Airdrie is now home to Alberta's first monument of a national hero of the Phllippines.
After a year of preliminary discussions and planning, the City of Airdrie, along with the Philippine Consulate General in Calgary (PCG), and the Filipino Airdrie Association (FAA), unveiled the province’s first monument of Dr. José Rizal in Nose Creek Regional Park at a small, rainy ceremony on Oct. 23.
The Philippines' national hero’s likeness was made into a three-foot cast bronze bust by Philippines-based sculptor Toym Imao. The donated bust was placed atop a seven-foot pedestal that includes a series of commemorative plaques to honour those whose support helped make the project possible.
According to Mayor Peter Brown, Rizal is an important part of the Philippines' history, and the City is proud to count the new monument as an addition to its public art collection.
“Airdrie is fortunate to have a large Filipino community and we are proud to partner with them to celebrate this beautiful Dr. Jose Rizal monument,” Brown said in an email statement.
The Rizal Monument Project was initiated and led by the PCG in collaboration with Airdrie City council, the FAA, and an ad-hoc group called the Rizal Monument Project Team.
The art donation from the PCG works to immortalize the Filipino patriot who inspired the Philippines' nationalist movement, playing an integral role in the country’s fight for independence from Spain in the 19th century.
Mayor Brown said the monument, located near the Gwacheon Park Totem Poles, will help to showcase the cultural diversity present within the Airdrie community.
“The monument represents diversity, inclusiveness, and showcases Airdrie welcoming all people to our community,” he said. “The Dr. José Rizal Monument celebrates our collaborative efforts as a community and [is] a gift for future generations.”
Alberta is the province with the second largest Filipino community in Canada and is home to more than 175,000 Filipinos, according to the PCG. The City of Airdrie claims the monument is the first of its kind in Alberta and in western Canada.
Philippine Consul General of Calgary Zaldy Patron, Associate Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism Muhammed Yaseed, and President of the FAA Jun Martin all presented speeches at the bust's unveiling.
In his speech, Patron thanked the City and others who worked together to bring the monument to Nose Creek Regional Park – a location that holds importance to the FAA due to its proximity to St. Paul’s Catholic Church, where many local Filipinos attend Sunday services, as well as the site of the FAA's annual festival to celebrate the Philippines’ independence.
“By being the home of the first Dr. José Rizal monument in Alberta, the City of Airdrie has forever inscribed its name in the hearts of the Filipino Albertans,” said Patron during his speech.
Patron has previously said the bust will likely be a tourist attraction for Filipinos in the Calgary area, as well as Filipinos from other Alberta communities.
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