Filipinos across Canada honour national hero on Jose Rizal Day

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Jose Rizal

Rizal Day is a national holiday in the Philippines. It commemorates the life of Jose Rizal, one of the Philippines’ most highly respected national heroes.

Rizal Day is celebrated on the 30th of December every year to mark the anniversary of his execution in 1896.

Rizal Day was first established in 1898 after a presidential decree issued by Philippine President Emilio Aguinaldo.

Aguinaldo declared December 30 as a day of national mourning for Rizal, who died by firing squad two years earlier.

After the US victory in the Spanish American War, Governor General William Howard Taft recognized Rizal as a national hero, paving the way for the Philippine Commission to establish December 30 as a public holiday.

In 1948, Philippine President Elpidio Quirino signed Republic Act 229 into law, prohibiting entertainment such as cockfights, horse racing and jai-alai on Rizal Day.

This was to encourage Filipinos to respect the solemnity of the day. The law also required that all Philippine flags be flown at half-mast throughout the country.

Ceremonies for Rizal Day are held at Rizal Park in the capital city of Manila.

Flag raising ceremonies are led by the Philippine President and the Philippine Vice President, followed by a wreath laying ceremony at the Rizal Monument.

The Philippine Airforce conducts a flyby over the monument during Rizal Day ceremonies.

Smaller Rizal Day ceremonies are held throughout the country, organized by city and municipal governments.

Starting in 1936, Rizal Day has become Inauguration Day for newly elected Philippine presidents. This lasted until 1973, when Inauguration Day was moved to June 30.

Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon declared Tagalog as the official national language on December 30, 1937.

During Rizal Day ceremonies in 1942, Philippine President Jose P. Laurel recited Rizal’s poem Mi Ultimo Adios in Japanese.

On the 100th year anniversary of Rizal’s execution, the Philippine Government hosted a program that included a reenactment of Rizal walking the steps of his jail cell in nearby Fort Santiago to the execution site.

Islamic terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah carried out a bombing campaign that killed 22 people and injured an additional 100 across Metro Manila.

Different Filipino community groups mark Rizal Day in simple ceremonies across Canada, often with the participation of officials from the Philippine Embassy and Philippine Consulate Generals.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, most public gatherings, including Rizal Day ceremonies at monuments across Canada, have been cancelled.

Alberta get a new statue of Jose Rizal

Nose Creek Regional Park in Airdrie, Alberta will soon be home to another statue of Dr. Jose Rizal. The statue will cost an equivalent of PhP665,987.11.

The growing Filipino community in Canada has already erected a number of statues of the Filipino national hero.

The Philippine Consulate General in Calgary will be donating the statue to the Aridie City Council. The statue will be placed at Nose Creek National Park. During the summer, the Filipino community gathers in the park to celebrate Philippine Independence Day and Filipino Heritage Month.

Rizal played a leading role in the Philippines’ struggle for independence from Spain. He was put to death by firing squad in 1896. Rizal was just 35 years old.

His death inspired Filipinos to successfully fight for their independence after more than 300 years of Spanish colonial rule.

Consul General Zaldy Patron told Airdrie Today that Rizal was considered among the greatest of Filipino heroes. He was a renaissance, and ahead of his time.”

Patron also told Airdrie Today that Rizal spoke multiple languages and was an ophthalmologist by training. He wrote two novels, which are required reading in schools in the Philippines.

Airdrie is home to more than 1,500 Filipinos.

Airdrie is only 30 kms north of Calgary, which has a growing Filipino community of more than 75,000.

The statue would be the first to be erected in honour of Dr. Jose Rizal in the province of Alberta. It is projected to cost up to CAD$18,000.00 (approximately PhP665,987.11).

Alberta is home to more than 175,000 Filipinos.

Airdrie Councillor Candice Kolson said that the city would be honoured to have the statue.

“It struck me as something our city could really embrace,” Kolson said. “It could really be a focal point and help us grow on what we already have there.”

The statue is scheduled to be unveiled on August 2021.


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