By Sir Carlos Arnaldo, KCR, Commander of the Paris Chapter
Approved by Sir Rey Pablo, KCR, Area Commander of France and Sir Lino Paras, KGOR, Regional Commander for Europe.
The Paris Chapter Knights hosted the 3rd European Assembly of the Knights of Rizal at the Holiday Inn Hotel in the town of Orly just south of Paris and close to the airport on 27, 28 and 29 July 2007. Though only a short and fast weekend, the program included a welcome dinner, a day of conference and cultural presentations, and a trek along the heritage trail of JosÃ© Rizal in Europe. This tour of Rizal’s sojourn in Paris was extremely significant as the Supreme Council had just issued a resolution declaring and promoting the theme of the heritage trails of Rizal in all of Europe.
Origin of the Paris Chapter
Chartered in April 2004, the Paris Chapter evolved rapidly, passing the command from Sir Jean Paul Verstraeten (pro tem) in December 2005 to Sir Rey Pablo KCR and in July 2006 to Sir Carlos Arnaldo KCR. Since July 2006, Sir Rey Pablo has been appointed Area Commander of France under the new Regional Commander for Europe, Sir Lino Paras KGOR. There is a Chapter in Cannes and one being prepared for Monaco in December this year.
It was thought then that it would be a good idea to assemble all the Knights of Europe, to share ideas and programs, and to cooperate in joint activities. Thus on 21 September 2006, A meeting of European Area Commanders was held in Paris. Aside from induction and exaltation ceremonies, plans were made for organizing the 3rd European Assembly. It was hoped to have participation from all Knights in Europe. The Supreme Council was invited, as well as chapters in the US, Canada and Philippines. Expectedly there were some doubts about the capability of the Paris Chapter, being so recently organized, but the evolution of this chapter has greatly accelerated, and the Chapter now counts 67 members.
Preparations have been underway since January 2007. Sir Rey Pablo handled relations with the European Regional Commander and the Area and Chapter Commanders of Europe, and the hotel arrangements, while Sir Carlos Arnaldo with the Paris Chapter prepared the conference logistics. The symposium was emceed by Lady Neneth Brosas, the president of the Kababaihang Rizalista, Paris Chapter and Sir Rey Pablo, KCR, the OKR Area Commander of France. Sir Jess Sunga KOR and Lady Vicky with Damas, Lady Noralynn and Lady Lovely handled reception and finance. Sir Leo Mojica KOR organised transportation with Sir Pat Merino KOR and Sir Lito Trinidad KOR. Sir Bong Agustinez KOR provided sound system and video coverage. Sir Richard Villanueva KOR partnered on the video, but also designed the souvenir program, delegates’ ID, Certificates of Attendance and Appreciation. In addition, he designed the special 3rd European Assembly T-shirt. Sir Shariff Umali with Lady Helenita provided the cultural program. And there were many others who supported and worked for this event, too numerous to cite.
For a long time very few responded to the invitation. However, in the last month alone, responses mounted quickly from six to ten, to twenty, to 65. And at last count, a total of 92 Knights, Damas and special guests registered at the Assembly. They came from USA, Canada, Hamburg and Stuttgart, Vienna, Brussels/Belgium, Madrid, London, Antwerp, Czech Republic, Geneva, Philippines and Paris/France. From the outcome, several reflected that perhaps this should have been staged as an international event, but that would have exceeded the mandate of this assembly.
Statement of solidarity by Sir Virgilio Esguerra, KGCR., Deputy Supreme Commander and Acting Supreme Commander, and Sir Rogelio M. Quiambao KGCR, Council of Elders and Chairman of International Affairs, both complimented the excellent logistics and venue for this historic 3rd European Assembly. The occasion was graced by two ambassadors, Sir Jose Abeto Zaide KGOR, Ambassador of the Philippines to France and Sir Jaroslav Ludva KCR, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Philippines, both of whom gave inspirational messages. There were also two Knights consuls from DFA Chapter and based in Geneva, Sir Jesus S. Domingo KCR and Sir Miguel R. Bautista KCR. Many were impressed by the large turnout and the number of chapters represented. Effectively it was a public manifestation of the presence of the Knights of Rizal in Europe.
Sir Rogelio M. Quiambao, KGCR., five-time Supreme Commander and Special Assistant for international affairs rallied the assembly to the highest point of solidarity for the greatest interest of the Order regardless of race, creed, religion and difference.
There was the welcome address of Sir Lino Paras, KGOR, Regional Commander for Europe. An inspirational message of Sir Ambassador Jose Zaide Jr., KGOR, put added input to the assembly where he mentioned the French-Philippines relation vis-avis other Knights of chapters in Europe. Sir Ambassador Jaroslav Ludva, with Czech Republic, in his statement promised to established KOR Chapters in Litomerice and Prague and mentioned the sisterhood agreement between Calamba, Dapitan and City of Litomerice. Sir Virgilio Esguerra, Acting Supreme Commander, delivered the keynote address in behalf of Sir Hilario S. Davide, Jr., Supreme Commander and was followed by his lecture â€œThe Thoughts of Dr. Jose P. Rizalâ€ with VIDEO PRESENTATION. Sir Esguerra called for unity and solidarity so that the KOR everywhere will be able to help in promoting the youth’s welfare and peoples concerns.
