Press Release
June 28, 2011


Sentro Rizal will help strengthen the affinity of Filipinos abroad with their roots, stressed Senator Edgardo J. Angara during the inauguration today of the center's home base at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) office in Intramuros, Manila.

Angara, who just came home from the Department of Tourism road show in the United States and Canada, said that many Filipinos abroad, especially the younger generation, hardly identify with their ancestry. He said it was unfortunate that some are even apologetic of being Filipino.

"Filipino communities are almost considered 'invisible' abroad because of their weak identification with their ancestry. Their presence is not as strong and united as that of the Chinese or Indian communities overseas," he observed.

"We need to boost pride in the Philippines, and we hope to do this through avenues such as Sentro Rizal," said Angara.

Sentro Rizal is envisioned to be a hub of Filipino culture, history, language and arts that will be created around the world. Two Sentro Rizal branches were launched in Madrid and Prague earlier this month.

It was created under the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, authored by Angara with Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara. Satellite branches will be put up where there Filipino communities, especially children who need to be educated about their roots and ancestry.

"Sentro Rizal will be a means to unite the 10 million Filipinos abroad. They remit US$20 billion to our country, and it is only right that we reach out to them through venues that link them to home," said Angara.

Patterned after the Alliance Francaise of France, Instituto Cervantes of Spain, and the Goethe-Institut of Germany, the center will be a repository of Philippine tangible and intangible cultural treasures.

The newly created branches showcase extensive materials on literature and media on the Philippines. It will be expanded to become a venue where Filipinos overseas can read, watch films, conduct poetry readings and stage musical and dance performances.

Angara said that naming the center after national hero Dr. Jose Rizal is a fitting tribute on the occasion of the sesquicentennial of his birth. At the same time, he said Rizal is a timeless role model for the Filipino youth.

He explained, "Through Sentro Rizal, young Filipinos abroad will know what Rizal has done, how his life has influenced the liberalization movement in Asia. Gandhi, Tagore, Sun Yat Sen and even Cory Aquino followed Rizal's example of non-violent political reform.

"We hope that Sentro Rizal can become a beacon of hope and inspiration to younger Filipinos who should take pride in the fact that our race has produced a great Malayan."

The opening of Sentro Rizal was followed by a roundtable discussion on The Role of the NCCA of the 21st Century by NCCA Chairman Felipe De Leon, Jr., The Role of the Cultural Worker of the 21st Century by National Artist, Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera, and The Role of the Artist of the 21st Century by National Artist F. Sionil Jose.

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