Tuesday, June 28, 2022 |
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LIHU‘E — Derek Kawakami said Dr. Jose Rizal was just two years older than himself when he was killed by a firing squad.
The Kaua‘i County Council member was the keynote speaker at the annual Rizal Day service paying tribute to the fallen Philippines national hero on the occasion of his execution.
The service was hosted by the Kaua‘i Filipino Community Council. President Liza Trinidad paid tribute to those who laid the groundwork and constructed the statue of Rizal on the lawn of the Historic County Building.
“This statue is one of many built around the world in honor of Rizal, and Alfred Villanueva was the head of the KFCC who spearheaded the fundraising and construction efforts with the aid of the late Mayor Eduardo Malapit,” Trinidad said. “Rizal has been recognized as the first Asian advocate for peaceful reform.”
Kawakami said Rizal was a superhero, emphasizing that role by noting he is one of the secret characters unlocked in a popular video game, Call of Duty.
“Dr. Rizal has been woven into the world culture,” Kawakami said. “During this time of reflecting, he said humans should embrace all knowledge.”
In researching the life of Rizal, Kawakami said he learned about Rizal’s belief that knowledge and identity are prerequisites for Filipino freedom.
“These are traits that no one can take away from you,” the councilman said. “But Rizal had more than a powerful intellect. He had guts. Guts to stand up and die for what he believed in.”
He praised the Filipino people for raising themselves from laborers to the status of doctors, lawyers, judges, school teachers, and even mayor of Kaua‘i.
In Rizal’s final letter to his family before dying, he encouraged people to treat aged parents as they would like to be treated because everything we have was carved by those ahead of us, Kawakami said.
Benjie Baclig, a University of Pennsylvania sophomore, said being a Filipino immigrant taught him many skills.
“How can one add value with no obstacles to overcome?” Baclig said. “Dr. Rizal faced the same obstacles as Filipino immigrants, excelling in medicine, poetry and the ability to speak 10 languages, all accomplished while living in foreign countries. He accomplished by looking at the disadvantages as advantages.”
Charlmaine Bulosan, KFCC executive vice president, said when she was young, she followed her dad, Catalino Suero, one of the spearheads for the construction of the statue on Kaua‘i, and learned of Rizal and his significance to the Filipino people.
“Today, there are more young people here, and they will learn so Rizal Day will continue,” Bulosan said.
Jose Rizal was born on June 19, 1861, the seventh child in a family of 11 children in the town of Calamba, Laguna, states the Jose Rizal website.
Trinidad said Rizal stoop up against the colonizers of the Philippines for what he believed in, and when the Philippine Revolution started, he was thrown in prison, and before a court martial, convicted to death for rebellion and sedition.
He was shot to death on Dec. 30, 1896.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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