BY P. JACINTO (JOSE RIZAL)
This was written by Dr. Jose Rizal when he was around 17 to 20 years old when he was studying at the University of Santo Tomas and it narrates his memories of being away from his family to study in Manila. It was said that Rizalâs father wanted him to study in the Dominican-owned Colegio San Juan de Letran but changed his mind and decided to send him instead to Ateneo Municipal, formerly the Escuela Pia which was a school for poor boy and was established by the city government and when the Jesuits returned to Manila in 1859, they were given the management of the school. It was said that the system of education given by the Jesuits was more advanced than that of other colleges in that time and it was in Ateneo where he first used the surname âRizalâ because, at that time, his real surname âMercadoâ had come under the suspicion of Spanish authorities. He began at the bottom of the school, but within a month he was "Emperor of Rome". The Ateneo had divided the students into two "empires", Roman and Carthaginian, to fight for academic supremacy. It was this war that soon brought young Rizal triumph and prizes. At the end of the first quarter, he received the grade "excellent". In the five years Rizal studied in Ateneo, he showed his intelligence and diligence in his academics and extra-curricular as Jesuits called him "a child excellent in religious sentiments, customs, and application, with progress worthy of his signal talent.
After graduating with honors from Ateneo, Rizal went to the University of Santo Tomas to pursue higher studies. His father and brother wanted him to pursue higher learning but Dona Teodora opposed the idea when she knew of what happened to the three martyr priests Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora. After finishing the first year of a course in Philosophy and Letters, he transferred to the medical course. Rizal was unhappy in his stay with the university because his Dominican professors were hostile to him, Filipino students were racially discriminated against by the Spaniards and the method of instruction was obsolete and repressive unlike in Ateneo. Rizal failed to win high scholastic honors although in his first year his grades were all excellent and his grades in his medical studies were not impressive.