Within the City of Lipa, Batangas lies an ancestral house previously owned by a person close to the heart of the Filipino’s pride, Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Casa de Segunda, built since the 1880s, is the home of Rizal’s first love, Dona Segunda Solis Katigbak (1863-1943).
A day after finishing a pile of work, I thought of taking a stroll at Lipa City to break the monotony. I went to San Sebastian Church, which is dubbed as the Little Rome of the Philippines, then proceeded to Casa de Segunda. I went in without expectations, until I reached for the guest book, and beside it, flipped through the articles about the family and Rizal’s writings about Dona Segunda translated from Spanish.
Dona Segunda’s Background
Dona Segunda was born in 1863 from a prominent family in the town of Lipa. She was the second of seven children of Don Norberto Kalaw Katigbak, a former Gobernadorcillo, and Dona Justa Metra Solis. Dona Segunda was sent to Manila for school like many other children of prominent families of Villa de Lipa.
The Love Story
In Rizal’s Memorias de Un Estudiante de Manila (Memoirs of a Student in Manila) written in 1881, he accounted meeting her in a party in his grandmother’s house in Trozo, Manila in 1877. Segunda was invited by Olympia Rizal, her classmate and sister of Jose Rizal. Back then, Segunda was 14 years old and Rizal just graduated in Ateneo Municipal. He found her “bewitching and alluring” and fell in love with her during their first encounter.
Rizal frequented Segunda in her school, Colegio de la Concordia in Paco, to get to know her better. For about seven months, Rizal showed his affection by giving her flowers, writing her romantic poems and sketching the photograph she gave him. In reciprocation, Segunda gave Rizal a white rose symbolizing his affection towards her. Rizal narrated that their glances indirectly declared an understanding of their romantic feelings for each other.
Sadly, their love story did not have a “happily ever after” ending, which Rizal anticipated to happen from the very beginning. During their first encounter, Segunda was already engaged with her close relative, Manuel Metra Luz, the nephew of her maternal grandmother, Dona Patricia Luz de San Miguel. During those times, it was more acceptable for young women to marry men “within the same social circle in the locality.” The 16-year old maiden married Manuel Luz on January 12, 1879.
The Luz-Katigbak Ancestral House
It was said that Dona Segunda Katigbak and Don Manuel Luz had 13 children but only nine (9) lived. Their bright and gifted children were given the names – Cristeta, Manuel Jr., Flora, Justa, Arsenio, Valeriano, Paz, Julio and Fernando.
The couple built a house which is now known as Casa de Segunda. It was built during the time when Dona Segunda’s family (the Katigbaks) was engaged in a flourishing coffee business. Historical accounts tell that between 1886 to 1888, the town of Lipa exceptionally prospered and became famous as the world’s sole supplier of coffee beans. Based on records, Lipa had an annual income of P4,000,000.00 solely from the coffee industry.
The bahay na bato is one of the long-standing houses in Lipa. It was partly damaged by the Second World War in 1942. Shortly in 1943, Dona Segunda passed away. Dona Segunda’s daughter, Paz Luz Dimayuga, renovated the house in 1956, and the grandchildren of Paz restored it to its original form in 1996.
In the same year, 1996, it was declared a National Heritage House by the National Historical Commission as it echoes “the timeless qualities of Lipa, reminding both residents and visitors alike that those olden days of prosperity need not be a distant memory.”
This two-storey house is taken care of by Dona Segunda’s grand daughter, Mrs. Lilet Dimayuga-Malabanan, whom I met personally during my visit. At present, the house keeps the family’s grand piano and violin, an indication of their love for music. It was said that the couple’s children and grandchildren “played different musical instruments and performed like a small orchestra after dinner.”
The house also exhibits the chessboard which Rizal and Manuel Luz played when the former visited Lipa. Don Manuel donated funds to Rizal in “support to nationalist cause.”
Other Interesting Finds in Casa de Segunda
The Ground Floor
The Upper Floor
Admission fee: P50.00
Address: 198 Rizal St., Lipa, Batangas
How to get there (via commute):
From Dasmarinas City, Cavite
From the van terminal beside Robinsons Pala-pala, ride a van (P60.00) to Calamba City and alight at Turbina. Take a bus or jeepney ride bound to Lipa City (P45.00). You may alight at Shakey’s facing the van terminal and cross the overpass near it. Walk towards McDonald’s and cross the pedestrian lane where the jeepney (P7.00) bound to Lipa Bayan awaits.
At the Bayan, turn to Eastwest bank and walk at Rizal street. Within 5 minutes, you will reach Casa de Segunda.
Excerpt of “The Love Story of Dr. Jose P. Rizal and Senorita Segunda Solis Katigbak” based on Rizal’s First Romance, Segunda Katigbak (1863-1943) written by Ramon Rafael Katigbak-Laygo Dolor