Jose Rizal's Education and Family Quiz

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What course did Jose Rizal decide to sign up for during his freshman year at the University of Santo Tomas?

Philosophy and Letters

Who initially advised Rizal to take up farming or join the order and be a man of the cloth?

The Jesuit priests

Which subjects did Rizal have to complete units in as part of his Philosophy and Letters course?

Cosmology and Metaphysics, Theodicy, and History of Philosophy

What did Rizal's report card show about his performance in the subjects taken at the University of Santo Tomas?

Excellent remarks on all the subjects taken

Which university did Don Francisco decide to send his son to for higher education?

University of Santo Tomas

What do some Filipino biographers lament about Rizal's time at the University of Santo Tomas?

That he was discriminated against by Dominican professors and Filipino students

According to Fr. Fidel Villaroel, what was not entirely true about Rizal's time at the University of Santo Tomas?

He was discriminated and these issues affected his grades

What is a common lamentation about Rizal's experience at the University of Santo Tomas?

Excessive harping on the alleged intellectual superiority of the Spanish to the Filipino

What did some historians falsely put into writing about Rizal's time at the University of Santo Tomas?

He was discriminated against and these discrimination issues affected his grades

What was found upon further study of academicians, particularly Fr. Fidel Villaroel, about Rizal's time at the University of Santo Tomas?

It wasn’t all true that he was discriminated and that these discrimination issues affected his grades

Study Notes

Rizal's Experience at University of Santo Tomas

  • Rizal was discriminated against by the Dominicans, leading to poor performance and grades during his study of Medicine at the University of Santo Tomas.
  • The atmosphere at the university was suffocating to Rizal's sensitive spirit.
  • Three reasons contributed to Rizal's unhappiness at the university:
    • Hostile Dominican professors
    • Racial discrimination against Filipino students by the Spaniards
    • Obsolete and repressive method of instruction
  • Rizal described his experience in his novel, El Filibusterismo, highlighting the humiliation and insults suffered by Filipino students at the hands of their Dominican professors.
  • The method of instruction was particularly backward in the teaching of natural sciences.
  • Historians questioned the sudden drop in Rizal's grades from "Excellent" in high school to mediocre grades at UST, blaming the Dominicans and UST for the decline.

It has been said by several biographers that Rizal was discriminated and was treated poorly by the Dominicans which has led to a not so excellent performance and grades during the period of his study of Medicine in the said university. According to Zaide (1999), Rizal found the atmosphere at the University of Santo Tomas suffocating to his sensitive spirit. And that he was unhappy at this Dominican institution of higher learning because (1) the Dominican professors were hostile to him; (2) the Filipino students were racially discriminated against by the Spaniards; and (3) the method of instruction was obsolete and repressive which he has related in his novel, El Filibusterismo, where he described how the Filipino students were humiliated and insulted by their Dominican professors and how backward the method of instruction was, especially in the teaching of the natural sciences. Some historians questioned, “How could Rizal, after a perfect record of “Excellent” in high school (Ateneo) now receive such “low” grades at UST?” These critics had to look for an explanation, and since they did not find fault in Rizal, then they had to blame the Dominicans and the UST. Quite a long line of Filipino biographers (with some exceptions) only portray the same repeated lamentation that every schoolchild must now learn in the textbooks: that Rizal was “below his usual standards”, and for the extremely serious charge that the “Dominican professors were hostile to him” and “the Filipino students were racially discriminated” (Zaide), and that there was “excessive harping on the alleged intellectual superiority of the Spanish to the Filipino, a brown man, and Indio (JM Hernandez), and so on.” Upon further study of academicians, more particularly, Fr. Fidel Villaroel, it wasn’t all true that he was discriminated and that these discrimination issues affected his grades while he was in the university, as how it was falsely put into writing by several historians. According to the study of Fr. Villaroel, a year after Rizal entered UST in 1877, he took simultaneously the Pre-Medical Course and the First Year of Medicine; this was supposed to be against the rules, but Rizal was favored with a dispensation. Had Rizal been discriminated or treated shabbily by the Dominicans he would not have been granted the rare privilege of studying simultaneously the Preparatory Course while taking up the First Year of Medicine. In his courses of medicine, Rizal was a good student, above-average, though not excellent; but none of his classmates were excellent either. Summing up, in the 21 subjects taken in UST, Rizal obtained one aprobado (passing grade), eight bueno (good), six notable (very good), and six sobresaliente (excellent). The majority of students in Rizal’s time, or at any time, would have been satisfied with the above grades. It is possible that Rizal was not, but it is a fact that he never complained about his grades, there is not a single word in his works showing displeasure at the unfairness of UST.

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