Photo from the website of the Philippine Embassy in Berne, Switzerland
MANILA - Filipinos in Switzerland feel closer to home following the inauguration of the first Rizal Park in the city of Wassen recently.
“The Philippines is extremely grateful to the people of the Canton of Uri and to the Municipality of Wassen for agreeing to the establishment of this memorial site. It was a pleasant surprise that Rizal is known in this part of Uri,” said Philippine Ambassador Leslie Baja.
Baja and Canton Uri Landammann (President) Dr. Heidi Z'graggen unveiled the Rizal bust which was donated by the Philippine National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
"Incidentally, the legendary Swiss hero William Tell, who was also from Canton Uri, in Altdorf, became an inspiration for Rizal’s ideological philosophies, so much so that he even translated into Tagalog the novel William Tell," added Baja.
The ceremony was witnessed by officials of Canton Uri, the city of Wassen, and the Philippine embassy as well as Swiss and Filipinos living in Uri and nearby areas.
A number of Swiss locals whose great grandfathers worked in the Reiswald quarry where the granite that form the base and obelisk of the Rizal monument in Luneta came from also witnessed the ceremony.
"I hope that this connection will serve as a strong foundation for our cultural dialogue," Dr. Z’graggen said.