Trivia about Dr. Jose P. Rizal’s Roots in Fujian, China
On January 23, 2003, a Philippine delegation led by Philippine Congress Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. and Congressman Roque Ablan, Jr. descendants of the Rizal clan, officials of the Knights of Rizal and members of the Filipino & Chinese business community held the wreath-laying ceremony before the Rizal Monument in the Rizal Park in Siongque Village (called “Zhang-Guo” in Mandarin Chinese), Jinjiang City, Fujian Province, People’s Republic of China. Siongque is the ancestral village of Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, who was the direct male descendant of the immigrant Don Domingo Lamco (Chinese name “Cua Yi Lam” in Hokkien dialect and “Ke Yi-nan” in Mandarin). Lamco was the founder of the entrepreneurial Mercado clan of Laguna province and the great-great-grandfather of Dr. Jose Rizal.
Domingo Lamco belonged to the 19th generation of the first Cua family member who settled in Siongque Village. The Sin Cua Chua clan of the world traces its origins to the patriarch Chua Siok-To, who was the fifth son of the founder of the Chou Dynasty Lamco was 35 years old when he was baptized in the Catholic Church in Manila’s Parian Chinese ghetto in June 1697. He later moved to Biiian, Laguna, prospered and became a Chinese community leader. To free his heirs from the Spanish regime’s anti-Chinese racist policies, Lamco gave his clan the new sumame “Mercado” (meaning “market” in Spanish), perhaps to remind his heirs of their merchant roots Lamco married Inez de la Roza, daughter of another successful immigrant trader from Quanzhou (pronounced “Chuanchow”) named Agustin Chinco. Their son Francisco Mercado and grandson Juan Mercado both married Chinese mestizas and both served as Mayors of Biiian. Juan Mercado’s branch moved to Calamba, Laguna, and his grandson was Jose Rizal. The national hero used a different surname before entering Manila’s Ateneo de Manila, to avoid Spanish persecution since his elder brother Paciano Mercado was close to martyred Filipino priest Father Jose Burgos.
Dr. Jose Rizal is not just the national hero of the Philippines, not just the source of pride of the rugged Fujian province in South China where majority of the Filipino Chinese community members trace their roots, but he is a great inspiration for all of Asia. The remarkable genius, fervent commitment to freedom and life of excellence of Dr. Jose Rizal make him a true Asian hero for all ages.