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CHILDHOOD DAYS AT CALAMBA

Calamba: Cradle of a Genius


Calamba was an hacienda town which belong to the
Dominican Order.
South looms Mount Makiling. Beyond this mountain is the
province of Batangas. East of the town is the Laguna de Bay.
North is the distant Antipolo.
It was a place of verdant fields, of green meadows, and
filled with the bounty and beauty of nature.
Pepe loved his hometown so much and at the age of 15,
while a student of Ateneo de Municipal, he paid tribute to his
hometown by writing his poem entitled Un Recuerdo A Mi
Pueblo (In Memory of My Hometown).
Childhood Days and Memories:
The young Pepe or Moy spent happy days at their
home in Calamba, enclosed by the love of his family. Acording
to Rizals memoirs, the time he spent at his hometown was, for
him, a period of mixed feelings excitement, wonder,
sadness, gladness
The Rizal home was a house filled with love, respect
and discipline. The authority of the father and the guidance of
the mother were indisputable. The children were kept together
by an unwritten code of discipline, religion, and tradition.
Every evening, the family knelt down in front of the
altar to pray and hear mass every Sunday and holidays of
obligation. There was complete understanding of duties and
rights and every child learned the value of industry and thrift.
The Rizal House:
Pepe grew up in a 2-storey house with the first floor
built of stone.
On the ground level was his mothers general (retail)
store that had its separate access across the street. It was on
this store that the Rizal children would take turns as watcher
and seller. Her sisters, Trining in particular, would also sell
pulot (sugar molasses).
Dona Lolay would travel to Manila on board the
casco, a flat wooden boat with curved nipa, to buy clothes,
blankets, corchos (cloth slippers, usually made of velvet),
plates, cups, candles, threads, needles, tobacco leaves,
cigars, and tools for planting,. Aslo stocking up with cheese,
butter and chorizo de Bilbao.
Every evening Pepe would put some coins from the
sales in his hands, holding them for a few minutes, then drop
them into a big jar converted into a savings bank by their
mother. Always remembering the lesson told by his mother,
never spend everything you earn, Always save something for
a rainy day. Thus, getting his first lessons on industry,

thriftiness and the value of money. Lessons that stood him


good during the lean months and years of his stay in Europe.
The family resided on the second floor of the house,
build of hard wood, with a living room, dining room, bedrooms,
kitchen, bathroom and toilet facilities. Off the kitchen was an
azotea, a roofless extension whose function changed
according to needs and seasons.
On the Azotea, were large clay jars for collecting and
storing rain water, as welluring good weather, the azotea, was
used for outdoor dining and drying rice in husk. There was a
large camarin to properly store rice and sugar. It was on this
azotea that Pepe would be fed by his aya or yna (yaya)
Valentina Alquitran of Mauban, Quezon, while telling him of
stories and scary tales aswang, nuno sa punso, diwata,
encantos and encantadas, kapre, of the terrible bearded and
turbaned Bombay, of buried treasures, and other folktales,
which roused in Pepe interests in legends and folklores.
They had a stable off to one side of the house near
where the carriage was parked where the familys batangas
horses were housed. Policarpio Sanchez (Mang Kalpo), the
family cochero and husband of the familys cook Aling Vale
(Valentina Sanchez), took care of the horses.
The dining room, with a carved heavy wooden table
and high back chairs accommodated the family during meal
times and the guests during special affairs.
The garden specifically was where the young Rizal
had fond memories. According to Rizals recollections of
childhood written in Spanish and dated September 11, 1878,
there were many fruit trees in the family garden sugar apple
(atis), sweet santol, pleasant and honey-like tampoy, pinkish
macopa, ascerbic and flavorful plum (most likely the duhat),
sapaloc, papaya trees, jackfruit (nanca), coffee, oranges,
starfruit, pomegranate, iba (kamias), banana, cashew,
coconuts (which to Pepe were the queen of the forest). As a
child, Pepe was fond of plucking fruits from the low-slung
branches and rushing with his sisters to pick up the fallen fruits
on the ground.
On the garden, Don Kikoy built a small nipa hut
(bahay kubo) where Pepe spent his days. Being failr and weak
as a young boy, he spent his days playing with his siblings at
their bahay kubo, drawing, sketching, painting, carving and
molding in clay. It was on this very garden that Pepes love of
nature developed and nurtured. From the garden, he would
listen, with amazement, wonder and joy, the music of the birdsculiauan, hornbills (kalaw or culae), maya (sparrow), mariacopra, martinez, pipit and other birds. Nature served as his
inspiration for his honing his creative talents. Rizal loved
animals that he even gave their chickens names and cried

when the chickens were killed and even refused to take part in
the family dinner when the chickens were served.
The Kitchen was another area in the Rizal home that
had sweet memories for the family. With its clay stoves,
cooking pots wooden worktable and benches, it was not only
the domain of the family cook, Valentina Sanchez, but also of
Dona Lolay and Pepes sisters. Family correspondence written
during Pepes lifetime refer to sweets and jellies, santol and
orange that were made at the home.
Educating the Taste Buds:
As was the fashion and lifestyle in the 19th century
Philippine society, prominent families cook and dine in Spanish
and European fashion. The Rizal children were never
encouraged to subscribed to the peasant mode of squatting in
front of a wooden dulang table about a foot off the ground nor
the food be served and eaten directly from a common dish.
Food was expected to be served and eaten using continental
tableware at a waist-high table.
Food for sale in the 19th century Philippine society, as
described by the French Physician Jean Mallat, consisted of
native produce and fowls, Chinese potatoes, European ham,
Chinese saveloys (sausages), French olive oil, foreign
preserves, gruyere, dutch cheeses. Imported from Macao were
sotanju noodles, red rice, dried fish, chestnuts and other nuts,
liqorice juice, banana flowers, dried apples, hams, and small
sweet oranges. From Spain came the caskets and barrels of
red wine from Catalonia, sweet wine from Malaga, and other
wines from Xeres and San Lucar. Anisees br Spanish foods
brandy was widely consumed. Most sought after Spanish
imported foods were sausages, preserved artichoke hearts,
olives, cheeses, Galicia hams, flanders, butter, chorizo, oil,
chick peas and beans. Teas were imported from China.
In Diosdado G. Capinos book, Childhood and
Boyhood Stories of Rizal, published in 1957, Aling Vales
remembrances were recorded and documented and recalling
that the family fare included relleno, adobo, estopado,
puchero, tinola and fried chicken. Among the favorite of Pepe
were carneng asada (beefsteak with sauce) and fresh
oranges.
Described by Aling Vale as frail and sickly looking boy
with wide, wondering and eager eyes, fresh milk, which Pepe
helped milked from carabaos, was added to his diet.
Heath Nourishment:
Aside from good nutrition, Pepes health was further
enhanced and strengthened by the influences of the men in his
family. Dona Lolays brother, Manuel,was