fresh no ads
'Queridas de Rizal' gives glimpse of Jose Rizal's women |

Arts and Culture

'Queridas de Rizal' gives glimpse of Jose Rizal's women

Kathleen A. Llemit -
'Queridas de Rizal' gives glimpse of Jose Rizal's women
Cover of Ambeth R. Ocampo's 'Queridas de Rizal'
Anvil History

MANILA, Philippines — A cursory search on the Internet would tell one that National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal had been linked to nine women: some had his affection when he was a young man, some were women he met during his travels to Europe and Japan, and one that nearly caused him to meet another Philippine hero, Antonio Luna, in a duel. 

Filipino historian Ambeth R. Ocampo wrote about Rizal's women in the thin, easy read paperback "Queridas de Rizal." 

The public historian, who has written several Rizal books including the popular "Rizal Without the Overcoat," wrote what he knew of Rizal's women through his decades of research and tracing back the steps of the national hero. As a trained academic and historian, Ocampo provided context through interesting and engaging storytelling and pieces of evidence through copies of correspondences by some of the women to Rizal.

"'Querida,' in the Philippines, refers to a mistress. In its original Spanish sense, however, querida/querido means someone beloved or cherished. It is in this light that I share these essays, as appetizers for the definitive book on Rizal's loves that I will work on in retirement," Ocampo wrote in the introduction to his book. 

The 148-page book can be skimmed with its clear categories that focused on a particular woman. There are nine, as previously mentioned. 

For the uninitiated, there might be a confusion between the two Leonors, but the historian clearly elucidated between the two. One is Taimis, while the other is Orang. 

Leonor Rivera was related to Rizal on his uncle's side and from whom he would take inspiration for his Maria Clara character in his novels, "Noli Me Tangere" and "El Filibusterismo." The other Leonor is Leonor Valenzuela or Orang.

Rizal also had fondness for a certain "K," who is actually Segunda Katigbak, considered his first love. These three women and their correspodences featured codes. 

Ocampo offered an explanation in the chapter about Segunda: "This may explain why his letters to Leonor Rivera (Taimis) were written in code and with codenames to avoid discovery and all the fuss." 

The book also tackled Rizal's genius in the chapter that introduced Osei-san, one of the women he met on his brief stay in Japan. It is learned that the polyglot Rizal learned enough Japanese in six weeks.

Gertrude Beckett and Suzanne Jacoby were also tackled when Rizal went to London and Belgium, respectively. Ocampo even tried to clear who Suzanne is because Rizal had met two Suzannes in Brussels: Suzanne Jacoby or Aunt Suzanne and Suzanne Thill or Little Suzanne. 

One particular chapter that would interest many Philippine history enthusiasts is the one that told about Rizal, his friend Antonio Luna and the English lady Nelly Boustead. 

Ocampo deftly wrote about the subject, offering insight into the personalities at play, especially with regard to Luna, who was known for his temperament. 

As the historian pointed out, it was the general's temperament that caused him his life as seen in the epic movie "Heneral Luna." 

The trio, together with Nelly's younger sister, Adelina, went out on dates. Luna was courting the older Nelly, with Adelina and Rizal as chaperones, as was the custom during those times.

Somewhere along the way, there was a misunderstanding and a drunken Luna challenged Rizal to a duel. It did not push through because Luna immediately apologized to Rizal when he sobered up. 

The last chapter briefly talked about Josephine Bracken, whom Ocampo said is well-documented and deserves her own book. 

RELATED: Did you know? Jose Rizal won lottery while in Dapitan exile

vuukle comment



Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with