Czech Embassy commemorates Blumentritt’s birthday

Czech Ambassador Jana Šedivá (far right) is shown a portrait of Blumentritt and Rizal in this archive photo taken in June 2021 during the National Hero’s 160th birthday in Calamba, Laguna. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE CZECH EMBASSY IN MANILA

(Left to right) Military host, Captain Junjie Tabuada, PN (MNSA); Administrative Director of the National Parks Development Committee, Reina Jara; Deputy Head of Mission, Dalibor Mička; OIC Executive Director of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, Carminda Arevalo; and Chief, NHCP Historic Sites and Education Division, Gina Batuhan.

Czech-Filipino relations, although officially established in 1973 by the creation of embassies in their respective capitals, go back a long way. The people-to-people bonds between the two nation-states have flourished since then and are one of the foundations of bilateral relations today. The best historical proof of this age-old bond is the formidable friendship of Czech professor Ferdinand Blumentritt and the national hero of the Philippines, Dr Jose Rizal.

Professor Blumentritt was born in Prague on September 10, 1853, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was a master teacher at Litomêrice when he and Rizal began their correspondence. Bounded by their mutual enthusiasm and interest in the Philippines, the friendship of Blumentritt and Rizal developed like that of brothers. He served as Rizal’s confidant and they collaborated on some works, including Rizal’s annotations on Morga’s Sucesos where Blumentritt wrote a prologue.

The Czech professor was also a staunch defender of Philippine freedom. He actively expressed his support for Philippine independence through his articles and also contributed to Philippine literature through his works such as the Diccionario Mitológico De Filipinas.

To celebrate the 168th anniversary of the birth of Ferdinand Blumentritt on September 10, the Embassy of the Czech Republic, in partnership with the Philippine National Historic Commission (NHCP), the National Parks and Development Committee (NPDC), the Navy Philippine (PN) and Philippine National Police (PNP) held a wreath laying ceremony in Noli Me Tangere Garden, Rizal Park where his bust is located.

Czech Ambassador Jana Šedivá (far right) is shown a portrait of Blumentritt and Rizal in this archive photo taken in June 2021 during the National Hero’s 160th birthday in Calamba, Laguna. PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE CZECH EMBASSY IN MANILA

Deputy Head of Mission Dalibor Mička represented the Czech Embassy and honored Blumentritt’s contribution to early Czech-Filipino relations. He also announced the embassy’s plan to unveil a commemorative plaque recalling the friendship of Blumentritt and Rizal.

“This will serve as a reminder of the long-standing relationship between the Czech Republic and the Philippines. While this work is still in progress, we are happy that today we were able to pay our respects and remember the birth of the Czech scholar who also contributed immensely to the Philippines through his extensive work on history. and the culture of the Philippines, ”Mička said.

The event was organized by the NHCP in cooperation with Captain Junjie Tabuada, PN (MNSA) who served as military host; Reina Jara, Administrative Director of the National Parks Development Committee; Carminda Arevalo, OIC Executive Director of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines; and Gina Batuhan, Chief, NHCP Historic Sites and Education Division.

This is just one of the current initiatives of the Czech Republic and the Philippines regarding the long-standing friendship of these eminent persons. In 2015, the Philippine Embassy in Prague launched the Rizal-Blumentritt Heritage Trail in the town of Litomêrice in North Bohemia, Czech Republic. The embassy commissioned local artists, Karel Mačas, to draw the 10 points of interest of the heritage trail.

Apart from this, the Embassy of the Czech Republic has also supported NHCP initiatives to commemorate Rizal’s life. In June 2021, Czech Ambassador Jana Šedivá joined the 160th birthday of Dr Jose Rizal which was held in Calamba, Laguna. During the celebration, Ambassador Šedivá received a portrait of Rizal and Blumentritt made by Janina Sanico from natural watercolors. This portrait is now kept in the Ambassador’s office, which is a continual reminder of the long-standing friendship between the two nations.

Rizal and Blumentritt’s relationship that began with correspondence continues to develop. Based on a shared respect for liberal values, the people-to-people ties of these two figures are evident to this day in the flourishing Czech-Filipino relations which have also developed in other areas of mutual interest.

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