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P1M up for Rizal letter to parents

By: - Arts and Books Editor / @LitoZulueta
/ 05:05 AM June 19, 2019

A letter by Jose Rizal to his parents talking about his routine as a student in Madrid and his flirtation with Consuelo Ortiga, one of his many loves abroad, will be auctioned off on June 22. The floor price is P1 million.

“[The letter] shows the lighter side of Jose Rizal, the nuts and bolts of student life,” said Jaime Ponce de Leon of Leon Gallery, which is holding its “Spectacular Midyear Auction 2019.”

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The nation marks the national hero’s 158th birth anniversary today.

Dated Oct. 10, 1888, Rizal’s single-sheet, two-page letter to his parents Francisco and Teodora is part of the collection of scholar Jose P. Santos, the son of historian, poet, linguist, and renaissance man Epifanio de los Santos, after whom Highway 54, now Edsa, is named.

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In the letter to his parents,  Rizal tells how he was settling down in Madrid after arriving from Barcelona to start his medical studies at the Universidad Central de Madrid.

‘Brindis’

He was lodged at No. 15 Calle del Baño (Street of the Baths), which was owned by Pablo Ortiga, a former mayor of Manila and the president of a society of former residents of the Philippines.

In the same letter, Rizal wrote that he took his meals at nearby Calle Lobo, whose restaurants and hotels were frequented by Filipino expatriates.

It was at Hotel de Ingles that, on June 25, 1884, Rizal made his legendary brindis, or toast to the double victory of the expatriate community when Juan V. Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo won the gold and silver medals in the National Exposition of Fine Arts in Madrid.

A friend to native Filipinos studying in Europe, Ortiga made his rooms available to Rizal and the ilustrado scions from the islands; he also hosted musical evenings for homesick Filipinos.

‘Prettier one’

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It was at his house where Rizal, then 23, met Ortiga’s two daughters and fell for the charms of the “prettier one,” Consuelo, who was 18.

Months earlier, Rizal received a letter from Jose M. Cecilio (nicknamed “Chengoy” in Rizal’s letters), who told him that Leonor Rivera, his sweetheart in Laguna, had become noticeably thinner and was obviously missing him.

Writing later in his journal, Rizal said he had dreamed of Rivera becoming unfaithful — perhaps a form of justification for flirting with Consuelo who, in her own journal, wrote that she was divided between Rizal and his friend, Eduardo de Lete.

It was to Ortiga that Rizal dedicated a poem, “A la Señorita C. O. y P” (Consuelo’s mother’s surname was Perez): “… Why resurrect unhappy memories now when the heart awaits from love a sign?”

Also to be auctioned off are, according to the catalogue, “an extremely significant and exceedingly rare” letter by Paciano Rizal to Emilio Jacinto and Baldomero Rivera, both Katipunan generals.

Paciano (1850-1930) was Rizal’s older and only brother. He joined the revolution and became an effective commander of the forces in Laguna, where Jacinto, Andres Bonifacio’s most trusted ally, was the commanding general.

In his letter to Jacinto, Paciano requested 50 Remington rifles to wage the war of independence.

More letters

Another important auction lot is a letter to Jacinto by Pio del Pilar from Makati in April 1898, informing Jacinto that he was being appointed Laguna governor.

A rare letter of six pages and closely written text addressed to Antonio Luna by “Paquita” is also up for auction.

Paquita is believed to have been Francisca del Rosario, who was rumored to be the beautiful woman in traditional baro’t saya in Juan Luna’s “La Bulaqueña,” which used to hang in Malacañang and is now displayed at the National Museum.

Also included in the lot is a “war flag used by the forces of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo.”

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TAGS: Jaime Ponce de Leon, Jose Rizal, Leon Gallery, Rizal auction, Rizal letter to parents
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