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Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Chicago-area Filipinos honor
their own 'Gandhi'

The four men walked along North Marine Drive on Chicago's
Lake Shore Drive several yards away. They fussed with a
wreath and bunches of roses and other flowers around the
base of the statue of a man with a book in one hand and
a quill in the other.

The four shared some gentle laughter-- partly over their
faltering endurance in the face of the low temperatures
and biting breezes-- and took pictures of each other
standing before the statue.

It may hage lack the pomp of previous years, but the
respectful flower offering to the memory of a revered
Filipino freedom fighter spoke with quiet dignity.
Their action before a cold, lifeless statue honored a man
of legendary passion, a kind of Filipino Gandhi.

"He was the only person that died for our country", said
65 year old Ban Gallardo on Dec. 30, the 108th anniversary
of the execution of Dr. Jose Rizal, whose death in 1896
is observed each year by parades and other festivities all
over the Philippines and by Filipinos in this country and
elsewhere around the world.

The offering at Rizal's statue, was one of several such
celebrations in the Chicago area. It was capped by a dinner
dance hosted by the Order of the Knights of Rizal.
The internationl social service and civic organization was
established in 1911 to spread the teachings of Rizal,
a renaissance man who Gallardo said followed non-violent
practices in helping to wrest Filipinos from Spanish rule
in the 19th century.

Rizal, also a scientist, writer and artist, wrote books
that blasted Spain's control of the Philippines and instilled
national pride. After a series of prosecutions, arrests and
exiles, the Spanish government convicted Rizal of Rebellion,
sedition and illegal association on Dec. 26, 1896.
He died by firing squad four days later at age 36 -- an
execution that inspired a revolt against Spanish colonization,
winning Filipino independence in 1898.

The Filipino culture is strong in Chicago. It is the second
highest Asian based ethnicity in Cook County according to
Naisy Dollar, director and community liaison for the
Commission of Human Relations Advisory Council on Asian Affairs.

Census figures for 2000 showed that Filipinos ranked no. 2 in
the county, with almost 55,000 people, behind Asian Indians
with almost 72,000 people. Overall, there were 260,000 Asians
in Cook County according to the census.

(abstracted from CHITRIBNEWS by: Allan Johnson/Tribune Staff Reporter)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:03 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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