After 131 years, the Philippines’ National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, “returns” to Prague in the Czech Republic.
Unveiled recently at the foyer of the Czech National Bank headquarters was a bust of Rizal created by Filipino sculptor Jose Giroy, apprentice of National Artist Napoleon V. Abueva.
In special attendance during the official unveiling of Rizal’s bust last 26 June were Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor Espenilla, Jr., and his counterpart, Czech National Bank Governor JiříRusnok.
Also present during the celebrated occasion were first Czech Ambassador to Manila Stanislav Slavický, Deputy Head of Czech Embassy in Manila Jana Peterková, as well as, representatives from the biggest Czech company operating in the country, HomeCreditPhilippines which employs almost 10,000 Filipinos nationwide.
The return of Rizal’s bust to Prague was the brainchild of Czech National Bank Vice-Governor Vladimír Tomšík, who teamed up with Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Jaroslav Olša, Jr. with an aim of commemorating Rizal´s visit to Prague in 1887.
Rizal had traveled around Europe alongside his friend Máximo Viola. Before coming to Prague they spent four days in Litoměřice (Leitmeritz) where they met Rizal’s closest collaborator, mentor and friend, Ferdinand Blumentritt.
Afterwards, Rizal and Viola spent a few days in the Czech capital touring the city, meeting scientists, such as botanist Heinrich Willkomm, with whom Rizal later on collaborated during his exile in Dapitan.
While in Prague, they stayed in Hotel Modráhvězda (Blue Star), which was later demolished to give space for a new building of a national bank headquarters.