The Life and Works of
Dr. Jose P. Rizal
The Other Rizal
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Dr. Jose P. Rizal received so much support and advices from his older brother Paciano. Let us take a minute and ponder the role that Lolo Ciano had, and the influence he had in our national hero.
The following narrative is contributed by General Paciano’s youngest grandchild Jose Rizal Lopez II.
Both Don Francisco Mercado and Dona Teodora Alonso were especially happy on March 9, 1851 with the birth of their son Paciano. He is the second child of the couple and the one who turned out to be their son who would take over the reins of caring for the family when they were too old to do so.
General Paciano Rizal whom we call Lolo Ciano died peacefully on April 13, 1930, at the age of 79 in the presence of his daughter, Emiliana and some nephews and nieces in his residence in Los Banos, Laguna.
Lolo Ciano’s simple residence in Los Banos next to the Municipal Hall
Don Francisco Mercado whom we call Lolo Kikoy was a self-made man, who received his early education in a Latin school in his hometown and later studied philosophy and Latin at the Colegio de San Jose in Manila. He was a tenant of a Dominican estate in Calamba, Laguna and through his hard work, he had increased his rented landholdings. He married Dona Tedora Alonso, whom we call Lola Tanda on June 28, 1848, after the death of his sister, who took care of him since childhood.
His wife gave birth to eleven children. He was well respected by the town’s people of Calamba, who made him their “cabeza de barangay”. He was evicted from his home in Calamba by the Spaniards in September, 1899, after losing his agrarian case with the friars. After the execution of his son, Jose in Bagumbayan, he deeply felt the injustice that was brought by the Spaniards and died shortly afterwards in the house of his daughter, Narcisa in Estraude Street in Binondo, Manila.
He is the descendant of a Chinese entrepreneur by the name of Domingo Lamco from Jinjiang, Quanzhou Fujin province, China during the middle 17th century, who married a well-to-do Christian girl of Manila named Ines de la Rosa. He assumed the surname Mercado in 1731, which means market because he was a merchant by profession. Rosa had a son, Francisco Mercado, who resided in Binan and married a Chinese-Filipino mestiza by the name of Bernarda Monicha and was elected governadorcillo (municipal mayor) of the town. One of their sons, Juan Mercado married Cirila Alejandro, a Chinese-Filipina mestiza who bore thirteen children, the youngest of whom was Francisco, father of Dr. Jose Rizal and Paciano Rizal.
Don Francisco Mercado or Lolo Kikoy as his grandchildren call him
Dona Teodora Alonso, our Lola Tanda, was born in Santa Cruz, Manila on November 14, 1827 and died in 1913 also in Manila. She was educated at the Colegio de Santa Rosa, a prestigious school for girls in Manila at that time. It is known that she is a remarkable woman, possessing refined culture, literary talents, business ability and the fortitude of a Spartan woman. She provided the early education of her children teaching them Spanish, mathematics and also some prayers. Some say that her family descended from Lakandula, the last native king of Tondo (a district of Manila). She is the daughter of Lorenzo Alonso and Brigida de Quintos. Her father was a capitan municipal (municipal captain) of Binan, Laguna, who later became a representative to the Spanish Cortes and also a Knight of the Order of Isabela the Catholic. By profession her father was a surveyor. Like her, Brigida de Quintos was an educated housewife who attended to her family needs. By the decree of Governor Narciso Claveria in 1849, their family adopted the surname Realonda. Tracing family roots, her great grandfather was Eugenio Ursua, said to be of Japanese ancestry, who married a Filipina named Benigna (surname unknown). Their daughter Regina married a Filipino Chinese lawyer from Pangasinan named Attorney Manuel de Quintos, whose daughter married Lorenzo Alberto Alonzo, a prominent Spanish Filipino mestizo from Binan. Their children were Narcisa, Teodora (Paciano’s mother), Gregorio, Manuel and Jose. When Teodora turned 20 years old, she married Francisco Mercado, who was a native of Binan, Laguna. They settled down in Calamba, where they engaged in business and agriculture. Through their hard work, industry and the efficient managerial skills of Lola Tanda, they prospered and were able to build one of the first few houses of stone in Calamba in close proximity to the church and the present town plaza. Lola Tanda managed the family’s financial affairs and farm, a textile business, sugar and flour mill, and a small store at the ground floor of their house. They had eleven children namely, Saturnina, Paciano, Narcisa, Olympia, Lucia, Maria, Jose, Concecpion, Josefa, Trinidad and Soledad. All their children were sent to respectable schools in Manila, but Jose was the only child sent to Europe to farther his studies. Lola Tanda is well known to be a disciplinarian.
