Love is never sorry immortalizing a friend

Community Opinion & Analysis Jan 10, 2014 at 4:50 pm
DR. JOSE RIZAL, Filipino national hero

DR. JOSE RIZAL, Filipino national hero

Believe Me Or Not!

By Jose Sison Luzadas, KGOR

A news feature that appeared in the July 9, 2013 issue of Canada’s Toronto Star was about the newly appointed Governor General, David Johnston then president of University of Waterloo. He has an exciting life to tell starting from his student days at Harvard where he was captain of Harvard Crimson Hockey team and to which he was later inducted to Harvard version of Hockey Hall of Fame.

Among early notable hockey players of Harvard Crimson is the future author, Erich Segal whose book was made into film that brought greater fame to Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal. Andy Williams took care of the theme song, “Where Do I Begin?” a song you will still remember if you have watched the movie, “Love Story.”

In some ways, the ex president of University of Waterloo and Erich Segal were never ‘strangers.’ Both loved playing hockey while at Harvard . Both have been resident in the same dormitory. That was when Segal was teaching at Harvard and Johnston was working for his BA. The author’s disclaimer in the novel says that story to which the film was based is pure fiction and the characters, the product of the author’s imagination that any resemblance to real life is “entirely coincidental.

CRISOSTOMO IBARRA, main character in Rizal’s Noli

CRISOSTOMO IBARRA, main character in Rizal’s Noli

Not so says feature writer Jim Rankin. The recently appointed Governor General of Canada was the inspired character of Erich Segal’s “Love Story”!

NOW stretch your imagination to the Philippine setting. Fast rewind on the time when Dr Jose Rizal was gathering his materials to write NOLI ME TANGERE. One story says, he has a classmate and friend he met at the Ateneo Municipal who came from a rich family in Dagupan. It was this gentleman from Pangasinan who introduced his lovely cousin, Leonor Rivera from Camiling, Tarlac.

Like many problems experienced in many love stories, Rizal and Leonor tried their best to keep their relationship intact but failed . In the end,Leonor married an English railroad engineer while Rizal took an Irish lass for a wife.

ERICH SEGAL, author of “Love Story”

ERICH SEGAL, author of “Love Story”

Erich Segal did to perpetuate the persona of Davey Johnston choosing an inspired character to play Oliver Barrett IV, a rich kid taking up law who fell in love with Jenny Cavillierri, a working class girl enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts course.

If you watched the movie you could be one in the audience with teary eyes as Jenny died in this weepy “Love Story.”

In the case of our national hero, he was an Ateneo boy who has a rich classmate named Villamil who introduced his cousin Leonor Rivera. Villamil was so “special” that Rizal immortalized him. To Filipinos, it was a classic case of “Utang na luob”. Where else can Rizal repay his debt but to make Villamil remembered by everyone who reds his NOLI!

DAVID JOHNSTON, Canada’s Governor General

DAVID JOHNSTON, Canada’s Governor General

So the Juan Crisostomo Villamil in real life is the fiction character, Juan Crisostomo Ibarra we met in “Noli me Tangere”!

QUESTION: What song of Dionne Warwick can best describe Rizal’s “utang na luob” to Villamil?

ANSWER: “That’s What Friends Are For.”