José Rizal became a national hero for his part in the Filipino nationalist movement. Rizal wrote about the discrimination that was occurring in the Philippines under Spanish occupation and called for significant reform. He is applauded as one of the first individuals to work for independence in the Philippines.
Rizal was born in the Philippines' Laguna Province. He studied medicine in Manila but left to complete his degree in Spain in 1882. While in Europe, Rizal wrote multiple works that exposed the immorality of Spanish colonial rule and advocated for reform in the Philippines, particularly rallying for equal treatment of Filipinos, curbing the power of Spanish friars and allowing for Filipino representation in the Spanish political system. When Rizal returned to the Philippines, he founded a group that championed non-violent protest. Despite his peaceful ways, he was exiled from the Philippines to the island of Mindanao.
Eventually, Rizal was allowed to return to the Philippines as an army doctor, but within a year of his return, a Filipino nationalist society called the Katipunan revolted. Though Rizal had no connections to the group and did not approve of the group's violent methods, Rizal was nonetheless arrested, tried, convicted of sedition and executed by public firing squad on Dec. 30, 1896. Rizal's execution further sparked opposition to Spanish rule, and in 1898, the Philippines were liberated from Spanish rule.