On June 26, 2014, The Philippine Folklife Museum Foundation, a non-profit Foundation dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Filipino history and culture, in cooperation with the Office of the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco and the Philippine Center Management Board commemorated Dr. Jose Rizal’s (Philippine National Hero) 153rd birth anniversary at the Social Hall of the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco, California.

Danny de la Cruz, President of the Philippine Folklife Museum Foundation gave the Opening Remarks and gave a brief history and purpose of the museum. The inspirational talk for the evening was given by Consul Reginald Bernabe who gave a simple, heartwarming and rousing message inspired by the quote he shared from Rizal; “to foretell the destiny of a nation, it is necessary to open the book that tells of her past”. He went on to say that he was very pleased to witness how members of the Filipino American community continue to give thought, time and selfless effort to organize a tribute to Dr. Rizal, while at the same time continue enhancing and celebrating their linkages to their cultural and historical heritage. The evening was also graced by the presence of Consul Reichel Quiñones.

The Welcome Remarks was given by Lydia de la Cruz, Chairperson, Museum Operations and Development. She said that on this occasion she wanted to present a more personable side of Dr. Jose Rizal. Rizal as man in love, challenged, patience, is all captured in his love affair to Leonor Rivera. She also gave a short biography of Leonor Rivera. She continued that the main program was taken from an article entitled “A Kiss from the Philippines”, published on July 15, 1890 in the La Solidaridad by pen name, Taga-Ilog . La Solidaridad is a newspaper created and named after the same organization composed of Filipino liberals and students attending Europe’s universities. The material was provided by Dr. Penelope V. Flores, PhD.

The reading was aptly called, “A Kiss from Loleng”, a romantic reminiscence of the evening Rizal bid farewell to Leonor Rivera (Loleng), who is very close to his heart.

It started with Rizal meeting his friend Silverio at the train station in Atocha Mediodia, Spain bringing him news from the Philippines and of course from Loleng. At Rizal’s residence, the reading concentrated on Rizal’s memories of Loleng filled with love and affection. His thoughts were on what happened on the last evening he spent with her in the Philippines, Rizal tried to convince her for a kiss, promised everything he could possibly think of for that kiss, but to his dismay never got the kiss.

In this trip, his friend, Silverio brought him a rose from Loleng. This rose was very special because Loleng kissed the rose for Rizal. Rizal felt elated and wonderfully happy, and of course wanted to kiss the rose in return for the kiss Loleng finally gave him, through this rose. But not for long, Silverio had to admit that he too kissed the rose. He also could not resist kissing the rose knowing that her wet lips were still on the rose and now finally after 40 days of travel, Rizal got the rose. It was a big disappointment for Rizal, but nevertheless, Rizal was thankful the rose was given to him with a kiss from Loleng. He finally realized and accepted the disadvantage of distance from a loved one.

Dody Garcia played the role of Rizal who was emotion-filled, read with perfect enthusiasm and exuberance, mesmerized and captivated the audience. His friend Silverio was played by Leon Palad and Lydia de la Cruz played the role of Loleng. The entire cast gave life to the article, kept them clued with quiet anticipation, at times humorous which captivated the interest of the audience until the end.

Michael Gonzalez, Ed.D. capped the evening with his classical guitar solo rendition of “Kundiman ng Lahi”, also known as Joselinang Baliwag and “Tango ni Rizal.” Both songs were popular tunes during Rizal time. Michael Gonzalez, Ed.D. is a faculty member of City College of San Francisco.

The evening ended with a sumptuous snack prepared by Lydia de la Cruz, courtesy of the Foundation and the Philippine Consulate. The guests mingled and lingered to enjoy the rest of the evening.

The Philippine Consulate’s Social Hall features the Philippine Folklife Museum Foundation’s permanent exhibit. You will find a series of 15 bas-relief wooden sculptures highlighting events throughout Philippine history carved by well known Philippine sculptor Luis Ac-Ac. Also on display are pineapple (piña) cloth items, including 3 elegant gowns circa 1936 gifts by the Philippine first lady Aurora Quezon, wife of President Manuel L. Quezon to her friend, the late Mrs. Ann Schinazi.

The Philippine Folklife Museum Foundation constantly updates and expands their exhibits. In 2012 a permanent exhibit on Dr. Jose Rizal was inaugurated. The Rizaliana exhibit feature the hand carved bust of Dr. Jose Rizal by Luis Ac-Ac on a pedestal stand. Also on display are Rizal’s family tree with individual photo of Rizal’s parents and his eleven siblings in a Demure Damask mini black frame and the women that made a difference in Rizal’s life with each photo in a vintage jeweled ornate frame. A copy of the manuscript of Rizal’s two novels; “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo and the last poem written by Dr. Jose Rizal “ Mi Ultimo Adios” in Spanish, English and Tagalog printed on canvas and displayed in banner forms.

The latest addition is a statue of Andres Bonifacio in marble dust and resin with a bronze finish, an 18-inch replica of the Bonifacio Monument at Pugad Lawin by Anastacio Caedo, one of Philippine’s greatest sculptors, together with a black and white portrait of Andres Bonifacio beautifully framed in wood and glass centered with his biography .

Also available for viewing are the beautiful photos on canvas by photographer David Fabros. These are the “Cry of Balintawak or Cry of Pugad Lawin”, depicting the beginning of the Philippine Revolution against Spain in 1896 led by Andres Bonifacio and “The Martyrdom of Rizal”, depicting his execution at Bagong Bayan (now Rizal Park) on December 30, 1896. Both photos were based on the original mural of Botong Francisco, Philippine National Artist for Visual Arts in 1973. A photo of Dr. Jose Rizal based on the original wood sculpture by Isabelo Tampico.

It is an opportunity to view the work of arts by famous Philippine sculptors, painters and learn the history of the Philippines right here in the City of San Francisco says Museum Operations & Development Chair Lydia S. de la Cruz. She invites the public to visit and make the museum a destination with friends and families. The museum is open Monday–Friday 10:00AM – 4:00PM.