(Speech delivered before brethren of Lodge Perla del Oriente No. 1034, S.C., under the leadership of RW Master Senon A. De Santos)
I am humbled to be here before you this evening, to deliver a reflection in honor of our beloved national hero. I guess it is by default that I am here, as my claim is merely that as president of our family's Jose Rizal Resource Foundation. You see, I have many illustrious cousins who railroaded me into this position, as they did not want themselves to be trusted into the limelight. Perhaps this desire to assume a low profile is Dr. Rizal's trait or that of our family. So now you have me here!
In the serendipity of my youth, my awareness of being related to our national hero was so gradual, so deliberate that I do not recall any profound nor starting event that trusted the realization that I AM a Rizal. It seemed like a given from the very start of my consciousness and so I were the relationship comfortably on my sleeve - so to speak. But as I progressed in school, classmate and friends eventually found out and so I was attracting more attention than I could handle. It was actually fun when asked how it feels to be a Rizal, but also challenging when it is your teachers who start asking you to do some home research for hardly known footnote to the family's history. As I went about treating this as a chore, unknown to at that time was how my character was being molded along certain traits that distinguish the Rizal family.
Allow me to mention first the quest for learning, an interest in new ideas or concepts and a passion to make these work. I remember well my high school days, when on Sunday afternoons, I would try to learn the game of chess with my father Francisco and my grandfather Estanislao. Lolo Tan would fondly recall to us what his Tio Jose had advised him to improve his game: "To excel in chess, one must play like a book in the opening moves, a magician in the middle game, and a machine towards the end."
Lolo was the boy Tanis in the history books, the second son of Lucia Rizal Herbosa, who, along with his elder brother Teodosio and a younger cousin, Mauricio Cruz (son of Maria Rizal and grandfather Gomma Cruz) were made to accompany their Tio Jose in his exile to that lonely and isolated town of Dapitan. As my father recounts in his book:
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"Only those who dare to fail greatly, can ever achieve greatly." - Robert F. Kennedy