In Lipa, Batangas, an attractive bahay na bato (a Philippine ancestral home) honors the memory of Segunda Solis Katigbak (1863-1943), the grand matriarch of the Katigbak clan and considered to be Philippine hero José Rizal’s first love and inspiration of his early poetry.
The love-smitten adolescent Rizal greatly detailed his blossoming young romance with the 14-year-old Segunda Solis Katigbak, whom he addressed as “la Señorita K.”, in Chapter 6 of his Memorias de un Estudiante de Manila (Memoirs of a Student in Manila).
It was during one of Rizal’s visits to his maternal grandaunt Doña Basilia Bauzon de Leyba (fondly called Impo Ilyang; a friend of the Katigbak family), who lived in Trozo, Manila, that he saw Segunda. She was the sister of his classmate in Ateneo Municipal and trusted friend, Mariano Katigbak, who incidentally was his companion during that visit.
The charming and graceful Segunda captivated the young José. Rizal vividly described her as, “ Una bajita, de unos ojos expresivos y ardientes a veces y lánguidos otros, rosada, una sonrisa tan encantadora y provocativa que dejaba ver unos dientes muy hermosos; un aire de sílfide, un no sé qué de halagador desparramábase por todo su ser.” [Short, with expressive eyes, ardent at times, and drooping at other times, pinkish, a smile so bewitching and provocative that revealed some very beautiful teeth; with an air of sylph, I do not know what alluring something was all over her being.] “No era más bella mujer que ví pero no he visto más encantadora y halagüeña.” [She was not the most beautiful woman I had seen but I had never seen one more bewitching and alluring.]
Segunda and Rizal’s sister Olimpia were then studying at La Concordia and they eventually became friends. From then on, he frequently visited his sister and used her as an excuse to see “Señorita K“. During Segunda and José’s conversations in those visits, it was truly evident that they fell in love with each other. “En verdad que durante nuestra conversación, nuestros ojos encontraban y miradas intensísimas llena de una expresión amantemente melancholia venían de encadenar mi alma para siempre.” [During our conversation our eyes met, and the most intense glances full of a loving melancholy expression enslaved my soul forever.] “Iba yo poco a poco bebiendo la dulcísima ponzoña del amor a medida que proseguía la conversación. Sus miradas eran terribles por lo dulces y expresivas; su voz era tan armoniosa y un encanto acompañaba siempre a todas sus acciones. De cuando en cuando un lánguido rayo penetraba en mi corazón y sentía un no se que hasta entonces desconocido para mi.” [ Little by little, I was imbibing the sweetest poison of love as the conversation continued. Her eyes were terribly sweet and expressive; her voice was so sonorous and a certain charm accompanied all her movements. From time to time a languid ray penetrated my heart and I felt something that was unknown to me until then.] “Y a decir verdad nos amábamos sin que nos hayamos declarado claramente sino solamente nos comprendíamos en nuestras miradas.” [ And truth to tell we loved each other without having declared it clearly except that we understood each other through our glances.]
The blooming romance did not materialize since Segunda was engaged to marry her uncle Manuel Luz. Rizal also, for his shyness, failed to propose to her. With poignant words, he lamented in his journal, “Esto es concluye así! ¡Concluyeron mis juveniles y confiados amores! Concluyeron mis primeras horas de mi primer amor. Mi virgen corazón llorará por siempre el arriesgado paso que dió en el abismo cubierto de flores. Mi ilusión volverá, si, pero indiferente, incomprensible y preparándome la primera decepción en el camino del sentimiento.” (This is how it ends! My youthful and trusting loves ended! The first hours of my first love ended. My virgin heart will always mourn the reckless step it took on the flower-decked abyss. My illusions return, yes, but indifferent, uncertain, ready for the first betrayal on the path of grief.) Even when Rizal was already seeing another girl, his heart and mind only followed Segunda: “Ella o nosotros, hablamos de amores, pero mi corazón y mi pensamiento seguían a K.; al traves de la noche, hasta su pueblo. Si me hubiese dicho el más inmundo cadáver que ella tambien pensaba en mí, yo le hubiera besado de gratitud.” [ She, or we, talked about love but my heart and my thought followed K. through the night to her town. If the filthiest corpse had told me that she too was thinking of me, I would have kissed it out of gratitude].
THE LUZ-KATIGBAK WEDDING, A FORMIDABLE UNION
Manuel Luz y Mitra, Segunda’s fiancé, was the son of Don José Luz é Inciong (gobernadorcillo of Lipa 1844, 1854), brother of Segunda’s maternal grandmother, Doña Patricia Luz de Solis. He was more acceptable to the Katigbak family at the time since it was tradition for maidens to marry men within the same social circle in the locality. Consanguineous marriages were also prevalent in the Lipeño society then. Don Manuel served as a cabeza de barangay and a teniente mayor (a vice mayor in today’s parlance) of Lipa during the Spanish era. Aside from the coffee and agricultural trade, Manuel Luz was engaged in the tobacco and cigar business. During the Philippine-American War of 1899, he wrote in the political section of the revolutionary newspaper Columnas Volantes de la Federación Malaya.
