unfortunately resulted in her husband, Antonino Lopez, becoming the center of persecution. After dismantling his house and confiscating his belongings, “Lopez was then ordered deported to Mindoro, but Paciano offered to go in his place” (Bantug, p. 96). Paciano, together with some in-laws, were arrested in Calamba and shipped out of Manila in September 1890.
Being Jose’s second father
Some jokingly suggest that their respective grandfathers should also be mentioned in history for allegedly sharpening the bolos and cleaning the guns of heroes like Andres Bonifacio. But if you were a descendant of Paciano Rizal, you could seriously claim that your forebear has a noteworthy place in Philippine history for he did extensively influence the heroism of none less than the national hero.
Acting as Jose’s caring guardian, Paciano brought him to Biñan to study under the tutelage of Justiniano Aquino Cruz. Paciano introduced Jose to the teacher, whom he (Paciano) knew very well because he had been a pupil under the teacher before. In 1872, Paciano also accompanied the young Rizal in taking the entrance exam at the College of the San Juan de Letran and in matriculating instead at the Ateneo Municipal. Paciano even looked for Jose’s boarding house in the Walled City.
In choosing a course to take at the University of Santo Tomas, Rizal was said to have originally thought about law. Paciano however warned him that being a lawyer could be problematic, for one might find himself backing a wrong cause. Because he also wished to cure their mother, Jose thus opted to take medicine instead.
Tired of discrimination against Filipinos by the Dominican professors, Rizal stopped studying at UST in 1882. The two Rizals then made a secret pact that Jose would go to Spain while his big brother would stay behind and care for their parents. But Jose’s more crucial mission was not merely to continue his medical studies but to ultimately liberate the exploited Filipinos from Spanish tyranny by first widening his political knowledge through exposure to European governments.
So when the day came for Jose to leave, “Paciano woke him before daybreak and gave him 365 pesos for the trip” (Bantug, p. 52). Paciano thentook the responsibility in telling their parents about Jose’s leaving and in sustaining the financial needs of his brother abroad. For five years, Paciano sent him monthly stipend of 50 pesos, which was later reduced to only 35.
Maintaining a constant watch over Jose, Paciano would tell him where to go and what to do. For instance, when Rizal reached Spain, a letter from Paciano arrived, telling him to proceed to Madrid and reminding him he had gone to Europe to dedicate himself to matters of ‘greater usefulness’.Sometime in November 1885, Rizal also received a letter from his kuya disapproving his plan to transfer to Paris. At the beginning of that year, Paciano disallowed Jose’s intention to return home and advised him to wait for the opportune time for the situation in the Philippines was dangerous for him.
When Jose had returned home in 1887, Paciano never left him during the first days after arrival, fearing that his enemies would assault him. When Jose, together with his assigned bodyguard and two brothers-in-law climbed up Mount Makiling one morning, Paciano went with them. Hoisting a white sheet on top of the mountain, they were accused of having erected the German flag. The Rizal brothers nonetheless were able to explain their non-political adventure and were believed in by the officials.
Before leaving the country for the second time, Jose wanted to marry his girlfriend, Leonor Rivera, and leave her in a sister’s care. But Paciano was adamant and was said to have told Jose, “Iniisip mo lang ang iyong sarili” (Ocampo, p. 41). Paciano was supposed to have also explained that “it was selfish of Rizal to marry someone, only to leave her behind” (Bantug, p. 76).
The passionate bond between the two heroes cannot be overemphasized. Their last memorable moments together perhaps happened in 1891 when Paciano, after a year of being deported, had escaped further persecutions and joined Jose in Hong Kong. With their parents and other family members, they celebrated the year-end holidays together.
When Jose was about to be prosecuted, the older Rizal opted to be tortured, which nearly cost his life, than to testify against his brother. Before his execution, the national hero wrote these very emotional words to his beloved kuya:
“For more than four years, we have neither seen nor written each other, not for lack of love on your part nor on mine, but because knowing each other as we do, we needed no words to understand each other. Now that I am about to die, I dedicate these last times to you to tell you how sorry I am to leave you alone in the world, bearing the burden of the whole family and our old parents. I think of the hardships you went through to help me in my career and I believe I tried my best to waste no time. My brother, if the fruit is bitter, the fault is not mine, but fate’s…”
The Revolutionary Paciano
When some members of the Rizal family were peacefully living in Hong Kong in 1891, the rumors of a looming revolution in the Philippines had reached them. Perusing a map of the country, Paciano and Jose were often observed discussing about the probable areas where the revolutionaries would begin to strike.
After his brother’s execution in December 1896, Paciano joined the Katipuneros in Cavite under General Emilio Aguinaldo. He was not new to reform and revolutionary organizations. He had been an avid member of Propaganda Movement, soliciting funds to finance the organization and the nationalist paper ‘Diariong Tagalog’.
As Katipunero, Paciano was later commissioned as general of the revolutionary forces. He was said to have been elected too as secretary of finance in the Department Government of Central Luzon. Assigned as revolutionary commander in Laguna, he was supposed to have wittingly ordered that firecrackers be used to make the Spaniards believe that the Katipuneros were heavily armed. As a result, the enemies in hiding were flushed out and forced to surrender.
During the Philippine-American War, Paciano continued to fight for Philippine independence in his area of jurisdiction in Laguna. During the revolution, he was said to have had several meetings with Apolinario Mabini. Dented by malaria however, Paciano was captured by the Americans in 1900. He was released soon after on the power of his promise that he would lead a peaceful life.
Paciano chose to live a quiet life
Paciano, in his later years, chose to live a serene life and busied himself in the farm instead. He was supposed to have respectfully declined Governor William Howard Taft’s offer to have an important government position in the government and the bid to seek public office in Laguna.
In 1907, when the Philippine Assembly passed a resolution providing for a life pension of P200 a month for his mother, Paciano courteously opposed the plan, declaring that he was responsible to take care of his mother till her death as he promised to the national hero.
Paciano never married but he had a daughter by Severina Decena named Emiliana Rizal. A son of Emiliana reported that his lola Severina actually married someone else from Calamba but used to visit her Rizal grandchildren when they were young (Ambeth Ocampo, p. 41).
On April 13, 1930, Don Paciano died of tuberculosis at his Los Baños home at age of 79. His remains were buried in the North Cemetery in Manila. His life exemplifies that ‘a brother is a brother’ and reminds us that siblings must stand united and remain loyal to each other. (© 2013 by Jensen DG. Mañebog)
SATURNINA RIZAL: The Hero's Second Mother
Jensen DG. Mañebog, the contributor, is a book author and professorial lecturer in the graduate school of a state university in Metro Manila. His unique affordable e-books on Rizal (available online) comprehensively tackles, among others, the respective life of Rizal’s parents, siblings, co-heroes, and girlfriends. (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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