One of the most discussed love story in Philippine history and yet it leaves us in obscurity for nothing much was known about it for the simple reason that "in the end each destroyed the other's letters".
Many believes that Rizal got the inspiration of the character of "Maria Clara" (Noli Me Tangere) from Leonor Rivera. That much of those amorous plot between Crisostomo Ibarra and Maria Clara in the novel were actually based by the author to his relationship with Leonor Rivera. (who happens also to be his cousin).
When Rizal left for Europe, Leonor was fifteen. They never saw each other again and the only thing that kept them in contact were coded letters they sent each other in the span of six years.
Leonor Rivera was both beauty and talent rolled into one. Photographs and even a crayon sketch done by Jose Rizal himself shows she was really a charmer. She had a good singing voice and played both the piano and the harp.
|Crayon sketch of Leonor done by Jose Rizal|
Then enter the contra vida; Doña Silvestra Bauzon Rivera, Leonor's mother, who favored another suitor, an Englishman by the name of Charles Henry Kipping, an engineer working on the Manila-Dagupan Railway. Realizing the futility of disobeying her parents and at the same time thinking that Rizal had forgotten her due to the non arrival of letters from him. She acceded to her mother's wishes, only to find out later that her mother hid the letters coming from Europe. Leonor was devastated and Rizal was equally devastated when he received a letter from her breaking their engagement and at the same time announcing her marriage to the Englishman.
Leonor Rivera agreed to marry Kipping but sets conditions to the marriage one of which was she would never play and should never be asked to play the piano again. It is said that her piano was locked and was never played after her marriage and up to the end of her short life. Indeed a sad piano it was.
Leonor Rivera died in 1893 during childbirth. When the exiled Rizal heard the sad news from his sisters in Dapitan, "he kept to his room for the rest of the day, fingering a lock of Leonor's hair tied with a ribbon, and was taciturn for many days to follow"
|It is sad to see an empty piano chair and an unplayed piano belonging once to a pianist|