Segunda was the daughter of Don Norberto Katigbak y Kalaw and Doña Justa Solís y Luz. Her father Don Norberto was gobernadorcillo of Lipa in 1862 and a member of the Batangas Provincial Board of Agriculture and Commerce. He owned vast tracts of farmland situated in twenty (20) barrios in Lipa and three (3) barrios in old Rosario, now the town of Padre Garcia. In 1887, Queen Regent María Cristina of Spain conferred on him the Cross of Isabel La Católica for his pivotal role in the development of the agricultural and industrial wealth of Batangas. On the other hand, Segunda’s maternal grandfather Don Celestino Solís was the richest coffee merchant and a three-time gobernadorcillo of Lipa. His samples of coffee beans won him a silver medal during the Feria Anual de Ganados [Provincial Agricultural Fair] that was held in Lipa in 1869. Solis also participated in the 1867 Universal Exposition in Paris where he exhibited Batangas coffee.
Segunda and Manuel were joined in Holy Matrimony on January 12, 1879. Their union produced 14 children but only 9 survived to mature age namely, Cristeta (married to Guillermo Katigbak), Manuel Jr. (a bachelor), Flora (married to Edilberto Mendoza), Justa (married to Isabelo Katigbak), Arsenio (1m. Amparo Katigbak, 2m. Carmen Albert), Maria Paz (married to Pablo Dimayuga), Valeriano (married to Rosario Dimayuga), Julio (married to Carmen Genato), and Fernando (married to Luz Cabal).
The Luz-Katigbak family originally lived in a house that stood on No. 42 Calle Real (the town’s main thoroughfare). It was described to be a palatial bahay na bato with three stories and one of the grandest houses in town. At the height of the 1898 Revolution, the Filipino revolutionary army occupied this house where they fired upon and attacked the Spanish forces marching to the town of Batangas, the capital of the province. The Luz-Katigbak family lived in this house until 1905. The couple sold their home for P 7,000 ( a big sum of money then) to Doña Germana Solis de Lozada, Segunda’s aunt.
The Luz family later moved to a new home, a 2-story bahay na bato on No. 31 Calle Rizal, previously owned by Manuel’s niece and Segunda’s sister-in-law, Maria Magcawas Luz Vda. de Katigbak. This house is now known as Casa de Segunda. Here, their children and grandchildren got inclined into music and the arts. It was common for them to play several instruments and perform like a small orchestra after dinner. Don Manuel and Doña Segunda spent their last days in this home. Manuel lived up to 84 and passed away on June 27, 1942, while Segunda suffered from a heart attack and died on January 16, 1943.
The National Historical Commission declared Casa de Segunda as a Heritage House in 1996 for being an excellent example of a well-preserved ancestral home, reflecting the genteel lifestyle of the past and for harboring descendants gifted in business, the visual, and performing arts. Today, Casa de Segunda continues to be a well-loved attraction in Lipa, enchanting curious young minds with the allure and romance of a splendid bygone era.
On Rizal and Segunda’s Love Story
Quotations in Spanish transcribed from Chapter 6 of Memorias de Un Estudiante de Manila: Autobiografía Escolar Inédita Del Dr. Jose Rizal Mercado, Durante El Período 1861-1881. Philippines, Impr. C.Hermanos, 1949.
Translations in brackets from Guerrero, Leon Maria. The First Filipino. Philippines, Guerrero Publishing, 2010.
On the Family History of the Katigbak, Solis, and Luz clans
Registros parroquiales, 1778-1958, Catedral de San Sebastián (Lipa City)
Contribución Industrial en Batangas ( 1894-1898), Filipinas Administración de la Hacienda Publica,
National Archives of the Philippines
Concesión de la cruz de la Real Orden de Isabel la Católica al comerciante D. Norberto Catigbac (1887), ULTRAMAR 5257, EXP.3, Sección de Reproducción de Documentos, Archivo Histórico Nacional, Madrid, España
Expediente renuncia que hace Don Norberto Catigbac del cargo de Vocal de la Junta de Agricultura, Industria, y Comercio de Batangas (1889), R.7o/785, National Archives of the Philippines
Relación de las instancias de composición de terrenos que existen en este tribunal municipal de Lipa con nombres de los interesados, fecha de la reclamación, y sitios en que están enclavadas los terrenos.
Composición de Terrenos, Batangas Book 4 Year: 1890-1897 Pages 2297-2298, National Archives of the Philippines
Feria Anual de Ganados en Lipa – Rodríguez Bérriz, Miguel. Diccionario de la administración de Filipinas. Philippines, Estab. tipo-lit. de M. Perez (hijo), 1887
Exposición Universal de 1867: catálogo general de la sección española. France, Imprenta general de Ch. Lahure, 1867.
Notarial records, 1907-1914, Lipa City (Batangas). Notary; Arguelles, Marciano