On the commemoration of the 125th Anniversary of the martyrdom of the national hero Dr Jose Rizal, the Embassy of the Philippines in Canberra held groundbreaking and wreath-laying ceremonies for the Rizal bust installation on the embassy grounds. The occasion was led by H.E. Ma. Hellen B. De La Vega, Philippine Ambassador to Australia and co-hosted by the Knights of Rizal (KOR) Australia, New Zealand and Oceania Region (ANZO) headed by KOR Supreme Auditor Sir Danny Peralta, KGOR and ANZO Regional Commander Sir Cesar Bartolome, KGOR.
The ceremonies were moderated and mastered by KOR Northern Sydney Chapter Commander Sir Bob Alipalo., KCR. The Philippine national flag was raised by the Office of the Defense and Armed Forces Attaché while Kababaihang Rizalista Inc. (KRI) Sydney Chapter Assistant Secretary Lady Jinky Marsh led the singing of the Philippine national anthem. This was followed by the invocation by KOR Canberra Chapter Sir Norman Kalagayan, KCR and welcoming remarks were delivered by the Philippine Embassy Consul General Hon. Alan Caringal.
A Tribute to Rizal was presented by Sir Danny Peralta, KGOR. Mr Rene Cabrera, the Managing Director of San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Corporation and the major sponsor of the Rizal Bust installation delivered his messages to honoured guests and attendees. This was followed by the remarks from Ms Josephine Quintero. a descendant of Rizal’s youngest sister, Soledad Alonso Mercado Realonda Rizal. Ms Quintero called for the reflection on the relevance of Rizal’s life and legacy in today’s age – “Will Dr Jose Rizal be pleased with the Philippines now if he were still alive today?”
An intermission number was given by Lady Jinky Marsh with the singing of her Filipino translation and rendition of Anong Bata Ito?, the Filipino version of the English Christmas song, What Child Is This? by William Chatterton Dix. Anong Bata Ito is a part of Sydney’s first multilingual and intercultural Christmas Album, The Sounds of Christmas from the Asia Pacific which was released in December 2021 and supported by the City of Sydney.
Messages from KRI Sydney Chapter President Lady Michelle Baltazar and HE Ambassador Ma. Hellen de la Vega followed. “This year’s theme is very relevant as we pursue efforts to fight disinformation and promote science-based methods to develop and implement solutions to address the most serious challenges that affect our lives, livelihoods and future.”, the Ambassador said in her remarks. “The theme reminds us of our national hero’s passion and dedication in acquiring new knowledge and empowering himself and others to stand against oppression.”, the Ambassador continued.
Benediction by Canberra parish priest Father Anthony Riosa followed the Ground Breaking Ceremony which was participated by HE Ambassador Ma. Hellen de la Vega, Sir Danny Peralta, Sir Cesar Bartolome, Mr Rene Cabrera and Sir Jun Capili. Re-dedication and recitation of the Knights of Rizal Pledge were led by Sir Cesar Bartolome who likewise closed the ceremony. Wreath laying and flower offering followed suit.
All distinguished guests and attendees were provided with refreshments and lunch meals soon after which were served by Out in Canberra’s People Choice Award for Favorite Asian Restaurant, Lolo and Lola. The Filipino lunch included chicken inasal (grilled chicken marinated in calamansi and annatto oil), atsara (papaya relish), salted egg salad and calamansi (Philippine lime) juice with ensaymada (Filipino sweet pastry) for dessert.