Ceremonies included the induction of five new Knights to the rank of Knight of Rizal (KR): Sir Rodolfo de Chavez Brosas, Sir Michael G. Barles, Sir Domingo T. Bulaon, Eddie Cruz de la Cuadro, Sir Marcial Romaraog all from the Paris Chapter and Sir Fr. Jorgedy Bago from the Diamond Chapter of Antwerp.
It also included the induction of the members of the Kababaihang Rizalista, Inc., Lady Neneth Brosas, Flora B. Pablo, Vicky Cuenca, Noralyn Riambon, Verna Cunanan, Grace Tomboc, Lovely Lingat, Ederlinda Moral, Elenita Umali â€œinducting officer Sir Virgilio Esguerra, KGCR, Acting Supreme Commander, assisted by Lady Nina Fernandez Pres. Kababaihang Rizalista Rizal Brussels Chapterâ€.
Elevated to the rank of Knight Officer of Rizal (KOR) were: Sir Henry Calicdan, Sir Romeo Maines, Sir Jean Michel Hermans , Sir Leonardo Riambon, and Sir Danilo Tabuyog -all from the Paris Chapter.
Acting Supreme Commander Sir Virgilio Esguerra, assisted by sponsors Sir Chito Collantes KGOR, Consultant to the Supreme Council and Sir Felix Gonzales, KGOR, Deputy Area Commander of Central USA then exalted Sir Carlos Arnaldo, Paris Chapter Commander and Sir Albert Arevalo to the third degree, Knight Commander of Rizal (KCR).
The Acting Supreme Commander then conferred the fourth degree rank of Knight Grand Officer of Rizal (KGOR) on Sir Lito Gajilan KCR, New Jersey Chapter Commander, Sir Ricardo Centenera KCR, Chapter Commander of Madrid, and upon the two Philippine Consuls from Geneva, Sir Jesus S. Domingo KCR and Sir Miguel R. Bautista KCR.
The Acting Supreme Commander then awarded the distinguished merit service award to the Knights of Paris who worked and exerted their best efforts and personal sacrifices in making the success of this special fraternal affair.
Lifetime membership was confirmed for Sir Leo Mojica KOR, Sir Tony Guansing KGOR, and Sir Rudy Nollas KGOR, Commander of the Brussels Chapter..
To offset the formalities, Ms Andrea Dimalo presented Pangalay – style, a traditional Muslim dance from the Sulu archipelago home to the Tausog, the Bajaos, the Samals and the Jama Mapun ethnolinguistic groups. Sir Jean Michel Hermans KOR, Paris Chapter, an ethnologist married to a Visayan, commented that the gestures and movements relfected many of the dances of South Asia, especially India, Thailand and Cambodia. And this showed the commonality of the many cultural strains of the region. Lady Nenette Brosas sang a medley of songs in Spanish, enjoining Sir Rey Centenera KCR to sing with her ‘Besame mucho’! This was living evidence of the long cultural heritage from Spain.
After a celebration buffet dinner of Chinese cuisine at Galaxia, Paris Chapter Knights took the visitors on a short tour of Paris by night. The bus meandered small streets to Trocadero and then to Champs ElysÃ©es, passing Cleopatra’s needle or the Obelisk dominating the Place de la Concorde. Then, back toTrocadero where the participants left the bus and crossed to the middle of Palais de Chaillou to watch the Eiffel Tower light up, first in silhouette like steel lace, then in sparkling laser beams.
Not another rank of the knights, but Kentucky Fried Chicken, which apparently is not marketed in Brussels, for all the Belgians on the tour bus kept shouting to stop at the next KFC ! Finally someone ordered 8 gallons of KFC to take back to Brussels as ‘baon !’
On Sunday, keeping to the Assembly theme, the heritage trails of JosÃ© Rizal in Europe, Knights and Damas had a treat around Paris again, this time focussing on where Rizal stayed and studied, and wrote his two books, the Noli Me Tangere and the Filibusterismo. The highlight was the CitÃ© Fleurie where, fortunately, a young boy had just left on his bicycle, leaving the gate open ! So we were able to enter discreetly and see the very gardens where Rizal discussed the Philippine colonial situation with Juan Luna, Hidalgo and Zamora.
In the situation of a Europe where some of us are separated by differing alliances and loyalties, where consequently some of our brothers have fallen into inactivity or set up other organizations, the most significant moment of the short weekend was when Sir Virgilio Esguerra as Acting Commander opened the meeting: Â« In accordance with the constitution and the by-laws of the Order of the Knights of Rizal and the authority invested in me, I declare this 3rd European Assembly open. Â» This was a poignant reminder that only those Knights adhering to the Constitution and recognizing the authority of the Supreme Commander can act in the name of the Knights of Rizal.
