Top 10 Lovers of Jose Rizal

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Before Jose Rizal claimed the hearts of Filipinos by being the National Hero of the country, he first claimed the hearts of many women. Being the natural charmer that he was, there were at least nine women linked with him according to various accounts.

10. Segunda Catigbac y Solis

The 14-year old maiden from Lipa City, Batangas was Rizal's puppy love. Unfortunately, his first love was engaged to be married to Don Manuel Luz y Metra who also hailed from one of the prominent families in town. The Catigbacs (later Filipinized to Katigbak) engaged in the flourishing coffee business during the 1880s. It was said that their family had an annual income of P4,000,000 from the coffee industry alone.

The romantic tale between Segunda and Rizal happened after Rizal's graduation in Ateneo Municipal. Rizal first saw her at a party in his grandmother's house in Trozo, Manila in 1877. He vividly described her, in his Memorias de Un Estudiante de Manila written in 1881, as: (She was short, with expressive eyes, ardent at times, and drooping at other times, pinkish, a smile so bewitching and provocative that revealed some very beautiful teeth; with an air of sylph, I do not know what alluring something was all over her being. She was not the most beautiful woman I had seen but I had never seen one more bewitching and alluring.) It was truly love at first sight for the young Rizal. Although they had brief encounters, there was already an understanding of their feelings for each other. Rizal, however, knew from the very beginning that their story would not have a happy ending for she was already engaged to someone.

Don Manuel was the nephew of Segunda's maternal grandmother. The Luz-Catigbac ancestral house also known as Casa de Segunda, a bahay-na-bato built in the 1880s, still exists on Calle Rizal in Lipa. The house, which was spared from the World War II bombings, was restored as a vacation house before being turned into a private museum. It has been declared a National Heritage house by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines in 1996.

Leonor Valenzuela, also known as Orang, was Rizal's object of affection while he was courting his cousin, Leonor Rivera. She was a tall girl with regal bearing from Pagsanjan, Laguna. She was Rizal's neighbor. Rizal boarded in Intramuros during his sophomore year in medicine at the University of Santo Tomas. He regularly visited Orang's house especially during social gatherings. He courted her by sending love notes in invisible ink made of common table salt and water, which could only be deciphered by heating the note over a candle or lamp so words would appear.

Rizal, however, left for Europe. After his departure, it was said that she accepted suitors and attended social parties. She was believed to have married an employee of a trade.

Rivera, a cousin of Rizal and a native of Camiling, Tarlac, was a pretty, talented and witty lady. Other than being blessed with a charming voice, she could also play the harp and the piano. She was Rizal's childhood sweetheart for 11 years.

Rivera, who was only 13 years old and Rizal, 19 first met in Intramuros where he boarded in a house managed by Rivera's father. When he departed for Europe, they only communicated through letters. Because her mother disapproved of their relationship, they used a code called Taimis. Their long-distance relationship lasted 6 years. Countless love letters written in different languages such as Filipino, English, Spanish and French (to prevent interception of the letters by the Spanish authorities) were exchanged between them.

After some time, she stopped receiving letters from Rizal. She was not aware that her mother bribed two post office clerks to give her all the letters and gifts from Rizal. Leonor was forced by her mother to marry Henry Kipping, a young English engineer. He was responsible for the completion of the railroad from Bayambang to the Ferrocarril de Manila (railroad from Manila-Dagupan).

Rizal's letters to Rivera were burned and the ashes were kept inside a box covered with her dress with the letters “J” and “L” embroidered on it. The box was donated by the descendants of the Kipping family to the Yuchengco Museum in Makati City.

Consuelo was the daughter of the then-Alcalde of Manila and president of Consejo de Filipinas in Madrid. The Ortiga residence in Madrid was frequented by Rizal and his compatriots.

According to Consuelo's diary, she first met him on 16 September 1882. She wrote that they talked the whole night and told her that she was talented, diplomatic and mysterious. She said that he detested amiable women. Rizal had his reservations first which kept him from pursuing her. However after admitting his feelings for her, Eduardo de Lete, Rizal's friend, contended for her attention. Aside from Rizal and Lete, Maximino and Antonio Paterno visited her regularly.

Rizal eventually gave up his romantic feelings for her for he did not want to compete with Lete whom he treated like his brother and admitted that he still has feelings for Leonor. Consuelo admitted that she could not reciprocate his love as he had wished.

A La Señorita C.O. y R., Rizal's poem dedicated to Consuelo, is now dubbed as one of the best poems ever written by him.

