An audacious plan to build a Rizal Park in Campbelltown has now become a reality, with none other than the President of the Philippines as the special guest at the unveiling.

The Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘PNoy’ Aquino III, was the honoured guest at the official opening of the Rizal Park in Campbelltown, Sydney on the morning of October 26.

It was a historic and emotional moment for everyone who was behind the project: the community leaders, government officials, members of the Philippine Consulate and many others who were instrumental in the establishment of the park since the idea was first put to the government back in 1988.

President Aquino expressed his heartfelt thanks to the NSW Government for its generous support. The state now boasts five Rizal landmarks, namely the Rizal Park in Blacktown City, the bust of Rizal at the Plaza Ibero-Americana near the Sydney Central Station, the Rizal Statue in Ashfield Park, the Rizal Park and the Rizal Street in Campbelltown.

“Not only is this an affirmation of the importance of Filipinos to your national life, it is also a celebration of Australian inclusiveness and diversity,” he said.

The NSW Premiere Barry O’Farrell, who also attended the unveiling, compared PNoy to the Philippines’s national hero and said they are like “two men driven by social issues facing their countrymen who are determined through peaceful means to deliver change to their country and who understood the power of words.”

Among those in the audience were the members of the Knights of Rizal, many of whom had an early 5am start to arrive on time for the ceremony.

Knights of Rizal member Max Encomienda was among those who had the opportunity to hear PNoy’s speech.

“It was great because it came from his heart … but he needs a lot of help from concerned citizens to make his vision come to reality. For that to happen, each and every one of us must do our part in keeping the government clean and transparent,” said Encomienda.

The Rizal Park sits on 2.6 hectares of the Government’s reserved land. Its centrepiece is a giant five-metre statue of Jose Rizal donated by renowned Filipino Sculptor Eduardo Castrillo. In a radio interview, Consul General Anne Jalandoon Louis said that there are more initiatives lined up in the future to encourage the use of the park as a cultural centre for the Filipino community.

For a full transcript of PNoy’s inspirational speech, click the link here or watch the video, courtesy of the Philippine Government’s official YouTube site: RTVMalacanang.


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