CAMPBELLTOWN CITY, New South Wales, Oct 26 (Mabuhay) — President Benigno S. Aquino III led the unveiling ceremony of the statue of Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal at a park dedicated in his honor on Friday here.
In his brief remarks, President Aquino said the Rizal statue “shows how not only the economic contributions of Filipinos, but also their history and culture, are increasingly being recognized in Australia.”
“This monument, in this park, pays homage to his ideals and will be an enduring pledge that those ideals will continue to guide us, and that Australians will be there, as true friends, in our collective quest for even better lives for our peoples,” he added.
Among those who witnessed the occasion were the Honorable Barry O’Farrell, Premier of the New South Wales; Campbelltown Mayor Sue Dobson; Most Reverend Peter Ingham, Bishop of Wollongong; and Enrique Reyes, great grandson of Rizal’s eldest sister, Saturnina, who now lives in Mudgee, New South Wales.
New South Wales has five Rizal landmarks in Australia including the Rizal Park in Blacktown City, the bust of Rizal at the Plaza Ibero-Americana near the Sydney Central Station, the Rizal Statue in Ashfield Park, the Rizal Park and the Rizal Street in Campbelltown.
President Aquino conveyed his sincerest and deepest appreciation to the Australian Federal Government, the Government of New South Wales under the leadership of Premier O’Farrell, and the Campbelltown City Council for their generous support to this endeavor.
“Not only is this an affirmation of the importance of Filipinos to your national life, it is also a celebration of Australian inclusiveness and diversity,” the President said.
Premier O’Farrell, in his own remarks, said he couldn’t help but see some similarities between the Philippine president and the national hero as he read their respective biographies.
The Premier said President Aquino and Rizal are like “two men driven by social issues facing their countrymen who are determined through peaceful means to deliver change to their country and who understood the power of words.”
It was also the New South Wales chief who called President Aquino a “phenomenon” when they first met at the state luncheon hosted by the former in honor of the visiting Philippine leader last Thursday.
“I’ve never before met a phenomenon. And I know, Mr. President, that the Noynoy phenomenon was (an) incredible force, an incredible force for good in a country where democracy has never been able to be taken for granted in a way that we in this country take democracy for granted,” O’Farrell was quoted as saying.
President Aquino, meanwhile, commended as well the “civic spirit” displayed by the members of the Rizal Park Movement of Campbelltown who were the ones behind the realization of this project.
“I commend all of you for your efforts, and I wish you success on your future plans to further enhance the facilities of the park. Your civic spirit has sparked, in turn, generosity on the part of Filipinos at home,” President Aquino said.
The Rizal statue was donated by world-renowned Filipino sculptor and artist Eduardo Castrillo. It portrays Rizal during his colorful stay in Europe holding a copy of Noli Me Tangere, the first book he penned and published, dressed in a European suit, with his left hand raised in readiness to the approaching storm. (MNS)