The 16th International Assembly of the Knights of Rizal formally brought back on track the 98-year old organization to its ideals of perpetuating the ideals of the Philippine National Hero. It was fitting too that it was held for its first day on Feb. 23 at its headquarters along Bonifacio Drive in Port Area, Manila.
Until about three years ago the KOR top officials were bitterly divided into two factions who were headed by two supreme commanders who held offices in two separate places. There were acrimonious lawsuits that alleged election fraud and misused of funds.
To the relief of everyone who is connected with the group, a reconciliation was worked out along with reforms in election rules and financial accountability.
Former Senator Jose Lina Jr., a veteran of student activism, took over the helm after this period of turmoil. He was later succeeded by the well-respected former Supreme Court Justice Hilario Davide Jr. who presided over the opening ceremonies of the assembly including the laying of wreath at the Rizal Monument in the former Bagumbayan were Rizal was executed more than 110 years ago.
City of Manila Mayor Lito Atienza gave the symbolic key to the city to the delegation during his lunch reception. Dinner was hosted by a ranking KOR member Emilio Yap at his own historic Manila Hotel where Speaker Jose de Venecia was elevated to the rank of Grand Knight Commander.
Justice Davide however left the following day for New York to start his duty as the Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations. Deputy Supreme Commander Virgilio Esguerra became the acting Supreme Commander and as a highlight of the second day of the assembly at the floating Manila Hotel, he echoed the call of Justice Davide for â€œall Knights of Rizal to demonstrate their fidelity to the Rizalian virtues of love of countryâ€¦and fellowmenâ€¦with Godâ€™s guidance and enlightenment, they will not fail.â€
Former Miss International beauty queen Gemma Cruz-Araneta made an appeal in her inspirational talk to put forward an accurate presentation of Philippine history where Filipinos heroically fought for freedom and dignity.
But the common mantra of the assembly is the call for the members to involve the youth in â€œRizalizingâ€ the country to prepare them for leadership that speaks of the ideals of Rizalâ€”that of unselfish service to educate the Filipinos in working for a progressive and democratic nation.
More than half of the 200 delegates came from the 60 chapters overseas including the U.S. , Canada , Europe and Australia . There are 150 chapters in the Philippines . It was noted that with heavy participation from foreign chapters, the theme, â€œRizalism: Key to Global Peace, Solidarity & Prosperityâ€ was deemed most appropriate.
On the final day, Feb. 25, the delegates were hosted by the City of Calamba that started with a visit at the birth place of Rizal and was followed by a spontaneous fundraising called by the assembly chairman, Rogelio Quiambao, to help maintain the shrine. An estimated amount of $4000 was raised mostly from members abroad. The stream of donations started with a $100 gift from former Central USA Commander Joe Sarmiento. No report has been made on how the National Historical Institute will allocate the donations for the Rizal Shrine.
Aside from Joe Sarmiento, the other official delegates from the Midwest area were Central USA Chancellor Mariano A. Santos, former Malaya Commander Urbano Gallardo and former Dakila Commander Romy Badiola.
As an aftermath of the assembly, the Central USA commander Boni Cenir received a report of the impressive assembly. After its regular meeting, the four chapters in the Greater Chicago announced the holding of two Rizal Seminars, the first will be held on Sunday, April 22, 3 -5 pm at 5850 N. Lincoln Avenue , Chicago . The second will be on Sunday, May 20 at the Rizal Center , 1332 W. Irving Park, Chicago.
The events will be sponsored by the Bantayog, Chicago, Dakila and Malaya Chapters.
The seminar will focus on teaching the heroic life of Rizal and its relevance to the present conditions of Filipinos in the Philippines and abroad.
Article written by:
Sir Mariano â€œAnongâ€ Santos, KCR
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