Leonor Valenzuela and Jose Rizal's Invisible Love Letters

Nicknamed Orang, Leonor Valenzuela was commonly described as a tall girl with regal bearing who was Rizal’s province-mate. She was the daughter of Capitan Juan and Capitana Sanday Valenzuela, who were from Pagsanjan, Laguna.
Orang was Rizal’s neighbor when he boarded in the house of Doña Concha Leyva in Intramuros during his sophomore year at the Universityof Santo Tomasas medicine student. To finally move on perhaps from his unsuccessful love story with Segunda Katigbak, Rizal frequently visited Orang’s house with or without social gatherings. The proofs that Rizal indeed courted her were the love letters he sent her. His love notes were mysteriously written in invisible ink made of common table salt and water, which could be read by heating the note over a candle or lamp.
More than a manifestation of Rizal’s knowledge of chemistry, his magical love notes to Orang, one can say, are a proof that he wanted to keep the courtship private. But why would he want to make it secret?
Many references declare that Orang was Rizal’s object of affection (too) while he was courting the other Leonor, his cousin Leonor Rivera. If this were true, then sending invisible love letters would indeed be the smart thing to do for other people would find them as mere blank papers.
Without clear material evidence, the ‘two-timer charge’ could indeed be easily denied. (To do a further speculative stretch, Rizal was perhaps thinking that if both ladies would become his girlfriends, he would not make the mistake of calling any of them by a wrong name.)
When Rizal left for Spain, he received a letter from his friend and confidant Jose M. Cecilio (Chenggoy) indicating that the two ladies had an idea that their ‘common denominator’ was not only their first name:
“…nagpipilit ang munting kasera (Leonor Rivera) na makita si Orang, pero dahil natatakpan ng isang belong puti, hindi naming nakilala nang dumaan ang prusisyon sa tapat ng bahay. Sinabi sa akin ni O(rang) na sabihin ko raw sa munting kasera na hindi siya kumakaribal sa pag-iibigan ninyo. Que gulay, tukayo, anong gulo itong idinudulot natin sa mga dalagang ito!”
The letter suggests that either Orang was giving way to Rivera-Rizal love affair or she (Orang) was not that interested in Rizal. In fact, records were not clear if she officially reciprocated Rizal’s courtship. If indeed she never took Rizal’s courtship seriously, we could not actually blame her. Her would-be affair with Rizal could only be either a rebound relationship (from Segunda-Jose failed affair) or an unhealthy love triangle (with the other Leonor in the equation).
Jensen DG. Mañebog, the contributor, is a book author and professorial lecturer in the graduate school of a state university in Metro Manila. His unique e-books on Rizal (available online) comprehensively tackles, among others, the respective life of Rizal’s parents, siblings, co-heroes, and girlfriends. (e-mail: jensenismo@gmail.com)

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TAGS: Jose Rizal, Leonor Valenzuela, Rizal's Girlfriend, History, Philippine Studies, Filipino Heroes; Leonor Valenzuela and Jose Rizal's Invisible Love Letters