Dona Teodora Alonso also known as Dona Lolay and to us we call her Lola Tanda
The eldest sister of Lolo Ciano is Dona Saturnina Rizal, born 1850 and died 1913. She had five children by her husband Manuel T. Hidalgo of Tanuan, Batangas. Her grandson, Angel Hidalgo, was connected with the defunct Jose Rizal National Centennial Commission. He taught English at the Far Eastern University in the Philippines.
Lolo Ciano is Dr. Jose Rizal’s only brother, who like their father, was also a farmer by profession. He acquired his early education from his mother, Dona Teodora, after which he went to Binan to study under teacher Justiniano Aquino Cruz and continued on to study in Manila at the Colegio de San Jose. After his brother’s execution, Paciano joined the ranks of the revolutionists and rose to the rank of General. When peace was restored, he led the life of a gentleman farmer in Los Banos, Laguna. He had two children by his common law wife, Severina Decena of Los Banos. One of his children died early leaving only her daughter, Emiliana.
This is one of only two pictures of General Paciano Rizal. The other picture was lost in a fire.
Dona Narcisa Rizal, our grandmother by my father’s side, was born in 1852 and died in 1939. She was married to my grandfather, Antonino Manapat Lopez, a musician and teacher from Morong, Rizal. Dr. Leoncio Lopez Rizal, their sixth of nine children is a physician, who taught at the College of Medicine of the University of Santo Tomas. Granddaughter Asuncion Lopez Bantug, one of the children of Dr. Leoncio Lopez Rizal is the author of “Lolo Jose”, a biography of Dr. Jose Rizal.
Third sister of Lolo Ciano is Dona Olympia Rizal Ubaldo who was born in 1855, died 1887 and was married to Silvestre Ubaldo, a telegraph operator from Manila. Their marriage was blessed with three children of whom one was Dr. Aristeo Ubaldo, one of the few ophthalmologists in the Philippines at that time connected with the Philippine General Hospital.
The next sister of Lolo Ciano is Dona Lucia Rizal (1857-1919), who was married to one of their town mates, Mariano Herbosa. He died of cholera in 1889 during the epidemic and because he was the brother-in-law of Dr. Jose Rizal, he was denied a Christian burial. This is one of the starting signs of persecution of the family by the Spanish Friars.
The fifth child in the family, Dona Maria Rizal (1859-1945), became the wife of Daniel Faustino Cruz of Binan, Laguna. The family was blessed with five children. One of her children was Mauricio Cruz, who was a successful businessman and was one of the pupils of Dr. Jose Rizal in Dapitan. He is said to be Dr. Rizal’s favorite among his students because of his wit and intelligence.
The eighth of the Rizal children was Dona Concepcion, who died at an early age. “I lost my little sister, Concha, and then for the first time I wept tears of love and grief,” wrote the hero. There is no available picture of this sister of Lolo Ciano.
Josefa (1865-1945) and Trinidad (1868-1951) were unmarried and they lived together until their death. Trinidad survived all of her siblings and lived through the two world wars until peace was restored. It was to Trinidad whom Dr. Jose Rizal gave the alcohol lamp where he secretly hid the “Last Farewell”.
The youngest of Lolo Ciano’s siblings is Soledad (1870-1929), who married Pantaleon Quintero, a town mate. While a student at the La Concordia College she became the close friend of her classmate Leonor Rivera. She had five children, one of whom married a descendant of the late General Miguel Malvar of Batangas. One of her grandchildren, Jose Arguelles, is the owner of the National Teachers College.
