Knights Of Rizal New York Confers Award For Excellence


Sunday December 1, 2019


Knights of Rizal New York Chapter Award for Excellence (KOY NY AFE) was successfully held last Friday, November 15th, at Weill Recital Hall, Carnegie Hall, in Manhattan. These awards were conceived for different categories which the Philippine national hero had excelled, with equal importance to the Youth to whom he had given a preeminent role as the hope of society. Singled out are Filipino American exemplars of excellence with the goal of keeping the values of Dr. Rizal alive. Sir Mariano Aquino, Jr., KCR, KOR NY Chapter Commander, spearheaded the campaign together with a number of volunteer Knights and Ladies. Of note was the hands-on role that Lady Aprille Piamonte-Aquino had in the successful completion of this event.

Sir Romulo Alcalde Aromin, Jr., MD, Chair of the Awards Committee, assembled a group of formidable judges who are also are excelling professionals in their community.

On an even larger scale, Sir Aquino conceived of the Heritage Award to acknowledge the works of an individual, group or organization that has exceptionally and singularly moved forward the ideals and values of Dr. Jose P. Rizal. The breadth of the work’s influence is felt to be on a much larger scale that significantly contributed to that common sense of pride, thereby raising the consciousness of the Filipinos’ shared identity as a race and as a nation. The honoree is seen to have excelled consistently and has built upon a record of consistency and credibility over the years. With the award being of heightened recognition, a commissioned art piece was an award itself, and created by another established artist, Sir Cesar delos Santos.

Heritage Award’s seminal offering was bestowed upon Messrs. Jerry Sibal and Edwin Josue for their significant role in the multiple restaging of the opera, Noli Me Tangere, first in 2017 at Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Tanghalang Abelardo in 2017 and in multiple sold out reruns in 2019 at the same venue. Mr. Sibal involved himself as codirector, set and costume designer at this year’s production. The opera was originally staged in 1957 at Far Eastern University, and then at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in 1974 and 1987.In his acceptance speech, Mr. Josue also thanked other figures including most importantly, Atty. Loida Lewis, a well-known and respected community leader, entrepreneur, philanthropist and patron of the arts, who made it possible for the opera to be staged in the US including its staging at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. She presented the award together with NY Consul General Claro Cristobal and Sir Aquino. A particular oratory, Dr. Rizal’s Mi Ultimo Adios (Huling Paalam, [Last Farewell] as translated by Andres Bonifacio in Filipino and written just before he was executed),

Paalam, bayan kong minamahal
Lupa mong sagana sa sikat ng araw;
(Farewell, adored Fatherland,
the sun’s beloved clime)
Edeng paraiso ang dito’y pumanaw
At perlas ng dagat sa may silangan”
(Pearl of the Orient seas, our lost Paradise)
(Translated by Bernardino Owano)

was delivered by a young Alexander Babuschak, just before the award was given. In that instance, he reunited with Rizal (as represented by Maan Cruz, Orator) who evidently became the symbolic representation of the Motherland.

This then became the springboard for Mheco Manlangit, Soprano, herself the featured soloist for the opera’s Kay Tamis ng Buhay to rouse the audience to an ovation and praise after the song. A program of Kundiman, as conceived by Sir Aromin, Jr., and created by Sir Rogelio Penaverde, Jr., himself an Opera tenor and one of the performers, walked the audience through Filipino romanticism. Penaverde gathered other classically trained Filipino American musicians in assembling a genre of traditional Filipino compositions in Tagalog, reminiscent of songs that are lofty devotions to one’s beloved, but in its purest forms are odes of undying love and heroism to one’s country. Featured artists were: Racquel Borromeo, Piano; Jared Martin, Tenor; and Joy Tamayo, Soprano. Oratories composed by Rizal himself, as enunciated by Maan Cruz were preludes to each of the musical pieces.

In a very inspiring and longer than his usual laconic closing signature remarks, ConGen Cristobal spoke of the award as a badge of honor devoid of any medals to show but of values long endeared to be kept alive.

San Lorenzo Ruiz Choir of New York rendered Isang Dugo, Isang Lahi, Isang Musika for its encore as the prayer uniting the Filipinos, through their diversity and commonality of a of their deeper heritage.

A cocktails reception was held a day earlier at the Philippine Center on 5th Avenue in Manhattan to allow for a closer intermingling of by-invitation only guests with the honorees. A short lecture on “Kidney Health: Common Knowledge to Know”, was given by Edgar Lerma, MD, the awardee for Health and Science, as part of promoting Health and Wellness. The audience was serenaded by Mitch Week with Filipino Love songs.

A number of congratulatory remarks were extended by luminaries including that of KOR Supreme Commander, Sir Elihu Ybanez, KGCR; Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones of the Department of Education and NYS Assemblyman Brian Barnwell, District 21.

KOR NY Chapter, founded in 1992, forms part of a larger network of Knights of Rizal, started in 1916 in Manila, Philippines. It was subsequently chartered under Republic Act no. 646 and has been in 61 chapters worldwide, boasting of about more than 25,000 members.



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