THE International Assembly of the Order of the Knights of Rizal is being convened starting from Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, at the Manila Hotel under the leadership of Angono Vice Mayor and Supreme Commander Sir Gerardo V. Calderon, KGCR. I am a founding member of the historians' chapter which was organized on April 14, 2012, upon the encouragement of former Supreme Commander Sir Pablo S. Trillana, KGCR.

Last night, Jan. 30, 2023, upon our chapter's recommendation, the international headquarters and the Supreme Council conferred a special citation on GMA 7's "Maria Clara at Ibarra" for "bringing José Rizal's works, the Noli Me Tangere and the El Filibusterismo to a new generation, rekindling to them the ideals of freedom and nationalism for which all our heroes fought and died."

The citation continues: "Simply put, 'Maria Clara at Ibarra' is a phenomenon that is making Rizal relevant and at the center again of our admiration and affection. The order recognizes this gamble to bring history closer to the people." Show writers Suzette Doctolero, Jmee Katanyag and Brylle Tabora received the award for the network and those who are part of the show.

This morning, as part of the international assembly and as one of the early official events in line with the 125th anniversary of Philippine independence and nationhood 2023-2026, the Order will open the new Knights of Rizal Museum at the second floor of the international headquarters at Anda Circle, Bonifacio Drive, Manila. The fulcrum of the KOR Museum will be the Sir Juan M. Castro, KGCR Collection. Castro, a Filipino physician in the United States, boasts of a collection with a total of 5,000 items from the Philippines, the United States, and various parts of Europe and Asia. The orbit of its strength consisted of paintings he recently donated to the KOR upon hearing about the vision of former Supreme Commander Sir Reynato S. Puno Sr, KGCR, to establish a KOR Museum.

But why would the Knights of Rizal be interested in showing a diverse collection even if its mandate is only the propagation of the teachings of Rizal?

Because José Rizal was a historian and an artist. And like José Rizal, Castro is a Filipino who toured around the world and visited museums and art galleries to enrich himself; he made himself a well-rounded person and a better Filipino. Castro would like to share what he learned and discovered around the world by giving Filipinos access to his collection of international art without having to leave the country. Because as Rizal and Castro demonstrated, a well-rounded Filipino is a free Filipino.

The first offering of the KOR Museum from the Sir Juan Castro KGCR Collection are the 25 commissioned works about various episodes in Philippine history painted by Filipino artists Daniel G. Libor and Ador de Vera at the turn of the 21st century. Trillana worked hard these past few days to put up the exhibit and reunited with his Sucesos Knights, Sir Ian Christopher Alfonso, KCR; Sir Jonathan Balsamo, KGOR, and myself (Sir Michael Charleston "Xiao" Chua, KGOR) to help him identify each painting. Sir Ian wrote the captions and Project Saysay designed them. Nick Legazpi curated the whole exhibition.

The depictions included: 1) Migration of the Aetas; 2) Migration of the Malays; 3) Migration of the Indones (they still believed in the wave of migrations at the time of the artwork, but the ancestors of the present Filipinos were the boat-rowing Austronesians); 4) The Chinese Trade; 5) Battle of Mactan (Victory of Lapulapu); 6) Limahong Invasion; 7) Defense of Maguindanao (Sultan Kudarat); 8) Dutch Attack on Abucay; 9) La Naval de Manila; 10) The British Invasion of Manila (and the Diego Silang Revolt); 11) Gabriela Silang's Revolt; 12) Battle of Zapote; 13) Martyr of Bagumbayan; 14) The Battle of Manila Bay; 15) The Birth of a Nation (Proclamation of Philippine Independence); 16) The First Shot; 17) Supreme Sacrifice (Philippine-American War); 18) The Death of Lawton; 19) The Philippine Commonwealth; 20) Death March; 21) The Second Philippine Republic; 22) The Leyte Landing; 23) The Third Philippine Republic; 24) Philippine Prehistory; and 25) People Power.

The set represents an elite number of exhibits of such scope and breadth at par with that of Botong Francisco's "History of Manila" (1968) at the National Museum of Fine Arts, the Ayala Museum's Philippine History Diorama, and Gateway Gallery's "Sining Saysay."

As we look back at our story as a nation in this exhibit, with Rizal as one of its prime movers, Sir Jonathan paraphrased him and shared the same spirit with him: If the exhibit succeeds at awakening our consciousness of our past, already effaced from our memory, and to rectify what has been falsified and slandered, then we have not worked in vain, and with this as a basis, however small it may be, we shall be able to study the future.

2023-01-30T21:10:49Z dg43tfdfdgfd