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María Clara

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Title: María Clara  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: María Clara gown, Wanjiku, Allegory of Hispania, Sexuality in the Philippines, Kartvlis Deda
Collection: Noli Me Tangere (Novel) Characters
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

María Clara

María Clara
Noli Me Tángere character
Created by José Rizal
Gender Female
Occupation Monastic
Family Father Dámaso (father)
Doña Pia Alba (mother)
Significant other(s) Juan Crisóstomo Ibarra y Magsalin (fiancé)
Relatives Capt. Santiago de los Santos (stepfather)
Isabel (step-aunt)
Religion Catholic
Nationality Filipino
A crayon sketch of Leonor Rivera, the basis of the "María Clara" character in José Rizal's Noli Me Tángere.

María Clara, whose full name is María Clara de los Santos, is the mestiza heroine in Noli Me Tángere, a novel by José Rizal, the national hero of the Republic of the Philippines. Her name and character has since become a byword in Filipino culture for the traditional, feminine ideal.

María Clara is the childhood sweetheart and fiancée of Noli Me Tángere '​s hero, Juan Crisóstomo Ibarra y Magsalin, the son of Don Rafael Ibarra. Although raised as the daughter of Captain Santiago "Kapitán Tiyago" de los Santos and his wife Doña Pía Alba, who are both native Filipinos. María Clara is in fact the illegitimate offspring of Padre Dámaso, a Spanish friar, and Doña Pia, whom he coerced into sexual relations.

Dámaso is made the girl's godfather; Doña Pia had died giving birth to Mariá Clara. Kapitán Tiyago's cousin, Tía Isabél, then came to be the dominant maternal figure in her life. As her lover Crisóstomo Ibarra was travelling in Europe, Kapitan Tiyago sent María Clara to the Beaterio de Santa Clara, a convent school where she cultivated femininity under religion. Later in the novel, María Clara discovers the truth that Father Damaso is her biological father.


  • Description 1
  • Basis and adaptation 2
  • María Clara's song by José Rizal 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


In the novel, María Clara is regarded as the most beautiful and widely celebrated lady in the town of San Diego. A devout Catholic, she became the epitome of virtue, "demure and self-effacing" and endowed with beauty, grace and charm, and promoted by Rizal as the "ideal image"[1] of a Filipino woman who deserves to be placed on the "pedestal of male honour". In Chapter 5 of Noli Me Tángere, María Clara and her traits were further described by Rizal as an "Oriental decoration" with "downcast" eyes and a "pure soul".[2]

Basis and adaptation

Rizal based the fictional character of María Clara from his real-life girlfriend and cousin, Leonor Rivera. Although praised and idolised, María Clara's chaste, "masochistic" and "easily fainting" character had also been denounced as the "greatest misfortune that has befallen the Filipina in the last one hundred years".[1][3] In Filipino fashion, María Clara's name has become the eponym for a multi-piece ensemble known as the María Clara gown, emulating the character's traits of being delicate, feminine, self-assured and with a sense of identity.[4]

María Clara's song by José Rizal

Sweet the hours in the native country,
where friendly shines the sun above!
Life is the breeze that sweeps the meadows;
tranquil is death; most tender, love.
Warm kisses on the lips are playing
as we awake to mother's face:
the arms are seeking to embrace her,
the eyes are smiling as they gaze.
How sweet to die for the native country,
where friendly shines the sun above!
Death is the breeze for him who has
no country, no mother, and no love!

See also


  1. ^ a b Vartti, Riitta (editor). Preface to the Finnish anthology Tulikärpänen - filippiiniläisiä novelleja (Firefly - Filipino Short Stories), Kääntöpiiri: Helsinki, Finland 2001/2007
  2. ^ Yoder, Robert L. Philippine Heroines of the Revolution: Maria Clara they were not,, July 16, 1998
  3. ^ The History of Filipino Women's Writings, an article from Firefly – Filipino Short Stories (Tulikärpänen – filippiiniläisiä novelleja), 2001 / 2007, retrieved on: April 2, 2010
  4. ^ Moreno, Jose "Pitoy". Costume at the Fin de Siecle – Maria Clara, Philippine Costume,

External links

  • Description of María Clara at
  • Full text in Tagalog ("Ang Awit ni Maria Clara")
  • Full text in Spanish ("Canto de Maria")
  • Full text in English ("The Song of Maria Clara")
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