Knights of Rizal/ National Rizal Youth Leadership Institute 60th Anniversary
Theme: Rizal in Dapitan: Systems Thinking in Action
Event Date: December 15, 2022, at Baguio Teachers Camp
Magandang umaga. Maayong buntag. Good morning to everyone.
Patriotism, social discipline, civic virtues, and love of justice. These were the values espoused by our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.
And for these reasons, the Knights of Rizal, a civic and patriotic organization, was recognized by the Republic of the Philippines through Republic Act 646 as a chartered entity and instrument by which we promote and instill the life and wisdom of our national hero among Filipinos.
My warmest greetings to the Knights of Rizal and the National Rizal Youth Leadership Institute for the successful commemoration of your 60th Anniversary, with the theme, “Rizal in Dapitan: Systems Thinking in Action.”
Marahil naitatanong natin — ano nga ba talaga ang naging buhay ni Rizal noong siya ay ipinatapon sa Dapitan?
Marami na rin tayong nabasang mga kwento na nagsasalarawan kung ano ang naging karanasan ni Rizal.
And having just survived physical isolation and limited mobility during the pandemic — we can be forgiven for thinking that, just like us, Rizal also suffered tremendous anxiety and other mental health issues while in exile.
But despite being exiled in Dapitan, our national hero refused to be defeated.
He made sure that his 4-year stay in exile was productive and worthwhile – he was not only a visionary or a writer of stirring stories that inspired people to revolt, but he was also a brilliant systems thinker.
When he won in a Spanish lottery, he bought a piece of land where he built his own house, a school, a clinic, and homes for his learners and patients, too.
He also created a farm system that allowed the community self-sustainable by producing their crops and earning from regular harvests. From such a simple initiative was born the Association of Dapitan Farmers.
In Mindanao, where I grew up, a trip to Dapitan to see Rizal’s house is one of those educational field trips you should never miss.
I remember that before stepping into his bahay kubo, we saw the water system he built, which gave villagers safe drinking water and saved them from water-borne diseases.
When he learned that the people in his community did not know how to fish despite being blessed with convenient access to the resource-rich municipal waters, he did not only teach them fishing but also taught them that fishing can be a source of livelihood.
He valued knowledge and generously took in students to learn from him the basic academic teachings that were otherwise not accessible to the intelligent but marginalized people in his community.
In Dapitan, even in isolation, Rizal would continue to liberate the Filipinos.
Today, together with the National Rizal Youth Leadership Institute, I commend the Knights of Rizal for gathering Filipino youth leaders and providing them with valuable learning experiences.
By rediscovering and appreciating the wisdom and genius of our national hero, we open avenues toward greater civic consciousness and social empowerment.
Your organization is key in molding young Filipinos into dynamic nation-builders within their respective communities.
At this point, let me give a few words to our youth leaders.
Let me thank you for your willingness to immerse yourself in the life and works of Dr. Jose Rizal. I hope that through this activity, you will be inspired to be our ambassadors of goodwill to your fellow youth.
Rizal’s scholarly life may be far from your reality now. His appetite for learning may not seem attractive compared to the ease of using Google and the magic of the online world.
But I believe every Filipino has a social conscience like Rizal.
I hope that having a glimpse of his life in exile empowers you to action.
The Philippine government needs partners like the Filipino youth to help us spread the importance of education.
We need ambassadors who can influence fellow youth to resist the lure of drug addiction or see through the deceitful rhetoric of recruitment to terrorism and violent extremism.
We need friends and classmates who can encourage others to stay in school regardless of life’s challenges.
Filipinos who will not allow drug addiction and insurgency to steal the dreams and lives of Filipino youth.
I trust that as you finish this learning experience, you will go home to your families, schools, and communities eager to share Rizal’s values - patriotism, social discipline, civic virtues, and love of justice.
May Rizal’s love for our country and civic consciousness inspire us to serve our fellow Filipinos.
Lahat – para sa Diyos, bayan, at pamilyang Pilipino.
Shukran. Maraming Salamat po.