The legacy of our national hero continues as the Knights of Rizal drew together Pangasinan State University (PSU) faculty and students and the Local Government Unit of Bayambang to honor Dr. Jose P. Rizal by recruiting the province’s youth leaders to become part of Kabataang Pangarap ni Rizal (KAPARIZ) during the 1st Pangasinan Rizal Youth Leadership Institute (PRYLI) on March 2, 2018.
The Balon Bayambang Events Center, which served as the venue for the event, was packed with students from all PSU campuses, Federated Student Government officers, students and officials from Bayambang National High School, barangay officials from different barangays in Bayambang, and other guests. KAPARIZ Vice President for Luzon John Joseph V. Zarate welcomed the participants, while PSU-Bayambang Campus Social Sciences Department Chair Dr. Clarence D. Verceles presented the delegates.
PSU-Bayambang Campus Executive Director Dr. Maria Rhodora E. Malicdem reminded everyone that Rizal should not be forgotten, which is why Rizal is still included in general education subjects. She encouraged the delegates to be like Rizal by getting out of their comfort zones in order to be heroes of the community and the country.
Mayor Cezar T. Quiambao graced the event and took the opportunity to impress in the mind of the youth about Bayambang’s special connection to Rizal. He pointed out that, like other towns in the Philippines, Rizal’s statue dominates the town plaza, while the main road, a national road, is named after him. But few young people know that Rizal used to actually set foot in Bayambang to get to his then girlfriend Leonor Rivera of Camiling, Tarlac, a town which used to be part of Bayambang.***
Also gracing the event were Department of Interior and Local Government’s local head Romarie Soriano and the representative of Knights of Rizal Supreme Commander and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Reynato S. Puno Sr. Knights of Rizal Council of Elders Chairman Lamberto C. Nanquil and National Rizal Youth Leadership Institute (NYRLI) Chairman Emmanuel M. Cabusao were also there to speak about La Liga FIlipina as a model of national unity, the origin and role of KAPARIZ, and the prescription for effective leadership, respectively.
The whole-day event ended with the group singing of the NYRLI song.
***According to historical accounts, their relationship was kept secret as Rivera’s wealthy parents disapproved of Rizal, who was a most wanted man at the twilight of the Spanish regime, so Rizal had to be fetched on a horseback (or calesa?) by Rivera’s aide at the Bayambang terminal of the then Ferrocarril de Manila-Dagupan or Manila-Dagupan Railway, the precursor of the Philippine National Railways or PNR. According to the oral account of retired PSU professor and dean Dr. Clarita Jimenez, Rizal even frequented her family’s ancestral house. Her father Gavino de Guzman, who was then the Mayor of Bayambang, welcomed Rizal at his home on his way to meeting the aide of Rivera. According to Jimenez’s mother, Rizal was good-looking though short in stature.