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Jose Rizal: Stories of Love

Jose Rizal was quite the ladies’ man ever since he was about fifteen. What else can you expect from a man who grew up with around nine sisters? Aside from that, how can a woman ever resist such a refined, cultured and educated man? It is obvious that Teodora Alonso taught Jose a thing or two about how to treat the female species. It is easy to get “kilig” or giddy about the romantic ways that Jose used to woo his women so we J.R. fans decided to have a photoshoot showing our interpretations of his love escapades.

Many historians record Segunda Katigbak as Jose Rizal’s first love when they write about him, although the first girl to ever catch young Pepe’s eye was actually Julia. When Jose was fifteen he saw a pretty, young girl wearing a red skirt trying to catch two butterflies. As she was daintily sitting by the Los Banos river, Rizal approached her and lovingly offered her as many butterflies as she wished. Jose and Julia were just way too young and innocent to have a real relationship at that time so they eventually forgot about one another.

Julia as depicted by historians

Our interpretation of Young Jose and Julia

Not many people know what exactly Julia looked like or what her last name even was but it was recorded by Jose’s older sister Triliana that she had a simple kind of beauty with an innocent charm. Julia seems to be such a mysterious girl but the spontaneous way that Jose used to get to know her showed just what a sweet guy he was even at such a young age.

Who knows what the relationship of Julia and Jose would have blossomed into if they only knew each other longer?

One of the most memorable girlfriends of Jose Rizal is Leonor Rivera. This woman is so special to Rizal that she became his inspiration for the famous Maria Clara character from Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Leonor was supposedly Jose’s cousin yet it did not stop the two lovers from having a love connection that lasted eleven years. According to Jose Rizal, Leonor Rivera was a demure, beautiful girl who could sing and play the piano. She had soft, wavy hair, almond eyes and a small pensive mouth. According to Rizal’s sisters, she was the most beautiful out of all of his girlfriends.

Leonor Rivera, The Real Maria Clara

Jose Rizal met Leonor Rivera when she was only 13 years old in Dagupan. The couple began their long distance relationship when Jose left for Europe. They kept in touch by sending letters and photographs to one another. Their love affair was cut short when the parents of Rivera intervened. They were not happy about Leonor and Jose’s relationship because of the bad reputation Rizal gained in the Philippines for writing “Noli Me Tangere.” Leonor’s mother hid the her letters from Rizal and arranged a marriage for her with Henry Kipping. When Jose heard of the news that his love of 11 years was married to someone else, he wept terribly.

Jose Rizal and Leonor Rivera. (Located in Fort Santiago)

Jose Rizal tried to stay loyal to Leonor during their long distance relationship. Once in awhile he would be charmed by beautiful girls around Europe though he did not want to take them seriously because of his love for Leonor. It was evident that the two loved each other intensely. In fact, Jose Rizal was saddened by the fact that Leonor grew sickly and had insomnia during her marriage with Henry Kipping. Because of her frequent illnesses she eventually passed away while Rizal was in Dapitan.their relationship may have not been perfect but the love and dedication they felt for each other can serve as an inspiration for many couples.

Leonor Rivera and Jose Rizal (modern interpretation)

Jose Rizal also had a Japanese lover named O-sei-san. Her real name is Usui Seiko and she grew up where Narita Airport stands today.  She was an intelligent woman who was said to be the daughter of a samurai. She was a very intelligent woman and she taught Rizal the Japanese language and su-mie painting. She also taught Rizal how to write in Japanese characters and she was his interpreter/tour guide around Japan. Osei had an upbringing that enabled her to speak French and English. Jose Rizal described her as a shy woman of “high culture.” If rizal had stayed with her in Japan he would have had a stable, quiet and peaceful life but his patriotism and love for his country urged him to return to the Philippines.

