Jose Rizal’s Girlfriends and His Naughty Amusements

The 'amusements' involved two sisters.

Dolores, Felipa, Margarita, Ursula, Nellie, Vicenta, Suzanne, Consuelo, Osei-san, and Seiko. These are just some of the women who fell for the charm, wit, and good looks of Jose Rizal. They were not exactly Rizal’s girlfriends, but more of flings and minor attractions.

While many people are familiar with the love story of Rizal and Josephine Bracken—his last lover before he died—it is also noteworthy mentioning Leonor Rivera, Rizal’s most significant love and hearthbreak. They had been engaged for 10 years, a time when Rizal spent much of his life in Europe, leaving Rivera in the Philippines.

But what did Rizal do in Europe during those 10 years when he was engaged to Rivera?

Well, he was two-timing two Leonors: Leonor Rivera and Leonor Valenzuela. While Rizal was away in Europe, he tasked his wingman and namesake Jose M. Cecilio to spy on his two love interests in the Philippines.

In 1884, when Rizal was already engaged to Rivera, Cecilio discovered that another man wanted to propose to Rivera. To dissuade the man, Cecilio introduced him to Leonor Valenzuela, only to find out that she, too, was engaged to Rizal!

Rizal and Friends in Europe

Photo Wikimedia Commons.

Did Jose Rizal have girlfriends in Europe?

Rizal did not have any official girlfriends in Europe, but he did have naughty amusements while there.

In an 1883 letter to his brother Paciano, Rizal documented the women of Europe and how he found them very attractive. He also casually mentioned prostitution in Madrid and Barcelona:

“Women abound even more (here in Madrid) and it is, indeed, shocking that in many places they intercept men and they are not the ugly ones either... With respect to morality there are some who are models of virtue and innocence and others who have nothing womanly about them, except their dress or at most their sex. Rightly it has been said that the women in the South of Europe have fire in their veins. However, here prostitution is a little more concealed than at Barcelona, though not less unrestrained."


Jose Rizal’s 'amusements' involved two sisters.

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The letter does not imply that Rizal partook in such amusements. However, it was Rizal’s friend and namesake, Jose Alejandrino, who outs Rizal’s gallivanting in his book, La Senda del Sacrificio (1945):

“One day he invited me to amuse ourselves, telling me we could pass the time in the house of two sisters whom he knew. We went there and I came to like the amusement very much, because a few days later I asked him when we could return for more fun, but then he grew serious, saying that he considered such entertainment was necessary once a month, but more than once was already a vice, and he was not willing to encourage vices.”

A point of interest in the revelation is that, although Rizal allowed himself some sexual amusements in Europe, he also religiously practiced sexual abstinence.

According to Alejandrino’s book, Rizal sternly told him that having such amusements was only necessary once a month, and anything excess of that is vice.

When he was still a medical student, Rizal was exposed to a prominent medical theory at the time about sexual self-control, which proposed that certain illnesses are caused by too much sex or masturbation.

We can assume, thanks to Alejandrino, at most once a month, Rizal entertained women in Europe, believing that sex is necessary but must be strictly controlled so that the mind remains the master of the body.


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