In Dagupan City (Pangasinan, Philippines), two typical nondescript streets quietly tell of an extraordinary story of love - one between a national hero and his young love.
The first street is Rizal Street in the center of town.
And the other street, intersecting with it, is Rivera Street.
Rizal St. is of course, named after no less than Jose Rizal, our national hero who incidentally celebrates his 150th birthday this year. The other street, Rivera St., is named after the lass who took Rizal's fancy. Her name was Leonor Rivera. She is a Dagupeña, and this is the street where she used to live.
|Leonor Rivera: Jose Rizal's childhood sweetheart|
It would have been interesting had Leonor Rivera and Rizal ended up together, but history had other plans for Rizal. It is said that Rivera was Rizal's inspiration for Maria Clara in the Noli Me Tangere and its sequel, the El Filibusterismo. It was she who kept him connected to the Philippines through their letters to each other, the one who also kept him faithful from being lured by the pretty European ladies. Reading their stories, I could see how Rizal could probably find in Rivera the personification of the struggles of the Philippines back then in the hands of the Spanish. She was his muse.
Of course we would also later learn of other ladies with whom Rizal fell for - like Josephine Bracken (who actually became Rizal's wife, did you know?), and a score of others. Rizal is known to have taken a liking to many, but his heart belonged to his Philippines, and his Leonor.
|Where Rizal and Rivera intersects.|
P.S. While their history is compelling, there isn't much to see at present on Rizal St., nor on Rivera St., at least to speak of their significance. I hope some enterprising Dagupeños set something up in those areas, like a restaurant or cafe that celebrates the love story between Jose and Leonor. (There! That's a nice name for a restaurant already - 'Jose and Leonor') Somebody can also identify the former home of Leonor Rivera on the street that was named after her; it must be preserved or turned into a museum/cafe, if it has not already been demolished (the same way the former Dagupeña building was sadly and thoughtlessly demolished). There are many ways to improve tourism in the city.
Fiesta, Fiesta! A Bangus Festival in Pangasinan
Join Dagupan City in celebrating the Bangus Festival from April 8 to May 1. See calendar of activities for more details. Also, join ClubTravelNOW!TM as it supports the city's celebrations by pioneering a Dagupan City Food Tour on April 30 and May 1. More details on that soon. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested to join. Also, visit our Fan page and websites.
THE FIRST FILIPINO: A Biography of Jose Rizal
Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not)
El Filibusterismo: Subversion: A Sequel to Noli Me Tangere