Just like Dr. Jose Rizal, Lolo Ciano’s early education was provided by his mother. He was taught by her Spanish, mathematics and some prayers. Later, he was sent to Binan, Laguna to study under Maestro Justiniano Aquino Cruz, to whom he in turn brought his brother Jose when he was ready to further his education. at home. Lolo Ciano sought further education in Manila and studied in the Colegio de San Jose. While he was studying in Colegio de San Jose, he lived and worked with Father Jose Burgos who greatly influenced him to become liberal-minded and outspoken about the ills of the government and the friars. In 1872 Fr. Jose Burgos, together with Fr. Jacinto Zamora and Fr. Mariano Gomez, were unjustly accused and convicted of being agitators of the Cavite Mutiny and sentenced to death by garrote. This particular incident greatly affected Lolo Ciano and ingrained in him more nationalism and love of country. Because of his close association with Fr. Burgos, he incurred the ire of the friars, who did not allow him to take his final studies. He decided to discontinue his education and went home to Calamba to dedicate himself to farming and helping his aging father in the management of their farm. In the early part of Lolo Ciano’s stay in Calamba, his father ruled that there should neither be any mention or discussion about the three fathers nor of the Cavite incident. Instead of faithfully obeying such a ruling, Lolo Ciano in his own private conversations with his brother Jose, planted the seeds of the ideas that he had received from his good friend Fr. Burgos. These ideas grew in the heart of the young Jose Rizal and made him a fervent nationalist with a supreme love of country.
While still in Calamba Lolo Ciano continued educating himself by reading the Encyclopedia Britannica and even teaching himself other languages such as French, English and several local dialects. He can actually write good English but as a result of it being self-taught his pronunciations were a bit off. Although there is no evidence that Lolo Ciano studied in the Santo Tomas University, he is said to be a member of the “Juventud Escolar Liberal” involved in the movement for reforms of the school administration together with student leaders among whom are Felipe Buencamino and Gregorio Sanciangco. We may probably call Lolo Ciano an equivalent of the present day activists fighting for the improvement of the government.
How did Lolo Ciano relate to his only brother and sisters? Being the second child in the family and the member that is actively helping their father in the management of the farm, the sisters and brother of Lolo Ciano had the utmost respect for him, especially so because he was a simple and upright man of very few words. To show mutual respect between brothers and sisters, they addressed each other formally as either “Senor” or “Nor” and “Senora” or “Nora”. Since Jose Rizal was ten years younger than Lolo Ciano, it was he who brought Lolo Jose to Maestro Justiniano Aquino Cruz in Binan in 1870 to further his education. Two years later, when it came time that he has learned what Maestro Cruz had to teach him, Lolo Jose was again brought by Lolo Ciano to Manila and tried enrolling him in the Ateneo de Municipal to continue his education. Since Lolo Jose was too small for his age they almost rejected his enrollment, that made Lolo Ciano seek the help of his friend Manuel Xeres Burgos to assist him in getting Lolo Jose admitted to the Ateneo de Municipal. Since Lolo Jose was too young at that time, Lolo Ciano had to look for his suitable accommodations in a boarding house in Carballo Street outside the walled city of Intramuros.
After Lolo Jose finished his education in Ateneo Municipal, Lolo Ciano encouraged him to enroll in the Universidad de Santo Tomas, where he studied medicine. Again in 1882, after Lolo Jose finished his studies in Universidad de Santo Tomas, Lolo Ciano encouraged him to continue his studies in Europe and promised him that he will be responsible for financing his education in Europe. In addition to these encouragements Lolo Ciano also asked his young brother to continue his work for reforms in the government while studying medicine and specializing in ophthalmology so that he can cure their aging mother’s failing eyesight. Lolo Ciano did all of this without the knowledge of his parents. He undertook the task of telling his parents about his decision and also of consoling them in their apprehensions of having a son so far away alone in a country unknown to them. In the preparations for the trip to Europe Lolo Ciano sought the help of Antonio Rivera.
He made sure to continuously communicate with his brother to guide him in his effort of working for reforms for the country and encouraged him in the publication of his novels, which depicts the abusive practices of the government and the friars. He also made sure that the rest of the family including his brothers-in-laws to keep in touch with Lolo Jose to inform him of important events happening in the country. Lolo Ciano always made sure that he continuously sent his brother’s monthly financial support and when he experienced either a drop in earnings of the farms or crop failures, he appealed to his brother to bear with him in a reduced allowance. He wrote his brother, “Talastas co, na mahirap ang tayo mo rian sapol pagcaraca, dala ng culang at pahulihuling pag papadala ng pension, (ngunit itoy’y) ipaquibilang mo na cami ay dinadamayan mo lamang sa casalatan.” Loosely translated, “I realize that you are having a hard time there because of reduced or delayed sending of your pension, but count it as your part of commiserating with us because of our scarcity of funds.”
