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Why I love Love Stories: Leonor Rivera, a Filipino Hero’s Sweetheart

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I am drawn to love stories like that of Leonor Rivera and Jose Rizal, Philippine National Hero. The cheesier the better. I am talking about sweet, innocent, poetic love tales with poignant twists and turns. If they are historical romance, I want it even more. I close my eyes to daydream and imagine I am the forlorn heroine of a classic, literary novel, caught in the complexities of heartache and a love that awakens my soul. Even Downton Abbey on PBS television or the love story about time travel, The Outlander series on the Starz network have not escaped my clutches.

One warm, sultry day, during my Philippine trip while I was in search of gastronomic adventures and heirloom recipes, I visited cousins in my home province, Tarlac. My cousin by marriage, Dr. Marilou “Ilou” Agana Kipping was my host. She welcomed me to the ancestral home of her great grandmother, Leonor Rivera. Philippine history has known Leonor as the former sweetheart of Jose Rizal, the national hero.

The Leonor-Jose bittersweet romance from the 18th century has enamored Filipinos for generations. It was the relationship that never was. In Pilipino we would call that “nasawi ang pag-ibig” (a forsaken love). The frustrated love story has left generations hooked like a telenovela would. But what most of us don’t know was what happened after Leonor and Rizal broke up. And just like the ending of a soap opera  series, I bring you the story of what happened next to Leonor.

Read my story with private photos of Leonor’s son, grandchildren and great grandchildren in this week’s Positively Filipino.com. It’s a love story that took a different turn and in the end, makes you realize why it was a love that was not meant to be. Click here for the love story “Leonor Rivera: A Hero’s Sweetheart”.



Photos of Leonor’s prayer book “Sagrado Corazon” from 1882 and her piano which stood silent after she broke off with Jose Rizal. The photograph below is the spiral staircase from Leonor Rivera’s ancestral home in Camiling, Tarlac in the Philippines. (Photo of Leonor Rivera: thanks to Michael Kipping, great grandson and son of the late Dr. and Mrs. Carlos R. Kipping Jr.)


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  1. I dont know how to react with this part but my heart wants to cry. Im so affected . But one thing i know leonora rivera follow her mother for the good of their family and blood line.

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