Monday, October 3, 2011

Leonor Rivera's Ashes: Dr. José Rizal's 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 was marrying someone else.

He 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.

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

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:

"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?

Did Rizal write this way to Leonor in one of his burnt letters.  To be sure he did  especially during the last phases of his letter writing when he thought he had sublimated his ideal love to the ultimate love of country.