Being a selfless individual Lolo Ciano at one time took the place of his brother-in-law, Antonino Lopez, when he was ordered to be exiled to Mindoro knowing that his sister Narcisa would be left alone with her children. Although much younger than his brother, Lolo Jose dared to comment on this selflessness by saying “Aplaudo el comportamiento de mi hermano al ir a sustituir a mi cunado Antonino, pero no le admiro.” Loosely translated “I applaud the behavior of my brother by substituting himself for his brother-in-law Antonino, but I do not admire him.” Again on another occasion, Lolo Ciano was exiled to Jolo from where he escaped and went to Hongkong to join most of the family members who were there with Dr. Jose Rizal. That was the time that he was separated from his common-law wife Severina Decena.
While in Hongkong Lolo Ciano busied himself in translating the novels of Lolo Jose into Tagalog so that the common tao (people) during that time could read and appreciate his brother’s works. It is only too bad that said manuscript together with the personal desk of Dr. Rizal and several other carvings of his were burned during the bombing of Paco, Manila in the residence of his grandson, Francisco Rizal Lopez, during the liberation of the Philippines in the second World War.
Lolo Ciano’s first year of studying in Colegio de San Jose coincided with the time of the downfall of the reign of Queen Isabela of Spain, resulting in the start of liberalism among the colonies including the Philippines. The tenure of Carlos Ma. de la Torre as governor general of the Philippines gave way to more liberal political freedom allowing for the formation of an organization named “Komite ng mga Anak ng Bayan” by Jose Apolonio Burgos. This organization had the aim of elevating the status of local priests to the status the same as that of the Spaniards.
Staying under the same roof as Father Jose Burgos, Lolo Ciano was greatly influenced by his ideas. Being closely associated with said Fr. Burgos, Lolo Ciano was sometimes accompanied by him when he visits his sisters who were also studying in Manila. There was one occasion when Fr. Burgos and Fr. Jacinto Zamora attended a town fiesta in Calamba with Lolo Ciano. Because of his close contact with Fr. Burgos Lolo Ciano was counted among those activists including Buencamino, Sanciangco, Mapa, Soriano, Tizon, Alejandro and many well-to-do individuals known to belong to “Juventud Escolar Liberal” who showed their activism through demonstrations which were suspected to have been incited by Fr. Burgos himself.
Activism continued during the latter part of 1871. On the first month of 1872 the Cavite Mutiny erupted and the month thereafter the three martyrs, Gomez, Burgos and Zamora were executed by garrote in a stage in Bagumbayan.
As has already been mentioned earlier, after the execution of the three martyrs, Lolo Ciano left his studies and went home to Calamba to assist his father in the management of their farm, which they rent from the Dominican friars.
Feeling very hurt by these turn of events Lolo Ciano did not stop at helping his brother Jose to get as good an education as possible to enable him to pursue the much wished for reforms, realizing that his young brother has remarkable intelligence that could be developed to attain the said objectives. On his part he himself engaged in the propaganda movement through the “Diarong Tagalog” (a local newspaper), La Solaridaridad and in the end in the spread of the Katipunan movement in the province of Laguna.
He kept active support for his brother in writing his novels and worked hard in order to pay for its publication. When Dr. Jose Rizal was arrested and incarcerated in Fort Santiago in November, 1896, he too was arrested, incarcerated and tortured almost to the point of death so that they can get him to implicate his brother as the author of the revolution. He refused to do so and when they thought he was about to die, they released him to the family. It is said that when he was released, he had badly swollen hands and fingers such that they resembled ginger roots. He had bruises and bumps all over his body but as soon as he recovered he decided to join the revolutionary movement. He went to Cavite and presented himself to General Emilio Aguinaldo to serve under the Katipunan.
When he went to Cavite he was accompanied by his sister, Trinidad and Josephine Bracken, the common-law wife of Dr. Jose Rizal.
In the “Assemblea Magna” of the Katipunan in Imus, Cavite on December 31, 1896, there was a very serious conflict of opinions as there was no give and take, such that each group insisted on an “akin” (mine) rather than “atin” (our) point of view. This was followed by a very heated discussion that almost erupted into a physical confrontation between the contending parties, but this was quelled by the timely arrival of Lolo Ciano, when his mere presence changed the mood of the assembly.
In the initial stages of the uprising the Spaniards suffered successive defeats, but after the “Assemblea Magna” and the obvious rivalry between the “Magdiwang” and “Magdalo” groups, the Filipinos were driven from Cavite and Aguinaldo had to retreat to Batangas. This is most probably the result of the general deteriorating morale among the Filipinos. The enemy surrounded the area in the hope of capturing Aguinaldo, but he was able to escape to Mount Puray. After resting in Mount Puray, Aguinaldo proceeded to Biyak-na-Bato.
