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                (L-R  Ambassador Baja with Schaffhausen Mayor Thomas Feurer, Schaffhausen City Council Officials and Officials of the Philippine Embassy)

Rizal as the Cultural Bridge between the Philippines and Switzerland

Ambassador Leslie Baja and Schaffhausen Mayor Thomas Feurer led the wreath-laying ceremony held in Schaffhausen on 19 June to mark the 151st-birth anniversary of Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal.

The annual wreath-laying ceremony, which has become a tradition between the Philippine Embassy in Berne and Schaffhausen, was also attended by officials of the Embassy and the Schaffhausen City Council and the Canton of Schaffhausen. Local broadcast and print media as well as members of the local community were also present during the ceremony.

In his speech, Mayor Feurer extolled Rizal and his contribution to the birth of the Philippine nation. He took pride in the fact that the Swiss legendary hero, Wilhelm Tell, became Rizal’s political inspiration. “Rizal was strongly inspired by the novel Wilhelm Tell, which was translated into Tagalog in the hope to also kindle the same independent spirit in his countrymen,” added Mayor Feurer.

Ambassador Baja, in his remarks thanked the Schaffhausen officials for its gracious hospitality. He said that the Philippines and Switzerland share a long history, going back to 150 years ago when Switzerland established in Manila its first consulate in Asia.

“The Philippines and Switzerland are natural partners because we share the same values—democracy, human rights, and rule of law,” added Ambassador Baja. He said that Rizal has served as a cultural bridge between the Philippines and Switzerland.

The wreath-laying ceremony was followed by a short presentation on the City of Schaffhausen, including its industries and tourism sites. Mayor Feurer then hosted a luncheon for the Embassy officials during which possible areas for cooperation in cultural exchanges and activities were discussed.

Schaffhausen was the first city in Switzerland that Dr. Rizal visited when he went there in June 1887. He, together with his friend Maximo Viola, stayed at the former Hotel Müller where Rizal’s marker is presently erected. There are also Rizal markers in Berne and Geneva where Rizal also stayed.  END

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