Huwebes, Hunyo 9, 2011

Jose Rizal @ 150: A historic celebration of a hero’s 150 years

The year is 2011, and this year marks another milestone in our country’s history. This year, we are celebrating not one, but two momentous events: first, the Philippines’ 113thIndependence Day; the other, Dr. Jose Rizal’s 150th birth anniversary—both of which have played significant roles in our formation of nation and our notion of “independence”.

The activities lined up for this year are testament of how the present government deems the importance of these two occasions, as the activities are year-long and are meant to idealize our national hero, Jose Rizal, as an instrument—the driving force—which made the Filipinos fight for independence from the Spanish colonizers.

The two events are interlaced, interlocking, inter-related, for the birth of Rizal held the future of Filipinos. Jose Rizal was instumental in our gaining of independence from foreign forces. Rizal has gained international acclaim and critical praise for his literary works—“Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo”— that have moved hearts and influnced minds to mass action.

This year’s commemoration of our national hero’s birth anniversary revolves around the theme: “Rizal, Haligi ng Bayan” and the events slated are as rich and as multi-faceted as Dr. Rizal himself.
The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) has organized a series of activities in remembrance of our national hero, which will start on June 19 with simultaneous flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremonies in Laguna, Manila, and Dapitan City. On the same day, there will be an unveiling of the Jose Rizal Monument in the Calamba City Hall in Laguna, followed by the launching of “Rock Rizal” album, still in Calamba City Hall.
Dr. Jose Rizal has been formed and influenced by ideologies from the West, and various universities run by Spaniards have played a big role in Rizal’s education. This year, a number of conferences have been slated in universities where Rizal was educated. The University of Santo Tomas (UST) for one has organized a three-day conference named “Rizal: Malay, Diwa, Puso at Buhay. Balik Tanaw: Si Rizal sa Kanyang Panahon” (July 7). Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) will also have a conference on “Issues and Perspectives: The Teachings of Rizal in the Present” (July 8). Colegio de San Juan de Letran will hold “Rizal Reborn: Honoring, Understanding, and Living Rizal as Filipino” on July 9. Other institutions like Holy Angel University in Pampanga and Silliman University in Negros Oriental will likewise hold conferences on Rizal.
Exhibits will also be another hallmark of this year’s Rizal @ 150 celebration. Photo, stamps, and other memorabilia of Rizal will be shown in different venues in Luzon, while commemorative items will also be made available this year. The unveiling of “Rizal@150 commemorative stamps will take place on June 19 at the Rizal Shrine in Calamba, and the book “Ferdinand Blumentritt: An Austrian Life for the Philippines” by Harry Sichrowvsky will be relaunched on June 28 at the Rizal Shrine Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila.
Rizal’s restored original manuscripts under the custody of the National Library of the Philippines will also be witnessed during the celebration.
Filipinos around the world wouldn’t want to miss this historic event in our history as Philippine embassies abroad, foreign institutions, and individual Filipinos have also prepared various activities like exhibits; shows like kundiman, sarswela, and operas; conferences, lectures, and seminars; contests; etc. in different countries like the U.S, Autralia, Middle East, and Europe.
Finally and closing activity of the celebration would be the Rizal Awards which honors individuals and institutions that have contributed in the growth of the country while embodying the ideals of our national hero specifically love of country, fullfilment of the duties of a Filipino, professional competence, and integrity.
This year’s commemoration of Rizal’s 150 years calls for unity among all Filipinos. The NHCP and the Philippine government, academic institutions, private entities, and all Filipinos are one in this historic celebration of a leader, a motivator, a hero, a FILIPINO.

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