Josephine MacBride Bracken, the daughter of James Bracken and Elizabeth Jane MacBride, was brought into life on August 9, 1876 in Hong Kong at Victoria Barracks. She is the petite Irish woman who truthfully loved and at the same time fascinated the Philippine national hero. She became known in history as Jose Rizal’s common-law wife.
Listed below are 15 interesting facts about Josephine Bracken:
1. Josephine was adopted by a German-American machinist from New York, George Leopold Taufer, from whom her other name “Leopoldine” was taken.
2. Josephine referred to Jose Rizal as “Joe” and helped him out in his daily activities around his Talisay farm and school.
3. Some years after Rizal’s martyrdom, Josephine's brief stint as English tutor in both Manila and Cebu (where she taught the young Sergio Osmeña) made it easier for her to get the job as public school teacher.
4. Josephine was barely five foot one, a perfect match to Rizal’s five foot four inches height. She had brown hair and a buxomly figure that reminded Rizal of European women who attracted him during his travels overseas. (mnnetherlands.com)
5. In Hong Kong in December 1898 Josephine married Vicente Abad, a Filipino of Spanish decent. The following year she and her husband moved to the Philippines. Around that time they had a baby daughter, Dolores, affectionately called "Dolly" by Josephine. It was recently revealed that this child was most probably adopted by the couple. (brackenjosephine.blogspot.com)
6. Josephine bore Rizal a stillborn child, a son who would have been named Peter by Josephine or Francisco, by Rizal’s sisters, in honor of their father. (nhcp.gov.ph)
7. There is a statue in Luneta Park depicting Jose Rizal’s last goodbye to Josephine Bracken before his execution day. (joserizalfans.wordpress.com)
8. Threee nephews of Rizal also lived in Dapitan and learned English from Bracken. She took care of the three boys who fondly called her auntie. She liked very much the little boys and particularly affectionate to Moris whom she made a pair of bathing pants and a shirt. (mnnetherlands.com)
9. Bracken’s grave remains unknown today since the cemetery has been converted into a racetrack. (nhcp.gov.ph)
10. There’s a highly debatable claim that Rizal, foreseeing his death, asked Vicente Balaguer, a Jesuit priest, to marry them (Rizal and Bracken). Some historians believe that Balaguer had married them on 5:30 a.m. of December 30, 1896, an hour before Rizal's death at 'Bagumbayan'.
11. In early 1902, suffering from severe tuberculosis, Bracken returned to Hong Kong where, at age 25, she died on the night of 14th/15th March. The authorities, concerned that her condition was infectious, had her buried the next morning in the Happy Valley Cemetery. (brackenjosephine.blogspot.com)
12. After the bravery of the Katipuneros were fueled by Rizal’s martyrdom, Bracken joined the Katipunan in Cavite, where she converted the Tejeros State House into a field hospital. She assisted in healing the wounded revolutionaries and had witnessed the historical Tejeros Convention on March 22, 1897.
13. Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo was reluctantly persuaded to admit Josephine into the military ranks, but eventually provided her with lessons in shooting and horseback riding.
14. In the year of the centenary of her death, 2002, her first full biography was written and published by her great-grandson Macario Ofilada.
15. Rizal made Josephine as the subject and model in at least two works of art: a plaster statue of her reclining, and the short poem "A Josefina." He gave her this poem on their first separation, when she accompanied Taufer to Manila on his way back to Hong Kong.
After days of reading and researching about Josephine Bracken, I have formed the opinion that she had the will to do good and bring happiness to different person especially to those she loved. People could learn a lot from her experiences, sufferings, love story, and sacrifices. She deserves the right to be claimed as the wife of the national hero for she has brought satisfaction, hope, strength, influence, and warm affection to Rizal’s life.
About the Author:
Mary Faye R. Plaza, the contributor, is a graduate from Rizal Technological University – Laboratory High School in 2008. She believes that in order to succeed, the desire for success must be greater than the fear of failure.
Question for Discussion:
Do you believe that Josephine Bracken deserves to be called ‘the wife of the national hero’? Defend your answer.
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Tags: Philippine History, Lessons in Life, Social Studies, Life Lessons, Sociology, Social Sciences, Philippine Studies, Kasaysayan
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