In the history of mankind, the greatness of a man is measured not only when he was alive, but more so when he has been long dead. His physical body may have turned to dust or ashes, but his teachings; his greatness and his accomplishments will live forever. His legacy will affect, directly or indirectly, many lives and numerous kinds of people. Such is the case of Dr. Jose P. Rizal.
The greatness of Dr. Jose P. Rizal, national hero of the Philippines, was recalled and demonstrated in the recently concluded three-day International Conference on Rizal hosted by the International Federation of the Knights of Rizal (no connection to Knights of Rizal in Manila) on September 11-13 at Kalayaan Cultural Community Centre in Mississauga, Ontario.
It was a successful conference organized by active officers and some members of the federation. Notables are Sir Jun Zerrudo – the founding chairman, Sir Fran and Lady Pulumbarit, Sir Nick and Lady Jovy Alo, Sir Alexcs Trinidad, Sir Boy Malinay and Lady Luchi Sivilia.
It was a simple, no nonsense conference because the speakers, Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike, were either true experts on or very knowledgeable about Rizal. These are people who have spent many years of their lives, and are still spending immeasurable time researching, reading or writing about Rizal and tracing their hero’s travels to gain even more insight and understanding of the great man.
The first one to make a presentation was Professor Jean Quintero Hall, a professor of Humanities at Western New Mexico University. She spoke about “Rizalism as a cause: Its meaning and relevance in today’s world.”
And who would not be touched by Belgian NATO officer Sir Lucien Spittael’s two Power Point presentations of Rizal’s travels in Europe which he traced, taking the same boat and train trips that Rizal did, climbing all the same church towers which Rizal climbed, finding and comparing all the actual objects/sceneries/buildings/churches shown on Rizal’s sketches as mentioned in his diary during his Rhine trip.
Our very own Sir Voltaire de Leon, chairman of Rizal Society of Ontario, lectured on “Rizal the man: a scrutiny on the mind of a hero.
Sir Don Brennock, a human resources development professional and international labour support advocate from Dublin, Ireland spoke about “What it meant to be a Rizalist from the standpoint of a non-Filipino. It was based on the premise that Rizal was not just a Filipino hero but also an internationalist, whose greatness knows no bounds. He did this by comparing the Philippines with Ireland.
As I have often wondered why Rizal is not as known and recognized as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and other men of note, this conference led me to believe that it’s only a matter of time before Rizal gets more recognition as website after website become available to showcase his greatness. As a Filipino Canadian I think the Filipinos should take the leading role in making sure this happens.
I was also very astonished to know, through this conference, that our national hero is probably more recognized in Europe than in Asia, as evidenced by his many statues, parks and monuments in many great European cities. But then again, he was a genius who also happened to be an internationalist.
For someone like yours truly who has never really been a very serious student on Rizal, this conference made me a serious one. And who would not.
With the success of the first one, attendees are looking forward to the next conference. It is also about time that you join us, in order to know more about this great man who we can truly call our own.
Only in knowing him can we truly appreciate his greatness.