The great grandson of Dr. Jose Rizal with the Campbelltown City Council officials. RPMC EXECOMM
and members: (l-r) Dante Maribay Damayan Association of Perth, Western Australia and Silver
Benefactor in the Statue’s concrete pedestal, Cora Michel, Campbelltown City Council General
Manager Paul Tosi, Lourdes Kaiser, Francisco Garcia, Josefina Bonto, Mr. Enrique Reyes,
Connie Ramsey, City Council’s Executive Services Manager Nicholas Smolonogov, Rey Manoto,
Ross Santos and Renee Estrella.
At the Registration - (l-r): Marie Zawadka, (l-r) Lourdes with Brother in law John Michel and
Henry Zawadka and Loy Soriano sister Cora Michel
Campbelltown, Australia, October 26, 2012 - Excerpts from the Remarks of His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III President of the Philippines At the unveiling ceremony of the statue of Dr. Jose Rizal in Campbelltown City, Australia
[Delivered at Rizal Park, Campbelltown City, Australia, on October 26, 2012]
Honorable Barry O’Farrell, Premier of New South Wales; Honorable Sue Dobson, Mayor of Campbelltown City; Secretary Albert del Rosario; Ambassador Belen Anota; secretaries Cesar Purisima, Procy Alcala, Voltair Gazmin, Gregory Domingo, Arci Balisacan, and Ricky Carandang; Consul General Anne Jalando-on Louis; General Manager Paul Tosi; the Most Reverend Peter Ingham, Bishop of Wollongong; Father Christopher Sarkis; Honorable Consuls General of Thailand and Vietnam; Mr. Rey Manoto; Mr. Enrique Reyes; honored guests; mga minamahal ko pong kababayan:
Everywhere I have gone on this visit, there have been affirmations of the deepening ties between the Philippines and Australia. Today, here in Campbelltown, we unveil a powerful symbol of this new chapter in an old friendship.
This statue of our national hero Jose Rizal shows how not only the economic contributions of Filipinos, but also their history and culture, are increasingly being recognized in Australia. It is therefore fitting and deeply meaningful that this historic occasion is being witnessed by a representative of the Rizal [Mercado] family in the person of Mr. Enrique Reyes, great-grandson of Saturnina Realonda Rizal, Jose Rizal’s eldest sister. Mr. Reyes now lives and resides in Mudgee—I hope I said that correctly; I may not be welcome in New South Wales after this.
Just as Australia has embraced one of the Rizals, so has your nation embraced our national hero. And no place has taken Rizal closer to her heart than New South Wales. It is truly impressive that five of the six Rizal landmarks in Australia are in the State of New South Wales: from the Rizal Park in Blacktown City, to the bust of Rizal at the Plaza Ibero-Americana near the Sydney Central Station, and the Rizal Statue in Ashfield Park. In Campbelltown alone, there are two landmarks in honor of our national hero: there is a Rizal Street and this Rizal Park. It is only proper that I convey our sincerest and deepest appreciation to the Australian Federal Government; the Government of New South Wales under the leadership of Premier Barry O’Farrell, and the Campbelltown City Council for their generous support to this Rizal Park project. 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.
At the core of today’s event is the civic spirit displayed by the Rizal Park Movement of Campbelltown. With the support of various groups, as well as associations and individuals here in Australia and in the Philippines, the Movement has worked hard with the Campbelltown City Council to translate this Park’s 2008 master plan into reality. 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. This statue of Rizal, I understand, was donated by world-renowned Filipino sculptor and artist Eduardo Castrillo. Mr. Castrillo depicts Rizal as he looked during his stay in Europe where he took advanced studies in ophthalmology, became an advocate of his countrymen, and an advisor to the men and women of his era who aspired to build a free and prosperous country.
The world of Jose Rizal was one in which the peoples of our part of the world could only dream of self-government. In the generations that have passed since Rizal, Filipinos and Australians alike have come to enjoy both the blessings and the promise of democracy. Democracy where the people themselves can chart their own destiny, and seek the prosperity, stability, and peace they fully deserve.
Part of this process has been the discovery that a national community can derive strength and vibrancy from being brave enough not to be slaves to the past, and instead, take the leap of faith required to build a society that embraces diversity.
Your solidarity with us brings to mind the words of Jose Rizal. Writing from London on February 22, 1889, he gave advice to the Women of Malolos, in Bulacan Province, on the requirements of good citizenship. In his letter, he said, “An example is the father who gave each of his sons a lamp to light his way in the darkness. Let them intensify its flame, take care of it, not extinguish it to depend on the light of others, but to help one another, seek each other’s counsel in the search of the way.”
Rizal’s life and his eventual martyrdom soared as the light—the ultimate symbol that pulled the people together and inspired us to right an oppressive system toward eventual freedom from colonial rule. His sacrifice embodied the power of one—a power that illuminated an entire race. It strengthened our forefathers’ belief that so long as every Filipino was unwavering in his or her sense of self-worth, hope of better times ahead would not only endure but more importantly it would come to be realized.
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.
Thank you and good day.”
NSW PREMIER BARRY O’FARELL’S REMARKS AT THE STATE LUNCHEON- PARLIAMENT HOUSE - A State Luncheon was hosted by the Honourable Barry O’Farell MP Premier of New South Wales in honour of His Excellency Bengno S. Aquino III President of the Republic of the Philippines on 25 October 2012 in which the writer was in attendance.
“It is an honour to welcome His Excellency President Benigno Aquino, I welcome my parliamentary colleagues, I welcome your delegation, in particular the Ambassador, can I acknowledge that this is a bi-partisan function and recognise the leader of the opposition in parliament, importantly I welcome you to this parliament - Australia’s oldest parliament, I welcome you to Sydney and NSW for your first visit.
I’ve welcomed Prime Ministers, I’ve welcomed Premiers, I’ve welcomed Presidents, I’ve welcomed Popes and Prelates, but I’ve never before welcomed a phenomenon, I’ve never before ever met a phenomenon and I know Mr President that the Noy-Noy phenomenon is an incredible force, an incredible force for good and an incredible force for good in a country where democracy has never been able to be taken for granted, in the way that we in this country take democracy for granted.
Mr President I know that I am also in the presence of someone whose family epitomises service to one’s nation and at times that comes with a significant cost. I know you yourself have been touched by the force of trying to do what’s right in a country that at times has struggled to maintain the path of freedom, democracy, liberty that is essential to both of our communities and for that again I’m also grateful that you are here and we can acknowledge that.
We come to Aboriginal country and I acknowledge that this was is and always will be Aboriginal country, but we are now a community that has people from 200 different nationalities and of course amongst the most vibrant, amongst at times the nosiest, but certainly amongst those who are the most committed to family, those clearly reflect a strong faith, but importantly reflect the strong and energetic entrepreneurial spirit of those Filipino Australians who have also helped make this a successful community, a successful state and contributed to our national outlook.
And so on the occasion of your first and I hope not your last visit to NSW and to Sydney, can I again reinforce our commitment to welcome as many Filipinos as possible who want to make Sydney and NSW home to grow the trade and investment that is critical to the future success of both our countries and both of our societies and to the future opportunities that our communities have.
And can I again recommit this Parliament and this Government and I am sure members of this place to our utmost respect and continued friendship with the people of the Philippines and we are grateful that you honour us today with your presence”.