An array of distinguished Rizalists from different parts of the world are converging in the Greater Toronto Area on September 11 through 13 this year in the first major event of its kind anywhere in the world this century. The gathering is aptly themed “Rizal in the 21st Century TechnoWorld”.
According to the sponsoring organization - Knights of Rizal Canada which is part of the International Federation of Knights of Rizal - through KORCanada's Chair Sir Fran Pulumbarit, the purpose of the meeting is to establish the relevance of Rizal today by determining exactly what are “Rizalian principles” that are often invoked by many and just exactly how can those principles be applied by individuals in their neighborhood, community, workplace, and in their own family.
Mr. Pulumbarit said that while many people of different nationalities regularly celebrate the birth and commemorate the martyrdom of the foremost national hero of the Philippines, most do not relate to the applicability of Rizal's ideals and philosophies in everyday life. Especially in today's technologically advanced world, Pulumbarit added. Contrary to popular belief, Rizal is no mere historical figure. “He was a man of all times and a man for all people”, he said.
According to Pulumbarit, as what the featured speakers of the conference will prove, Rizal, if properly understood, can have a life changing impact upon individuals and entire societies in general much like Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. had. In fact, Pulumbarit continued, long before Gandhi and King, Rizal was already advocating such causes as non-violent political change, economic self-sufficiency and recognition of human rights. He just was not as widely known as the other two, said the chair of the Canadian affiliate of the International Federation of Knights of Rizal.
Keynote speaker for the three-day event is University of Western New Mexico's renowned humanities professor Jean Quintero Hall. Philippine-born Hall spent over twenty years of scholarly research on Rizal as a result of which she was given the honor of being “One of 20th Century's Most Outstanding Scholars” and one of “Most Notable Women of America”.
Also presenting a paper on Rizal will be popular University of Santo Tomas Political Science Professor Jose David Lapuz who is concurrently a Commissioner of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Prof. Lapuz is a constant traveling lecturer on International Politics and on Rizal, a subject he has been teaching since 1964. One of his numerous awards is that of one of the Ten Most Outstanding Young Men or TOYM.
The highlight of the gathering is an exhibition of photos of some of the rare manuscripts and documents attributed to Rizal during his stay in Europe, discovered and collected by Belgian Rizal archivist Sir Lucien Spittael. Spittael has the distinct honor of having traced the footsteps of Rizal during the hero's sojourn in various parts of Europe as well as a vast collection of authentic Rizaliana artifacts, writings and works.
Sir Don Brennock of Dublin, Ireland, is another non-Filipino Rizalist who can easily put many Filipinos to shame with his knowledge of Rizal and true appreciation of the value of Rizal's contribution to the world. He will share his personal views in an attempt to encourage those who otherwise would pay lip service only to the “First Filipino”.
Toronto's own Sir Voltaire de Leon, founder of Rizal Society of Ontario (RSO) brings up the rear of the line-up of illustrious admirers of Rizal. Political activist and award winning playwright de Leon will give an insight to the psyche of the man Rizal in an attempt to understand better what drove and guided Rizal in his marvelous works and exemplary life.
According to Pulumbarit, the conference is open to the public and anyone can attend either on his/her own behalf or as a representative of an organization.
For details on how to register and for other information, interested parties are invited to call Sir Fran at 905-294-4757 or visit IFKOR's website: www.rizalcanada.org .