Following the Footsteps of Jose Rizal in Calamba

The town of Calamba in the 19th century was a sleepy agricultural town that lay in the shadow of the fabled Mount Makiling. It is a small town of only about 500 hectares of sloping hills on the southern shores of Laguna de Bay. It is a town which every Filipino student comes to know early in life as the birthplace of our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.


Kalan ba? Kalan ba?


Calamba takes its name from a legend set at the turn of the 16th century. Two Spanish soldiers approached a local girl carrying an earthen jar. One of the soldiers asked the girl for the name of the town on they were.



Unfamiliar with the foreign language, the girl nervously answered (or threw probably answered back with a question), Kalan ba? Kalan ba?, holding up the jar that she bore.



The frightened lass hurriedly left the soldiers muttering to themselves (probably convinced that name of the town is), “Calamba…Calamba…” Today, a monument to the legend stands on the town plaza. 



The Mercado House


The home of Don Francisco Mercado and Doña Teodora Alonso on Calle Real was the birthplace of their eleven children, namely: Saturnina, Paciano, Narcisa, Oilimpia, Lucia, Maria, Jose, Concepcion (who died at the age of three), Josefa, Trinidad and Soledad.



It was at this Idyllic Ancestral Home of the Mercados in Calamba that all of the Mercado children were born and grew up with normal joys and sorrows; one of them was destined for greatness. 



Church of Calamba


Located beside the Mercado House is the Church dedicated to San Juan Bautista. As the family legend goes, it was in this church that a prophecy about Jose Rizal’s greatness was foretold.



On the eve of her seventh childbirth, Doña Teodora went to the church (located beside their home) for confession and communion as a tradition for women who are about to give birth.


According to the story, in the midst of her confession, a loud soulful wail came from her womb. Startled, the priest interrupted Teodora to ask if she had brought along a child. Emerging from the confessional, she was asked by an old woman why her unborn child protested so mournfully.  



Embarrassed and confused, Doña Teodora, hurried home as she felt the painful pangs of labor has begun. Her labor lasted until the next day. Just before midnight, the Mercados welcomed their second son, a tiny delicate child whose head unusually large in size.



On the third day after his birth, the child received his baptism and was given the name Jose Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda. The priest who administered the baptism, Padre Rufino Collantes noted the unusual size of the baby’s head and told Doña Teodora to “take good care of this child because someday he will be a great man” –a prophecy that was fulfilled after 35 years.


The baptismal cistern used during the time of Jose Rizal’s christening is still being used to this day.



Licheria Hill




The hill called Licheria was once a Dominican-owned cow pastureland where it has been told that the adolescent Jose Rizal was often seen riding his horse.



Today, the hill is a haven for the two sects called the Rizalista who deify Jose Rizal.




The church of the Rizalistas can be reached by following a road at the foot of a small hill, passing by several old cemeteries along the way. 



Viewed from atop this hill is the old town of Calamba where the church and ancestral house of the Rizals are located. 



Paligon sa Aplaya


In the olden days, traveling from Calamba to Manila and vice-versa meant taking a boat ride across the Laguna de Bay. The young Jose accompanied by his brother Paciano took the boat ride from Paligon sa Aplaya to Manila. It was during this time when Jose began using Rizal as last name while enrolling at Ateneo de Manila for his secondary education. 



Today, no historical marker was place to indicate this event in Jose Rizal’s life. The Paligon sa Aplaya serves as a docking place of boats headed for Talim Island.



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27 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. madam we’re conducting survey/data gathering for cultural mapping of the city, can we use some of your pictures for the said activity, we will acknowledge your name in our reference section thanks a lot po.

  2. where is the clothes of jose rizal? i need to know if it truly that clothes have blood! >:-(

  3. this is what i am looking for i need this for my project in Rizal coz’ i am studying in a school which named after Jose Rizal

  4. hello! your pictures about our national hero is a great help and it inspires me to do some travelling inside the Philippines. (although I wish to have enough financial capability. haha)
    anyway, can i grab the pictures and make them a part of my presentation in our Rizal Course? BTW, I’m a Communication Arts student in UST and I hope you consider my Request

    thank you very much! 😀

  5. […] Try mo po ito bka makatulong. Following the Footsteps of Jose Rizal in Calamba traveler on foot […]

  6. soooooo nice…
    may i know the meaning of “protacio” as part of rizal’s name??? where did it came from and why did he use it???
    i need it badly….
    it’s included in our examination….
    please answer back…
    i need an urgent answer…
    thank you sooooooooo much….
    thank you tank you thank you!!!

