Saturday, December 25, 2010

Rizal and Consuelo

Who was Consuelo and why didn't any of our chatty historians link her to Rizal? After all, he used to be a guest at her fathe's residence in Madrid with other Filipino expats who enjoyed the charming company of such a refined Spanish senorita.

Consuelo wrote this revealing entry in her diary: "They say that he is attracted to someone too tall for him and has done everything to get over it but to no avail. I listen to him with pleasure as he speaks so well. I'm afraid he might think I am leading him on, which is true, but I happen to like his conservation. I let myself get carried away and when he leaves, I feel sad; [but] when he is back, I do exactly the same thing" (Spanish original, loose translation is mine)

Consuelo Ortiga y Perez was the daughter of Don Pablo Ortiga y Rey who was once Alcalde de Manila and later appointed president of the Consejo de Filipinas in Madrid. I suspect that the "someone too tall" for Jose Rizal was Consuelo herself and since they were always seen so engrossed in each other (his conversation must have been enthralling) Rizal's friends probably teased him about his seemingly fatal attraction for Consuelo's Spanish eyes.

Perhaps Rizal was infatuated and flattered because Consuelo was such a good listener and coquettish at that. In 1883, he wrote a poem entitled " A C." that was for Consuelo Ortiga. Although Rizal captured the fair senorita's mind with elegant prose and impassioned poetry, they were not destined for each other. It was Eduardo Lete, his batchmate at the Ateneo who eventually won Consuelo's heart.

Source: Rizal Ante Sus Contemporaneos, (National Historical Institute, 1961)

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