Seiko Usui, also known as O Sei San, was a Japanese samurai's daughter. She was 23 years old when she first met him. He had moved to a Spanish Legation in the Azabu district of Tokyo where she regularly worked. She served as his interpreter during his stay in Japan. She also helped him to be accustomed to the Japanese culture, taught him how to read and write Nihonggo, and taught him the Japanese art of painting also known as su-mie. Together, they visited The Imperial Art Gallery, The Imperial Library, various universities, the Shokubutsu-en (Botanical Garden), the Hibiya Park, and various shrines.

Rizal was almost tempted by her beauty and affection to stay in Japan. When Rizal left for the United States, he told her in a note that he had spent a happy golden month with her and that he do not know if he can have another.

5. Gertrude Beckett

Rizal stayed in London to finish the annotations of the Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas, he stayed in the Beckett family's residence which was within walking distance from the British museum. Gertrude, the oldest of three Beckett girls, was a buxom girl with blue-eyes, rosy cheeks and brown hair. She fell in love with Rizal as she helped him in doing paintings and sculptures. Rizal however left for London to avoid Gertrude who was seriously in love with him. Before leaving, he finished the carving of the Beckett sisters and gave it to Gertrude as a sign of their brief relationship.

4. Nellie Boustead

While in Paris, Rizal met thru Antonio Luna Anglo-Filipino Eduardo Boustead. He stayed as a guest in their residence and befriended the two pretty daughters of Eduardo. After having lost Leonor, Rizal entertained the thought of courting other ladies. Rizal and the ladies used to fence at the studio of Juan Luna.

Nellie was described to be a beautiful, lean, smart and very religious lady. She enjoyed playing sports. Antonio courted Nellie although she admitted that she was deeply infatuated with Rizal. In a party held by Filipinos in Madrid, Antonio who was under the influence of alcohol, uttered unsavory remarks against Nellie. This prompted Rizal to challenge him into a duel. Fortunately, Antonio immediately apologized to him.

Their love affair however did not end in marriage since Rizal refused to be converted in Protestant faith which Nellie demanded. Nellie's mother also did not want to have as son-in-law a physician like Rizal who did not have enough paying clientele. Rizal and Nellie parted as good friends when he left Europe.

3. Suzanne Jacoby

In 1890, Rizal moved to Brussels due to the high cost of living in Paris. He stayed in the boarding house operated by the Jacoby sisters. It wasn't long before he and Suzanne became lovers. Rizal however left Brussels and continued with his journey. Although she cried when he left her, she continued sending him letters with hope that he will come back.

Rizal produced Suzanne's sculpture which he gave to Valentin Ventura.

Maria Josephine Leopoldine Bracken, also known as Josephine Bracken, was a petite Irish girl with striking blue eyes and chestnut blonde hair. She was said to be a kind person with a gentle disposition. She took care of her blind father. Upon hearing rumors of an excellent Filipino doctor returning to Manila, she quickly seized the opportunity to sail there to have her father's illness diagnosed.

She reached Manila on 5 February 1895 with her father and Francesca Spencer. She arranged a consultation for her father's double cataract. They sailed to Dapitan for a follow-up consultation.

On 14 March of that same year, she sailed back to Manila with one of Rizal's elder sisters, Narcisa. Since her father's blindness was untreatable, Rizal left for Hong Kong. Although his family members and friends considered Bracken as a threat and a spy for the Spanish government due to her nationality and complexion, she ignored the allegations and tried to adjust living the rural life with Rizal's family.

By July, Josephine and Rizal's relationship blossomed. He tried to arrange with Father Antonio Obach for their marriage. However, the priest asked for Rizal's retraction as a condition for allowing them to marry. Upon the advice of Rizal's family and friends and with Josephine's consent, he took her as a wife even without the blessing of the church. The church, however, denied the union due to religious differences.

Rizal's true love was no one else but his country. He couldn't belong to any woman or any family for he was meant for nobler things. As Ferdinand Blumentritt, one of Rizal's closest friends wrote in his letter consoling Rizal after losing Leonor, he said: “I know your heart is aching; but you are one of those heroes who overcome the pain of wounds caused by woman because they pursue higher ends. You have a stout heart and a nobler woman looks upon you with love: your native country. The Philippines is like one of those enchanted princesses in the German fairy tales who is kept in captivity by a foul dragon until she is rescued by a valiant knight.”

Rizal's life was cut short at the age of 35. According to historian Ambeth Ocampo, in one of Rizal's love letters about our country he said: “I have always loved my poor country and I am sure that I shall love her until my last moment. Perhaps some people will be unjust to me; well, my future, my life, my joys, everything, I have sacrificed for love of her. Whatever my fate will be, I shall die blessing my country and wishing her the dawn of her redemption. Happen what may I shall die blessing her and desiring the dawn of her redemption”.




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