Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a very emotional moment for me, and a great honour to receive this fourth degree of knighthood, Knight Grand Officer of Rizal, KGOR. To my knowledge, I am the first Frenchman to be conferred this degree. I hope that I shall not be the only one.
I know that my exaltation does not please everyone. There are many who would also like to have the rank of KGOR. But I must inform you, that my elevation to the fourth degree of knighthood comes with the election of a new Supreme Commander and a new Supreme Council, who together have militated for very strict qualifications for this rank.
It is therefore not just a question of simply organizing a chapter or donating money or being a member of several associations. It is an accumulation of works and services to the community and it is expression of Rizalian values in one's life and dealing with others.
Nor is it the influence of any one single person. Nine members of Supreme Council voted unanimously and nine members of Council of Elders also voted unanimously. Never have I asked for any advantages or any awards, but always for others. I must also say, and very honestly so, I would never have deserved this honour without the support of our own Knights.
Now, on this special occasion, I would like to share with you my personal reflections. In France, the Order of the Knights de Rizal is often confused with the numerous other Philippine associations. Some of our own former Officers and Knights have led to this confusion by not appreciating the specific distinction of the Order of the Knights of Rizal, that it is not just another association like all the rest. These persons took advantage of their position within our Order to commit errors, some even criminal, and break away from the ideals of Rizal. The reputation of our Order was sullied and lost its respect.
Within the Dimasalang île de France Chapter, the Knights tried extra hard to be rigorous, firm and determined in their actions and in the application of the statutes. Paris Chapter has done the same. By doing so, they both have restored dignity to our Order.
The Knights of Rizal is not at all like any other association. The Order of the Knights of Rizal is a civic and patriotic Order and its statutes are enshrined in Republic Act 646.
To become a member is like receiving a distinction of honour. We should not disgrace this honour. I consider the Order of the Knights of Rizal like the French Orders, like the Legion of Honour or the National Order of Merit, though with the added philosophical perspective of Rizal.
It is therefore an honour and a privilege to be a member of the Order of the Knights of Rizal. And we should work hard to deserve membership in this prestigious Order, by our acts, by our example, by our irreproachable behaviour. The value of our own example is the greatest thing we can legate to our children, as José Rizal did during his short life.
He showed us the example to follow and he set out for us an ideal. Let us therefore show ourselves worthy. Let us avoid becoming pale copies, fake imitations, counterfeit Knights.
Let us not be satisfied with mediocrity. Neither should we confuse our roles by slipping into ‘ambiguous identities.’ Even if we organise cultural manifestations, and we appreciate Philippine culture and history, we are not a cultural association. And we should distinguish ourselves from them. There are hundreds of thousands of these associations, in the Philippines and in France. Nor are we a humanitarian association, even if we have the moral obligation to participate actively to improve the situation of those hit by disaster or catastrophe. We have an ideal to hand down, and it is not just any kind of ideal.
Finally, I shall want to thank for the bottom of my heart, the persons who are dear to my heart, some are here present, the others have only visited France, others are far off.
Sir Virgilio Esguerra, KGCR, former Supreme Commander, now Member of the Council of Elders and recently bestowed the Pro Patria award. He agreed to write the foreword of my book on José Rizal in French and thus he has been a strong pillar and defence of our ideals.
Sir Pablo Trillana III, KGCR, our present Supreme Commander, who through this conferral shows his trust in me. And he agreed also to write the foreword of my book on José Rizal in its English version.
Sir Choy Arnaldo, KGOR, Supreme Archivist, but also co-founder member of the Dimasalang île de France Chapter and former Deputy Area Commander of France. He is my very close friend. I discovered a man profoundly kind, thoughtful, generous, helpful and with a great culture. Thanks to you, Choy, for your friendship.
I cannot fail to bring to mind those whom I call the 3 Belgian musketeers, but as you know, the 3 musketeers of Alexandre Dumas, the writer, were actually 4 :
Sir Tony Guansing, KGOR, Regional Commander Europe.
Sir Lino Paras, KGOR, Council of Advisers Europe and former Regional Commander
Sir Rudy Nollas, KGOR, Area Commander of Belgium and Special Assistant of Regional Commander Europe
Sir Bhoy Alcoba, KGOR, Council of Advisers Europe
All four are my friends. They took the defence of Dimasalang île de France Chapter each time we were in need. I discovered in them good and generous men and also a true brotherhood.
Doctor Esteban Magannon, cultural Anthropologist, our Filipino—oh excuse me, he is not Filipino, for historically, a Filipino is a Spaniard born in the Philippines, he is our Kalinga Professor in the French University of INALCO. He is my very close friend for almost 20 years and I include his wife, Boots. He was my mentor in cultural anthropology and in history on the Philippine studies. His thirst to pass on his knowledge is big and hundreds of students are indebted him. Thanks, Esteban, for all that you gave me.
Doctor Pierre Le Roux, cultural Anthropologist. Now that makes almost 20 years that we are friends. We have the same conceptions and the same thoughts on the breadth and height of things. It is what moved us closer.
Denis Guillo, called Druid Lanon, he is my friend for more than 20 years and my training officer in the Druidic Religion which is the religion of our Celtic Ancestors.
Sir Leo Mojica, KCR, co-founder and member of the Dimasalang île de France Chapter. He too became my friend. Because of the injustice inflicted upon him, in the spirit of brotherhood of our Order which José Rizal passed on to us, several Brother Knights took his defence.
Sir Catalino Oabel, KCR, also co-founder and member of the Dimasalang île de France Chapter. He also became my friend. His sense of righteousness and kindness made him also take the defence of our Brother Leo. And lot of the others but the list would be too long.
I end the thanks with my family. My Filipina wife Leilani. She gave me her love and 2 beautiful children: my daughter Anna Claire and my son Guillaume. There are also my 2 sons of my first nuptial: Jean-Marie and Frédéric and my granddaughter Eloïse.
Thanks to the members of Supreme Council for their trust. Maraming salamat pô sa inyong lahat sa inyong pagtulong sa akin.
Non Omnis Moriar!
Je ne mourrai pas tout entier !
Hindi lahat sa akin ay papanaw !
Not everything in me will die !