Philippine Centennial Feature
A Rizal in Los Baños
The man was often mentioned in books written about Dr. Jose Rizal. But little, if nothing at all, has been known about this man. It was as if he was only mentioned in the books because of his very close ties with the Great Malayan.
Little did everyone know that he was very much his own man; one of the "unsung heroes" of the Revolution. He was Dr. Jose Rizal’s brother, Señor Paciano.
And he lived the rest of his days right here in Los Baños.
A House with a History
‘Ñor Paciano Rizal’s home stands near the Los Baños municipal hall, beside the fire station. Surrounded by a tall wall, the place is inconspicuous to passersby.
Outside the gate, it is unbearably hot, terribly clamorous—it displays modern-day chaos. But beyond ‘Ñor Paciano’s tall gates is an entirely different place: a lawn so spacious that at least 15 cars could park all at the same time, tall trees which actually filter the sun’s rays, and the constant presence of a cool and gentle breeze reminiscent of a hundred years past.
Amidst all these stands a stately century-old white house made of the sturdiest wood.
It has been renovated many times yet the original structure has been retained. This is the house where ‘Ñor Paciano lived until his death in 1930. Here was where he spent his days with his grandsons.
One lazy and sleepy Friday afternoon, one of his grandsons, Francisco Rizal Lopez, told us of the days when his Lolo was a revolucionario. Mr. Lopez told us what Los Baños was like in the 83 years that he has lived here.
His story was a first-hand glimpse of history.
On November 3, 1896, Dr. Jose Rizal was brought to Fort Santiago under heavy guard. While he was held incommunicado, Spanish authorities fished for evidence against him by torturing many Filipino patriots and forcing them into incriminating Rizal. One of those tortured was Paciano.
"My grandfather was arrested," affirmed Mr. Lopez. "He was arrested because the authorities wanted him to squeal and declare that his brother Jose was the Katipunan’s leader…which was not true.
"In fact, my grandfather Jose was very much against the revolution. He told Dr. Pio Valenzuela in Dapitan, ‘You can not—we can not—launch a revolution. We are not prepared…’"
The torture of Paciano Rizal, Mr. Lopez revealed was done right in Fort Santiago.
"He nearly died," Mr. Lopez stressed. "His whole body was swollen and bloody because of the torture he received. The authorities brought him to my grandmother Narcissa because they thought he was going to die. After a week, he recovered. But he was actually at death’s door.
Several correspondences sent to him by Aguinaldo showed that he was an important figure in the revolutionary ranks.
When Aguinaldo became President in 1898, Paciano Rizal was made the first Minister of Finance. He collected money for the revolutionary cause.
"Many people actually contributed," said Mr. Lopez.
He then narrated a story that his aunt told him when he was a kid, about how committed his Lolo was to the revolution.
"My aunt told us a story about my Lolo Paciano when he was a revolucionario," reminisced Mr. Lopez. "She told us that everyday, my Lolo and the other revolucionarios would count the money they had collected.
"One day, my aunt was so tired and her hands were malansa so she asked my grandfather, ‘Puede po bang makakuha ng cinco centimo diyan para makabili ng sabon dahil malagkit po at malansa ang kamay namin?’ (Could we get five cents to buy soap because our hands are sticky and putrid?)
"My Lolo got very angry and he said, ‘Huag ninyong galawin ang perang ‘yan!’ (Don’t ever touch that money. That’s for the revolution!)"
A Home Near Calamba
When the Americans colonized the Philippines in the early 1900s, the Filipino generals surrendered. Among them was Paciano.
They were captured and ordered by the Americans to swear allegiance to the American flag. Paciano refused.
Instead, according to Mr. Lopez, he had said, "I can not swear to any other flag because my allegiance belongs to the Filipino flag. But I can assure you, since we have lost and I have surrendered, I am going to leave you in peace."
He was set free.
However, to lead a normal life after the Revolution proved to be impossible. Stripped of their possessions and persecuted in Calamba, the Rizals had no choice but to live the place of their birth.