In Mount Puray, the rebels led by General Licerio Geronimo, established the Departmental Government of Central Luzon and elected the following officers of the group.
Father Pedro Dandan ................................................................. President
Anastacio Francisco....................................................................Vice President
Paciano Rizal ............................................................................. Secretary of Treasury
Cipriano Pacheco........................................................................ Secretary of War
Teodoro Gonzales....................................................................... Secretary of Interior
Feliciano Jocson.......................................................................... Secretary of Welfare
Accordingly, the assembly also designated the field commanders with their corresponding military ranks. At Biak-na-Bato, Aguinaldo established the Biak-na-Bato Republic and drafted a provisional constitution of the republic, which was prepared by Felix Ferrer and Isabel Artacho, based on the provisions of the Cuban constitution.
It has been said that a lawyer by the name of Pedro A. Paterno, who was trying to mediate between the Spaniards and the Filipino rebels, approached Lolo Ciano to join him. Towards such request he politely but emphatically refused the offer by saying, “How can you Mr. Paterno ask me to be the purveyor of peace with the Spaniards after their having shot my brother and done injustices to members of my family depriving us of our home and land and committing all possible horrors to the family? Mr. Paterno look for a deep well and fill it with bolos and lances and then ask me to dive into it, but expect me to give into your request is absurd... impossible.”
Thereafter, in December, 1897, lawyer Pedro A. Paterno negotiated with the Governor General Primo de Rivera, a truce for the cessation of hostilities under certain monetary provisions, surrender of arms and voluntary exile of Aguinaldo and his companions. It is possible that the group of General Licerio Geronimo were not active participants of the pact as none of them were exiled to Hongkong.
Terms of the truce were as follows:
1. That Aguinaldo and his companions would go into voluntary exile.
2. That Primo de Rivera would pay the sum of P800,000 to the rebels in three installments;
a. P400,000 to Aguinaldo upon his departure from Biyak-na-Bato.
b. P200,000 when the arms surrendered by the revolutionists exceeded 700
c. The remaining P200,000 when the “Te Deum” was sung and general
amnesty proclaimed by the governor;
3. That Primo de Rivera would pay the additional sum of P900,000 to the families of the non-combatant Filipinos who suffered during the armed conflict.
Not all the revolutionary generals complied with the treaty. General Francisco Makabulos established a Central Executive Committee to serve as the Interim Government until a more suitable one was created. Armed conflicts resumed, this time coming from almost every province in the Philippines. The colonial authorities on the other hand continued the arrest and torture of those suspected of banditry.
The truce failed miserably and once more the rebels took up arms after hearing that Aguinaldo was back from Hongkong. Meanwhile, fighting continued in the province of Laguna and according to accounts of historians, the Spaniards surrendered to Lolo Ciano on August 31, 1898, in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
It is said that this particular surrender of the Spaniards to the Filipino forces is only one of the few as most surrenders were made to the Americans.
According to an account, General Paciano Rizal displayed his humbleness and magnanimity in victory, something that the friars did not show when they mercilessly executed Father Jose Burgos or had his brother shot, during the surrender of the Spaniards. In spite of the tempting opportunity of taking revenge, he acceded to the request of the surrendering commander for he must have recalled the attitude of his brother when he wrote in his novel the phrase, “For what is freedom if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow.”
The surrender and the attempted bribery of the commanding officer to Lolo Ciano was conveyed as follows: “I am definitely going to be shot by order of my superiors in Manila, but these friars, who are now your captives can save my life. I am asking you to spare their lives and if possible, I will leave the sum of 11,000 pesos with you.”. Lolo Ciano replied, “Keep the 11,000 pesos with you and I will give in to your request on the condition that you tell them (the friars) that they killed my brother and most of all that they are the ones who destroyed Calamba where I lived.”
After this victory, Paciano once again had to fight in the battlefield but now with the Americans. In this fight he had to surrender because he was outnumbered, outgunned and seriously sick with malaria.
When he surrendered to the Americans headed by General Omalley, he was asked, “Are you really a general?” to which he replied simply by saying “I have been commissioned as such, but right now, I have only one soldier with me.” Interestingly enough this lone soldier, who apparently had remarkable loyalty to Lolo Ciano, surrendered with him and stayed with him after the war until he died. While still alive, Digo, the soldier, was gifted by Lolo Ciano with a piece of land, but when he died ahead of Lolo Ciano, his relatives approached Lolo Ciano and returned to him the title to the land. This particular act can be noted to reflect the long time disposition of simple and honest thinking people at that time.
