Sisa Basilo and Crispin

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By Fe Zamora
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SAN RAFAEL, Bulacan, Philippines -- For many of this town?s residents, Jose Rizal?s unforgettable fictional characters Sisa, Crispin and Basilio not only existed in his 19th century novel ?Noli Me Tangere,? they actually roamed the streets here. According to local lore, the bloodstains on a wall in the convent of the San Juan de Dios church were actually Crispin?s, Sisa?s youngest son whose disappearance and probable death caused her to lose her mind. The story, told and retold by the older townsfolk, goes like this: The head sacristan had Crispin whipped over some missing cash. The boy?s bloodied body was thrown into a well at the convent, never to be seen by his mother. This supposedly true-to-life account would be immortalized in Rizal?s ?Noli Me Tangere? published in Berlin in 1887. ?Noli Me Tangere? (Touch Me Not) and its sequel, ?El Filibusterismo? (The Reign of Greed), exposed the abuses of the Spanish friars and earned for Rizal the ire of the Spanish authorities. Rizal was executed on Dec. 30, 1896, and his two books are now required reading for Filipino high school and college students. Bloodstained walls

Cory Valero-Vergel de Dios, 71, said she first heard the story from her parents and older relatives. Born in 1936, Vergel de Dios spent many summers offering flowers at the church, often playing at the convent after the traditional Flores de Mayo rituals. She said she and her playmates used to gaze at the bloodstained wall and wander near the well. ?The stains were red and clear,? Vergel de Dios said. Gigi Valderrama, who works at the municipal hall, said she heard the story from her mother, who is now in her 80s. She also heard the story from her grandmother, now deceased. ?It?s just a story,? said Valderrama, who is active in parish activities. Tina, a Manila-based professional in her 20s, heard the tale from her grandparents and described the account as ?vague and sketchy.? Tableau

Nonetheless, the room in...
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