Rizal Park opens in Switzerland
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - September 5, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The first Rizal Park in Switzerland was recently inaugurated in the city of Wassen.

Ambassador to Switzerland Leslie Baja and canton or district of Uri head Heidi Z’graggen unveiled the Rizal bust, which was donated by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts on Aug. 29.

Officials of Uri and the city of Wassen, Swiss and Filipino residents in nearby districts and officials of the Philippine embassy in Berne attended the ceremony.

The embassy said a number of Swiss locals whose great-grandfathers worked in the Reiswald quarry – source of the granite that forms the base and obelisk of the Rizal monument in Luneta – were misty eyed at the ceremony.

The National Parks Development Committee proposed the establishment of a Rizal Park in Wassen in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Rizal monument in Luneta last year.

Swiss sculptor Richard Kissling in Wassen made the monument.

In her speech, Z’graggen emphasized the extraordinary connection between Rizal and Swiss legendary hero William Tell, and between Manila and Wassen.

“I hope that this connection will serve as a strong foundation for our cultural dialogue,” she said.

Baja said the Philippines was extremely grateful to the people of Uri and Wassen for agreeing to the establishment of the memorial site.

He said it was a “pleasant surprise” that Rizal is known in the city.

“Incidentally, the legendary Swiss hero William Tell, who was also from canton Uri in Altdorf, became an inspiration for Rizal’s ideological philosophies, so much so that he even translated into Tagalog the novel William Tell,” Baja said.

Apart from the unveiling of the Rizal monument, Philippine and Swiss colors were also installed on the mountaintop that is now the site of the Rizal bust. The area forms part of the famous Gotthard hiking trail frequented by Swiss locals and foreign visitors.

CULTURE AND THE ARTS HEIDI Z LUNETA MANILA AND WASSEN NATIONAL COMMISSION NATIONAL PARKS DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE RIZAL RIZAL PARK WASSEN WILLIAM TELL
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