Biñan has been a major trading center in Laguna for centuries. Many mestizos built their fortunes there, which is why ancestral homes still line the streets of Biñan’s main plaza to this day. In 1896, 8-year-old Jose Rizal travelled from his hometown of Calamba to Biñan, where he received his first formal education. He stayed with his aunt in the Alberto House, which still stands in the town’s Heritage District today.
Did you know?
Jose Rizal’s first school was a small nipa hut, which was also the home of his teacher, Maestro Justiniano Aquino Cruz. This teacher later advised him to pursue higher studies in Manila. In 2016, a museum opened at the site of the school.
For centuries, Biñan has been a major trading center in Luzon. Today, the town has been heralded as the “Trading and Commerce Center of the South”. But for history buffs, Biñan is most known for playing a pivotal role in Jose Rizal’s formative years.
When Rizal was eight years old, his parents decided that it was time to send him away from his hometown of Calamba to pursue his studies. Accompanied by his older brother Paciano, Rizal traveled to Biñan (then called Binyang), where he would study Spanish and Latin under Maestro Justiniano Aquino Cruz. They arrived in Biñan after riding in a carromata for one and a half hours and proceeded to their aunt’s house, where Jose would be staying.
This 600-square-meter house was built by Rizal’s affluent grandfather, Don Lorenzo Alberto Alonso. Once a stately home situated right beside the town plaza, the two-storey bahay na bato has since fallen into a state of disrepair, but is now being restored by the local government.
The day after they arrived in Biñan, Paciano brought Rizal to the school of Maestro Justiniano, which was in the teacher’s home. It was a small nipa hut just about 30 meters away from the Alberto House. After introducing Rizal to the teacher, Paciano (who had also studied under Maestro Justiniano) returned home.
Rizal didn’t take to his new school right away. He was picked on by the teacher’s son Pedro, and on his first day, the two got into a brawl. Though Rizal walked away from that fight victorious (thanks to learning the art of wrestling from his Tio Manuel), he would be challenged to other fights throughout the rest of his time in Biñan. Though Rizal excelled in his academic studies, Rizal got into so many fights that he was often punished with five or six lashes. Sometimes, his jealous classmates would make up stories just to get him in trouble.
He got along well with a few of his classmates, such as his distant relative Marcos Rizal. Rizal also spent some of his free time with Maestro Justiniano’s father-in-law Juancho, a master painter. Because this was his first time away from home for so long, Rizal was terribly homesick. After a year and a half in Biñan, his studies under Maestro Justiniano were over, and he returned to Calamba happily.
The School of Rizal and Museum opened on August 1, 2016, in celebration of National History Month. The museum lets visitors revisit Rizal’s early years as a student. Visitors are also welcome to enjoy picnics in the museum’s “mini-park”.
The museum is open from 8 am to 5 pm on Tuesdays to Sundays.
Heading southeast on CAVITEx, take the exit toward Bacoor/Las Piñas. Continue onto Aguinaldo Boulevard, then Molino Boulevard. After 9.4 kilometers, turn left onto Daang Hari Road. After 4.8 kilometers, take the MCX ramp to Makati/NAIA Airport. Continue on MCX, then take the exit toward Calamba. Keep left, and merge onto South Luzon Expressway. After 7 kilometers, take Exit 33 toward Carmona. After 850 meters, Turn left onto Governor’s Drive. Continue for 2.4 kilometers onto Malvar Street. Turn left onto Gen. M. Capinpin Street, and continue until you see the School of Rizal Site and Museum on your right.
“Biñan, Laguna: Witness to Rizal’s Formative Years.” Choose Philippines, https://www.choosephilippines.com/go/heritage-sites/3563/binan-laguna-alberto-house-rizal/.
Rizal, Jose. “Memoirs of a Student in Manila by P. Jacinto (a Pen Name of José Rizal).” OurHappySchool, https://ourhappyschool.com/philippine-studies/memoirs-student-manila-p-jacinto-pen-name-josé-rizal.