In many ways this 3rd European Assembly was a success not only in the numbers it attracted, but also in the spirit of unity and solidarity it inspired. That unity, however, is incomplete without all our brothers. We warmly invite those brothers to return and work together for the ideals of Rizal.
As said by Sir Virgilio Esguerra in his opening remarks, Â« Makiisa tayo, magmahalan tayo. Â» There is so much to lose without you. There is so much more to gain if we are all together.
In the same vein, Sir Rogelio Quiambao, Member of the Council of Elders, recognized that many of our Filipinos in Europe are overseas workers, but that is not a reason to disparage them or doubt their qualities or treat them as second-class citizens. Â« Masakit iyan! Â» Sir Roger urged we forget that pain and go on, Â« Let us advance, but advance together. Â»
Tutal, Â« Hindi ang lahat sa akin ay mamatay. Â»
Non omnis moriar.
The Philippine Ambassador to Belgium, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and to the European Union Her Excellency Ambassador Cristina Ortega hosted a reception for the Philippine delegation of KOR officials and the Belgians Chapters on July 31,2007 in the Philippine Embassy, Brussels â€œRizal Brussels Chapter, Diamond Chapter Antwerp, Lion Chapter, Rizal Aalst Chapter and Kababaihang Rizalistaâ€.
KOR Chapter’s Visitation and Chartering in Belgium.
1. August 1,2007 Cultural visit to Rotterdam
2. August 2, 2007 Visit Rizal Marker in Ghent/Grand Palace.
3. August 3,2007 Dubbing, Induction and Chartering of Rizal Aalst Chapter
4. August 3, 2007 Visit Rizal Historical Marker in Brussels
5. August 4, 2007 Visitation in Antwerp Â« Diamond Chapter Â» c/o Sir Tony Guansing, KGOR., Sir Rik Van Tiggel, KOR., Sir Roy De Mol, KOR., Sir Rev. Fr. Jeorgedy Bago, KR.
6. August 4, 2007 Visitation of Rizal Brussels Chapter, c/o Sir Rudy Nollas, KGOR., Chapter Commander
From the Supreme Council: KOR MANILA : DAVAO
Sir Virgilio Esguerra KGCR – Deputy Supreme Commander and Acting Supreme Commander
Sir Rogelio M. Quiambao KGCR – Member council of Elders, Chairman of the KOR International Affairs.
Sir Reynold Mateo, KGOR – Member of the previous Supreme Council,
Area Commander for Rizal
Sir Esmeraldo Plastina, KGOR – Member of the previous Supreme Council,
Area Commander for Southern Luzon
Sir Jose L. Gardoce KGOR – Chapter Commander, Laong Laan Chapter, Quezon City
Sir and Lady Luis Villafuerte, Davao City Chapter.
Regional, Area and Chapter Commanders
Sir Felino Paras, KGOR – Regional Commander for Europe
Sir Chito M. Collantes, KGOR – Consultant to the Supreme Commander For Canada
Sir Emmanuel Noli Vianzon KGOR – Regional Commander for USA
Sir Celso Lacuna KGOR – Area Commander for Germany
Sir Cesar Bhoy Alcoba, KCR – Area Commander for Belgium
Sir Felix O. Gonzales KGOR – Deputy Area Commander Central USA and Adviser, Malaya Chapter, Chicago Illinois
Sir Ferdie Cena KCR – Deputy Area Commander for Austria and Hamburg Chapter Commander .
Sir Reynaldo Pablo, KCR – Area Commander for France
Sir Ricardo Centenera, KGOR – Commander Madrid, Spain Chapter
Sir Rudy Nollas KGOR, Commander, Brussels Chapter
Sir Albert Arevalo, KCR, Commander, Rizal Aalst ChapterSir Lito Gajilan KGOR – Commander, New Jersey Chapter USA
Sir Antonio Guansing KGOR -Former Chapter Commander Diamond Chapter, Antwerp, Honorary Consul
Sir Alfonso Tagiuang KCR – Commander London UK Chapter
Sir Carlos Arnaldo KCR – Commander Paris Chapter
From the Diplomatic Service
Sir Ambassador Jaroslav Ludva, KCR – Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the Philippines
Sir Ambassador Jose Abeto Zaide, KGOR – Ambassador of the Philippines to France and Portugal
Sir Consul Jesus S. Domingo KGOR
Sir Consul Miguel R. Bautista, KGOR
Sir Honorary Consul Tony Guansing, KGOR
AFFILIATED AND ALLIED ORGANIZATIONS FROM THE PHILIPPINES:
Justice Ruben de la Cruz – Supreme Court, Deputy Court Administrator, Philippines, President, Ombudsman Anti Corruption Council of the Philippines
Dr. Consolacion Alaras – University of the Philippines, Professor, President Moral Recovery Foundation Officers, Inc. of the Philippines
Ms. Irene Isles – Securities and Exchange Commission (Philippines)