In celebration of the 161st anniversary of Philippine national hero Dr Jose Rizal, the Australian, New Zealand and Oceania (ANZO) Region of the Order of the Knights of Rizal (KOR) held its second assembly from 24 to 26 June 2022. The three-day regional assembly which had its first in November 2018 has achieved new historical milestones with the establishment of new KOR chapters within the region, the expansion of membership, advancement in the rank of the individual knights, recognition of meritorious services of dedicated members of the Order, expansion of its counterpart organisation, Kababaihang Rizalista Inc. (KRI) in Canberra and primarily, the installation of the bronze life-sized bust of Rizal on the grounds of the Philippine Embassy in Canberra Australian Capital Region (ACT).
The momentous occasion was spearheaded by the former ANZO Regional Commander Sir Cesar Bartolome, KGOR who is currently the Philippine Community Council NSW President and Sir Danilo Peralta, KGOR Supreme Auditor of the KOR Supreme Council who is formerly the Area Commander of the Eastern Australia ANZO Region, Commander of Sydney Chapter and founding President of the Tagalog Association of Australia. It was attended and led by Sir Raymundo Del Rosario, KGOR, Deputy Supreme Commander of the KOR Supreme Council who is also the incumbent Vice Mayor and 3-time former Mayor of the Municipality of Tanza, Cavite.
The erection of the Rizal bust in the ACT was the first in the state. The bronze sculpture is a work of renowned Filipino sculptor Juan Sajid Imao sponsored mainly by the My Redeemers Live Inc. and San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Corporation.
“For many years, Philippine Ambassadors in Australia had to travel to New South Wales to commemorate the life, works and death of Jose Rizal. And so I welcomed the proposal from Sir Danny and Sir Cesar Bartolome to build a Rizal bust in Canberra, not only to save me from the long drive to Blacktown and Campbelltown but more importantly to ensure that our national hero, a man who is highly regarded not only in the Philippines but in many foreign lands, has a place of honor in this Embassy. When people come to visit the Embassy, in particular our Australian guests, it is my hope that they will come to know Jose Rizal and be interested to learn more about this man, one of the world’s earliest advocates of many of today’s buzz words including peaceful reform, inclusion, fairness and social justice.”, HE Ambassador Lady Maria Hellen Barber De La Vega noted in her speech.
“Canberra is the capital city of Australia so it is very appropriate to have the Rizal bust installed in ACT. The day of the installation of Rizal bust on embassy grounds was a memorable moment as it coincided with the chartering of KRI Canberra Chapter which is the counterpart organisation of KOR. The idea of forming KRI came from the Supreme Commander of KOR.” Sir Ralph Posadas, KCR ANZO Regional Commander explained.
The leadership of the KRI Canberra Chapter was entrusted to Lady Marlene Agmata Tucker with Lady Cecilia Flores as the Vice President. “May the sculpture be a living reminder that is not how long we have lived in this world but how productive and meaningful we live our lives that truly matters. Dr Jose Rizal lived for only 35 years from 1861-1896. But it was a life that continuous to inspire millions of people even a century after. Dr Jose Rizal was a progressive thinker and doer. He applied his knowledge and superior intelligence to improve the lives of people in his community. The values that Dr Jose Rizal held dear are values relevant to this day. I firmly believe that KRI Canberra can be an effective vehicle in propagating the values embodied by the national hero.”, Lady Tucker highlighted in her inaugural message as President of the KRI Canberra Chapter. Lady Flores closed her vote of thanks and appreciation quoting Rizal “It is a useless life that is not consecrated to a great ideal. It is like a stone wasted on the field without becoming a part of any edifice.”
The regional assembly also included a charter presentation to the newly created chapters, the Australian Entrepreneur Chapter led by Sir Jun Capili, KCR and the Southern Sydney Chapter led by Sir Jeoffrey Mendoza, KCR. Rizal historian, Dr Floro Quibuyen, KCR PhD conducted a lecture on fulfilling Rizal’s project, rediscovering our heritage and enriching the world and ourselves. In recognition of the Rizal Park in Rosemeadow, Cambelltown, service medals, MOR medals and Lifetime Medal were given to Campbelltown Councilor Rey Manoto, Sir Max Lopez, KCR and Lady Lourdes Navarro Sabellano Kaiser, KRI Sydney Chapter. A Commemorative Tree Planting Ceremony was also held at the same park on the last day of the assembly which was led by Sir Raymundo Del Rosario, KGOR, Deputy Supreme Commander of the KOR Supreme Council. Campbelltown Councilor Rey Manoto represented His Worship George Greiss, City Mayor of Cambelltown. “If we can all follow the ideals and teachings of my Lolo Jose Rizal sincerely and wholeheartedly, I really think Philippines would be a greater country with great leaders and great people,” Ms Josephine Quintero, the great grand niece of Rizal (under Soledad’s lineage, youngest sister of Rizal) noted.