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Marker of Philippine National Hero
to be unveiled at Hotel Schweizerhof Bern

The Philippine Embassy in Berne and the Hotel Schweizerhof Bern have announced that on 14 December, they will unveil a marker at the hotel façade commemorating the stay at the Hotel Schweizerhof Bern in 1887 of Dr Jose Rizal, the Philippine National Hero.  Leading the unveiling will be Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland Leslie Baja, Mr. Bruno Schöpfer, Director of the QDHP Swiss Management AG and Schweizerhof Bern General Manager Michael Thomann.

Rizal (1861-1896) was an intellectual and visionary leader with exemplary devotion to truth and integrity.  He was the brains of the Philippine revolution that led to the birth of the first democracy in Asia in 1898.

While in Switzerland, Rizal visited Schaffhausen, Basel, Berne, Lausanne and Geneva.  Together with his friend Maximo Viola, Rizal stayed overnight at the Hotel Schweizerhof Bern from 4 to 5 June 1887.  His choice of Switzerland as a place to visit provided the opportunity not only to enjoy the lovely sceneries of the country but also to experience the legacy of the freedom-loving Swiss personified by the legendary hero William Tell, whose life story he translated into Tagalog, the Philippine national language, for the benefit of the Filipinos who were then struggling for their independence from Spain.

It is also a big coincidence that the sculptor of the Rizal monument in Manila was Swiss artist Richard Kissling who likewise made the statue of William Tell in Altdorf.  Kissling thus designed and constructed monuments to two heroes famous for their defense of the rights and the dignity of their peoples.

The unveiling of the marker comes at an opportune time as the Philippines is celebrating the 150th anniversary of Rizal’s birth this year.  Similar markers have been installed previously in Schaffhausen and Geneva.

The Philippines and Switzerland will also commemorate in 2012 the 150th anniversary of the establishment in 1862 of the first Swiss Consulate in Asia in Manila, Philippines.  Through all these years, the Philippines shares with Switzerland the values of democracy, justice and the rule of law, making it Switzerland’s natural partner in Asia.


Berne, 1 December 2011
 
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