Dolores Blumentritt’s PH-subsidized wedding
Two years ago, thanks to former Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Jaroslav Olsa and the Czech tourism office in Korea, I was given two weeks to visit that postcard-pretty country to retrace the footsteps of Rizal, who visited the little town of Litomerice in 1887, with his friend Maximo Viola, before returning to the Philippines as a newly minted physician, with specialization in ophthalmology. Unfortunately, Rizal was also the author of the controversial “Noli me tangere,” which made him a marked man and prompted his second departure for Europe in 1888.
Unlike tourists following a Rizal route through Prague, Brno and Litomerice, I spent two full days in the Cesky Budejovice State Archives where the papers of Ferdinand Blumentritt are preserved. The first things I looked for were the documents that the Blumentritt family did not include in the sale to the prewar National Library of the Philippines. This included a Rizal self-portrait, a handful of original sketches and a heart-wrenching farewell, written shortly before his execution in December 1896, that opens with the line: “Dear brother, by the time you receive this I shall be dead … ” There are autographed copies of the “Noli,” “Fili” and “Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas” and some sketches by Juan Luna who also visited Litomerice in 1899.
Of interest to me were the three Blumentritt children, whose personalities were analyzed by Rizal in a letter to their father from January 1895:
“I heartily felicitate Fritz. It seems to me that he will have the same talent and the same love for study as his father, though in another line. But my most ardent desire is that he may have the same warm, faithful, and sane heart as his father has … Kurt perhaps has inherited from his father his literary ability; hence his liveliness, that fire, that ardor so characteristic of the polemical works of Pisaflores. Loleng is a German through and through; when she signs, she signs in German. She remains faithful to her German nationality, the better! The German woman does not need to copy from anyone.”
Loleng is Dolores, sometimes misidentified as one of the “Rizal girlfriends.” Born on June 24, 1880, Loleng was 7 when Rizal visited Litomerice; she was 15 when Rizal thoughtfully sent her a package of fresh sampaguita blooms that the ignorant thought was a romantic gesture. Loleng married a certain Dr. Pickert and bore two children: Harald (born 1901) and Irmtaud (born 1904); she was widowed in 1940 and died on Oct. 24, 1960, at 80.
In the Blumentritt papers is a curious document of the First Philippine Republic under the name of Emilio Aguinaldo, paying for Loleng’s wedding. Translated from the original Spanish, it says:
“Don Felipe Agoncillo y Encarnacion, plenipotentiary of the government of the Philippine Republic to Foreign Governments, etc.
“This is to certify that: In consideration of the eminent and disinterested services that the wise professor Don Fernando Blumentritt has until now rendered to the sacred and legitimate rights of the Filipino Nation, the Honorable president of the Republica Filipina, Don Emilio Aguinaldo has seen fit to offer, as proof of the gratitude to him, to his only and beloved daughter, Señorita Doña Dolores Blumentritt, because of her coming wedding to the Dr. [Karl] Pickert, a certain amount whose interest on investment will be disbursed as follows:
“First, with this express amount, to acquire the wedding gown of Señorita Dolores Blumentritt, the furniture and home furnishings for three rooms in the house the future couple will live in. If Professor and Mrs. Blumentritt have already acquired these for the couple we shall refund their expenses or pay for any bills or debts contracted for this purpose. Second, with the same funds so donated, will be used to pay for church fees, vehicle rentals, wedding banquet, wedding proper, wedding rings and other related expenses. Third, the balance of the fund, after all the above expenses have been deducted, will be entrusted to the same Señorita Dolores Blumentritt on the day of her wedding, in cash or in bank drafts with the corresponding amounts.”
Signed and dated by Felipe Agoncillo in Paris on Jan. 12, 1900, the document represents an unusual expense for the First Republic that the strict 21st-century Commission on Audit would surely disallow.
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