CALAMBA CITY, Laguna, June 20 — The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) conferred the “Gawad Rizal” awards Tuesday on two outstanding individuals and an institution for their exemplary works and achievements in the pursuit of perpetuating the ideals, teachings, values, works and accomplishments of Rizal.
The awards were given during the National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal’s 151st birth anniversary celebration at the Calamba Rizal Shrine attended by national and local officials and the multi-sectors.
NHCP Chair Dr. Maria Serena Diokno, assisted by host City Mayor Joaquin Chipeco Jr., conferred this year’s posthumous award on Zamboanga City Mayor Cesar Climaco, who struggled for freedom against tyranny and fought against the corruption and abuses of the Marcos dictatorship.
In the midst of his battle for good governance, Mayor Climaco was gunned down fighting for his cause.
Professor Paul Dumul also received the award for the principles he stood for through his consistent, honest and creative works as a writer, playwright, educator, professor, scholar and historian serving to inspire others and enlighten various sectors on Rizal’s life and works.
In accepting the award, Prof. Dumul believed that learning about Rizal’s life and works is like taking a journey through four stages on how people developed adoration for Rizal and then some quarters threw vilification on the second stage.
The third stage however, Dumul said, is credited to former National Historical Institute Chairman and multi-awarded Filipino historian Ambeth Ocampo “who has perhaps done the most today to make Rizal come alive for so many.”
According to Dumul, this stage is getting to know Rizal as a human being with his human strengths and weaknesses. But, he claimed Rizal’s greatness shines all the more brilliantly as the more human he appears.
He broached the idea for the fourth stage where he cited Rizal’s poem “Mi Retiro” as a reflection of the hero’s recollection from childhood to exile and his life spent in a foreign land where Rizal revealed to have regretted spending his childhood to waste while in Europe.
Yet, Prof. Dumul continued, Rizal admitted through his poem that his life spent in Calamba and later while subjected to exile in Dapitan were more significant compared with his 5-year stay in Europe.
This means Rizal valued his personal contact with his own people whom he interacted with in his Calamba neighborhood.
Dumul also pointed out that Rizal demonstrated his love of country while doing voluntary services to the poor. Rizal also embarked on a community lighting project, a water system and by constructing park benches during his exile in Dapitan.
Metrobank Foundation president Aniceto Sobrepeña received the Gawad Rizal institutional award for the foundation’s contributions in the field of arts, education, peace and security and advocacy to Rizal’s high standards of service and professionalism.
Sobrepeña said he received the foundation’s award “privileged to stand right at the birthplace of a man who even after 151 years is the cause of pride for a nation and to honor his legacy of nationhood, love of country, excellence and hope.”
The Metrobank Foundation president said “there are others who see Rizal as a man for his time yet he sets the standard for men and women no matter what their times are to rise to the challenge of becoming the nation’s builders within their milieu.”
He said the foundation’s 30-year search goes for “the others who have done the same but more quietly under the radar but are imbued with as much passion and commitment as those whose names are etched in the honor of our history.”
Sobrepeña explained the foundation’s work to accord recognitions to “those who seek nothing more but to contribute to the best of their capacity in the fields of education, peace and security, law enforcement and the visual arts.”
Hence, he continued, Metrobank bestows their awards to outstanding teachers, soldiers, policemen/women, artists and designers “in a nation of unsung heroes.”
Sobrepeña shared the Gawad Rizal Award on Metrobank Foundation to “them whose lives make a difference because they continue to believe as Rizal did in the greatness of our people and of our country.”
In extolling Rizal’s life as a writer, painter, sculptor and doctor, former Congresswoman Cynthia Villar who represented Senator Manny Villar to the occasion, remarked that many have admired Rizal who possessed brilliance and his dedication to share his knowledge and skills that kindled the nationalistic spirit.
Villar said that Rizal’s works and writings proved his greatness and his martyrdom inspired the Filipino revolutionaries to strive for independence. She challenged to emulate Rizal’s works into transforming modern-day heroism for the sake of the environment and to help those in need.
The former solon paused “Marahil marami sa atin ngayon ang magdadalawang-isip maging bayani. Sino ba ang gustong sumikat nguni’t kinikilala lamang kung patay na? Hindi natin kailangang mamatay upang tanghaling bayani.”
She propounded on her 12-year environment-oriented “Save-a-River” project in Las Piñas which involves ecological clean-up of rivers and environs to restore fish habitat and sustain livelihood among the fisherfolks.
She also elaborated on her handicraft projects using the water hyacinths and the waste coconut husks for the coco net rip laying as a cement alternative add-on that is 80 per cent cheaper.
The project includes bamboo growing along rivers and kitchen waste management for organic fertilizer. (PNA)