After 131 years, Rizal “returns” to Prague with official unveiling of bust sculpture

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor Espenilla Jr with Czech National Bank Governor Jiří Rusnok during the unveiling of the bust sculpture of Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal in Prague, the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. (Photo courtesy Czech Embassy in Manila)


(Eagle News) — After 131 years, Philippine National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal, returns to Prague, with the unveiling of his bust created by Filipino sculptor Jose Giroy, apprentice of National Artist Napoleon V. Abueva.

Philippine and Czech officials attended the unveiling of the celebrated bust at the foyer of the Czech National Bank headquarters on Tuesday, June 26, to commemorate Rizal’s visit to Prague in 1887.

In special attendance during the official unveiling of Rizal’s bust were Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Nestor Espenilla, Jr., and his counterpart, Czech National Bank Governor Jiří Rusnok.

“Rizal´s bust can now become another must-see spot for Philippine tourists to appreciate Rizal’s shared history with Prague,” said a release from the Czech embassy in Manila.

“Truly, many tourists will get more than what they came for dose of history in this famed European city,” it said.

The first Czech Ambassador to Manila Stanislav Slavický, Deputy Head of Czech Embassy in Manila Jana Peterková, as well as, representatives from the biggest Czech company operating in the country, HomeCredit Philippines which employs almost 10,000 Filipinos nationwide, were also present during the official unveiling of Rizal’s bust.

Other tourist spots that can be seen in Prague near Rizal’s bust include the Czech National Bank which stands opposite the famed Art Nouveau Municipal House, and the gothic Powder Tower which can be seen at the beginning of the Royal Route at the Square of the Republic.

Rizal’s “return” to Prague through the installation of the bust sculpture was the brainchild of Czech National Bank Vice-Governor Vladimír Tomšík, who teamed up with Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Jaroslav Olša, Jr.

Back in 1887, when Rizal first came to Prague, the Philippine national hero traveled around Europe alongside his friend Máximo Viola.

Before coming to Prague they spent four days in Litoměřice (Leitmeritz) where they met Rizal’s closest collaborator, mentor and friend, Ferdinand Blumentritt. Afterwards, Rizal and Viola spent a few days in the Czech capital touring the city, meeting scientists, such as botanist Heinrich Willkomm, with whom Rizal later on collaborated during his exile in Dapitan.

While in Prague, they stayed in Hotel Modrá hvězda (Blue Star), which was later demolished to give space for a new building of a national bank headquarters.   (With a release from the Czech Embassy in Manila)