Taking Liberty with Rizal – Valentine’s Edition

Navy Liberty in the French Riviera is among the best I have experienced. I remember going there when Cannes was still unknown, nor the place called Villefrance, after DeGaulle pulled out of NATO because of France’s love and hate against the United States. One summertime, I looked up the periscope from Gulf Juan, scanning the beach and my usual taking Liberty with our hero and the French Connection and the love songs of  Whitney Houston. Elevating the Periscope I can see the train running on the mountain side and rewinding back my memory, many summers ago.
On July 1, 1887, Rizal rode the train along the French Riviera from his Italian journey and was treated with much amiability by an American couple who invited him several times to dine and drink with them
They brought fruits for Rizal before saying good bye in Monaco. “. . . aboard the train from Marseilles; he (Rizal) swears he will never forget the American couple on the Euro rail to Monaco. The man, a banker, was nondescript’ but his wife had blue eyes and ‘ a smile as chaste as a Christian virgin’s’. One thing he had not lost was his eye for the girls.  As Leon Guerero (First Filipino) would later write:
“We shall hardly see each other again,” Rizal said when they parted.
“Who knows?” the Christian virgin replied. “I should certainly hope so.”
“I am in the hands of fate.”
“Really? I believe it, “she said, and waved to him as the train pulled out.
Rizal was never lost in the words of Shakespeare, but he was merely smitten in brief passing fascination. He  was on his way home to the Philippines to his childhood sweet heart, Leonor Rivera  the real life Maria Clara of his novel but more of Shakespeare ‘s Romeo and  Juliet tragedy .  She prevented Rizal from falling in love with strangers in his travels.  Rizal was coming home to reclaim the love of his life.
Unfortunately, the affair was doomed in the very beginning. He was boarding in his uncle’s house in Intramuros just starting college,  when he met just the  11 years old Eleonor. She was a “pretty woman with a high forehead, soft and wavy hair, almond eyes, small and pensive mouth, and engaging dimples. She was described as a talented, mature, and intelligent lady. She played harp and piano and had a charming voice. She could write and read Spanish. The puppy love blossomed into secret love letters written in different languages including English.  Hidden communications because Leonor’s mother was against Leonor pen pal lover. Friendly spies of Rizal informed of her activities from Camiling to Dagupan.  They were also distant cousins.
Rizal went back to Manila via Suez Canal on August 3, 1887. He tried visiting Leonor; but his parents did not allow him to go to Dagupan.  By then travel to Dagupan was on the fast track, but without a word of anger or even a protest, he bowed his head and said, “Very well, father, I will not go.”
A year later, Rizal, the fugitive his country, was on his way to America. The American lady in Marseilles closer, but just distant memories on his long railroad travel from San Francisco to New York.
Leonor  immortalized in Noli Me Tangere made Rizal the subversive in the eyes of Spanish authority. The mother fearing safety succeeded in convincing her daughter to forget the young Bohemian rebel. Some wrote that the mother even persuaded Eleonor that Rizal was only interested in Dr Blumentritt daughter. Leonor was forced to marry Henry Kipping, an English engineer working on the Manila railroad to Dagupan. She agreed and she would never sing again for her mother. The engagement broke Rizal heart on the chugging sound of locomotion, the pair of a long iron tracks always abreast, reaching final station would  never touch. The greatest love was on the wrong track, Noli Me Tangere always on an arm’s length.
 Rizal wrote to his friend Blumentritt, “The first hammer-blow in the railway has fallen on me!”
He had political explanation; “I do not blame her for preferring Kipping..an Englishman is a free man, and I am not.”
A year later, Rizal, the fugitive his country, was on his way to America in 1888. The American lady in Marseilles just  distant memories on his long railroad travel from San Francisco to New York. He saw the beautiful statue in the harbor, the gifted  Lady Liberty from France. The lady became the symbol of freedom and liberty.
Rizal boarded across the Madison Square Park. He has a view of the famous MSG before it moved uptown at 34th Street.  The lover was not only genius but possessed legendary physical prowess.
Maybe his athletic attributes could be enough to play the point guard for the Knickerbockers.   😉
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2 Responses to “Taking Liberty with Rizal – Valentine’s Edition”


  1. 1 Boni David December 4, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Hi,

    Is it possible to post all your articles about Dr. Jose Rizal to our website: http://www.okorcanberra.org and make an attribution to you and your website in return.

    Regards, 🙂
    Boni David
    Pursuivant – OKOR Canberra Chapter
    ACT, Australia


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