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Rizal's Women

Rizal's Women

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Published by Jay Cruz

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Published by: Jay Cruz on Jul 31, 2012
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Demarette A. ZurbanoRLWWB.S.-Criminology Set AMs. FranciscoThe Nine (9) Women Who Captivated Rizal
There were at least nine women linked with Rizal; namely Segunda Katigbak, Leonor Valenzuela, Leonor Rivera, Consuelo Ortiga, O-Sei San, Gertrude Beckette, Nelly Boustead, Suzanne Jacoby and JosephineBracken. These women might have been beguiled by his intelligence, charm and wit.
1. Segunda Katigbak 
Segunda Katigbak was his puppy love. Unfortunately, his first love was engaged to be married to a townmate- Manuel Luz. The Catigbacs (later Filipinized to Katigbak) were among the leading families andwhose ancestry was among the oldest known in the town of Lipa. The family of Segunda was enormouslyawash in cash and very genteel for they had engaged in the flourishing coffee business during the 1880’s.In history books, Segunda was best remembered as Dr. Jose (Pepe) P. Rizal’s first love interest
Thisromantic tale happened after his graduation in Ateneo Municipal. ccompanied by a good friend and hisformer classmate -
 Mariano Solis Catigbac (my great-great grandfather)
, Rizal went to a party in hisgrandmother’s house in Trozo, Manila in 1877. It was in that event that he first met the latter’s sister, the14-year-old Segunda. In his
 Memorias de Un Estudiante de Manila
, written in 1881, he vividly describedthe young lady during their first encounter: “
 Ella era una bajita de unos ojos expresivos y ardientes aveces y languidos otros, rosada, una sonrisa tan encantadora y provocativa que dejaba ver unos dientesmuy hermosos; un aire de sílfide, un no sé que halagador desparramában por todo su ser.” (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 
 No era la mas bella mujer, que ví, pero no he visto otra masencantadora y halagüeña. (She was not the most beautiful woman I had seen but I had never seen one morebewitching and alluring)
2. Leonor Valenzuela
Leonor Valenzuela was a tall girl from Pagsanjan. Rizal temporarily lived in the house of Dona ConchaLeyva in Intramuros when he was in the second year of studying medicine at the University of SantoTomas. Here is where he met Valenzuela, who lived next door of their house tinutuluyang. Since thenRizal often visited the maiden. Rizal send her love notes written in invisible ink, that could only bedeciphered over the warmth of the lamp or candle. He visited her on the eve of his departure to Spain and bade her a last goodbye.
3. Leonor Rivera
Leonor Rivera–Kipping
(born in Camiling, Tarlac, died August 1893) was the childhood sweetheart, firstcousin, and “lover by correspondence” of Philippine national hero José Rizal. Rivera was the “greatestinfluence” in preventing Rizal from falling in love with other women while Rizal was traveling outsidethe Philippines. Rivera's romantic relationship with Rizal lasted for eight years. She was immortalized byRizal as the character María Clara in the Spanish-language novel
 Noli Me Tangere
. Her originalhometown is in Camiling,Tarlac. Leonor Rivera, his sweetheart for 11 years played the greatest influencein keeping him from falling in love with other women during his travel. Leonor Rivera and Rizal first metin Manila when Rivera was only 13 years old. When Rizal left for Europe on May 3, 1882, Rivera was 15years of age. Their correspondence began when Rizal left a poem for Rivera saying farewell. Their lettersto each other slowly became romantic. The correspondence between Rivera and Rizal kept Rizal focusedon his studies in Europe. They employed codes in their letters because Rivera’s mother did not favor 
Rizal as a suitor for Rivera. A letter from Mariano Catigbac dated June 27, 1884 referred to Rivera asRizal’s “betrothed”. Catigbac described Rivera as having been greatly affected by Rizal’s departure,frequently sick because of 
insomnia. When Rizal returned to the Philippines on August 5, 1887, Riverawas no longer living in Manila because she and her family had moved back to Dagupan, Pangasinan.Rizal wanted to meet Rivera and Rivera also wanted to see Rizal, but both were prohibited by their fathers. Rizal was forbidden by his father Francisco Mercado in order to avoid putting the Rivera familyin danger because at the time Rizal was already labeled by the Spaniards asa
or subversive because of the contents of his novel
 Noli Me Tangere
. Rizal wanted to marryRivera while he was still in the Philippines because of Rivera’s uncomplaining fidelity. Rizal asked permission from his father one more time before his second departure from the Philippines. The meetingnever happened. In 1888, Rizal stopped receiving letters from Rivera for a year, although Rizal keptsending letters to Rivera. The reason for Rivera’s year of silence was the connivance between Rivera’smother and the Englishman named Henry Kipping, a railway engineer who fell in love with Rivera andwas favored by Rivera’s mother. Leonor believing that Rizal had already forgotten her, sadly consentedher to marry the Englishman, her mother’s choice.
4. Consuelo Ortiga
Consuelo Ortiga y Rey, the prettier of Don Pablo Ortiga’s daughters, fell in love with him. He dedicatedto her A la Senorita C.O. y R., which became one of his best poems. The Ortiga's residence in Madrid wasfrequented by Rizal and his compatriots. He probably fell in love with her and Consuelo apparently askedhim for romantic verses. He suddenly backed out before the relationship turned into a serious romance, because he wanted to remain loyal to Leonor Rivera and he did not want to destroy hid friendship withEduardo de Lete who was madly in love with Consuelo. An Excerpt from Consuelo’s diary: 18 January1883 - Rizal talked with me for a long time, almost the whole night. He told me that I was very talented,that I was very diplomatic, and that he was going to see if he could extract some truth from me within twoweeks; that I was mysterious and that I had a veil over my ideas. He asked me who my favorite author was; I don’t know what I answered him because I was no longer feeling well. Lete told him that neither had he understood me and I said that it was easy and I was sure that Rizal would understand me forthwith. Now I’m sorry for having said this. Have I not given him hope with it? Rizal told me that he detestedamiable women because when they smiled, men imagined that they did so for something else. As he hadtold me the night before that I was very amiable, I understood that he meant it and I left him so that hewould not make a mistake. A man should first study the ground and if he sees that the smile is foreeverybody he ought not to pay attention to her smiles because in distributing them so freely they lose alltheir meaning.

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