After the Philippine-American war and when peace was restored, Lolo Ciano established his residence in Los Banos and resumed his activities as a gentleman farmer. He was at one time asked to swear allegiance to the American flag, but he declined saying that being a Filipino, he will only swear to the flag of his country. He however promised the American officer that having surrendered to the American government, he will honor his commitment of leading a peaceful life and respecting the current administration.
Being a man who suffered many sufferings and persecution in his life, he usually kept much to himself so much so that people thought he was not too friendly and congenial to the point of being arrogant. He had a very self-sufficient life with his two male companions, one of which was Digo, the lone soldier who surrendered with him to General Omalley. The other companion of Lolo Ciano was Mang Dune who did the fishing in Laguna Bay for their fish supply while Mang Digo was Lolo Ciano’s man Friday in the farm that he owned and managed.
During his solitary moments he would stay in the balcony of his house and would look towards the shore of Calamba, probably reminiscing his life and the many wonderful things they had in their house together with his family. It too might have reminded him of the bitter memories of the hardships and persecution they suffered at the hands of the Spanish government when they were driven out of their Calamba home with a deadline of 24 hours limit after which they had to seek shelter in the house of Lola Sisa in Estraude, Binondo.
Over and above all these sad memories are the things that remind him of his younger brother, Jose whom he inspired and encouraged to work for the reforms of the government even to the extent of making the extreme sacrifice of his own life, not forgetting too his own sacrifices which meant his separation from his wife, Severina Decena and child Emiliana, resulting from his exile in Jolo.
There were times too when he would tell his teenage grandchildren, Eugenia and Francisco, who happened to live with him for sometime in Los Banos, to view Calamba while he usually spends times reminiscing his past. Since at that time all that was left with him was his grandchildren, he gave them money to buy their favorite “tsampoy” which was supposedly the substitute for candy at that time.
He lived frugally the rest of his life from the proceeds from the agricultural produce of his farm and the fish caught from Laguna de Bay. To keep himself busy, he engaged himself in the sale of charcoal to the women who did their laundry in a pond behind his house and while waiting for them, he carefully reads the contents of the Encyclopedia Britannica from where he has built his vocabulary in his self-taught English language and updated himself on various subjects which interested him. The charcoal that he sells comes from his farm as a produce of a Japanese man whom he hired. This particular activity is in front of his house, while he is seated in the porch of his house. And to be both fair and generous to the laundry women, he had devised a system of selling charcoal to them. He had a can for measuring the charcoal and he challenges them to carefully pile as much charcoal as they can in the provided measuring can and pay a standard price for it. Whatever charcoal remains in the can is what they were entitled to take home and whatever falls from the can remains in stock.
In his later years, he fell ill with Tuberculosis and died on April 13, 1930. Because he was both well respected and a favorite of his nephews and nieces, most of them were present when he passed away.
Being a very caring brother he willed his landholdings to either his sisters or their children and his residence to his only daughter, Emiliana. During the marital law, Marcos decreed that said landholdings be sold to the University of the Philippines presumably for the establishment of the International Rice Research Institute. However, as it is now, the operations of IRRI has been somewhat reduced and from all appearances the University of the Philippines has developed the area as a grand scale subdivision with an area of over 600 hectares. The Paciano residence has remained with the family who has allowed its accretion to be developed into the General Paciano Rizal Park, where young children enjoy their child’s play with slides and seesaw, while the old townspeople are accommodated in a hot spring pool for the bathing of their arthritic or rheumatic limbs. Farther towards the bay, the park has allowed the construction of a basketball court for the young sports minded youth and a promenade for the town people and their friends.
When Lolo Ciano died peacefully on April 13, 1930 at his Los Banos home at the age of 79, hardly anyone other than his family took notice. There were no half masts to honor his death, taps played with the trumpet, or a minute of prayer and silence for his soul; he had quietly lived his life and also quietly left it. But we can positively say that he died completely satisfied with what he has done during his lifetime to contribute to our country’s welfare by guiding the man who dedicated all his life for the liberation of his country. He gave his shoulder on which his brother could step on to reach his pedestal as the country’s national hero.
