The Philippine Embassy in Madrid, in coordination with the Order of the Knights of Rizal – La Solidaridad Chapter, commemorated the 158th Birth Anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal on 23 June 2019 at the Rizal Monument in Madrid. Also in attendance were AFP officials on official visit, and members of the Filipino and Spanish communities in Spain.
The event opened with welcome remarks from Mr. Federico Sanchez Aguilar, Commander of the Knights of Rizal in Madrid.
Ambassador Philippe J. Lhuillier recalled the words of Filipino writer Leon Maria Guerrero, stating, “’the way Rizal died is not so important as the way he lived,” and, his life, “not so important as what he thought and wrote.’”
The Ambassador further stressed Rizal’s role in fostering the Philippines’ national identity, being one of the most prominent people who imagined the territories under Spain as one nation. The Ambassador further said, “It is also very important for our Spanish friends to understand that even though the Philippines was a colony of Spain, Rizal was a Filipino. He fought for reforms for our people, and his death contributed to our freedom. In his Defense, that he wrote before his execution, he expressed his wish for liberties for Filipinos, and top-down reforms. Many would argue that Rizal called himself and considered himself, first and foremost, a Filipino.”
The event was a celebration of the fruitful life Rizal lived, whose works, according to Ambassador Lhuillier, “shaped Filipinos’ awareness and understanding of the Philippines as a nation for years to come.”