I spent the start of my long weekend deep in Rizal research, reading about the world’s perception of our national hero. As expected, his love life is a curiosity for many.

Described as somewhat of a womanizer, some historians believed he was commitment phobic.  When he becomes close to a woman to the point of "intimacy/revelation/love", Rizal runs away. But one woman one woman who seemed to have captured his heart completely was Leonor Rivera. The Filipina he was engaged to marry. 

She is described as a “pretty woman” whose physical features included having a “high forehead”, “soft and wavy hair”, a face that supported “almond eyes”, “small and pensive mouth”, and “engaging dimples” in Rizal: Philippine Nationalist and Martyr. Reading this, I remembered some old photos I had. I was supposed to use them on a feature about fans but I think the mood of the photos perfectly portray the sadness of their doomed romance. 

The two were in a long distance relationship as Rizal had to be in Europe for his studies. They would correspond only through letters, which eventually were intercepted by Leonor’s mother. Believing that Rizal was a subversive, her mother kept them from her, and arranged for Leonor to marry a British engineer, Henry Kipping. Leonor, thinking that Rizal had forgotten her, agreed but only on the condition that she’d stop doing the two things she loved which was to sing and play the piano. She also proclaimed that she would die young and that she did. She was buried with the letters of Rizal stitched to her gown.

Rizal immortalized her as the character Maria Clara. Click this link to see a sketch that Rizal made of her. 

Thanks to Bryan, a good friend, a great tour guide, and an all-around Rizal enthusiast. Check out his blog on this link. 

Outfit: Dress from Deng Tee; accessories and fan from yours truly 
Photo credits: Ms. Kaity Chua
Styling credits: Deng Tee and Cay Kho