  7. Hi! We have a big project in school about Rizal. I was wondering if you have more interesting facts about him? My group is desperate,and it’s hard to find the really interesting facts, due to limited sources. Hope you can help. Thanks! 🙂

  8. i really like the photos that you posted in this site

    now i have an idea on how to explore laguna as well as calamba

    i am hoping you can include information
    regarding rizal sisters..

    because we needed it in our rizal course..

    more power to you!!1

  9. The story was that the girl was holding a clay pot and an earthen stove. When asked, the girl replied “Kalan at banga”. There was also story that the earlier name of the town was “Kalanbanga”. That’s the reason, if you could notice, why the town’s plaza has a structure that’s shaped as a pot and a primitive stove.

    • Thank you for sharing this story with us Glen.

  10. hi! i was just wondering if, by any chance, you have a copy of Paciano’s second picture? The one where he is in his coffin? thanks. =)

    • You can get a copy of one of Ambeth Ocampo’s book, Rizal Without the overcoat Dana. If I can recall it right, the image of the other Rizal lying on a coffin is there.

  11. Hi! I was browsing through the net and was hoping to see more interesting facts about our national hero and viola! i saw ur blog. Me and my friends are planning to go to Calamba as this is a required project for my Rizal Course. If you do not mind, I would like to include some of the facts in my presentation on this blog. Don’t worry because I will surely include you in my credits.

    Thank you very much and please keep up the good work! Gracias.

    • My pleasure Rica. Good luck on your project.

  12. Thank you fro interest on Rizal’s ancestral home Maria Elda.

  13. I am looking forward for it….

  14. I was hoping if you can put informations or details about the house of our Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal.

  15. I’m glad that you appreciate the articles posted on this site Shiela.

  16. Helooo…..
    im so glad to read this article…
    am so impressing the beautiful sceneries and picturesque of some TRAVELER ON FOOT..

  17. Im so appreciate to the author of this particular articles of Rizal’s Life.During his time…

    -Thank You-

  18. oh…I just walked the blogging route a few months ahead of you 😛

    that paciano house is just near los banos town hall. i wanted to visit historical places there including homma-yamashita shrine plus the “buwaya” lake. i guess you drive your own car (i also have one but i prefer to backpack since it’s cheaper). going there i was told is not easy with cars due to parking is hard to find. i’ve always wanted to travel with people who share the same interests particularly heritage and historic places

    I’m from paete, btw, and i’m planning to come home this weekend for a vacation if it’s no longer raining.

  19. I think as travelers, one of the first places we visited will always be memorable for us tutubi.

    Likewise, I also wanted to see the Paciano house in Los Banos.

    Lecheria Hill is about couple of miles away from the Rizal Shrine. Walking there is workable although there are several stray dogs along the way.

    A walk with you will be an honor. I think I’ll be humbled to be with the author of one of the travel blogs that ispired me to start my own. Thank you.

  20. i visited that rizal house a few years ago that began my backpacking days in 2002. i intend to visit it again one of these days as well as Paciano’s house in LB (besides other places). did you really walk to that hill? i think it’s quite far though I’ve never been there.

    Your postings interest me most. keep it up. perhaps we can do a walk together one of these days 😛

  21. I’ll be glad to submit this article to your blog Daisy.

  22. nice article.

    feel free to email me if you want to submit articles or do guest blog posting on



  23. I’m very glad to learn that you find this site interesting bertN. Comments like this make me feel that objective of this site, which to present Filipino culture and heritage has been met.

    I also appreciate your feedback regarding the text/signature I’ve stamped on the photos. I used to place a font 10 “Traveler on Foot” at the farthest corner of the images. Recently, I discovered some bloggers/non-bloggers using my photos and cropping(editing) the part where I place my signature.

    I’ve observed that this has become a common practice. I have no problem with some people using the photos in this site. However, I wanted to encourage people (bloggers/non-bloggers) to give credit to the owner of the pictures or at least ask permission before grabbing the photos and use them for their own advocacies.

  24. I am a frequent visitor to your site and I enjoy looking at all the wonderful and interesting pictures you are sharing with us. However, I find the “Traveler on Foot” with which you stamped all your photos distracting. I believe that if you reduce the text size to at least half, make it less bold and place it at farthest edge of your photos, you will still accomplish the purpose for which it is intended. Just a suggestion, please do not take any offense.

    I hope you don’t take offense with my suggestion as there is none intended.

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