Former Philippine President Joseph Estrada attended a wreath-laying ceremony for Dr. Jose Rizal (1861-1896), the father of Philippine independence, at Hibiya Park in Tokyo on Sept. 27, during his visit to Japan.

Rizal, author of “Noli Me Tangere” (“Don’t touch me”), “El Filibusterismo” (“The Reign of Greed”) and a number of poems and essays, was executed at age 35 without fulfilling his life’s ambitions, but he is widely considered the greatest hero of the Philippines as it went on to seize its independence.

In 1998, a bronze bust of Rizal was erected along a trail within Hibiya Park, a large public park next to the Imperial Palace. According to historians, the bust is located at the site of the Tokyo Hotel, where Rizal stayed in February and March 1888 before going to Europe.

During the ceremony organized by the Embassy of the Philippines, Estrada offered flowers and paid homage in front of the bronze bust.

Estrada, who currently serves as mayor of Manila, also met officials of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, members of the Japan-Philippine Parliamentary Friendship League and Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose during his visit. He also participated in the annual Philippine Festival Barrio Fiesta from Sept. 28 to 29 in Yokohama, Manila’s sister city.

Held annually, the festival showcases the best of Philippine culture and is free and open to all. The festival runs through Sept. 29 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Yamashita Park.

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