NJ Graduating Class 2005 and Rizal Monument

Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, was a poet, doctor, novelist and nationalist who championed Philippine independence. For years, the Jersey City Chapter of the Knight of Rizal, an international organization dedicated to preserving his legacy, sought to find a place for a monument to honor him in this city where 20,000 Filipino-American live.  Each year then since then the Knight has held ceremonies at the park on June 19 to mark Rizal birth. The city provided the small lot the might become a monumental mistake as it was discovered that the city has no clean title to the land. The issue was interesting enough that New York Times reported this controversy on their NJ Sunday edition May 1 2005...

Long time ago I worked for Jersey City Finance Department. I remember trying to initiate a project that never got started because of other priority. It was the real estate list of City owned property. The list is mainly used for selling real estate that could be sold and tax purposes. There were occasion when the city sold lot that was not owned by the city. I guess there is still no current inventory as it was revealed that the tiny lot provided by the City for the Rizal Park was on private property.  Rizal might be illegally parked or worst a squatter.  I heard a speaker saying that our hero might be homeless soon.

Last Sunday Morning (June 19) the Knight of Rizal led the residents of

Jersey City in celebrating the 144th birth anniversary. The small crowd listened to City Hall’s representatives promising

resolution on the ground they were standing to celebrate. The program included cultural dance presentation by the

Filipino-American youth. Rizal Park is located at the corner of Columbus Drive and Brunswick Street. It is almost direct above the Path underground railroad.

The youth are the hope of the country great according to Rizal.

June is also the commencement month, The Filipino-American community

has graduated a lot of valedictorian but let me bring a couple I found in the area newspapers.

The value of hard work was also instilled in Patrick Pangan, the 17-year-old Dunellen High School valedictorian. At an early age, he was already manning the cash register at his parents’ Filipino store.

“My mom and dad always taught me to work hard and be disciplined,” Pangan said. “Don’t rest on your laurels, they would always say.”

He will be majoring in mathematics at Brown University in Rhode Island in September.

“I’ve always been fascinated by numbers and equations,” he said. “So I would like to apply that in a future career.”

The experience of working in his parents’ store has fueled his desire to work in business or finance, and to also help out his parents, who sacrificed so much for his education.

“It was hard at first for my parents when they started the store,” Pangan said. “When I was one year old, my parents had to leave me with relatives in the Philippines for a year so they could start their business.”

For him and many of the others, becoming valedictorian is a way to start paying their parents back. (as reported by Star Ledger)

Snyder High School valedictorian Salome Rances, 19, who immigrated to the United States four years ago from the Philippines, attributes her academic success to the many opportunities she didn’t take for granted.

“When opportunity knocks on your door, you have to open it,” she said.

What advice would she give to graduating seniors?

Rances, who will be attending Rutgers University in New Brunswick this fall, advises her younger classmates: “Apply yourself. You have a responsibility to yourself and to society.” (Jersey Journal last week)

It is very interesting that the two valedictorians were born outside the US and Salome herself came in Jersey City just four years ago. This really speaks well of our schools in the Philippines and parents emphasis on education.

Graduating on top of the class doesn’t always make the child high success in the future but it is a good commencement... As in life there is never a guarantee. It is really seldom when our kids turn to the dark side as the Anakin of StarWar III. We also expect our anakin of them to turn into Jedi Masters.

It is probably redundant for me to mention our high achievers from private parochial schools. I will just end that I just found out this year 450 graduates of the Bayonne High School is another Filipina youth.  Valedictorian Jimelle Aquino, who will study accounting next year at Calvin College in Michigan, exhorted her fellow graduates to appreciate the guidance of family administrators, teachers and staff as reported by Jersey Journal.

USA TODAY Names 2005 All-USA High School Academic Team

MCLEAN, Va., May 12 /PRNewswire/ -- USA TODAY named 20 students to its 19th annual All-USA High School Academic First Team. The students will each receive a trophy and $2,500 cash award. One of the students is Rachel Elise Rizal from the large Filipino Community of Cerritos.  Gretchen Whitney High, Cerritos, Calif. Age: 18. GPA: 4.0. Accomplishments: A student government leader at the highest-rated public school in California, Rachel organized a foreign exchange program with James Ruse High, the highest-achieving school in Australia, as a model for other top international schools; two-time National Junior Olympics tae kwon do gold medalist; piano awards at Bach and Chopin festivals; Intel Science Talent Search semifinalist for research on p53 cancer mutants; founded Music From the Heart group performing at nursing homes; Western Association of Schools and Colleges visiting team member for high school accreditation; varsity soccer team; founded student chronicle section of Los Cerritos Community News. Parents: Renato & Emerly Rizal. College: Princeton. Family line indicates that his great grandparents might be the brother of Jose Rizal.

It is interesting that the Jersey City Rizal monument is not the only statue in the State of New Jersey. Located at the Cooper River Park’s Dr. Jose P. Rizal Memorial Road, an older Rizal monument was unveiled. Filipinos in southern New Jersey and the adjacent City of Philadelphia have contributed to the economic and cultural vibrancy of our area.

It is in Cherry Hill, NJ where another JR came to town. Jennifer Rosales and Dorothy Delasin competed in the world richest Ladies Golf tournament (HSBC Match play) with total purse of 2 million dollars. JR success in the early round was abruptly terminated by Marissa Baena who came from nowhere to capture the top prize. It was the week of the underdogs as I think that JR and Marissa Baena match was the closest one.  I wonder if Jennifer or you visited or even knew that there is a Jose Rizal monument in Cherry Hill.

To The Philippine Youth

Unfold, oh timid flower !

Lift up your radiant brow,
This day, Youth of my native strand !
Your abounding talents show
Resplendently and grand,
Fair hope of my Motherland !

Soar high, oh genius great,
And with noble thoughts fill their mind;
The honor’s glorious seat,
May their virgin mind fly and find
More rapidly than the wind.

Jose Rizal