Usui-seko or Osei for short :)

After Rizal left, O-sei married a man named Alfred Charlton who was an English teacher. She had a daughter named Yuriko who married the son of a senator. When O-sei’s older brother died, her parents adopted a playmate/sister named Yoshi to keep her company. According to Yoshi, even after Rizal left, O-sei would lovingly collect Filipino stamps and other souvenirs that had Rizal’s image. Unfortunately most of the memoirs she collected were destroyed during the bombing of Tokyo. O-sei died at the age of 80.

O-sei and Jose Rizal

Most people did not know that Jose Rizal had a wife. Her name was Josephine Bracken. During Jose Rizal’s exile in Dapitan he met Josephine when he treated her step-father named George Taufer who was going blind. Josephine had beautiful blue eyes, chestnut blonde hair and a petite figure, which immediately attracted Jose Rizal and led to their love affair. Rumor has it that Josephine came from and Anglo-saxon father and a chinese mother. Josephine loved Rizal so much that she wished to marry him. In fact, Jose sent a letter to his mother, Teodora asking permission to make Josephine his wife. Jose’s sisters and friends were not so open to the idea because they believed that Josephine was a spy. Their accusations did not stop Jose Rizal from pusuing a marriage with Josephine although they were not granted one by the church. Instead, the couple joined hand together in front of the altar and proclaimed themselves a married couple. They lived a quiet, happy, rural life in Dapitan until Rizal’s execution in Fort Santiago.

Josephine referred to Jose Rizal as “Joe” and helped him out i his daily activities around his farm and school. Jose Rizal wrote in a letter to his family:

“What she does for me, how she obeys me and attends to me, would not have been done to me by a Filipina.”

Jose Rizal aslo described Josephine to his family as an orphan lost in the world and he would hate to see her abandoned. Jose Rizal specifically asked his mother and sisters to treat her with respect and hospitality altough they were scandalized by their illegitimate marriage and the fact that Josephine may have been a spy.

Jose Rizal and Josephine Bracken

Sadly for the couple, during their marriage, Josephine gave birth to a still-born son. This event devastated both of them. More sorrow for Josephine and Jose happened when Rizal was found by the Spanish friars and to be executed by them. Rizal dedicated passages in his “Mi Ultimo Adios,” telling his family to please have pity on poor Josephine. He also addressed her as his friend, foreigner and felicity.

A few days before Rizal was executed, Josephine visited him with a priest and there are rumors that he retracted his criticisms against the Church which validated their marriage. During this time, Rizal gave Josephine a last parting gift which was a book called, ” Imitation of Christ,” by Thomas Kempis. On the first page he wrote, “To my dear unhappy wife Josephine Bracken, Jose Rizal.”

Following the death of Rizal, there are other rumors that Josephine joined the insurgents and even participated in killing a Spanish soldier. She eventually returned to Hongkong in May. It was in Hongkong 1898 that she eventually remmarried a man named Vincent Abad and had a baby girl named Dolores. She nicknamed the child “Dolly.”

Josephine died from tuberculosis at the age of 25 but even with her less than perfect marriage to Rizal, she always referred to herself as his wife. There is a statue in Luneta Park depicting Jose Rizal’s last goodbye to Josephine Bracken before his execution day.

Many of the drawings and sculptures that Jose Rizal made of Josephine are displayed in museums around the Philippines. There is a street in Dapitan dedicated to her and a series of bronze statues of her and Rizal. She is assisting an eye operation in one of them.

Their love story will never be forgotten by Filipinos. In fact, she may be one of the most famous girlfriends of Jose Rizal overall.


6 responses

  1. Mia Jimenez

    Lot of things I didn’t know about JPR in this article. Good job Cam!:)

    February 23, 2011 at 11:47 am

  2. Bea Tantoco

    Awesome Job CAMILIA!!!!!

    February 23, 2011 at 1:37 pm

  3. Camille, this is so cuute! i love it! keep up the good work. i love the photos!! naaaxxxx…

    love ya!

    February 23, 2011 at 3:33 pm

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