Jose Rizal’s older and only brother devotedly took care of the National Hero. As Nick Joaquin said, “Without Paciano to back him up, it’s doubtful that Rizal would have gotten as far as he reached.”
Paciano Rizal helped their parents choose the young Jose’s tutors and later acted as Jose’s guardian in school. With an uncle, Paciano helped Rizal go to Europe in 1882 and was the one who told their parents about Jose’s departure. For five years, he sent his brother a monthly pension of 50 pesos, later 35 pesos. He also constantly updated his brother about what was going on with their family and in the country through letters.
Paciano studied Latin under Maestro Justiniano Cruz before attending the Colegio de San Jose in Manila. While in the city, he lived and worked with Fr. Jose A. Burgos, who earned the ire of the Spanish friars by campaigning for the secularization movement. Jose began to use the name Rizal instead of Mercado, which the rest of his family used, in order to avoid the surveillance that the Spanish authorities were already giving Paciano because of his connections with Burgos.
Paciano was prohibited from taking his final examinations because of his known closeness with Burgos and for his outspokenness against friar abuses. Later on, land troubles with the religious corporations in Calamba caused his exile to Mindoro from September 1890 to November 1891. Jose tried to appeal their case in the Spanish Cortes in Madrid but to no avail.
Paciano collected financial contributions to help sustain the propaganda movement. He also supported the Katipunan by recruiting members in Laguna. In 1896, he was arrested and tortured because he refused to sign documents that could incriminate his brother and connect him to the revolution.
After Rizal was executed, Paciano became a general of the Revolutionary Army. He was also appointed as a military commander of the revolutionary forces in Laguna, where the American forces captured him in 1900.