There were at least nine women linked with Rizal; namely
Segunda Katigbak, Leonor Valenzuela, Leonor Rivera, Consuelo Ortiga,
O-Sei San, Gertrude Beckette, Nelly Boustead, Suzanne Jacoby and
Josephine Bracken. These women might have been beguiled by his
intelligence, charm and wit.
Segunda Katigbak and Leonor Valenzuela
Segunda Katigbak was her puppy love. Unfortunately, his
first love was engaged to be married to a town mate- Manuel Luz.
After his admiration for a short girl in the person of Segunda, then
came Leonor Valenzuela, a tall girl from Pagsanjan. Rizal send her
love notes written in invisible ink, that could only be deciphered
over the warmth of the lamp or candle. He visited her on the eve of
his departure to Spain and bade her a last goodbye.
Leonor Rivera, his sweetheart for 11 years played the
greatest influence in keeping him from falling in love with other
women during his travel. Unfortunately, Leonorís mother
disapproved of her daughterís relationship with Rizal, who was
then a known filibustero. She hid from Leonor all letters sent to
her sweetheart. Leonor believing that Rizal had already forgotten
her, sadly consented her to marry the Englishman Henry Kipping, her
Consuelo Ortiga y Rey, the prettier of Don Pablo Ortigaís
daughters, fell in love with him. He dedicated to her A la Senorita
C.O. y R., which became one of his best poems. The Ortiga's
residence in Madrid was frequented by Rizal and his compatriots. He
probably fell in love with her and Consuelo apparently asked him for
romantic verses. He suddenly backed out before the relationship
turned into a serious romance, because he wanted to remain loyal to
Leonor Rivera and he did not want to destroy hid friendship with
Eduardo de Lete who was madly in love with Consuelo.
O Sei San
O Sei San, a Japanese samuraiís daughter taught Rizal the
Japanese art of painting known as su-mie. She also helped Rizal
improve his knowledge of Japanese language. If Rizal was a man
without a patriotic mission, he would have married this lovely and
intelligent woman and lived a stable and happy life with her in
Japan because Spanish legation there offered him a lucrative job.
While Rizal was in London annotating the Sucesos de las Islas
Filipinas, he boarded in the house of the Beckett family, within
walking distance of the British Museum. Gertrude, a blue-eyed and
buxom girl was the oldest of the three Beckett daughters. She fell
in love with Rizal. Tottie helped him in his painting and sculpture.
But Rizal suddenly left London for Paris to avoid Gertrude, who was
seriously in love with him. Before leaving London, he was able to
finish the group carving of the Beckett sisters. He gave the group
carving to Gertrude as a sign of their brief relationship.
Rizal having lost Leonor Rivera, entertained the
thought of courting other ladies. While a guest of the Boustead
family at their residence in the resort city of Biarritz, he had
befriended the two pretty daughters of his host, Eduardo Boustead.
Rizal used to fence with the sisters at the studio of Juan Luna.
Antonio Luna, Juanís brother and also a frequent visitor of the
Bousteads, courted Nellie but she was deeply infatuated with Rizal.
In a party held by Filipinos in Madrid, a drunken Antonio Luna
uttered unsavory remarks against Nellie Boustead. This prompted
Rizal to challenge Luna into a duel. Fortunately, Luna apologized to
Rizal, thus averting tragedy for the compatriots.
Their love affair unfortunately did not
end in marriage. It failed because Rizal refused to be converted to
the Protestant faith, as Nellie demanded and Nellieís mother did
not like a physician without enough paying clientele to be a
son-in-law. The lovers, however, parted as good friends when Rizal
In 1890, Rizal moved to Brussels because of the high cost of
living in Paris. In Brussels, he lived in the boarding house of the
two Jacoby sisters. In time, they fell deeply in love with each
other. Suzanne cried when Rizal left Brussels and wrote him when he
was in Madrid.
In the last days of February 1895, while still in Dapitan,
Rizal met an 18-year old petite Irish girl, with bold blue eyes,
brown hair and a happy disposition. She was Josephine Bracken, the
adopted daughter of George Taufer from Hong Kong, who came to
Dapitan to seek Rizal for eye treatment. Rizal was physically
attracted to her. His loneliness and boredom must have taken the
measure of him and what could be a better diversion that to fall in
love again. But the Rizal sisters suspected Josephine as an agent of
the friars and they considered her as a threat to Rizalís
Rizal asked Josephine to marry him, but
she was not yet ready to make a decision due to her responsibility
to the blind Taufer. Since Tauferís blindness was untreatable, he
left for Hon Kong on March 1895. Josephine stayed with Rizalís
family in Manila. Upon her return to Dapitan, Rizal tried to arrange
with Father Antonio Obach for their marriage. However, the priest
wanted a retraction as a precondition before marrying them. Rizal
upon the advice of his family and friends and with Josephineís
consent took her as his wife even without the Church blessings.
Josephine later give birth prematurely to a stillborn baby, a result
of some incidence, which might have shocked or frightened her.