LIMA, Peru?Peruvians honor on Saturday Dr. Jose Rizal with a monument, the first for a national hero of a foreign country.
President Macapagal-Arroyo will lead the unveiling of the bust of the country?s national hero two hours before the formal opening of the 16th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders? meeting in this Peruvian capital city on Saturday morning (11 p.m. Manila time).
Philippine honorary consul and former Peru Tourism Minister Ramiro Salas-Bravo said President Arroyo ?has the singular distinction of being the first head of state to grace the unique and historic inauguration? of the first public plaza in Peru named after a foreign national hero.
Rizal is recognized as a great Filipino whose martyrdom in 1896 sparked the first revolt in Asia against Western subjugation. Historians fete him as the ?Pride of the Malay Race? being the first citizen of Asia to advocate and introduce Western ideas of social and political liberalism.
President Arroyo, accompanied by First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, select members of her Cabinet and lawmakers, left Manila yesterday for the United States en route to Peru, the third largest country in South America.
After a brief stopover in Los Angeles, the presidential party will arrive here in the morning of Nov. 22 just in time for the start of the Apec summit, which will gather leaders of 21 nations of the Asia-Pacific region to promote sustainable economic growth and strengthen multilateral trade despite the global recession.
Key to the city
Upon arrival in Lima, the President and her party will proceed to the Rizal Park located in La Molina district, where they will be welcomed by honor guards bearing the Philippine and Peruvian flags.
Welcoming the President at the Rizal Park are Bravo, La Molina District Mayor Luis Dibos Vargas Prada, Raul Diez Canseco Terry who is former Vice President of Peru and president/founder of the Organizacion Educativa de Universidad de San Ignacio de Loyola, and the Philippine Ambassador to Chile and concurrently, Peru, Consuelo ?Baby? Puyat Reyes.
The singing of the national anthem of the two countries will be followed by welcome remarks by the mayor. The President and Prada will then lead the unveiling of Rizal?s bust and the breaking of the cloth-wrapped wine bottle, which is the customary practice observed in Peru during inaugural rites.
Afterward, Prada will hand over to the President the symbolic key to the District of La Molina.
The bronze bust of Dr. Jose Rizal was designed by Czech sculptor Hanstroff and is mounted atop a monument-type pedestal base where the four inaugural plaque markers are mounted on each quadrilateral side.
Inscribed on one marker are the words, ?Dr. Jose P. Rizal, Héroe Nacional de Filipinas, Nacionalista, Reformador Political, Escritor, Linguistica y Poeta, 1861-1896.? Inscribed on another marker are the formal inaugural rites led by President Arroyo and witnessed by Prada.
The establishment of Rizal Park here was made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Philippine Honorary Consulate in Peru and the municipality of La Molina.
On the sidelines of the Apec summit, President Arroyo will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso and Peru President Alan Garcia Perez. Arrangements are being made for her to hold bilateral talks with other Apec leaders including a meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
During the summit, President Arroyo will push for the welfare of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country to cushion them from any adverse effects due to the current global economic crisis.
Today, she and 20 other leaders will hold a dialogue with the Apec Business Advisory Council (Abac), a group comprised of widely recognized business leaders from the Asia Pacific rim.
In the afternoon, Abac members will present a specific set of recommendations to Apec leaders during their dialogue on the 7th Floor of the Ministry of Defense convention center.
Among the recommendations of the Abac group are: The collaboration and activity-based regulations within and across Apec economies to address the global credit contraction, acceleration of Apec regional economic integration, addressing problems on food supply and prices, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and support for the development of SMEs in the Asia-Pacific region.
Long before the global credit crunch hit the United States, President Arroyo has been underscoring the importance of SMEs both in national development and the fight against poverty. They are part of the priority programs in her administration?s 10-point agenda of creating six to 10 million jobs.
The President has already released some P100 billion to various microfinance institutions to support SMEs which, she said, were crucial in creating a robust middle class, a key factor for her vision of the Philippines reaching First World status in 20 years.