Press Release
June 12, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara led the opening today in Madrid of the first ever Sentro Rizal, the foremost Philippine institution that will bring the the greatness of the country's arts, culture and language to the world.

Sentro Rizal was created under the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, authored by Angara and Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara. Its main purpose is to promote Philippine heritage across the world in the same way the Alliance Française, Instituto Cervantes and Goethe-Institut do for their home countries France, Spain and Germany respectively.

Branches of Sentro Rizal will be created overseas where there are large Filipino communities, especially Filipino children who need to be educated about their native country's history, culture and language.

"A Sentro Rizal will take root where there are Filipinos who wish to keep the connection with their motherland alive. It will foster understanding and friendship not only among overseas Filipinos, but also between Filipinos and foreign nationals with whom we share deep historic and cultural bonds," explained Angara.

The Philippines' premier cultural institution also serves as the eponymous tribute to national hero Dr. Jose Rizal on the sesquicentennial of his birth.

"The famous cultural institutions of the world were either formed by eminent men or named after one of the country's greatest men. As a Filipino, Rizal is without compare. He was a genius of letters, science and arts. He was a reformer who saw that education is the way toward enlightenment and progress. And he was a true patriot whose life and death were offered for his country," said Angara.

He continued, "But Rizal's revolutionary ideals did not revolve around violence and bloodshed. They were about reforms, of the mind and spirit especially. He was Asia's - if not one of the world's - first non-violent advocate of political reforms. For this reason, the entire Malay race throughout the region is proud to claim him as their own."

The launch of Sentro Rizal is part of a series of historic celebrations initiated by the Philippine embassy in Madrid: the 113th year of Independence today, the 150th birth anniversary of Rizal on June 19 and the 9th Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day on June 30.

Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, was invited to be the guest of honor at the Spanish capital because of his untiring efforts in enhancing bilateral relations through cultural exchange, dialogue and cooperation.

Meanwhile, on June 19, Mrs. Gloria M. Angara will lead the opening of the Philippine Pavilion and the second Sentro Rizal overseas in Prague, the birthplace of Prof. Ferdinand Blumentritt, one of Rizal's closest confidants.

"It is but fitting that we commemorate our independence from Spanish colonizers by honoring the person who inspired, and continues to inspire, countless Filipinos to uphold liberty and aspire for nationhood," said Angara.

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