-By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

CARSON, California – Rainy weather couldn’t stop the Filipino community in Carson from celebrating Jose Rizal’s death anniversary with one of the city’s newest and largest symbols of Filipino pride over the weekend.

City and Philippine consulate officials joined the community in celebrating the 116th Rizal Day that commemorates the martyrdom of Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal.

Officials laid a wreath in front of their newly installed 15-foot full body monument of Rizal.

“Unveiling then was just a beginning and not the end. We will continually do some events where we can invigorate the youth and even people of our age, so as to promote the ideals of our foremost national hero Dr. Jose P Rizal,” said Chito Mandap of the Jose P. Rizal Monument Movement.

The community had been waiting eight years for this day. Philippines officials believe the statue, which was unveiled last October, is the only one of its kind in California.

Plans for the monument began during newly reassigned Philippines Consul General Helen Dela Vega’s first Los Angeles term. She was happy to finally see the statue upon her return to the Los Angeles post.

“Contented and satisfied but that is just the beginning. I think we have to encourage all the Filipinos and Americans to inculcate the spirit of Rizal, and the first thing that should be done is to help put up more resources to help maintain the statue of Rizal in the city of Carson,” said Dela Vega.

While the statue continues to stand as a symbol of peace and unity for the Filipino community, city officials are also planning to install monuments of other countries’ national heroes.

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