RIZAL DAY. Students of Castor Alviar National High School showcase their terpsichorean talents in folk dancing during the 122nd Rizal Day rites, as a tribute to Calamba-born National Hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal, at the hallowed grounds of the Rizal Ancestral House turned shrine-museum in Calamba City, Laguna on Dec. 30, 2018. (Photo by Saul E. Pa-a)
CALAMBA CITY, Laguna -- This city, which takes national pride at being the birthplace of Dr. Jose P. Rizal, reflected on Sunday’s 122nd commemorative rites of the hero’s martyrdom as it also lauded reigning Miss Universe 2018 and the fourth Miss Philippines to win the crown, Catriona Gray, for demonstrating in the world stage an embodiment of patriotism as Rizal did.
In an interview with the Philippine News Agency, Larissa Malinao, head of the City Cultural Affairs, Tourism and Sports Development Division, said the city, Rizal’s birthplace, has always recognized Filipinos, who in one way or the other have helped in perpetuating the ideals, the life and works of Rizal, describing Gray’s performance in the international arena as laudable and remarkable in defining patriotism.
She said Gray's feat and the costumes she donned during the pageant have been recognized by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and in keeping with this year’s Rizal Day theme “Talino at Malasakit sa Isa’t Isa, Pundasyon ng Isang Malaya at Maunlad na Bansa” (intellect and compassion, foundation for a free and progressive country).
“Ang ganda rin kasi naging pagkakataon na habang pinagdiriwang natin ang kabayanihan ni Dr. Jose Rizal, ay nagdiriwang din tayo because of our new Miss Universe. At nakikita natin na ini-embody ni Catriona Gray ang advocacies ni Dr. Jose Rizal (it is also a good opportunity that while we are commemorating Dr. Jose Rizal’s heroism, we are also celebrating because of our new Miss Universe. We have seen Catriona Gray embodied the advocacies of Dr. Jose Rizal),” she said.
Malinao spelled out that while Gray is not pure Filipino by blood according to some bashers, Dr. Rizal also had his Chinese ancestry, a recognition that the city has welcomed early this year the Jinjiang, China delegation who recognized the hero’s lineage from his great, great grandpa - who originated from that place.
“So that has nothing to do with that. Ang mahalaga nasa puso mo, nasa isip mo ang pagka-Filipino at lalabas at lalabas siya, especially in a world stage and napaka-symbolic din ng mga gowns that she wore (what is important is that it is in your heart, in your mind to be a true Filipino and this will exude, especially in a world stage and the gowns that she wore are very symbolic),” she added.
She said Gray wore dresses that symbolize all Filipino known places, arts and culture like the now famous Mayon Volcano lava-inspired gown at the final stage of the beauty pageant, getting the nod of world fashion designers and artists on the Filipino’s creativity and ingenuity.
“When she was described by a fashion annotator that she looks sultry from the gown resulting from the gown’s fashion designer’s artistic concept, at iba na ngayon dahil napaka-nationalistic na(and that spells the difference now because that was very nationalistic),” she described, as Gray’s glam team also had the “Ibong Adarna”-inspired gown and the “parol” (star lantern) and ethnic designs.
She said the Filipino pageant organizers and Gray have exhibited what the Filipino truly is and the values of Filipinos.
“I think what she said is very significant when she pointed out poverty is not the reason when you fail in life. Siya rin ay nakisalamuha sa mga kabataan sa Tondo slum area, at nagkaroon siya ng tunay na kaisipan at sa puso na tumulong sa mga bata at mabigyan ang mga bata doon ng pagkakataon (she has immersed herself with the children in the Tondo slum area, and she has the right advocacy and the heart to help the children and give them the opportunity),” she said.
Malino also cited the analogy of Rizal’s works as a child in Calamba when he wrote a poem “Sa Aking Mga Kababata” (to my peers), describing the beauty of his birthplace, although he did not spend much time in Calamba as he continued his studies in Biñan, Ateneo, UST and also abroad to pursue higher education.
“Kaya lalo na ngayon, nakikita ng mga kabataan (especially now, the children are now aware) how Rizal was concerned about the children and the youth during his time,” she said, finding similarities in Gray’s advocacy on helping indigent children when part of her winning answers is “to see situations with a silver lining and to assess where I could give something.”
She shared that the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) have already included in their evaluation the success of the LGU, not only in the financial management aspect but also on projects and programs on culture and the arts.
