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These social commentaries during the Spanish colonization of the country formed the nucleus of literature that inspired peaceful reformists and armed revolutionaries alike.Rizal was also a polyglot, conversant in twenty-two languages.
At Heidelberg, the 25-year-old Rizal, completed in 1887 his eye specialization under the renowned professor, Otto Becker.
There he used the newly invented ophthalmoscope (invented by Hermann von Helmholtz) to later operate on his own mother's eye.
Following custom, he delivered an address in German in April 1887 before the Anthropological Society on the orthography and structure of the Tagalog language.
He left Heidelberg a poem, "A las flores del Heidelberg", which was both an evocation and a prayer for the welfare of his native land and the unification of common values between East and West.
He also attended medical lectures at the University of Paris and the University of Heidelberg.
In Berlin, he was inducted as a member of the Berlin Ethnological Society and the Berlin Anthropological Society under the patronage of the famous pathologist Rudolf Virchow.
Almost everything in his short life is recorded somewhere, being himself a regular diarist and prolific letter writer, much of the material having survived.
His biographers, however, have faced difficulty in translating his writings because of Rizal's habit of switching from one language to another.
Of this, he later wrote: "My family never paid much attention [to our second surname Rizal], but now I had to use it, thus giving me the appearance of an illegitimate child!
" This was to enable him to travel freely and disassociate him from his brother, who had gained notoriety with his earlier links to Filipino priests Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos and Jacinto Zamora (popularly known as Gomburza) who had been accused and executed for treason.