SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA—A day after describing President Aquino as a “phenomenon,” New South Wales Premier Barry O’ Farrell compared the Philippine head of state to national hero Jose Rizal.
At the unveiling of Jose Rizal’s statue at Campbelltown, O’ Farrell said Aquino shares similarities with Rizal in their belief in peaceful means to bring about change in society, their patriotism, and the effective use of the power of words.
“As I read your own biography, I couldn’t help but see some similarities, similarities about two men who were driven by social issues facing their countrymen, two men who determined through peaceful means to deliver the change to their countrymen, two men who understood the power of words; Jose Rizal through the power of the written word, and of course, you sir, through the power of the spoken word— something that doesn’t always come easy to politicians but something that is essential to our armory,” O’ Farrell said in a speech.
“The other great similarity between you both is, of course, your patriotism,” he said.
Aquino described Rizal’s newest statue in Australia as a “powerful symbol of a new chapter” in the friendship of Australia and the Philippines.
It is the sixth statue of Rizal in Australia, the fifth one in New South Wales.
Campbelltown is home to around 5,000 Filipino-Australians, said to be the second largest concentration on Filipinos in New South Wales.
The statue was sculpted and donated by Eduardo Castrillo through the efforts of Philippine Ambassador to Australia Belen Anota.
The statue depicts Rizal during his stay in Europe, holding his first novel, Noli Me Tangere. Rizal’s left hand is raised “in readiness [for] the approaching ‘storm,’” a description of the statue reads.
“And much as he advocated… peaceful change, his countrymen caused the storm of revolutionary protest against a colonial tyranny that resulted in Rizal’s own personal storm.”
Enrique “Iking” Reyes, great grandson of Rizal’s sister Saturnina, was present at the unveiling of the statue.
Filipino-Australian organizations grouped together to oversee the development of the Rizal Park in Campbelltown. The Rizal Park Movement of Campbelltown (RPMC) was formed under the initiative of then Consul General (now DFA Assistant Secretary) Maria Theresa Lazaro.