Named after the Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal, Sentro Rizal (Rizal Centre) was established by Republic Act 10066 or the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009 to promote Philippine arts, culture and language around the world. To date, there are 31 Sentros Rizal scattered around the world, including two in Canada that opened in May 2018: Ottawa and Toronto.
Philippine Ambassador to Canada Petronila Garcia and National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Chairman VirgilioAlmario led the inaugural opening of Canada’s first Sentro Rizal located on 30 Murray Street in Ottawa’s Byward Market on May 10. In her welcome address, Ambassador Garcia said, “In the spirit of inclusivity and diversity in Canada, we hope that Sentro Rizal Ottawa will give our first generation Filipino immigrants a feeling of home, and our second and third generation Filipino-Canadians the opportunity to better acquaint themselves with our beautiful country and rich cultural heritage.”
Members of Parliament Kevin Lamoureux and David Graham, representatives of NCCA and Commission on Filipinos Overseas and the Filipino communities in Ottawa and Montreal were present at the event.
On May 12, another Sentro Rizal was officially opened by NCCA Chairman Almario and Consul General Rosalita Prosperoon 160 Eglinton Avenue East in Toronto. At the event, Almario acknowledged Rizal as the first Global Filipino, adding that just like Rizal, the overseas Filipino workers always leaves the Philippines but forever longs for home.
The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs, through its foreign service posts, manage the centres and generate funding for activities while the NCCA develops, implements and evaluates cultural programs and activities undertaken by each centre.
Aside from organizing programs and activities aimed at promoting Filipino heritage, the Sentro Rizal also holds a collection of Filipiniana materials such as books, CDs and artworks available to the public.
The first Sentro Rizal was established in 2011 in Madrid, Spain where Rizal lived and studied from 1882 to 1885. Madrid was also the birthplace of the revolutionary newspaper La Solidaridad in 1889. Other Sentros Rizal are located in Berlin, Hong Kong, Beijing and Washington DC to name a few. The NCCA is looking at opening new centres in the Middle East and Asia Pacific regions.
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