The 123rd Philippine Independence Day was commemorated by the Knights of Rizal – Firenze Chapter with a simple outdoor flag ceremony, wreath-laying and awarding ceremony at the Cantina Melini in Gaggiano, Siena in Tuscany.
awarded posthumously to Sir Frumencio Barbosa, KR
- Sir Romeo Paquerez
- Sir Francisco Santiso
- Sir July Sarmiento
- Sir Percival Capsa
- Sir Carlito Fernando
- Sir Alfredo Lugue
- Sir Christian Attanasio
Exaltation to Knight Commander
- Sir Roberto Carrillo
- Sir Gil Baldovino
- Sir Moises Malimban
- Sir Mario Cadauan
- Sir Edilberto Manalo
- Sir Dennis Reyes – Distinguished Service Medal
- Sir Armando Cruz – Distinguished Service Medal
- Sir Elmer Alvarez – Distinguished Service Medal
- Sir Frumencio Barbosa – Distinguished Service Award (Posthumous)
A look back on the last Rizalian Years
The Knights of Rizal – Firenze Chapter is one of the oldest and continually running chapters of the Knights of Rizal in Italy. This Rizalian Year (RY) was marked by the continued observance of the chapter’s responsibilities and carrying out up to a total of 16 projects and activities, despite many challenges including the onslaught of COVID-19 which affected many livelihoods including those of the chapter’s members, and the death of one of its most active members.
Throughout the period, the chapter and its members who are community leaders in their own right, have provided ongoing community service to the Filipino community in Tuscany by providing information and advice on local Italian and Philippine bureaucratic matters.
The chapter’s first key activity for RY 2018-2021 was the Initiation, Elevation, Exaltation and Awarding Ceremony held in Siena, Italy, 9 Sept. 2018 which honoured Prof. Vasco Caini for his translations of the full works of Dr. Jose Rizal. The event also brought together members of the Filipino and Italian communities to the event.
Following the event, the chapter agreed to launch the KOR-Firenze Emergency Assistance Fund which would provide financial assistance to members and family members in case of difficulty and upon approval of the chapter. This was already immediately put into action by extending support to Sir Frumencio Barbosa, KR who was confined to the hospital due to failing health.
In January 2019, Sir Frumencio Barbosa, KR passed away. In agreement with his family, the chapter and its officers gave a necrological service befitting a serving knight. Financial support was given to the surviving family members.
During the RY, Philippine Embassy-Knights of Rizal Firenze Chapter Collaboration was established. The Embassy requested the chapter to put forward select members to act as emergency contacts for the Filipino community in major cities in Tuscany. Four members have been identified and continue to serve as emergency contacts until present.
The Knights of Rizal – Firenze Chapter, in collaboration with the other Italy Chapters, co organised, with the Rome Chapter and Philippine Independence Day Association, the largest Philippine Independence Day Celebrations in 2019 in Rome. The event saw several hundred attendees from across the country. The chapter mounted an exhibition of Rizal’s works from Prof. Vasco Caini as well as some Rizalian art works. Present at the event were senior-most members of the Philippine diplomatic corps, and leaders of Philippine community associations.
This was followed by the sponsorship of the RGI Alakdan Italy Guardians Summer Sports Festival on 20 Sept. 2019. This event engaged around 200 members of the Filipino community around Tuscany providing significant visibility to the Knights of Rizal. The chapter sponsored a trophy in remembrance of Rizal’s habit of always keeping fit through physical activity.
One of the knights of the chapter tracked down the descendants of the winner of the original 1905-1907 international design competition for the Rizal monument in Luneta, Carlo Nicoli of Carrara, Tuscany. A Visit to the Nicoli Workshop was arranged and an interview was conducted with his direct descendant, Prof. Dr. Alix Nicoli who currently runs the Nicoli workshop, now a UNESCO Messenger of Peace Centre.
The end of 2019 saw the commemoration of the chapter’s 6th Anniversary, Rizal Day and Christmas, and remembrance of past members in Empoli. Present at the event was Empoli City Councilor Valentina Torrini, Philippine Honourary Consul General Cav. Dr. Fabio Fanfani, OMRI, KGOR and members of the Filipino community of Empoli. The event also saw a presentation on how Rizal may have been avenged by the assassination of the Spanish Prime Minister by an Italian anarchist Michele Angiolilio and a message from the Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See H.E. Grace Relucio Princesa.
The year 2020 was marked by the COVID pandemic. The chapter’s activities have taken a break during the first half of 2020 including its most important project of putting up RIzal’s bust which would have gone into the fundraising phase in 2020. In response to the COVID pandemic, the chapter provided COVID-19 Community Outreach and Support in collaboration with local organisations. The chapter was able to provide support to more than 100 households in difficulty due to the pandemic in Tuscany.
A short break in COVID alert levels allowed for a muted and physically-distanced commemoration of the Philippine Independence Day in Marina di Pisa on 14 June 2020.
Meanwhile, the chapter also worked on the official establishment of Knights of Rizal – Firenze Chapter as a legal entity. As of 2020, it received a non-profit tax status and official registration with the Italian authorities.
Following the end of the first wave, there was a slight return to normalcy during summer. During this time, the chapter to part in the Fortezza da Basso Cleaning Drive in collaboration with the Honorary Consulate General of the Philippines, Florence. This was particularly special for the chapter as the Fortezza da Basso is the allotted location by the Florence municipal government for Rizal’s bust.
Unexpectedly, the COVID pandemic returned in its second wave. This hit our members particularly hard financially. In response to this, the chapter organised COVID-19 Financial Support to Members in Difficulty. Members to be supported were identified and received a total of Php15,000 and several sacks of rice.
Finally, in the beginning of 2021, we had a University of Nottingham Research Collaboration. A knight of the chapter, who also works as an expert of the European Commission’s Horizon Dissemination Booster project, was invited to take part in an interview as part of the Cultures of Occupation in the Twentieth Century Asia (COTCA) about the Knights of Rizal and the Rizal monument. The interview will feed into the research of the project and will form part of the outputs of this EU-funded project.