Jose Rizal Heritage Awards 2023 Shines a Spotlight on Celebrating Community Laureates
By: Estreletta "Estella" Ruppert In a dazzling affair that brought together a tapestry of community champions, the Jose Rizal Heritage Awards 2023 unfolded in a grand celebration and recognition of outstanding contributors to cultural, humanitarian and community services. The event, held at Hotel Schwanen Wil/SG Switzerland on September 22-23, 2023, was a testament to the dedication and passion of individuals and organisations committed to safeguarding society. In a world where selfless acts of service often go unnoticed, the event plays a vital role in shining a spotlight on those who make a difference. They remind us of the power of compassion, generosity, and community engagement. By recognising the unsung heroes in our communities, we encourage a collective spirit of giving back, ultimately fostering a better world for all. The event launched with an air of anticipation as guests gathered to witness the unveiling of the awardees of these prestigious awards. It was organised by Sir Stephan U. Breu, KGOR. President of the Jose Rizal Heritage Award and Knights of Rizal Area Commander in Switzerland/Poland, and Lady Estrelleta Borda Ruppert, Co-President of the Jose Rizal Heritage Award and President of Las Damas de Rizal Switzerland Chapter. The event was a testimony to the efforts that have gone into strengthening the sense of unity, kindness, and altruism, that form the foundation for a thriving community where people feel connected and supported, ultimately leading to a happier and more fulfilling life for all. The first day commenced with an enthralling city tour at Wil/SG historical places, an exploration through the annals of history and culture that offered attendees a captivating glimpse into the rich history of the host city. This immersive journey set the tone for the prestigious event, providing participants with a deeper understanding of the significance of heritage and historical preservation. On the second day, attendees had a chance to witness the renowned Schaffhausen Waterfalls and experience their stunning landscapes and natural wonders. Nestled in the serene countryside near the town of Schaffhausen, these magnificent falls are the largest in Europe and a testament to the raw beauty and power of nature. Embarking on a tour of the Schaffhausen Waterfalls promises an unforgettable adventure and a close encounter with awe-inspiring natural marvels. The guests had their lunch at Stein am Rhein, a place that is not only a treasure trove of medieval architecture but also a culinary haven that delights the senses. H.M. Yuhi VI, Titular King of Rwanda giving his inspirational message at José Rizal Heritage Award 2023. Welcome speech of H.E. Ambassador Dr. Andrea Bekić, Amb. of the Republic of Croatia to Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein. The City Mayor of Wil/St. Gallen Hans Mäder giving his welcome speech at José Rizal Heritage Award Gala 2023. Finally, the dinner and awards night was held at Hotel Schwanen in Wil/SG, Switzerland in the presence of Swiss and international dignitaries, including the titular King of Rwanda Yuhi VI as well as numerous Ambassadors. The award winners were: H.E. Stjepan Mesić - Statesmanship and Public Service (the last President of Yugoslavia and two-time president of Croatia)’, Dame Tessy Antony de Nassau (former Princess of Luxembourg) and Hon. Marisa Freiermuth-Nicolas (A Filipina Philanthropist, initiator and coordinator of “Vision of Hope,” an NGO that helps the deaf, mute and blind children, and the youth in Philippines, Cambodia and Thailand); Humanitarian Services Laureate, Hon. Dr. Mgr. Antonin Stanêk, Ph.D. (President of the Svatováclavské Koruny Academy and former minister of culture and longtime parliamentarian of the Czech Republic); Cultural and Public Services, Hon. Paolo Gambi, Ph.D. (Italian poet and artist); Cultural Achievements, H. E. Sir Reghis M. Romero II, KGCR (Philippine special envoy to Japan) and Hon. Prof. Dr. Claus Drexel (President of the Swiss Chamber of Commerce); Sustainable Economic and Public Services, Hon. Prof. Dr. Sir Billy Chan, KGOR (Director of the Center of Excellence in Medical Education in Macau); Medical Research and Education, and H. E. loannis Kapodistrias (posthumous) (First President of Greece); Honorary Award for Lifetime Achievement, collected by his heirs. As the curtains drew to a close on the Jose Rizal Heritage Awards 2023, the impact of the event reverberated through the hearts of all in attendance. The legacy of the organisation will continue to flourish, propelled by the recognition and celebration of those at the forefront of this noble cause. The awards night stands as a beacon of hope and inspiration for generations to come, ensuring that our rich cultural heritage remains preserved and cherished for eternity.