The bust and pedestal of Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal was unveiled on 23 June 2022 at the Place named after him in 1999 at the bustling 9th arrondissement (district) of Paris.
“We are proud that Paris is now the latest addition to the long roster of major cities around the world that has a sculpture in honor of the Philippine national hero. This unveiling is a major milestone for the Philippines and France as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations on 26 June. I am confident that this bust of our national hero in Place Jose Rizal will be a must visit site for Filipinos all over the world,” said Philippine Ambassador to France Junever Mahilum-West.
The historic unveiling has been a long-awaited project by the Filipino community in France which finally came to fruition through the invaluable support of City Hall of Paris and the City Hall of the 9th arrondissement of Paris. Ambassador Mahilum-West reiterated her appreciation to Paris City Mayor Anne Hidalgo, her Deputy Mayor Arnaud Ngatcha who is charge of International Relations and Francophonie, and Mayor Delphine Bürkli of the 9th arrondissement of Paris.
Ambassador Mahilum-West said, “I would like to pay tribute, in particular, to the unrelenting efforts of the Knights of Rizal, Las Damas de Rizal, Kababaihang Rizalista, Inc., and the Comité General des Associations Philippines en France (CGAPF) to raise funds for this project over the years. The Embassy would not have been able to achieve any of this without your hard work and sacrifices. This has been a collective effort by many members of the Filipino community, acting in unity for a shared goal.”
The Ambassador acknowledged the work of all the previous Philippine Ambassadors in Paris, from Ambassador Rora Navarro-Tolentino until Ambassador Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro who laid the important groundwork for the realization of this milestone project.
The Ambassador also thanked the sculptor and artist, Mr. Gerard Lartigue and writer Juliette Marne for their compassion and commitment to help complete this project.
The event was also attended by Maria Cecilia Lopez Bretault, one of the descendants of Dr. Rizal through his brother Paciano. Sir Ferdinand Suba KGCR, Supreme Archivist of the Knights of Jose Rizal Supreme Council, represented KOR Supreme Commander Sir Gerardo Calderon, KGCR. Numerous members of the different Rizalian organizations in France and Europe and members of various Filipino community organizations attended the unveiling ceremony.
Mayor Bürkli said that the 9th arrondissement was proud to host the bust of this great humanist who symbolized the universal values of freedom and equality. On behalf of Mayor Hidalgo, Deputy Mayor Ngatcha said this sculpture affirms that Paris, “as the City of Light” continues to be a beacon of enlightenment and openness for all.
Dr. Jose Rizal first arrived in France in the summer of 1883 and ended up staying for three months before embarking on his studies in Madrid, Spain. He later returned to train under renowned ophthalmologist Dr. Louis de Wecker in 1885-1886 and then travelled to France intermittently up to 1891 when he finished writing his second novel El Filibusterismo in Biarritz, France.