Rizal, an inland municipality of Laguna province is located 25 kilometers from the provincial capital which is Sta. Cruz, about 13 kilometers from the city of San Pablo, around 5 kilometers to its adjoining municipality of Nagcarlan, and more or less 99 kilometers from the National Capital Region via San Pablo City.
At the heart of Laguna’s teeming coconut regions, bordered by Mt. Banahaw at the East and Mt. Basilia at the Northwest, lies the municipality of Rizal, named after the greatest national hero. Appropriately enough, a life-size statute of Dr. Jose P. Rizal stands at the center of the Plaza.
Towards the end of the Spanish regime, Rizal was a barrio of Nagcarlan called “Pauli” from the Tagalog “Pauli-uli”, or moving back and forth, after the mendering creek with such water movement. During the American regime, Pauli was given municipal status, with Pedro Urrea, Sr. as Municipal President. This lasted for a brief period of two years. In view of the inability of this then new town to maintain itself financially, it was returned to Nagcarlan as Barrio Rizal.
Between 1912 and 1918, the residents, led by Fortunato Arban, Agustin Vista and Felix Isleta, then municipal councilors, led a renewed drive for municipal status of Rizal. They wanted a town of Rizal that would take in the barrios of Antipolo, Entablado, Laguan, Mainton, Pauli, Pook, Tuy and Talaga. This was realized on December 18, 1918, when Governor General Charles E. Yester issued Executive Order 58 creating the Municipality of Rizal. Fortunato Arban was the first President.
When World War II broke out in 1941, the sons of Rizal were at the forefront and the blood of some of the were spilled in Bataan. Those who survived the Death March returned to continue their struggle against the invaders in the wilderness of Mt. Banahaw and Sierra Madre Mountains. Pablo Urrea, elected Mayor at the outbreak of the war secretly helped the guerillas during the occupation until the danger to his personal safety bacame too great, he relinguished his post to Vice-Mayor Ismael Sombilla and joined the resistance forces.
On January 23, 1945, the guerilla ambushed the Japanese convoy at Barrio Pook. For this the Japanese burned the heart of the town. The man who distinguished themselves as partisan leaders included Cayo Verador, Aquilino Carpena, Erberto Sombilla, Isidro Urriquia and Vicente (Ganggay) Isleta..
After the liberation, guerilla leaders persuaded Captain Isidro Urriquia to run for Mayor. He run unopposed and occupied the post for three terms, during which period he caused the construction of a new municipal building, cemetery, chapel, improved streets, waterworks system and preculture center. At the height of the Huk campaign, Mayor Urriquia organized his former guerila comrades into the Rizal Fighting Unit, which had the battle cry of “We have no rice, but we have bullets”. This fighting unit was instrumental in driving the dissidents out of the territorial jurisdiction of the municipality and restored peace and order in the area. For his courageous deeds, Mayor Urriquia received a commendation from Secretary Ramon Magsaysay of the Department of National Defense, Brigadier General Claro Lizardo, Colonel Eulogio Balao and other ranking military officers.
In 1950, Urriquia relinguished the mayoralty to Vice-Mayor Ismael Sombilla and ran for Provincial Board Member under the Liberal Party banner topped the victorious group.
Mayor Sombilla, meanwhile served the community well for two successive terms. He was instrumental in the construction of additional school buildings, cemented streets and feeder roads.
As if fate had decreed, the name of Arban rose again in the firmament, when Melencio A. Arban, grandson of the beloved Fortunato Arban, founder of Rizal won the Mayoralty in the municipal election of 1967 as the poor man’s candidate. After barely a year in office, Mayor Arban has caused the opening of the Community High School, a long felt need of the municipality.
Rizal is politically subdivided into 11 barangays.