Friday, November 9, 2012

My "Sabit" Thoughts. Knights of Rizal Country, Paris

The Knights of Rizal Chapter Commander, Sir Jess Sunga, has a distinctive way of demonstrating his loyalty.  Perched on his head was a jaunty black hat adorned with a shining KOR pin as he sauntered off the Gare du Nord platform as I arrived via Thalys train from Brussels on 20 October 2012. 

It was a classic act and it surely caught my attention!

In the meantime, Sir Leo Mojica was outside on the curb with his car precariously inviting a Paris gendarme to issue him a traffic violation ticket. We arrived just on time.

 I was whisked off and shown  several apartment doors where Rizal lived, the clinic where he trained as an ophthalmologist with Professor Dr. Louis Wecker,  Valentin Ventura's apartment, the Luna art studio,  and finally the park spot where a forthcoming Rizal bust is supposed to be installed sometime soon. I tried to fish an invitation for the 2013 event, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

It was Oktober in Germany and I enjoyed the time with several Knights of Rizal (Sir Rainer J. Weber,  Heidelberg-Wilhelmsfeld chapter and Sir Lucien Spittael, El Filbusterismo chapter) as I traced the footsteps of my ancestor, Dr. Maximo Viola, who traveled with Rizal that month of May 1887.  However, a month traversing Berlin. Leipzig, Dresden, Munich, Bavarian Alps, Schönau, River Rhine (from Rudesheim to Cologne) and then on to Belgium, made me long for a different Rizal.

My Paris Dr. José Rizal's Retracing trip was unsurpassed due to three convergences.

First, Sir Choy Arnaldo notified very responsible KOR officers of my Paris arrival. This was primarily why a  reception line at my hotel formed as I arrived composed of Sir Bernard Pot, Sir Jean Claude Perrichon, Sir Leo Mojica, Sir Jess Sunga, Professor Esteban Magannon and Mrs. Maria Pilar (Boots) Magannon (my old-time friend). Boots remarked:  It took a Dr José Rizal Studies to get us finally together again after so many years.  

Second, I was able to speak and exchange thoughts on the Rizal-Viola special friendship, after which we had a formal dinner at a cozy and delightful restaurant where we exchanged more ideas and more Rizal stories with KOR members and the Las Damas over the best Parisen gourmet dinner specials accompanied by sparkling wine.

Third, and most importantly, I was invited as the Guest of Honor to the installation of new officers and induction of new members of the Knights of Rizal. I could feel the Rizal spirit emanating from the audience composed of the KOR members and officers.   

Penelope V. Flores, author,  presents the Knights of Rizal Paris chapter Commanders a copy of her book:  
Luckily, I  remembered to bring with me, as presents, a couple of volumes of my latest book, The Philippine Jeepney: a Metaphor for Understanding the Filipino American Family.  In my own way of thinking, the Jeepney metaphor could also apply to the Knights of Rizal.

For example, Jeepneys have pasada lines like: Dimasalang, Avenida Rizal, Blumentritt.  How fitting!   These are the actual names of some Knights of Rizal chapters.

In front of a jeep is always found a slogan like, Nasaan ka Irog? Mr. Guapo. Similarly, the Knights of Rizal always have a slogan:  

                      Non omnis moriar.

Inside the jeep, one finds the names of the driver’s children spelled out in birth ordert. In the KOR. there is always listed a hierarchy of names when one receives email transmissions.

Most often, the jeepney drivers are men, but guess who are the real managers?  Yeah the “Missus.”  Similarly,  within KOR, the wives who have formed into Kababaihan or the Damas auxiliaries most often back up the KOR activities.

I noted Sir Jhun Oabel, Jr. nod his head in amusement when I said, “The passengers in a crowded jeep always hang out on the “estribo” in a form called in Pilipino “Sabit.”  I said, this is similar to members who are either half in or half out. Naka-sabit.  So, I exhorted members to get in for the jeepney  ride and pay their dues like the jeepney passenger.

What a superb way to end my Rizal October 2012. But, to our Knights of Shining Armour, the KOR, I raise my hand and say,

 I salute you and many thanks.