“Kinikilala din kung ang progress ay pinalalim din ang kultura at sining hindi lang sa pananalapi (progress is also evaluated on the basis of how culture and art are deepened, not only the financial aspect),” she hailed Gray’s advocacy that is in sync with the prime advocacies of Rizal.
She added that arts and culture are already part of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 as approved by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte under the “malasakit” (social fabric) pillar.
According to the Plan’s Pillar 1, “Malasakit” calls for enhancing the social fabric and “a basic requirement for inclusive development is that our peoples are proud of being Filipino and that they fully trust their government thus the need for Malasakit at both ends -- from the government and from the citizens.”
Under the development plan, cultural awareness and valuing diversity will be promoted as a first step to ultimately regain the spirit of nationalism and pride.
“From the national development plan, this is now part of the local development plan. That’s why the city is one of the first local government units (LGUs) in Laguna to embark on its cultural mapping project and we hope to complete it by 2019,” she said.
She added the city’s project on developing the cultural resources and the establishment of both the Culture and Arts Council which is now an ordinance; and the Cultural Heritage and Historical Society to be finalized next year.
Also, Museo ni Jose Rizal sa Calamba senior curator Zarah Escueta hailed Catriona Gray and her glam team, who have conducted extensive research on culture and history before coming up with “well-thought of” artworks, fashion designs and costumes, and described these as masterpieces.
“Yung costume niya ay talagang (her costume is really) with intricate designs based on the tribal cultures of the early Filipinos like the T’boli and the Pintados, na nakita ko mismo (that I have seen) when displayed at the National Historical Commission of the Philippines,” she described her amazement upon seeing it.
Escueta said this is the kind of patriotism Gray has demonstrated, like Rizal who has shown that the Filipinos could stand tall alongside other contenders in the international arena.
“She presented the parol, ang kultura ng mga taga-Pampanga. Lahat ng kabuuan ng pagiging Pilipino pinakita niya sa buong mundo. Pinagmalaki niya sa mundo kung paano niya minahal ang ating kultura (the Pampanga culture. She showed to the world all the aspects of being a Filipino. She exuded pride as she showed to the world how she loves our culture),” she said.
The museum curator said Rizal, during his time, really had his heart and love for the country wherever and whenever he went while doing his studies in Europe.
“This is what Catriona also did to show the world how Filipinos value their culture and the arts and love of country in representing the Philippines, the way any Filipino must do,” she added.
Escueta also said Rizal really did research during his time on the early Filipinos and the forebears’ system of government, as he annotated the chronicles “Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas” of Spanish Lieutenant Governor Antonio de Morga, who wrote the history of the Filipinos during the pre-colonial era.
“Gray showed her advocacy to invest her talent, time and efforts among the poor children, just like Rizal who espoused the advocacy on education among the youth as he called them the “hope of the country,” she assessed, citing Rizal’s exile in Dapitan had turned him into a philanthropist by giving free education to the children and free medical services to the townsfolk there.
Also, city cultural and tourism supervising officer Net Estrada described Gray’s feat at the Miss Universe 2018 beauty tilt “an exceptional performance by one outstanding Filipina who has shown patriotism in the aspects of beauty, brawn, personality and wit that should characterize the new breed of Filipinos.”
Interviewed by PNA, around 13 senior high school students from the Laguna College of Business and the Arts (LCBA) in this city who watched the international beauty tilt on Dec. 17 via their smart phones - while on their way to their scheduled Malacañang Palace Museum tour - also expressed pride for Gray’s victory.
“Superb performance, felt prouder to be Filipino sa lahat-lahat (in all aspects),” described Edren Vierneza, LCBA senior high school work immersion coordinator and tour chaperone.
Vierneza said they were ecstatic while watching the pageant as they too felt proud as the Presidential Palace's congratulatory message to Gray was released to the Malacañang Press Corps, at the time they were having their informal interaction and visit to the press offices.
The students beamed with pride even more as they got the good news on Gray’s victory and in seeing Rizal’s portrait and various Presidential collections and exhibits at the Palace Museum; and in their visit to the National Press Club where another huge portrait of the hero is a regular fixture at the press club headquarters.
As a compatriot inspired by Rizal’s patriotism, former Barangay Makiling Chair lawyer Soliman “Rajee” Lajara also proposed to focus the teaching of patriotism in schools so students would learn more about Rizal’s life, works and heroism.
In an interview, Lajara said the young generation should be taught on the Filipino values of respect, culture, traditions and deep sense of history before their interests are overtaken by the pervasive influence of the techie gadgets and online games. (PNA)