Rizal Day becomes official holiday in California city

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Dec. 30, 2013

CARSON CITY – The city with the largest known full-size Jose Rizal monument in the US is now the first US city to declare Dec. 30, the date of Dr. Jose P. Rizal’s martyrdom, as a local holiday.

“The feeling really is tremendous,” Chito Mandap of the Jose P. Rizal monument movement said. “We are celebrating again the life and the death of our national hero.”

Carson City officials, the Philippine consulate and the community celebrated the day the national hero was executed on Dec. 30, 1896, as he helped the Philippines gain independence from Spain.

A resolution to make Dec. 30 a permanent holiday was passed by the city council earlier this month.

“He died in martyrdom, that’s why the city of Carson has approved and adopted this,” Lito Santarina, Carson mayor pro tem, said.

“Year after year after year, we can bring the Philippines right here into our backyard, in our city,” Mandap said.

Youth in a city where nearly a fifth of the residents are Filipino are proud that Rizal has the recognition in their hometown.

The city has also passed a Larry Itliong day resolution honoring the late Filipino American labor leader on his birthday.

“I think it’s really nice having a Jose Rizal Remembrance Day especially since we don’t learn about him in school very much,” Virginia Velasquez of Venture Scout said. “It shows he was a very important person.”

“Just learning about him is a really cool experience,”
Jacqueline Suarez, also of Venture Scout, said.

Consulate officials add that while a very few number of foreign countries have Rizal monuments, Carson may actually be the only city outside of the Philippines to declare Rizal Day as a holiday.

Despite being a permanent city holiday, Carson residents do not have the day off. Rather Rizal Day is a way to encourage education and Filipino pride at school and at the work place.

You can contact Steve Angeles at steve_angeles@abs-cbn.com for more information.

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