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Jose Rizal and Josephine Bracken: The Love Story

The story of Jose Rizal, the Philippine national hero, his exile in Dapitan, and his love relationship with Josephine Bracken.

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Jose Rizal is the national hero of the Philippines. He was an ophthalmologist, a polyglot, and a man of high intelligence and of many talents. The 7th child of Francisco Mercado Rizal and Teodora Realonda, he was born in Calamba, Laguna, Philippines on June 19, 1861. He studied at Ateneo Municipal de Manila earning Bachelor of Arts, and took medicine and philosophy and letters at Universidad de Santo Tomas in the Philippines. However, he did not continue his studies claiming discrimination by Spanish Dominican friars against native students. He went to Spain to further his studies. There, he earned a degree of Licentiate in Medicine at Universidad Central de Madrid. He also attended University of Paris. Later, he went to Germany and earned a second doctorate at the University of Heidelberg.

While in Germany he wrote Noli Me Tangere , a Latin phrase which literally means “touch me not”. The novel depicted the abuses of the Spanish friars in the Philippines. When the book reached the Philippines, it angered the Spanish friars as well as the local Spanish elites and Hispanized Filipinos because of its implicit insult to the ruling Spanish authorities in the Philippines. The novel of Rizal further catalyzed the discontent of moderate Filipinos on the Spanish colonizers and the fervor of the militant groups to start a revolution.

In Europe Rizal met with other Filipino expatriates and discussed on reforms in the Philippines. Despite his writings, Rizal did not believe in violent revolution. He was for institutional reforms. These included the Philippines becoming a province of Spain, equal rights before the law of Spanish and Filipino plaintiffs, representation of the Philippines in the Cortes, Spain’s legislative assembly, and Filipino priests instead of Spanish friars serving in the Philippine communities. Later, when he felt that the changes that he aspired for were not possible, he wrote his second book El Filibusterismo or the “The Filibuster”, a novel on revolution.

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From Europe Rizal went to Hong Kong. There, at daytime his house was also a medical clinic from 2 pm to 6 pm. He met Josephine Bracken in 1891. She was born in Hong Kong on August 9, 1876 to Irish parents. Her father was James Bracken, a corporal of the British Army and her mother was Elizabeth Jane McBride. Josephine was the youngest of five children.  Elizabeth died shortly after the birth of Josephine. Since as a soldier he was always away from his family, James had Josephine adopted to an American named George Taufer.

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  1. Roril Barr

    On June 7, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    very educational and relevant post to the 150th birthday of our national hero

  2. Ima Vee

    On June 7, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Their love story is one of the sweet love story in the history of Philippines…

  3. LCM Linda

    On June 7, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Sorry to know that both Jose Rizal and Josephine Bracken died young. Thanks for sharing us their love story.

  4. Eunice Tan

    On June 7, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    What a touching love story. I think the 1930-1950’s are romantic time.

  5. shobhana

    On June 7, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    It is sad to learn of people dying young. Sometimes lives are lost for the well being of others. It takes real guts and courage beyond the normal man’s, to go against authority and administration of the day. Anyway, Jose’s death was not wasted. He managed to stir the nation to gain independence from colonial masters who only came to take what was rightfully the Phillipine people’s

  6. webseowriters

    On June 7, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    wonderful story

  7. Ebbin Jose

    On June 8, 2011 at 1:06 am

    A very sweet and romantic story.

  8. isloooboy

    On June 8, 2011 at 2:45 am

    Very historical, very feelingly nice sharing. Good work once again

  9. real lady

    On June 8, 2011 at 4:16 am

    It’s not to recall the history. Such an inspiring and sweet story.

  10. galore

    On June 8, 2011 at 8:17 am

    A sweet love story.

  11. foxpete88

    On June 8, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    good to know…thanks

  12. Ruby Hawk

    On June 8, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    It’s a sad love story. I did enjoy the reading.

  13. Minister Marlene

    On June 9, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Josephine’s son became president and greatness came forth. Yet she died at 25, how sad!. And Rizal was killed even though he tried to opt out of a revolution. Even so Spain was finally ousted out. His death and story is sad yet what he did eventually bore fruit. I have never heard this story, thank you for sharing this history with us.

  14. Minister Marlene

    On June 9, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Why can’t they take Rizal from his un-marked grave and give him a proper burial? Perhaps they have already done so? This is a touching story. Those who fight for what’s right make tremendous sacrifices. They often lose their life just as Christ did. Christ death brought freedom to many and was ordained by God. But in this world those who wish victory for all are placed on a chopping block. This Rizal was such a man I think. We realize that we don’t know much about true suffering when we read articles like yours.

  15. papaleng

    On June 9, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Excellent research, my friend, you did honor to our great hero.

  16. ladym33

    On June 9, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    An interesting love story with a sad ending.

  17. Shavin

    On June 9, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    Nice story

  18. Tulan

    On June 10, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    it’s a sad beautiful story.

  19. R K Vajpeyi

    On June 11, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Sad but nonetheless a great love story

  20. mtrguanlao

    On June 12, 2011 at 7:02 am

    This reminds me of the movie Jose Rizal,just can’t remember the exact name of the actress who played the role of Josephine Bracken,hehe,memory gap,oh my!

  21. Suni51

    On June 12, 2011 at 7:18 am

    A love story coming from a colonel!!! That was a great read. Thanks for sharing.

  22. JaiGu2693

    On June 12, 2011 at 9:07 am

    good one. nice to know this kind of love story of the philippine national hero!

  23. Rhodora Bande

    On June 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    There are many details you gave here which I previously was not aware of especially on Josephine’s personal life and her involvement with the revolution after Rizal’s death. Enjoyed reading this. Good job.

  24. pruelpo

    On June 20, 2011 at 7:08 am

    I learned partly of Rizal’s life when I was a grade 4 pupil at that time. Thank you dude for this sharing. This is a detailed one about his love life and everything about him. Rizal’s writings proved that words are really powerful and sharper than swords.

  25. Bingskee

    On June 23, 2011 at 10:34 am

    interesting read. he is a very intelligent man that is why it is easy for girls to fall for him.

  26. Bella White

    On July 7, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Sad story. Thanks for the lesson in history.

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