June 22, 2016


By Arturo P. Garcia

For me, it was an amazing discovery.

jose-rizal3As I was browsing some books in the Filipino American Library (FAL) in our new JFAV office by Filipino American Service Group Inc.( FASGI), I came across an unbelievable but inconvertible historical fact. That the Filipinos who came in America, antedated the founding of the Knights of Rizal in the Philippines by five years.

I found that it was not only one, but TWO (2) chapters of the Knights of Rizal was established in the United States in 1906. The first one was the Rizal Club and Commercial Society established in Seattle, Washington State on March 25, 1906.

The other one was the Knights of Rizal in Chicago, Illinois also in 1906. This KOR chapter was established by Filipino students at the University of Chicago on the first week of September 1906.

I found it out in my reading the the book, “Filipinos In America” by Hyung Chan Kim and Cynthia Mejia, p. 3.) It antedated the KOR known then as the Caballeros De Rizal that was established in the Philippines in 1911.

It was an honor for us to know that it was the Filipino immigrants who came to in America who pioneered the formation of the Knights of Rizal, in advocating for his principles and doctrines for freedom, love of country and international peace and solidarity.

To complete the history of the KOR, The Order of the Knights of Rizal was first organized out of a group of nine men by Manila Police Chief Colonel Antonio Torres on Rizal Day, December 30, 1911 in Manila, Philippines to commemorate martyrdom of Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.

Exactly a year later, a state funeral was held to transfer Rizal’s remains from his family’s house in Binondo, Manila for a wake in the Ayuntamiento (City Hall) and finally a burial in Luneta where the Order of the Knights of Rizal acted as the honor guards.

Since then, the order has led commemorations of Rizal’s birth anniversaries and plays a prominent role during Rizal Day ceremonies commemorating his death anniversary.

In 1951, the order pushed for filing a bill in the Philippine Congress to grant the Order of the Knights of Rizal a legislative charter. Senators Enrique Magalona, Lorenzo Sumulong, Esteban Abada, Emiliano Tria Tirona, Camilo Osias, Geronima Pecson, Jose Avelino and Ramon Torres sponsored the bill in the Senate while Congressman Manuel Zosa of Cebu was the principal sponsor in the Congress.

In the accompanying explanatory note of the bill it said that the bill’s purpose to accord to the civic and patriotic organization the same kind of official recognition and encouragement as that accorded to the Boy Scouts of the Philippines by Commonwealth Act No. 11. By granting to its legislative Charter and investing it with the necessary powers to enable it more fully and more effectively to accomplish its goals.

The bill was signed into law by Philippine President Elpidio Quirino on June 14, 1951 as Republic Act 646. Thus making the KOR the only congressional mandated organization in and outside the Philippines, worldwide.

The Order was granted a legislative charter by President Elpidio Quirino ] as a non-sectarian, non-partisan, non-racial civic, patriotic, and cultural organization under Republic Act 646 on June 14, 1951. The Order’s insignia has since been approved to be worn by the Philippine diplomatic corps.

Since its founding, the Order has grown to more than 10,000 members belonging to more than fifteen chapters around the its international headquarters is located on Bonifacio Drive in Port Area, Manila.


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