Height reveal? Rizal’s 4’11” height claim dismissed

September 1, 2022 - 12:50 PM
Jose Rizal
A rendition of Dr. Jose Rizal. (Ilustration from Philippine News Agency)

A historical document dismissed the long-time claim that Jose Rizal stands 4’11”. 

“In one of his notebooks RIZAL HIMSELF said that at 19 years old and four days old, he stood at one meter 61 centimeters. That translates to 5.28 feet or almost 5’3!” historian Ambeth Ocampo said on Facebook, sharing a photo of Rizal’s notebook. 

“Well, this evening, without my looking for it, the definitive proof for the 5-2 side cropped up while I was filing my scans of Rizal manuscripts,” the historian noted. 

Height speculations

Speculations on how tall Rizal was varied.

According to a 2012 The STAR column of Scott Garceau titled “How tall was Rizal?” some teachers were cited claiming Rizal was only 4’6”.

The column further listed the speculations on Rizal’s height.

“Most statues in public places throughout the world honoring the patriot who spoke 23 languages are taller than average human size, which is 5’8”, so they’re not much help,” Garceau wrote.

“However, according to wikianswers.com, the statue of Rizal erected in Fort Santiago is said to be an exact replica of the hero’s actual “height in clothing” and it stands 4’11”,” it added.

The column said that the estimates of Rizal’s height tend to fall between  4’11” and 5’2”.

Some Facebook users cited the the column came up with these theories:

• “When I studied Rizal in college, most books said he was 4’11”.”

• “I know he’s 4’11” to 5’.”

• “In school we were taught he was 4’11”.”

• “I know he was short, but not that short… I Googled it now, anywhere from 4’11” to 5’4”.”

Meanwhile, before Ocampo discovered the document, he estimated that Rizal’s height was around 5’2″. He made this assumption based on the measurement of Rizal’s surviving cloth in the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.