Jose Rizal’s Family

Category: Jose Rizal, Philippines
Last Updated: 21 Mar 2023
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Rizal was a 9th-generation patrilineal descendant of Domingo Lam-co (Chinese: ??? pinyin: Ke Yinan), a Chinese immigrant entrepreneur who sailed to the Philippines from Jinjiang, Quanzhou in the mid-17th century. Lam-co married Inez de la Rosa, a Sangley native of Luzon. To free his descendants from the Sinophobic animosity of the Spanish authorities, Lam-co changed the surname to the Spanish "Mercado" (market) to indicate their Chinese merchant roots. In 1849, Governor-General Narciso Claveria ordered all native families in the Philippines to choose new surnames from a list of Spanish family names.

Jose's father Francisco adopted the surname "Rizal" (originally Ricial, the green of young growth or green fields), which was suggested to him by a provincial governor, or as Jose had described him, "a friend of the family". However, the name change caused confusion in the business affairs of Francisco, most of which were begun under the old name. After a few years, he settled on the name "Rizal Mercado" as a compromise, but usually just used the original surname "Mercado".

Upon enrolling at the Ateneo Municipal de Manila, Jose dropped the last three names that make up his full name, at the advice of his brother, Paciano Rizal Mercado, and the Rizal Mercado family, thus rendering his name as "Jose Protasio Rizal". Of this, Rizal writes: "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! This was to enable him to travel freely and disassociate him from his brother, who had gained notoriety with his earlier links with native priests who were sentenced to death as subversives.

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From early childhood, Jose and Paciano were already advancing unheard-of political ideas of freedom and individual rights which infuriated the authorities. Despite the name change, Jose, as "Rizal" soon distinguishes himself in poetry writing contests, impressing his professors with his facility with Castilian and other foreign languages, and later, in writing essays that are critical of the Spanish historical accounts of the pre-colonial Philippine societies.

Indeed, by 1891, the year he finished his sunset, this second surname had become so well known that, as he writes to another 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... " Jose became the focal point by which the family became known, at least from the point of view of colonial authorities.

Related Questions

on Jose Rizal’s Family

Who are the 11 siblings of Rizal?
Rizal had 11 siblings in total, including Narcisa, Olympia, Paciano, Trinidad, Soledad, Lucia, Maria, Concepcion, Jose, Antonio, and Narciso. All of them were born to Francisco Mercado and Teodora Alonso.
Who are the family members of Jose Rizal?
Jose Rizal had nine siblings, including his older brother Paciano, and his parents were Francisco Mercado and Teodora Alonso. He also had several nieces and nephews from his siblings.
How many family members does Jose Rizal have?
Jose Rizal had 11 siblings, including himself. He was the seventh of 11 children born to his parents, Francisco Mercado and Teodora Alonso.
What kind of family does Rizal have?
Rizal comes from a large and close-knit family. His father, Francisco Mercado, was a prosperous farmer and his mother, Teodora Alonso, was a well-educated woman. He had nine siblings, including two half-brothers from his father's first marriage.

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Jose Rizal’s Family. (2018, Feb 14). Retrieved from

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