25 June 2013

The Country's National 'Playboy'?

Jose Rizal
National hero Jose Rizal may have been born 152 years ago, but his legacy as a womanizer never ceases to amaze netizens here and abroad. Many considered Rizal the Country’ National Playboy, while others believed he won't be able to secure an elective position given the number of dalliance he had.

Rizal was only 16, a fresh graduate from Ateneo de Manila, when he met his apple in the eye, Segunda Katigbak. The two exchanged letters, and Rizal would often visit La Concordia College to see Segunda as well as two of his sisters. When she turned 16, however, Segunda was married to her town mate Manuel Luz.

After Katigbak, Rizal met Leonor Valenzuela, a tall girl from Pagsanjan whom she called "Orang." Rizal wrote her love letters too using invisible ink, which can be read by the warmth of a candle. They got separated when Rizal left for Spain.

Later, another Leonor captured Rizal’s heart for 11 long years and this time Rizal appeared to be seriously in love. Leonor Rivera kept close correspondence with Rizal during his travels, preventing him from falling in love with other women. But Leonor’s mother did not want Rizal for her so she hid his letters. Believing that Rizal had forgotten her, Leonor consented to Englishman Henry Kipping.

While still in love with Rivera, Rizal met Consuelo Ortiga y Rey in Madrid. Consuelo is a daughter of Don Pablo Ortiga, whose home Rizal and his friends frequented while in Spain. Rizal held back before his relationship with Consuelo turned serious, however, remembering Leonor and deferring to his friend Eduardo de Lete, who had been in love with Consuelo.

As if proving that Filipinos can charm people from any country, Rizal also wooed O Sei San, a Japanese samurai’s daughter. O Sei San helped Rizal hone his knowledge of Japanese, and also taught him the Japanese art of painting called su-mie.

An Englishwoman also fell in love with Rizal while he was in London. She was Gertrude Beckett, the eldest of three daughters in the family Rizal boarded with while he was annotating a history book. Their relationship was cut short when Rizal left London, however. Before going to Paris, Rizal gave Gertrude a sign of their brief relationship.

Rizal also left his mark on Frenchwoman Nellie Boustead, one of the daughters of Rizal's host in Biarritz, France. She was deeply infatuated with Rizal, even as she was being wooed by Antonio Luna. Rizal's refusal to convert to Protestantism and the disapproval of Nellie’s mother, however, stood in the way of their relationship.

Moving to Brussels in 1890, Rizal lived in the home of two Belgian sisters. One of them , Suzanne Jacoby, fell in love with the 29-year-old Rizal. And the feeling was mutual. But Rizal left for Madrid, leaving Suzanne in tears.

The last woman Rizal loved was probably the most well-known among many Filipinos. Josephine Bracken, an Irishwoman who sought Rizal in Dapitan for help for her blind adoptive father. George Taufer's blindness was untreatable, however, so he returned to Hong Kong, leaving Josephine behind.

Rizal fell in love with the woman she called "dulce extranjera" (sweet foreigner) even if his sisters suspected that she was an agent of the friars. He even wanted to marry her, but decided to take her instead as a common-law wife. Accounts say Josephine gave birth to a stillborn son with Rizal.

Those are the only ones that historians were able to take note of. Given the way Rizal behave in front of these women, nobody will be surprise that there are more females that got flittingly or seriously involved with the country’s national playboy, este national hero.