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History

Seiko Usui: Jose Rizal's Japanese Girlfriend

 Seiko Usui: Jose Rizal's Japanese Girlfriend
 

If only Jose Rizal had no patriotic mission and no political will, he would have married her and settled in Japan for good.  
 
It was during Rizal’s second trip abroad when he met Seiko Usui. From Hong Kong, he arrived in Japan in February 1888 and moved to the Spanish Legation in the Azabu district of Tokyo upon the invitation of an official in the legation.
 
One day, Rizal saw Seiko passing by the legation in one of her daily afternoon walks. Fascinated by her charm, Rizal inquired and learned from a Japanese gardener some basic information about her. The next day, Rizal and the Japanese gardener waited at the legation gate for Seiko. Acting as a go-between and interpreter, the gardener introduced the gracious Filipino doctor and the pretty Japanese woman to each other. The gardener’s role as intermediary was cut short however when Seiko spoke in English. She also knew French, and so she and Rizal began to converse in both languages.

CONCEPCION RIZAL: The Hero's First Grief

 
 
CONCEPCION RIZAL: The Hero's First Grief
© 2013 by Jensen DG. Mañebog
 
Also called ‘Concha’ by her siblings, Concepcion Rizal (1862-1865) was the eight child of the Rizal family. She died at the age of three.
            Of his sisters, it is said that Pepe loved most the little Concha who was a year younger than him. Jose played games and shared children stories with her, and from her he felt the beauty of sisterly love.
          When Concha died of sickness in 1865, Jose mournfully wept at losing her. He later wrote in his memoir, “When I was four years old, I lost my little sister Concha, and then for the first time I shed tears caused by love and grief.”

SOLEDAD RIZAL: The Hero's Controversial Sister

 
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.”

TRINIDAD RIZAL: The Custodian of the Hero's Greatest Poem

 
Trinidad Rizal (1868-1951) or ‘Trining’ was the tenth child and the custodian of Rizal’s last and greatest poem.
 
In March 1886, Jose wrote to Trining describing how the German women were serious in studying. He thus advised her: “now that you are still young and you have time to learn, it is necessary that you study by reading and reading attentively.” Perhaps sensing that studying is not Trinidad’s thing, Jose continued, “It is a pity that you allow yourself to be dominated by laziness when it takes so little effort to shake it off. It is enough to form only the habit of study and later everything goes by itself.” Four years later, Trining surprised Jose by writing him, “Dearest Brother: I left the College two years, one month and a half ago.”

JOSEFA RIZAL: The Katipunera

 
Josefa Rizal’s nickname is Panggoy (1865-1945). She’s the ninth child in the family who died a spinster. 
 
Among Jose’s letters to Josefa, the one dated October 26 1893 is perhaps the most fascinating. Written in English, the letter addressed Josefa as “Miss Josephine Rizal”, thereby making her the namesake of Rizal’s girlfriend Josephine Bracken. In the letter, Jose praised her sister for nearly mastering the English language, commenting that the only fault he found in Josefa’s letter is her apparent confusion between the terms ‘they are’ and ‘there’. Jose also wrote about the 20 pesos he sent, the 10 pesos of the amount was supposed for a lottery ticket. This indicates that Jose did not stop ‘investing’ in lottery tickets despite winning 6, 200 pesos in September the previous year. Even when he was in Madrid, he used to spend at least three pesetas monthly for his ‘only vice’ (Zaide, p. 221).

MARIA RIZAL: The Hero's Confidant

 © 2013 by Jensen DG. Mañebog
 
Maria Rizal (1859-1945) is the sixth child in the family. It was to her whom Jose talked about wanting to marry Josephine Bracken when the majority of the Rizal family was apparently not amenable to the idea. In his letter dated December 12, 1891, Jose had also brought up to Maria his plan of establishing a Filipino colony in North British Borneo.

LUCIA RIZAL: Partaker of the Hero's Sufferings

 
Lucia Rizal (1857–1919) is the fifth child in the Rizal family. She married Mariano Herbosa of Calamba, Laguna. Charged of inciting the Calamba townsfolk not to pay land rent and causing unrest, the couple was once ordered to be deported along with some Rizal family members.

OLYMPIA RIZAL: The Sister Whom the Hero Loves to Tease

 
Olympia Rizal (1855-1887) is the fourth child in the Rizal family. Jose loved to tease her, sometimes good-humoredly describing her as his stout sister.

Jose’s first love, Segunda Katigbak, was Olimpia’s schoolmate at the La Concordia College. Rizal confided to Olympia about Segunda and the sister willingly served as the mediator between the two teenage lovers.  It was thus unclear whether it was Olympia or Segunda whom Jose was frequently visiting at La Concordia at the time.

NARCISA RIZAL: The Hospitable Sister of the Hero

 © 2013 by Jensen DG. Mañebog
 
Narcisa Rizal (1852-1939) or simply ‘Sisa’ was the third child in the family. Like Saturnina, Narcisa helped in financing Rizal’s studies in Europe, even pawning her jewelry and peddling her clothes if needed. It is said she could recite from memory almost all of the poems of the national hero.

SATURNINA RIZAL: The Hero's Second Mother

Saturnina Rizal (1850-1913) is the eldest child of Don Francisco and Teodora Alonso. She and her mother provided the little Jose with good basic education that by the age of three, Pepe already knew his alphabet. The first time Jose experienced to ride a casco (a flat-bottomed boat with a roof) was when he and his father visited Saturnina at the La Concordia College in Manila.
            Saturnina had always been a loving ‘Ate’ Neneng to Jose. When their mother was imprisoned, Saturnina brought the young Jose to Tanauan during the summer vacation of 1873 just to cheer up the sad little brother. On his way to Marseilles in May 1882, Rizal—perhaps missing her ‘ate’—dreamed that he was traveling with Neneng and that their path was blocked by snakes.

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