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Library to celebrate a martyr's legacy

December 26, 2002

Gretchen Hoffman

An event Sunday at the Glendale Central Library will echo a larger

celebration in Manila of the Philippine's national hero, Jose Rizal,

with a salute to the man who has been called the forerunner of

Mahatma Gandhi.

Rizal Day 2002 is a tribute to Rizal, who was executed by firing

squad Dec. 30, 1896, in Manila because of his views on political

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freedom, education and independence and his criticism of the Spanish

friars' treatment of the Filipinos.

"Jose Rizal was a man of peace," Cora Pastrana, coordinator of

Rizal Day 2002. "He gave us our identity as a people."

"Rizal considered Spain as 'La Madre,' which means the mother,"

she added. "There was never any hatred in his heart, even when they

decided to have him executed."

The event, which is from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Glendale

Central Library, 222 E. Harvard St., will celebrate his life with

literary awards and performances by "The Spirit of God Music

Ministry," a Los Angeles Filipino choral group. It is being held in

conjunction with an exhibit on Rizal's life that will run at the

library until Jan. 4.

Rizal, who was 35 when he was executed, was a painter, sculptor,

poet, novelist, musician and an expert fencer. He spoke 22 languages

-- five fluently-- and became an ophthalmologist because his mother's

eyesight was failing.

"He was a humanitarian and educator," Pastrana said. "He strove to

learn as much of the cultures and different races of the world as he

could. It was really for progress, harmony and equality of all

people."

Professor Emeritus Virginia Agbayani will speak about Rizal's

relevance to the world today, and a 20-minute documentary will trace

his life.

"I don't know a person who knew so much or who did so much for his

country," Pastrana said. "He left behind a legacy."

Organizers expect more than 100 people from across the county at

the event, which is co-sponsored by the Filipino-American Business

Assn. of Glendale.

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