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The first teacher of Rizal was his mother. He learned the latin alphabet and the Catholic prayers from her. He was given instruction by private tutors such as Maestro Celestino and later Maestro Lucas Padua. Later on, his father hired Leon Monroy to teach Rizal lessons in Latin. Five months later, Leon Monroy died.
Francisco Mercado then decided to send Jose Rizal to a Latin school in Bi\u00f1an, a much larger town about one and half hours by pony trap from Calamba. Rizal was sent there some time in the second half of 1870, when he was about nine. He was accompanied by his elder brother Paciano. They proceeded to their aunt\u2019s house, where Jose was to lodge.
The next morning, Paciano brought his younger brother to the school. The school was in the house of the teacher, which was a small nipa hut about 30 meters from the house of Jose\u2019s aunt. After Paciano introduced Rizal to his teacher, he returned to Calamba.
Jose described his teacher as follows: \u201cHe was a tall, thin, long necked man, with a sharp nose and a body bent slightly forward. He usually wore a sinamay shirt woven by the skillful hands of the Batangue\u00f1as. He knew by heart the grammars of Nebrija and Gainza. Add to this a severity which, to my mind, was excessive, and you have the picture I have of him.\u201d
In the afternoon of his first day in school, when the teacher was having his siesta, Jose met the bully Pedro. He was angry at this bully for making fun of him during his conversation with the teacher in the morning. Jose and Pedro wrestled in the classroom. Jose, having learned the arts of wrestling from his athletic uncle Manuel, defeated the bigger boy. In succeeding days, he had other fights with the boys of Bi\u00f1an. He was not quarrelsome by nature, but he never run away from a fight. In other school fights, he sometimes won and sometimes lost.
Near the school was the house of an old painter, called Juancho, who was the father in law of the school teacher. Jose spent many hours at the painter\u2019s studio. Juancho gave him free lessons in drawing and painting. Jose lived a methodical life. Such a life contributed much to his future development. It strengthened his body and soul. Some of his older classmates got jealous of his intellectual superiority. They wickedly squealed to the teacher whenever Rizal had a fight outside the school, and even told lies to discredit him before the teacher.
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