TORONTO — The first full-size statue of Dr. Jose Rizal was unveiled in Markham, Ontario in time for Philippine Heritage Month. The 6-foot bronze statue, fittingly located in Luneta Gardens, represents the diversity of this city’s community.
Statues of the Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, can be found in different continents around the world, but none have seen the likes of a smiling Rizal until now.
“He will be the only smiling Rizal you will find only because he is in Canada, a multicultural country…and in Markham, a very diverse city. It took us about, say, 18 years, to arrive at where we are. This is just a culmination of that plan of putting Rizal in the map in Canada and this is it,” said Mogi Mogado.
“First life-size na monument sa Canada. Karamihan bust ni Rizal lang kaya nagagalak kami. Ito’y pinahayag namin sa buong kapatiran ng Knight of Rizal para sa ganun ma-inspire sila na hindi lang dito sa Canada magkakaroon…mga ibang lugar din,” said Sir Joe Damasco Regional Commander, Knights of Rizal Canada.
The monument is the latest addition to Markham’s Public Art collection and was a gift to the city by the Filipino Canadian Community of Markham to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.
All of these were made possible by former Councillor Alex Chiu who raised funds to support the $300,000 monument and Luneta Gardens project.
“I always see Dr. Rizal statue so I say why don’t we do this in Markham. When I decided to step down and retired, I said I have to do something so the Filipino people will remember that I have done something for them,” said Alex Chiu, Former Councillor of Markham.
“It’s as much about recognizing a national hero as it is about truly appreciating the contributions of the Filipino community here in Markham, throughout the GTA, across Canada,” said Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti.
Community leaders hope that Rizal’s monument will inspire the younger Filipino-Canadian generations and serve as a reminder of their Filipino heritage regardless of where they live.