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The Woman Who Could Have Been Mrs. Rizal

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Paolo Loise M. Gubot                        Midterm HW #2                Rizal (Friday 6:00-9:00pm)

The Woman who could have been Mrs. Rizal

Our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal is associated with a lot of different women. But who was his true love? Who could really have been Mrs. Jose Rizal? One of the most interesting and notable of all his women would be Leonor Rivera. She was Rizal’s fiancée and is his inspiration for the character of Maria Clara in Noli me Tangere. (Ocampo, 2008)

Leonor Rivera was born in 1867. They met at her father Antonio Rivera’s boarding house in Sampaloc, Manila, where Rizal stayed while a student at the University of Santo Tomas. Leonor was studying at Colegio de la Immaculada Concepcion, more popularly known as Colegio de la Concordia where Rizal’s sisters also studied. Their love bloomed and eventually got engaged to each other before Leonor turned 15. But Rizal suddenly left for Europe in secrecy which left out Leonor. Even then, they continued their relationship through letters. However, apparently their letters were intercepted by Leonor’s mother so their relationship gradually faded. In 1887 Rizal returned to the country and tried to look for her but both their parents did not allow them to meet because of the implications it might cause to the Rivera family as Rizal was already tagged as a subversive at that time. Leonor eventually got married to an Englishman named Charles Henry Kipling. Eventually Leonor found out about her mother’s actions of hiding away Rizal and her letters but she still continued her relationship with the Englishman out of filial piety. She then informed Rizal about her marriage, which broke our hero’s heart. Leonor kept all of Rizal’s letters until the time of his prosecution in which she burned all of it but still kept the ashes in a box. She eventually gave birth to a son but died while giving birth to her second child. (Mañebog, 2013)

Their love story for me is like something pulled out of a TV drama or a love novel where the protagonists face all kinds of obstructions to their relationship especially the case where the girl’s parents intercepts the communication between the two and prevents them from meeting each other.(Sotelo, 2016) But in this case, the story did not end in a happy ever after for the couple. Based on what I’ve read they both love and care for each other and were heartbroken when their relationship eventually ended.  If circumstances were a little different like if Rizal decided to stay in the country and not continue his studies abroad which then further inspire him to writhe his iconic novels Noli and Fili he would not have been prosecuted and their relationship might have prospered and their parents would not be so against the two of them.  But there are no if’s and there is no medicine for regret. And besides, without those circumstances, Rizal would not have been the National Hero we look up to today. So now, we could only speculate and wonder about the possibility of Leonor Rivera being Mrs. Jose Rizal.

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