Rizal was 16 years old when one Sunday in 1887, he paid visit to his maternal grandmother in Trozo, Manila and there met, among others, Segunda Katigbak, a two-year-younger-than-him ‘colegiala’.
Mariano Katigbak, Segunda’s brother and Rizal’s classmate who was also in the house, probably had no idea that his friend had been experiencing “a love at first sight” being bewitched by his alluring sister.
Jose, I would like to introduce my sister, Segunda. Segunda, this is my dear friend Jose.
Thank you, It's very nice to meet you as well.
I just want to visit my sister Olympia but it's nice seeing you here!
Jose and Segunda got to know each other more intimately as his visits to his sister Olympia (or rather to his love interest Segunda) in La Concordia surprisingly became more frequent.
What brings you here Jose?
How could Rizal forget that incident when he was urged by other acquaintances and conformed to make a pencil sketch of Segunda? “From time to time”, he later recorded in his diary, “she looked at me, and I blushed.”
The ‘rumor’ that she had been engaged to be married to a fellow-townsman, Manuel Luz, even before she met Pepe, was all along true. Rizal’s discovery of the real score later was probably his major reason, being a man of delicadeza, why he did not propose to her, more than his being ‘torpe’ or a reluctant lover …
Segunda gave Rizal a white artificial rose she had made herself at school, in exchange that pencil sketch he had drawn of her. In hindsight, we can submit that Rizal was somewhat clueless and naïve. As in the song “Paper Roses,” the artificial flower was perhaps Segunda’s way of insinuating that their affection was hopeless from the very start.
Oh, thank you Segunda.
I made you an artificial rose.
It was a romantic day in December 1877 when the confused Jose Rizal came to La Concordia to see his ever-hopeful “first love.”
Well, good-bye, Anyway—I’ll see you when you pass Calamba on your way to Lipa
I'll be spending my New Year vacation in my hometown starting tomorrow.
She then maintained silence, perhaps giving Rizal enough opportunity to say anything romantic, especially that sweetest tri-syllabic pronouncement which a lover would want to hear from a beloved. But to her surprise, Rizal said-
Really? I am also going home to Lipa tomorrow.
Rizal went home to Calamba and woke up the following day determined to fulfill his promise to Segunda. The steamer carrying Segunda anchored in Biñan so Jose saddled his white horse to wait at the road. When Segunda’s carromata passed by, she smiled and waved her handkerchief to him.
Initially wanting to follow, Rizal at the last minute turned his horse around and decided to ride home instead. That incident marked the end of everything between the young lovers.