It is noteworthy to think that when Dr. Jose Rizal reached points in his life that he had to make important decisions, it was to Lolo Ciano that he turns for advice. He was the man who kept the fires of patriotism and love of country burning in the heart of our national hero.
Unlike his brother, Jose, Lolo Ciano is a tall fair complexioned gentleman who speaks sparingly. His own brother describes him as a very serious person with fine features that commands respect by his mere presence. His nephews and nieces picture him as a venerable gentleman who gives orders to his subordinates very briefly but explicitly. A friend of Dr. Rizal assessed him as a noble gentleman who could have been the model from which Rizal took and personified as the “Pilosopong Tasio” in his novel.
It is quite difficult to imagine how he looked like because there were only two pictures that were taken of him. One was a candid shot taken by his nephew, Dr. Leoncio Lopez and the other one which is lost to posterity, was a picture taken when he was already dead. While he was still alive he refused to have his picture taken saying that since he is a marked man he would be hard to identify and apprehend if there is no picture of him.
A nephew of Lolo Ciano says that while he was staying in Hongkong he was mistaken for an Englishman as he has features of a Caucasian, light complexioned and rather tall for a Filipino. In fact when he died and they failed to measure him, they had to change his coffin because they brought one that was too small for him.
When he was still alive and living in Los Banos he spends time reading newspapers and books and among the periodicals at that time, his favorite was the Philippine Free Press. Lolo Ciano is well known for his being an absolute stickler for honesty as well illustrated by one particular incident. Our aunt, Angelica Rizal Lopez, daughter of Narcisa Rizal told us about Lolo Ciano when he was a revolucionario. She told us that everyday, Lolo Ciano and the other revolucionarios would count the money they had collected for the Katipunan revolution. One day, our aunt was so tired and her hands were smelly with fish smell, so she asked Lolo Ciano, “Would it be possible if we get some money to buy soap because we have to wash our hands to take away its stickiness and bad smell?” The reply was brief, angry and serious “Don’t ever touch that money. That’s for the revolution!”
Knowing how the Americans killed a lot of the Filipinos in the Philippine-American war, he disliked Americans especially Governor General Leonard Wood. To pacify his anger and to vent it in some other way, he named his dog Wood and when felt like swearing or cursing the Americans, he would just curse the dog.
A trait of Lolo Ciano that is well known to his close friends and acquaintances is that he wants everybody to be treated equally no matter what position he has in life. In 1907, Don Pedro Paterno, the mediator of the pact of Biak-na-Bato happened to stop by the house of Lolo Ciano. He was tired and thirsty, so he requested a glass of water from one of the household help. The household help, recognizing him to be an important man asked him to come up the house to serve him sweets and other delicacies. Lolo Ciano called his help and told him: “If the person asking you for a glass of water is an ordinary field worker in the farm, would you also invite him to the house and serve him sweets and delicacies, if he just asked for a glass of water? The answer was he would just give him the glass of water he asked for. Coldly he replied thus, “In that case, then give Mr. Paterno only a glass of water.”
When the Manila Railroad Company was going to put up the southern lines, it would traverse the landholdings of Lolo Ciano. Instead of charging compensation for the track of land used, he simply donated them to the railway company.
Such is the character and traits of the man who gave counsel to our national hero. He was definitely a very simple man, who knows the needs and rights of other men and as much as possible respected all those needs and rights. He was a naturalist and as such was not even in favor of new developments like refrigeration because he prohibited his own daughter to buy one saying that he believes it is not natural. He firmly believes too in the preservation of nature and the careful consumption of what one only needs; he abhors the wanton waste of natural resources and he lived frugally all his life although he had more than the ordinary means of resources because he owned a vast stretch of land planted with sugar cane, rice and other agricultural products in over 600 hectares of land in Los Banos and the Bay region.
Whenever he visits his daughter in Manila and he is served several dishes of food on the table he invariably tells her that he wants to go home because there is too much food being served in the house and it is wasteful. He is such a simple man that in all probability he could have been a model environmentalist during this era as he would insist that each and every one should only use the resources in the exact amount needed and nothing more.
More than ever, more of his caliber is to be desired in this day and age to save Mother Earth, encourage more people to treat their fellow men as equals, respect the rights and privileges of others; promote honesty to rid the world of corruption; improve the moral values of everyone and do more things that will make our planet an ideal place to live in.
Such is the man and such is Lolo Ciano’s view at the object’s side of the magnifying glass.