Friday, September 23, 2011

Leonor Rivera's Ashes & Dr. José Rizal's Love Letters

Leonor Rivera, Rizal's sweetheart, age 15.
We never had a chance to know what Dr. José Rizal wrote to Leonor Rivera because Doña Silvestra, Leonor's mother hid Rizal's love letters from Europe and confiscated Leonor's outgoing mails. All the while Leonor Rivera thought José Rizal had forgotten her. Travelling in Spain, Paris, Germany, and other European cities, Rizal thought Leonor had abandoned him. Rizal was heartbroken when he learned that Leonor Rivera, who had been convinced that José  no longer cared, consented to marry someone else.

José Rizal poured his heart out to his friend Ferdinand Blumentritt.

Later, when Leonor discovered her mother's treacherous interference (at her marriage to the Englishman, Henry Kipping) she ordered all the letters burned and kept the ashes.  Years later, she died during childbirth  and her last wishes was for the Rizal letter-ashes to be buried with her.

(In a recent address by Dr Ambeth Ocampo, October, 2nd, 2011, at the FilBookFest, San Francisco, the information I got is that Leonor sewed the ashes in the hem of her wedding gown, so that when she marched down the aisle, the letter-ashes was with her.)

Parang pelikulang Tagalog starring Rogelio de la Rosa and Carmen Rosales (guitar music... Maala-ala mo kaya...gradually fading out.)

We have a glimpse of José's letters in Chapter 7 of  Noli me tangere.
At the balcony, Maria Clara and Crisostomo Ibarra were having an idyll. Maria coyly asked if he had forgotten her when he had seen so many beautiful girls in many cities.  Ibarra replies that:

"He had not forgotten her during his travels. The Italian sun had not seemed warmer than her smile, the fields of Andalusia not brighter than her eyes, and, losing his way in the Black Forest or boating down the Rhine, he had remembered her in the romantic German legends of the Lorelei."   Rizal, Noli me Tangere (Guerrero translation, p 37).

Did he write to her using the words in the Noli?  For sure he did.  Who is to say he did NOT?

We hear Rizal here waxing eloquent for his lady love. Those words were perhaps in the burnt letters to Leonor!  We will never know but here in print are his words: