Manila Love Passage Ring
Manila Love Passage Ring
Era - Victorian c 1890
Materials - One Emerald (1.30ct) & Two Old European cut Diamonds (2.62tcw SI/H) in 14k Yellow Gold
Size - 6 with Horseshoe ring guard fitting a size 5.25. Resizeable
Manila, Philippine Islands, Apr. 21, 1900
Archbishop Bernardino Nozaleda leaned against a window, peering out from the imposing building sat in the center of the restless city. For 350 years the Spanish had laid claim to these rich, fertile lands until ceding it to the Americans mere months earlier. ‘Let them have it’ he sniffs, shifting on his feet as the thick smoke from his cigar wafts to his nostrils. The Indigenous Filipinos refused to bow to the will of the Catholic Church, even after the execution of their beloved poet, José Rizal. At the recollection of that name, Nozaleda shivered underneath heavy wool robes, despite the stifling heat.
He was broken from his reverie at the pounding at his door, announcing visitors. Gesturing to his attendant wordlessly, the boy ran across the hall, swinging open the heavy wood. The tall, lean figure of 33yr old Fred W. Sladen filled the doorway. In the crisp dark greens of his Army uniform, the young American Captain cut a figure of confidence and bravado. And indeed, although his heels clipped loudly on the stone, Sladen was floating; on a mission of the heart.
With cheeks flushed above a blonde mustache, Cpt Sladen reached within his breast pocket and retrieved a small pink box edged in gold. “For my Elizabeth”, he said, smiling softly and then remembering the language barrier, repeated it to the interpreter who had accompanied him. “Major General Otis will have the instructions to deliver to my sweetheart in New York. We are meant to be married by now but…” the sound of keys on a typewriter rang sharply in the large room as a receipt was struck in paper. With a flourish, the Interpreter ripped it free, reading aloud to both men before he signed and handed the inked pen to the Captain. Their business thus concluded, Sladen placed his lips to the box one more time, wishing the ring inside safe passage until it reached the woman he loved, 8498 miles away.
Epilogue: Archbishop Nozaleda resigned his post in Manila and traveled back to his Motherland of Spain. As an avid writer in his journal, I was captivated by his arrogance and self-idolization; by all accounts, Nozaleda expected to be welcomed back and treated like royalty. But word of how he had treated the indigenous Filipinos had traveled, compiled with the governments disdain for his role in convincing Spain to cede control to the Americans. Shunned from his own country, the last Spanish Archbishop of Manila retired to a post in rural Rome where he died October 12, 1927.
Fred Sladen did indeed reunite with his sweetheart, marrying Elizabeth Lefferts in 1903 at the Church of the Holy Incarnation on Madison Avenue, NYC. They had two children and Sladen went on to serve a life dedicated to the military with an astounding record of awards for bravery during his tenure, including that of rescuing fallen soldiers through machine gun fire in WWI. He died with the rank of major general at the age of 78. His son went on to carry his legacy through the battles of WWII.
A rare opportunity to own a historical and directly documented moment of love.