José Rizal, Leonor Rivera and Josephine at the Yuchengco Museum

MANILA, Philippines -- To celebrate José Rizal's sesquicentennial, the Yuchengco Museum organized "RIZALizing THE FUTURE," which renders Rizal in a popular light, surveying the brands, movements, industries, and directions that have pointed to Rizal as their root of inspiration."

Rizal's life and works have inspired art (and kitsch), fitting as he himself was an artist. Some of Rizal's drawings and a portrait sculpture of his wife Josephine are on exhibit, as are paintings he owned: his portrait and a landscape by Felix Resurrección Hidalgo and a Luna pen-and-ink, a nude.

Present-day works include Bencab drawings and prints; a Guillermo Tolentino bust; and an exceptionally instructive Napoleon Abueva sculpture entitled "José and Josephine in Bed," which is sure to be a hit among visiting nuns and grade-schoolers.

Writers and designers have also been at work-books, sculpture, films, installation art, currency, magazine covers, post cards, matchboxes, cushions, mugs, ternos and old-style jewelry that could have been worn by Noli me Tangere's María Clara and Doña Victorina.

Rizal relatives lent memorabilia-photographs; school records; violin, chess pieces, rosary, and a prayer book. Interesting are two tampipi (portable rattan clothes containers), the equivalent of today's Louis Vuitton and Samsonite. The Guardia Civil did not bother to check them, thereby saving the original Noli and Fili manuscripts hidden inside from confiscation.

Personal belongings of Leonor Rivera (Rizal's childhood sweetheart and the original María Clara) are on show-poignant items like her jewelry box, silver and turquoise brooch and earrings, peineta, locket, rosary, Chopin pieces, and part of her wedding dress.

The love of Leonor and José is a tear-jerker, better than your run-of-the-mill telenovela. The two met when Leonor was 13, fellow interna of Rizal's sisters at Colegio de la Concordia. They fell in love and wrote each other using pen names and invisible ink. José left for Europe two years later and they never saw each other again.

Rizal continued writing but Leonor's mother was against the match and intercepted the letters. The poor girl was helpless against her determined mother who insisted she marry Henry Kipping, a British engineer working on the Manila-Dagupan Railroad. One can imagine the dialogue, "Maliban lamang sa Dios, utang mo sa aquin ang buô mong pagca-tauo. Ang hinahañgad co lamang ay ang iyong capacanán. ¿Nais mo ba na mamatáy sa hinagpís ang iyong yna?"

Leonor demanded and got the intercepted letters but her mother insisted that she burn them all. She did, but kept the ashes on her tocadór in a box covered in cloth cut from the dress she wore when she and Rizal were betrothed (says the wall text). The box is on exhibit. In another version, Leonor spread ashes on the edging of her wedding dress and walked up the aisle scattering the cinders of a love that could not be. (Maybe she did both.)

The tragic Leonor died in childbirth three years later, age 26. She asked to be buried in a green dress, in whose hem, it turned out, she had sewn surviving letters from her hopeless love.

Comments are cordially invited, addressed to


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills
    N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills

    North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational. The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a concerted campaign of sabre-rattling. "If there is a particularly sharp escalation, we could see the …

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao
    Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao

    An Indonesian cargo vessel that was hijacked a month ago in North Sulawesi, Indonesia has been found stuck in the waters off Mati, Davao Oriental, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported yesterday. PCG spokesperson Armand Balilo said the PCG- Southeastern Mindanao district was informed on Feb. 23 that the M/T Rehoboth was found aground off Barangay Cabuaya. Four personnel from the local PCG district office were sent to verify the report. The vessel was reportedly hijacked by …

  • 'Jihadi John' relatives under watch in Kuwait
    'Jihadi John' relatives under watch in Kuwait

    Kuwaiti authorities are closely monitoring several relatives of "Jihadi John" who live and work in the Gulf emirate where the Islamic State executioner was born, press reports said on Sunday. A number of relatives of Mohammed Emwazi, named as the militant who has beheaded at least five Western hostages, are working in Kuwait and like him hold British citizenship, Al-Qabas newspaper reported. "Security agencies have taken the necessary measures to monitor them round the clock," the paper said, …

  • Military steps up offensive vs BIFF, Abu Sayyaf
    Military steps up offensive vs BIFF, Abu Sayyaf

    Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. has ordered the sustained campaign against the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) following the successive offensives against the armed groups last week. A total of 24 Abu Sayyaf bandits and two soldiers were killed in recent clashes in Sulu last week. The Joint Task Group Sulu has received information that Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron was wounded during one of the encounters but this is …

  • Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros
    Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros

    The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) is calling for the pullout of US Marines who arrived in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last Wednesday to train Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and members of the allied forces. The SAF commandos and the allied forces will secure the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in this city. Bayan-Negros secretary general Christian Tuayon said the US troops might violate the human rights of activists, especially those …

  • Interview: Australia says hunt for missing MH370 jet may be called off soon
    Interview: Australia says hunt for missing MH370 jet may be called off soon

    By Matt Siegel CANBERRA (Reuters) - The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 cannot go on forever, Australia's deputy prime minister said, and discussions are already under way between Australia, China and Malaysia as to whether to call off the hunt within weeks. No trace has been found of the Boeing 777 aircraft, which disappeared a year ago this week carrying 239 passengers and crew, in what has become one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history. The search of a rugged …

  • Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA
    Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA

    Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday supported proposals to put Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo under house arrest. “Government prosecutors are opposing house arrest for… Enrile. Binay issued the statement after the 91-year-old Enrile was rushed to the Makati Medical Center on Thursday due to pneumonia. House arrest for him would be the compassionate thing to do,” he added. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options