Monday, January 5, 2009

Successful Rizal Day Observance in Havana

Worshipful Master and Brethren,

I would like to inform you that thanks to Cuban Masonic brethren of the Jose Rizal Lodge of Havana, the Philippine Embassy held a very successful combination of activities to commemmorate the 112th death anniversary of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, led by yours truly as Philippine Ambassador.

After the usual Embassy flag raising ceremony, we held a Rizal Day program attended by a number of Cuban, Filipino and other guests including the Worshipful Master and other top officers of the Jose Rizal Lodge.

The main message was delivered by Rev. Dr. Rodolfo Juarez, a Cuban national who had spent time in the Philippines and did comparative research on Rizal and the Cuban national hero Jose Marti. After this, I delivered Rizal's Mi Ultimo Adios from memory in Spanish. Although I had recited this poem before in RP and in some other foreign countries, this was the first time I delivered it before a Spanish-speaking audience. I saw that some were deeply moved by the depth of the sentiments of this farewell poem of our hero and brother Dr. Rizal which they understood perfectly in their tongue.

After the program and a breakfast hosted by the Embassy, we motored to the Plaza de la Fraternidad where a monument to Dr. Rizal stands, for floral offerings. We were joined there by a big group of Masons of Jose Rizal Lodge and also two ranking officials of the Cuban Foreign Ministry and two ranking officials of the Cuban Institute for Friendship with Peoples. The head of the Casa de Asia Museum also attended. Flowers were offered by the Embassy and these groups.

Many oldtimers, Filipinos and Cubans in Havana could not recall any past instance when such a big gathering came for the Rizal Day floral offerings. Anyway, in my address to the gathering, assisted by our interpreter, I thanked the Masons for their enthusiastic support, said that I myself was a Mason, and stressed that both Dr. Jose Rizal and the Cuban national hero Jose Marti were Masons. Jose Marti was also a remarkable intellectual whose death intensified the Cuban revolution against Spain at the same time that the Filipinos led by Bonifacio then Aguinaldo were waging war against the same colonizer.

The final event of the day was another floral offering at another statue of Rizal, inside the Palacio del Capitanes Gobernadores, the residence of the former ruling Spanish governors-generals.

Happy New Year and more power to our fraternity.


Mac Corsino

[Moderator's Note: Bro Mac Corsino is the current Philippine Ambassador to Cuba and a Senior DeMolay of Leon Kilat Chapter; as well as a former professor of Silliman University.]

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