Piano of Rizal’s sweetheart Leonor Rivera back in Dagupan

/ 07:15 AM November 26, 2017

The piano Rivera used to play.

DAGUPAN CITY — The piano that Dr. Jose Rizal’s childhood sweetheart, Leonor Rivera, used to play whenever she visited the house of a classmate, is back in this city where the couple’s ill-fated love story played out.

The 18th century neoclassical piano is the second artifact from that era on display in the city museum, which also hosts the engine cart of an oil-burning locomotive that used to ferry people from Manila to Dagupan.


Rivera, said to be a good singer and pianist, was Rizal’s true love according to accounts. But he lost her to English engineer Charles Kipping, who supervised the construction of the northern terminal of the national railway system.

According to records, the Riveras lived briefly in Dagupan where Rizal was said to have serenaded the young woman at their home on a street now called Rivera.


The couple were then already sweethearts after they met in La Concordia in Manila where she studied, but the relationship was opposed by Rivera’s mother who said they were related to each other by blood.

Crayon sketch of Leonor Rivera by Jose Rizal; Zenaida Sinlao and Jeslito Seen

According to the Dagupan information office, Rivera’s piano was shipped to this city from Malolos in Bulacan province on Nov. 23 by councilor Jeslito Seen, chair of the city council’s committee on the arts and culture, and Zenaida Sinlao of the arts and culture office.

Manolo Tenorio, curator of Hiyas ng Bulacan Museum, said the piano had been on display in their museum since 1971, and was labeled as the piano that Rivera had played.

“Since the piano has no connection to the history and culture of Bulacan, we decided to give it back where it belongs,” Tenorio said.

Seen said Rivera used to play the piano when she visited her classmate, Doña Carmen Villamil, in Dagupan. When the Villamils moved to Bustos, Bulacan, they brought the piano with them.

Sinlao said the city’s arts and culture office will restore the piano to its original condition. —Yolanda Sotelo

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TAGS: Charles Kipping, Jose Rizal, Leonor Rivera
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