Doña Teodora was born in Meisik, Manila on November 9,1827, to a distinguished and wealthy family. Her father, Lorenzo Alberto Alonso, a surveyor, was once a capitan municipal of Biñan, Laguna, a representative to the Spanish Cortes and a Knight of the Order of Isabela the Catholic. Her mother, Brigida de Guintos, was described as being unusually well educated. Doña Teodora was the youngest daughter of the couple’s five children. Her youngest brother Jose, himself a Knight of the Order of Isabela the Catholic and also of the Order of Carlos III, was described as the wealthiest in Biñan during his time. The Alonso family later adopted the surname Realonda in accordance with a decree issued by Governor Claveria in 1849.
An outstanding Filipina mother.
Doña Teodora was well educated and highly cultured. She graduated from the Colegio de Santa Rosa in Manila. She was 20 years old when she married Francisco Mercado of Biñan in 1848. They settled in Calamba and to them were born eleven Children: Saturnina, Paciano, Narcisa, Olimpia, Lucia, Maria, Jose, Concepcion, Josefa, Trinidad, and Soledad. The Rizal family was primarily engaged in agriculture. In time the family prospered. They were the first to own a large stone house in Calamba. Their good fortune was due not only to the couple’s industry but also, to Doña Teodora’s efficient management of domestic affairs and her keen of business sense.
Among the members of the Rizal family, next to the great hero himself, Doña Teodora perhaps suffered the most from Spanish tyranny. Twice she was unjustly imprisoned on charges, which were either preposterous or trifling. In 1871, she was accused of poisoning the wife of her brother Jose. The case was brought to the Supreme Court where two Manila’s most famous lawyers defended her. She was acquitted, but she had already suffered imprisonment for two and a half years.
In 1890, the Rizal family, together with other Filipino families, was ejected from their lands in Calamba as a result of a controversy between the Filipino tenants and the Dominican Order, which owned the Calamba estates. Homeless, the Rizal family moved to Manila and lives there. But Spanish persecution followed them. In 1891, Doña Teodora was arrested. The endless persecution prompted them to join Rizal in Hongkong in 1891. It was a contented Rizal who informed Blumentritt that his parents, sisters and brothers were living peacefully with him, “far from the persecutions they suffered in Philippines.”
What greater sorrow could fill a mother’s heart than to see the day come when her beloved son would be sentenced to death after a mock trial. Doña Teodora survived her son for 15 years. She died in Manila on August 16,1911. Fitting honors were accorded her at her funeral.