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History of the
Dr. Jose Rizal Monument in Chicago


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Groundbreaking

On March 16, 1999, the successful groundbreaking ceremony was held along Lake Shore Drive and Marine Drive between Lawrence and Wilson Avenue in front of Weiss Memorial Hospital. Alderman Eugene Schulter of the 47th Ward and Chicago Park District Director Gwendolyn Laroche jointly represented Mayor Richard M. Daley, Mayor of Chicago. Also present were Consul General Emelinda Lee Pineda and the consular staff. From the Order of the Knights of Rizal, Sir Phil M. Nayan, KGCR, Sir Roberto D. Roque, KGOR, Sir Cornelio Natividad, KCR, Sir Max Basco, KCR, Sir Felix O. Gonzales, Sir Ban Gallardo and Sir Joe Sarmiento, KCR were present. Lady Evelyn Natividad, Lady Thelma Fuentes (groundbreaking chairperson), Lady Virgie Jaranilla and Lady Norma Manankil who took care of catering equally represented the Ladies for Rizal.

Project History

A community project of the Malaya Chapter, Order of the Knights of Rizal and Ladies for Rizal was conceived under the leadership of Sir Roberto D. Roque and the late Lady Herminia M. Roque (Pres. * Kababaihang Rizalista, Malaya Chapter) way back in 1994. A bronze statue to be made by a Chicago-based sculptor would cost Sixty Five Thousand Dollars ($65,000). A committee was formed to study and raise funds for the said project. However, the Philippine Historical Society through the Order of the Knights of Rizal in Manila, donated a bust of Dr. Jose Rizal for the City of Chicago.

When Dr. Max Basco was elected chairman for the 1998 Philippine Centennial Movement, he told Sir Bert that it was President Ramos' project to erect life-size statues of Dr. Rizal in major cities in the United States. "Why settle for a bust when we can have a life size statue of Dr. Jose Rizal," Basco added. A letter of Sir Phil M. Nayan, KGCR on March 5, 1997 addressed to Quintin Pastrana, Deputy Director of the Philippine Centennial Commission to request for the statue of Dr. Rizal. Dr. Max Basco was appointed by the Malaya Chapter Monument Committee to be the co-chair for the project and to facilitate the acquisition of the monument in Manila.

The outcome of Dr. Basco's mission was even for the better. He was able to solicit a double life-size statue of Dr. Jose Rizal made by the famous sculptor in the person of Antonio Mondejar.

To bolster the fund drive, the committee deemed it necessary to appoint Sir Eli Natividad, KCR to chair the fund raising campaign. Later, due to health reasons, Sir Roberto D. Roque, KGOR relinquished his duties to Sir Cornelio Natividad, KCR to chair the entire project. Alderman Eugene Schulter of the 47th Ward expedited the approval of the project with the Chicago Park District. It was immediately approved on March 10, 1999.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held on March 16, 1999. Fundraising kick-off was held at the Inland Conference Center in Westmont, IL on March 19, 1999. The targeted amount was to raise One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000) that would come from benefactors, sponsors and patrons. The contributors of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000) being a benefactor will be listed in the bronze marker at Margate Park House. The Two Hundred Dollar ($200) contributors, their names will be printed in a commemorative book. While personal contributions of One Hundred Ninety Nine or less will get a certificate of appreciation. Twenty Thousand Dollars ($20,000) will be appropriated for perpetual maintenance endowment fund. The Chicago Park District will handle this money.

The Unveiling Ceremony

The unveiling ceremony of the Dr. Jose Rizal Monument in Chicago was held on June 19, 1999. Distinguished guests and city officials led by the Order of the Knights of Rizal and other community leaders and organizations will grace the parade ground. A community mass was held before the unveiling ceremony and followed by cultural presentation and luncheon at Lincoln Park Margate Fieldhouse.

The Unveiling of the Roll of Donors Marker

The marker with the Roll of Donors for the Dr. Jose Rizal Monument was unveiled at the Lincoln Park Margate Fieldhouse. The marker also lists the names the working committee and the A simple unveiling ceremony was held in spite of the wintry weather in Chicago on December 30, 2000. A floral offering was also held at the Dr. Jose Rizal Monument - Chicago where three loyal Knights of Rizal and a lady who dug up the snow in order to perform the ceremony.

Future Plans

The Dr. Jose Rizal Monument - Chicago is not totally complete at the moment. The lights around the monument are still to be installed in the motif close to the Luneta Park lights during the late 1900's in Manila. And to prevent vandalism, tall shrubery has to be planted around the pedestal of the monument. On June 19, 2001 the Roll of Donors marker is going to be installed and unveiled on the south corner of the pedestal. It has been agreed upon that the committee that worked on the monument will be converted into a foundation later to be known as the Dr. Jose Rizal Monument Project Foundation. A room at the Lincoln Park Margate Fieldhouse will be named after Dr. Jose Rizal and be made into a Rizaliana for the entire City of Chicago to appreciate and enjoy. The legacy of Dr. Jose Rizal in Chicago is not only for the migrant Filipinos but for the children of Filipino-Americans who would appreciate the life and teachings of the national hero for generations to come.

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