Rosemeadow crowd welcomes Aquino for Rizal statue unveiling

Phillipino President Benigno Aquino will officially unveil the statue of Jose Rizal in Rizal Park, Rosemeadow. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Phillipino President Benigno Aquino will officially unveil the statue of Jose Rizal in Rizal Park, Rosemeadow. Picture: Jonathan Ng
newspaper clipping from the Sydney Morning Herald in 1898 of the execution of Rizal.

newspaper clipping from the Sydney Morning Herald in 1898 of the execution of Rizal.

IN THE Philippines, Jose Rizal is remembered as a freedom fighter, daring intellectual and national hero.

Now members of Campbelltown's vibrant Filipino community have a lasting reminder in their own backyard.

President Benigno Aquino III visited Rosemeadow's Rizal Park on Friday to officially unveil a five-metre tall brass statue of the patriot after a long campaign by local residents.

It's believed to be the first time an international head of state has visited Campbelltown.

President Aquino was joined by Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario, NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell and mayor Sue Dobson. Hundreds of residents and members of the Filipino community were also invited to the heavily protected ceremony.

Cr Dobson said the visit was a significant day for Campbelltown.

"A towering symbol of the strong ties between Campbelltown and the Philippines, the statue honours the legacy of Jose Rizal and is set to become one of the city's most recognisable landmarks," she said.

"Our city is most fortunate to have a very active, passionate and committed Filipino community, who have worked tirelessly on this project, and I commend them on their efforts."

President Aquino said NSW had embraced Rizal and his peaceful push for freedom.

"This monument, in this park, will be an enduring pledge that those ideals will continue to guide us and that Australians will be there, as true friends, in our collective in our collective quest for even better lived for our people," he said.

He also thanked the state government, Campbelltown Council, the Campbelltown and Region Filipino Community Council, and Rizal Park Movement for their dedication to the project. Rizal Park Movement deputy president Max Lopez said the local Filipino community first started to campaign for a statue to be erected more than a decade ago.After the ceremony, President Aquino met with members of the Filipino community at a reception at John Therry Catholic High School.

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