SOLEDAD RIZAL: The Hero's Controversial Sister
© 2013 by Jensen DG. Mañebog
Also called ‘Choleng,’ Soledad Rizal (1870-1929) was the youngest child of the Rizal family. Being a teacher, she was arguably the best educated among Rizal’s sisters.
In his long and meaty letter to Choleng dated June 6, 1890, Jose told her sister that he was proud of her for becoming a teacher. He thus counseled her to be a model of virtues and good qualities “for the one who should teach should be better than the persons who need her learning.”
Rizal nonetheless used the topic as leverage in somewhat rebuking her sister for getting married to Pantaleon Quintero of Calamba without their parents’ consent. “Because of you,” he wrote, “the peace of our family has been disturbed.”
Some timeless lessons in ethics and good manners can be learned from the letter. For instance, it reveals that Jose was very much against women who allow themselves to be courted outside their homes. He said to Choleng, “If you have a sweetheart, behave towards him nobly and with dignity, instead of resorting to secret meetings and conversations which do nothing but lower a woman's worth in the eyes of a man… You should value more, esteem more your honor and you will be more esteemed and valued.”
Concerning men who woo without the knowledge of the woman’s parents, Rizal commented, “Men should be noble and worthy and behave like men and not like thieves or adventurers who hide themselves. You should despise a man who is afraid to come out in the open.” Without directly mentioning Soledad’s spouse, her ‘kuya’ further said, “I have despised and considered unworthy of me any young man that I have seen hiding and fleeing between shadows.”
Rizal then could not help contrasting himself to Soledad: “You know well … that I shouldandcould go to Pangasinan (where his girlfriend Leonor Rivera was) … and that for many years one of my great desires has been to go there… [but] our father’s opposition was enough for me to give up all my plans.” He then explained that Leonor also wished to meet him but her father’s mere opposition was enough to stop her from insisting on it.
As regards obeying one’s parents, Jose lectured Concha, “Parents would not wish to see their children unhappy.” The continuation of Jose’s homily reads, “I enjoin you to consider the gray hair of our parents; they were already very old and we should sow with glory their old days. Think … of your honor and of ours. You have many nieces; give them a good example and be worthy of yourselves.”
Without a doubt, Choleng had been scolded once by her older brother (‘napagalitan ni kuya!’). But recent controversial story insinuates that Jose was not Concha’s brother but her uncle (“Mga Lihim ng Pamilya ni Rizal”). Austin Coates, Rizal’s known biographer, is said to have believed that Soledad was allegedly the fruit of the affair between Saturnina (Doña Teodora’s eldest child) and Jose Alberto (Teodora’s mestizo brother). The narrative is said to be supported by the observation that Choleng looked different from her other sisters, purportedly the most beautiful. Accordingly, Teodora and Saturnina once went out on a vacation and went back after sometime with a newborn baby whom Teodora claimed her own. (If this were true, then there was really a reason for Teodora Formoso (Jose Alberto’s wife) to hate and consequently ‘frame up’ Teodora Alonso.)
Going back to Choleng’s union with Pantaleon, one good thing it had brought about was Rizal family’s becoming connected by affinity to Miguel Malvar, the hero who could have been listed as the second Philippine President for takingover the revolutionary government after Aguinaldo’s arrest in 1901. Soledad and Pantaleon had five children: Trinitario, Amelia, Luisa, Serafin, and Felix. Their daughter Amelia married Bernabe Malvar, son of Gen. Miguel Malvar. (© 2013 by Jensen DG. Mañebog)
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 affordable e-books on Rizal (available online) comprehensively tackle, among others, the respective life of Rizal’s parents, siblings, co-heroes, and girlfriends. (e-mail: email@example.com)
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