By Sir Choy Arnaldo, KGOR
• Despite surprise rains and cold mornings, spring in Paris has marked a major turning point for the Knights of Rizal and the Damas de Rizal in France.
• The Dimasalang île de France Chapter celebrates its second anniversary.
• The Damas de Rizal, kababaihang Rizalista, marks its first year of successful operation.
• The Côte d’Azur Chapter, under the command of Sir Ely Panganiban has reorganized itself with the help of the Paris Chapter, and is preparing for council elections and formal swearing in of officers in September.
It’s like coming out of hibernation!
On 20 March Sir Bernard Pot, KCR opened the ceremonies at the Fontaine Celeste Restaurant in Paris for the induction of new knights into the Dimasalang île de France Chapter: Sir Justin Adrien Ordoyo KR, Sir Edgar Allan Sumbillo KR and Sir Arsenio Furio KR. This brings Dimasalang membership to 19. Sir Justin, the youngest knight of the chapter, speaking on behalf of the three knights, promised that they will strive to make better known the history and culture of the Philippines, and particularly the teachings and ideals of the national hero, Dr José Rizal.
In his address, Sir Bernard stressed that the Order of the Knights of Rizal was not just another association. It was a civic and patriotic order, whose statutes are an act of law; in many ways, it is similar to the Order of the French Legion d’Honneur. And hence, its mandate is not merely humanitarian work or public service, but ethical standards and quality contribution to the understanding of Philippine history and culture and the place of Dr José Rizal in the nation.
Addressing the knights and ladies, Sir Choy Arnaldo, KGOR, Deputy Area Commander for France recapped briefly the background of the Dimasalang Chapter, saying that it has a special role in France, to be an intellectual leader and continue its work of Rizal lectures and the publications of works on Rizal. The opportunity for action is rapidly approaching, as the Philippine Historical Institute has written the Philippine Embassy in Paris that the bas-relief of Rizal is ready for shipment. This is to be placed eventually on a stele at the Place José Rizal in Paris 9th. It would be most fitting if this could be finalized in time for the birth anniversary of Rizal on June 19.
Consul General Rose Prospero, representing Her Excellency, Ambassador Rora Navarro Tolentino, expressed her appreciation of the support of the Knights for the activities and work of the Embassy in France. While in Manila recently, she herself had discussed the Rizal bas-relief with the Historical Institute in order to accelerate its fabrication and shipment to Paris. During her first term ten years ago as Ambassador to France, Madame Navarro Tolentino had already negotiated the naming of Place José Rizal on Rue Maubeuge Paris 9th.
As a special request M Cory de Jesus, one of the dynamic organizers of the Fête de la Musique last year, offered a few songs in the bossa nova beat. The evening was completed with a full Chinese meal.
The next day, the first day of spring, las Damas de Rizal celebrated their first year anniversary, all wearing their special elegant gowns designed by Sir Noubbiko Ulanday, KCR Deputy Area Commander of the Czech Republic, and sewn by Lady Jane Souterre. Two new members were inducted, Lady Roshayda Malugayak and Lady Milagros Balangue.
Aside from the sumptuous lunch, the Damas also prepared a programme emceed by President of the Damas, Lady Nenette Brosas. The presentations featured the parasol dance by the Las Damas Dancers, a hilarious impromptu ‘hagibis’ song and dance by the knights, a comedy skit of migrant workers in Paris acted to the lyrics of the song, Work hard for the money, and a short pageantry of the people in the life of José Rizal close to the hour of his execution. During the pageantry, Sir Jess Sunga, KOR recited the Ultimo Adios.
HE Ambassador Rora Navarro Tolentino, even though ailing, came nonetheless to the anniversary fête, together with Consul General Rose Prospero. She spoke of her deep appreciation of the contribution of the Damas to the Embassy’s cultural activities and noted optimistically, that the Damas were also key leaders of most of the Philippine Associations in Paris.
Sir Jess Umali, KCR, Commander of the Paris Chapter arrived late, having driven up directly from Cannes with his daughter for the Damas’ anniversary. He spent several days with the Côte d’Azur knights, coaching them in organization and helping them to prepare their documentation. They intend to reorganize and elect their Council in September when all their members are together. As most of their members are seamen, they are frequently traveling and cannot meet regularly.
Before ending the fête, Lady Nenette informed the Knights and the Damas that the Deputy Area Commander, Sir Choy Arnaldo, KGOR was preparing to leave France in a few months and that both the Knights and the Damas shall be missing his friendship and leadership.
“During these past six years,” said Sir Choy, “we have built strong organizations and strong leaders. Las Damas de Rizal, for example, is a totally Euro-based organization with legal statutes in France. I am confident our Knights Commanders will continue into the next mandate, particularly as the office of Area Commander and Deputy open. Furthermore, we have a third Chapter in Côte d’Azur. But now I know how a migrant worker feels when he is separated possibly for years from his life partner and family. So I am going to join my wife who has undertaken a one year MBA course at the University of Shanghai and will likely seek work in Shanghai afterwards.”
The fête continued on with several birthday cakes for Lady Jane Souterre, impromptu singing and dancing. This celebration showe eloquently how many people’s talents and meagure resources can be brought together quickly and generously to make a super duper celebration. Congratulations to Lady Nenette and the Damas de Rizal!
Mabuhay and Damas de Rizal!
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