Heritage

Jose Rizal's Personal Letters Reveal a Doting Brother and Uncle

The four personal letters, all signed and dated by Jose Rizal, will go on the auction block on December 2.
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Artifacts from the national hero Jose Rizal are plentiful in museums all across the country.

León Gallery is offering the chance to have some of those priceless letters in your own personal collection—an especially rare chance as most of Rizal’s possessions are government-owned.


Jose Rizal

A total of four handwritten letters will go up the auction block, with all kept in good condition by Rizal’s sister Maria and her heirs. The century-old letters give an inside look into Rizal without the formalities, showing a more human side of the hero as both a brother and uncle. The four letters—dated and written in 1891 in Hong Kong, in 1895 and 1896 in Dapitan—are addressed to Maria. In the letters, Rizal refers to her as pinakamahal kong kapatid or beloved sister, an intriguing detail as Narcisa is historically known as his favorite sister.






Cultural writer Bambi Harper describes the contents of the letters by saying, “In [the] letters, he advises her to suffer in this life so that joy may be hers in the next, but also to suffer for the sake of their family name. The man's pride in his profession is also revealed in another letter where he tells Maria to inform a certain Mang Pedro that he can look for another doctor if he’s not enthusiastic about his work; they might believe that he’s in dire need of money so that “kulang na laman alipihin nila ako.” The fourth letter reports several uncollected debts and again advises Maria to tell Moris, her son, to speak in English so as not to forget it.”



The letters will be sold separately, each with a starting bid of P1,000,000. The “Kingly Treasures Auction” comes full circle with other offerings such as a Félix Resurección Hidalgo portrait of part-Filipino and part-European heiress Nelly Boustead who is known as one of Rizal’s greatest paramours. The lot will include Juan Luna’s sketchbook and diary, which is interesting as it has been said that Luna’s brother Antonio and Rizal were both after Boustead’s heart, so much so that the two figures were close to killing each other. Another tie to the era, León will offer a settee owned by Rizal’s best friend Maximo Viola.

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"Portrait of Nelly Bousted" by Felix Resurrection Hidalgo


Pages from Juan Luna's Sketchbook and Diary


Seater Setyee by Isabelo Tampico and a 19th Century Ah-Tay

Other items up for sale include works of art by masters Vicente Manansala, Fernando Zóbel, Carlos “Botong” V. Francisco, and contemporary masters such as Elmer Borlongan, Jose John Santos III, Mark Justiniani, and Rodel Tapaya.

The “Kingly Treasures Auction” will be held at the gallery at Eurovilla 1, Rufino corner Legazpi Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City on Saturday, December 2, 2017, at 2 p.m. 856.2781; [email protected]; leon-gallery.com.

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Paolo Chua
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