The need to be close to Calamba drove Paciano to settle in Los Baños.
"When we were kids and still living in a nipa hut," recalled Mr. Lopez. "My Lolo Paciano used to say, ‘Hayan tanawin ninyo ang Calamba. Iyan ang ating lugar noong araw…’ (There, take a look at Calamba. That was our place before.)"
He said his Lolo would point to the distant cluster of houses at the far left side of Laguna de Bay.
"Maybe that was why he wanted this place," Mr. Lopez continued. "A hut by the lake so he could just look at Calamba."
It was Paciano’s home close to home.
Los Baños in Retrospect
When Paciano Rizal decided to call Los Baños home, Los Baños was underpopulated and run by a Dominican priest.
"Makiling was still a virgin forest," recalled Mr. Lopez. "There were times when we were living here in a nipa hut, we would see a deer in front of our gate. All we had to do was shoot the deer and we would have food," he remembered happily as he pretended to notch an arrow and aim at a distance.
"And Laguna de Bay," he said as he turned his head to look at the water. "Laguna de Bay was still blue, not brown like it is now, with wild ducks and kanduli as big as this," he said and pointed at his big thigh.
The Character Behind the Man
Perhaps the most accurate physical description of Paciano Rizal is that from his brother Jose. In his letter to Ferdinand Blumentritt, Rizal said of his brother, "…(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."
Aside from his Lolo’s physical appearance, Mr. Lopez fondly recalled, "My Lolo was a very humble, a very simple man. He never talked to us about his sacrifices in the Revolution. We did not even know up to the time of his death that he was a general in Aguinaldo’s army."
He was also a very thrifty man but he was a doting grandfather who spoiled his grandsons by always giving them money to buy tsampoy.
Of the only two known pictures of Paciano Rizal, one was a picture of him surreptitiously taken by one of Mr. Lopez’ uncles.
"He did not like to be photographed," explained Mr. Lopez. "And he never knew he was photographed by my uncle."
The other picture of him was when he lay in his coffin.
Paciano had a daughter, Emiliana (Mr. Lopez’ mother), but he was never married. According to Mr. Lopez, he could not marry under the Dominican priest.
Mr. Lopez recalled that his Lola Binay, Emiliana’s mother, was from Calamba and that she was a very beautiful lass.
"Lola Binay used to come here when I was a kid," he said. "I did not know that my Lolo Paciano and she had a relationship. We just called her our Lola Binay. Only when I got older did I understand."
Mr. Lopez’ mother, Emiliana, married her first cousin, Antonio Lopez. He was Narcissa Rizal’s son.
Paciano lived a peaceful life during the American occupation. He had kept his promise that he would leave the Americans in peace. Whatever hate he felt for the Americans, he confined in his home.
"There was a certain Governor-General Leonard Wood and my grandfather did not like him," recalled Mr. Lopez. "He had a dog and he named the dog Wood. So every time he felt like cursing the Americans, he would curse the dog," Mr. Lopez explained.
Paciano continued to live in his house in Los Baños long after his daughter and apos left for Manila. He had only two helpers with him, his man-Friday and a fisherman with a boat. Occasional visits from his apos brightened his days. Nevertheless, he was contented to live by the lake where Calamba was just a look away.
On April 30, 1930, Paciano Rizal died of tuberculosis. He was buried in Cementerio del Norte in Manila. His bones were transferred to his home in Los Baños in 1985. Here he was given complete military honors while the trumpet played Taps.
A Shadow Cast
"I learned all I have told you not from my Lolo Paciano but from the people who were close to him; from the stories told to us by aunts, uncles and lolas," Mr. Lopez said. "But the one thing I can not forget is the one which an English author wrote in a book about Dr. Jose Rizal.
"In the closing chapter of his book, he wrote, ‘Dr. Jose Rizal is now buried peacefully and serenely in Luneta Park. But beside his monument, there is a shadow that lingers. And as Dr. Jose Rizal faced death, there was a shadow that was cast. That shadow was Paciano.’ I can not forget that," ended Mr. Lopez.
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