Monument of revered national hero of the Philippines, Dr. Jose P. Rizal will be constructed in Prairie Winds Park in Calgary Alberta. This is in honor of the socio-economic contributions of Filipinos is Alberta. The project was a result of concerted efforts of different organizations and communities. Also, in the works is the secondary renaming of one of the major roadways in Calgary as Rizal Street.
The statue would somehow be a replica of the famous monument of Rizal in Luneta in Manila. The monument is a national landmark and are often visited by tourists and world leaders. The statue of Rizal will have a rustic finish and will be situated central of the park. Organizers are hoping to ground break on June 27, in time for the Philippine Heritage Month.
“There are more than 25 organizations from different communities came together for this endeavour, not just Filipinos. We have friends from the Muslim, East Indian, Pakistani and Lebanese community that supported us. Because at the end of the day, this park, this monument is for the community and by the community.” according to Vangie Caoile, chairperson of Fiesta Filipino and one of the project’s proponents.
Another advocate and mover of the Rizal Park Aurora Dacanay said that the project is a consortium of Filipino community leaders in Calgary. Dacanay who represents Philippine Cultural Center Foundation of Calgary wrote the letter to the city council requesting the commemorative monument.
According to Caoile the concept started during the 2018 Filipino Leaders Conference. “Took years to get us where we are now. But we are very happy and excited. We have the design and one of our organizer Lourdes Juan will be working with some local artists for the artwork.” said Caoile.
The park is designed by Ferdinand Sangalang and Josh Malate is the project engineer.
MORE THAN JUST A STATUE
For the proponents of the project the statue is more than just a landmark. According to Dacanay she hopes that a park in Dr. Jose Rizal’s honour would be a reminder to Filipinos, especially the youth, and their grandchildren, and the next generations to come, of the heights Filipinos were able to achieve.
She adds, “Jose Rizal’s name is a symbol of greatness, bravery, solidarity, and intellect that is used to its fullest to serve his country and fellowmen.”
For Vangie Caoile, the monument would symbolize the hard work of every Filipino immigrant. “When I see our national hero standing tall and proud, I am reminded of all our Filipino brothers and sisters who came to this country, pioneered immigration for all of us. And those who continue to sacrifice sweat and blood to give their families a better future. Those are the real heroes.”
Another supporter of the park and a leader of the community Ben Isidro said that for him the Rizal Park would be tantamount to remembering the deeds of the national hero. He further explained, “Personally, this signifies the beginning of awareness of the importance of remembering our ancestors who gave their lives for the attainment of our freedom.”
BEING A FILIPINO IN CANADA
The organizers also see the project to be a great tie to the motherland. Aurora Dacanay says that being a Filipino-Canadian she is truly blessed. Even if she is now a Canadian, she still thinks of the Philippines quite often. Dacanay adds, “I ponder and admire the country’s amazing beauty and warmth, its rich culture, its enormous economic and political challenges or upheavals, and the great number of people suffering in poverty.”
Dacanay further adds that even though she yearns for the motherland, she takes pride in calling Canada her home. She adds, “I believe Canada is a great country and serves its people well and admirably. I always remind myself asking, what I can give to my Filipino community that will make a beautiful thread that will contribute to the magnificent Canadian Tapestry of Cultures.”
Pepe Siapno another organizer of the Rizal Park project has been living in Calgary for over four decades. He has been one of the stalwarts of the Filipino community and for him seeing the monument would be milestone for the community. “This monument will recognize the community for our good work in Calgary. Having a monument will also serve as an opening for more people to explore our culture and learn about our heritage. It is such an honor to be part of this project and this is by far the most iconic achievement for our community. ” he added.
According to Vangie Caoile, the project is set to finish in June 2022 and will be unveiled on Philippine Independence Day.
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