A Celebration Of Patriotic Values
The unveiling ceremonies of the eight foot tall bronze statue of the National Hero of the Republic of the Philippines, Dr. Jose Protacio Rizal, held at the new park of the City of Carson, called Carson International Sculpture Garden, on last Saturday, September 29, 2012, was a momentous source of pride for the Filipino community, and, rightly so, an occasion that is true to the theme of the event: ”Awaken The Hero In Us”. Clearly, this was a celebration of patriotic values. The icon was a youngish and happy looking Rizal, and when it was bared, the poignancy of the moment simply tugged at the heart. At that instance, I was a proud old Filipino.
The City of Carson rolled out the red carpet and its officials, City Mayor Jim Dear and senior Councilman Elito Macapagal Santarina, to name a few, were on hand to welcome the crowd, very largely made up of patriotic Filipinos, and led the ceremonies, with an array of political speakers (two members of the House of Representatives, U.S. Congress, took turns in praising the life and ideals of the hero). Mayor Dear spoke of the influence of the political philosophy of Rizal on other international heroes, like Gandhi and Nehru of India, Ataturk of Turkey and Nelson Mandela of South Africa. However, the most informative treatise of the occasion, delivered in an almost perfect oratory, was provided by Hon. Maria Sereno Diokno, Chairperson of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines. She averred that Rizal’s poem, “Mi Ultimo Adios”, served as the springboard that led to the discussion of the subject of independence when it was recited by a U.S. Congressman from Wisconsin on the floor of the House of Representatives, Representative Henry Cooper, in 1902 during the discussion of the Philippine Organic Act of 1902, which provided autonomy to local governments and to be run by Filipinos who will be trained in the intricacies of self-rule and eventual independence. The congressman argued that a nation who had produced the poet, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, deserved to be free and sovereign. Rightly so.
Let us remember that the statue of Rizal was conceived in 2004 by Chito Mandap, and became his object of fundraising when he became chairman of the Kalayaan Committee of that year and raised $28,000.00. That money served as his seed to raise some more, as he knew that the amount would not be enough for an 8 foot bronze statue done by a known Filipino sculptor. He wanted to give something of real worth to his kababayan, and so he created the Jose. P. Rizal Memorial Movement, registered it with the state and secured a 501 (c)-3 from the IRS. From there on, he fundraised some more money till he had enough. The statue was finished in 2006 and kept in a warehouse in the Philippines. From 2006 to the present, Mr. Mandap had been scouring the Los Angeles area, until he found a welcoming hand from the City of Carson. The Rizal Monument finally has a home, and what a journey. Mr. Chito Mandap and the members of the Jose P. Rizal Memorial Movement deserve credit for this great service to the motherland. May your tribe increase!
I cannot help but mention certain bloopers in the program. First, the general programme did not mention any date and time of the unveiling ceremony, The male emcee was not at all knowledgeable about Rizal, claiming that the “Mi Ultimo Adios” was written in Europe and was not sure of the date and time of the execution. Any elementary school graduate in the Philippines could tell you that the poem was written in Rizal’s cell in Fort Santiago on the eve of his execution the following morning. The 2 Regional Commanders of the Order of the Knights of Rizal, Sir Tom D. Rodrguez, KGOR of Arizona and Sir Eddie A. Limon of Florida noticed these mistakes and some more, like there was no marking or banner of the Order to indicate their participation
of this historical Rizal event. I told them the Los Angeles Chapter was not even invited by the Jose P. Rizal Memorial Movement and Chito Mandap for that matter, to think that he is the IPCC of Los Angeles Chapter. They also questioned what has the Knights of Columbus got to do with Rizal that they are serving as the guards of honor, when there are a lot of Knights of Rizal around. To top it all, the guy who recited the “Mi Ultimo Adios” did a great disservice to the memory of the poet, instead of delivering it in a somber tone, he was screaming and yelling at the top of his voice. Lastly, a keynote speaker is for conferences, conventions, and the likes, not on ceremonial events.
In my last column, I asked Mr. Chito Mandap several questions pertaining to his fundraising projects in connection with the muchneeded fund for the Rizal monument. I learned that he has promised certain people that he will submit a financial statement detailing all expenses incurred. Well and good. The financial statement will serve to strengthen his credibility, honesty, and leadership. I hope PinoyWatchDog.com gets a copy, too.