>By Joseph G. Lariosa, Journal GlobaLinks
CHICAGO (JGL) – On the 154th birth anniversary of Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal on Friday, June 19, members of the Filipino community will be missing him in front of the eponymous Rizal Center in the north side of Chicago, Illinois.
Six suspects, two of them women, who were celebrating the Stanley Cup victory by their Chicago Blackhawks hockey team, took down the charcoal-colored bust of Rizal in front of the Rizal Center at Irving Park Road and loaded it on one of their two vehicles – a yellow jeep. The other vehicle was a get-away black car which had a damaged headlight at left.
Two witnesses to the theft told the staff of the Journal Globalinks that they saw six intoxicated people, one of the two women wearing a Blackhawks jersey, take down the Rizal bust from the pedestal while the two were walking on the opposite (southern) side of the road.
The two witnesses, who gave their names only as Brandon and Nick, said they were able to take a photo of the two get-away vehicles and provided the photo to the JGL staff.
Brandon said he immediately called 9-1-1 after the thieves took off and reported the theft to the police. He said he got a return call but he was not able to talk to the responding police officer.
Philippine Consul General of the Midwest Generoso Calonge said that last Wednesday (June 17) he received a call from Dr. Rufino Crisostomo, president of the Filipino American Council of Greater Chicago (FACC), informing him that thieves took down the bust of Rizal from its pedestal.
WREATH-LAYING FRIDAY AT THE CHICAGO RIZAL MONUMENT
Calonge advised Dr. Crisostomo to inform the Chicago police about the theft. He also appealed to the thieves to return the Rizal bust so that those, who could not join him in the floral wreath-laying before the Rizal monument on Lake Shore Drive on June 19 can also lay flowers at the foot of the pedestal in front of the Rizal Center, dubbed by a Chicago Filipino community editor-publisher as first “home away from home” of the Filipinos in the nation.
Consul General Calonge recalled his visit at the Rizal Center as part of an advanced party for Chicago visit of then Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos in the 90’s. “That was the first time that I set foot in the Rizal Center that’s why I am familiar with the Center.”
He is appealing to those in possession of the Rizal bust to return the bust so the Filipino community will have a more meaningful celebration on Rizal’s 154th birthday on June 19.
Aside from floral offering at the monument, there will also be recitation of Rizal poems and remarks on Rizaliana.
The Rizal monument was erected to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Philippine Independence in 1998. This was done with the help of local members of the Order of the Knights of Rizal and Ladies of Rizal, who donated and raised money “to create a recast of a monument, also by artist Antonio T. Mondejar, that stands at the Rizal Shrine at Dapitan, in Zamboanga, Philippines.” It was in 1999 that Rizal monument was unveiled following a parade.
Dr. Rizal, a revolutionary hero and martyr, was a non-violent freedom fighter and advocate for a reformed and independent Philippines. He was executed on December 30, 1896, a day that is now celebrated as a national holiday in the Philippines.
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