Dr. Jose Rizal: Quintessential Filipino
By Consul Jesusa Susana Paez
(Speech delivered at the 117th anniversary commemoration by the Knights of Rizal (Canada) in Toronto on December 30, 2013 at Earl Bales Park social hall)
Sir Poblete, Sir Claguio, Sir Alpuerta, Sir Marasigan, Lady Rose Cruz, Lady Odette Virey, Lady Ason Ramos, Lady Pilipinas Perez, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, Magandang gabi pos a inyong lahat!
First of all, I wish to thank the Order of the Knights of Rizal Canada Region for inviting the Philippine Consulate General to join you in commemorating the 117th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Philippines’ national hero, the “Quintessential Filipino” — Dr. Jose Rizal.
All over the world, Filipinos celebrate the life and legacy of Jose Rizal. Monuments of Dr. Rizal may be found in many countries honoring this Renaissance man. His works are featured in libraries the world over. We, in the foreign service know firsthand how the world looks up to Jose Rizal.
Dr. Rizal said, “To foretell the destiny of a nation, it is necessary to open the book that tells of her past.” Let us, therefore, take this opportunity to remind ourselves about the teachings of this great man. His words held true then as they do today.
In Noli Me Tangere, there was an exchange between Laruja and Ibarra. Ibarra informed Laruja that he has been away from the Philippines for almost seven years to which Laruja replied, “Then you have probably forgotten all about it.” Ibarra said, “Quite the contrary. Even if my country does seem to have forgotten me, I have always thought about it.”
The spontaneous and overwhelming response of Filipino communities worldwide, augmented by the assistance extended by our friends and allies abroad, to those affected by Typhoon Haiyan is proof of this. It shows that the love for our beloved country and our brethren is not diminished by time neither is it dwindled by distance. Filipinos everywhere inherently realize that they will always remain inextricably linked to the country from whence they came. It is who they are. It is who we are. And we will always heed its call when it hearkens.
We heed its call when it needs our help like in the case of Typhoon Haiyan. We heed its call when, in the words of Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, we “channel back to the Philippines the positive outcome of our experiences in other countries to enhance and invigorate the vast political, economic, and socio-cultural platforms of the country.”
As Dr. Rizal has taught us, we all have a stake and share in the molding of our country’s destiny. Let us continue to heed its call.
Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!
Mabuhay ang Pilipino!