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Lakbay Dangal starts new year with walkabout

22 January 2017

Lakbay Dangal walkabout participants in one of the stops in Central.

A group of Filipino migrant workers from the Domestic Workers Empowerment Program and CARD MRI HK joined the Lakbay Dangal Historical and Cultural Trail on Jan. 8, headed by Marites Mapa, Victoria Munar and Cecille Duarte.

The trail uncovered the historical links between Hong Kong and Philippines, and in particular the time spent in the territory by the Philippines’ national hero, Dr Jose P. Rizal.

The walk started from Chater Garden, formerly known as the Cricket Club and was renamed in 1910 after Sir Paul Catchick Chater, known as the Father of Modern Hong Kong.

Nearby is the Court of Final Appeal, which until a few years ago was known as the Legislative Council Building. However, it was originally built to serve as Hong Kong’s Supreme Court, and the etchings on the front of the building show this clearly.

Beside it is Statue Square, a favorite hangout of overseas Filipino workers, especially those who just arrived in Hong Kong. The group was told that the statue known to most Filipinos as “Black Man” is actually that of a white Briton, Sir Thomas Jackson, who was responsible for the development of colonial Hong Kong under the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. The use of black granite is said to account for the statue’s color.

From here, the group was led to the HSBC headquarters across, where Rizal is documented to have received money sent by his brother Paciano from the Philippines.

Guarding the building are two renowned lion statues, one of which is called “Stephen, the security”, named after A.G. Stephen, former manager of the bank’s Hong Kong branch. The other lion is called “Stitt, the Prudence”, named after A.G. Stitt, manager of the bank’s Shanghai branch at the time. The trail leaders said there is a belief that touching one of the lions’ face down to the front feet will bring good luck.

The group continued its walk to nearby Duddel St, where Rizal, an opthalmologist, used to have a clinic. The steps leading up to Ice House street and framed by four old gas lamps were said to have so inspired Rizal that they often figured in his writing.

Many in the group started snapping photos when they reached a marker on D’Aguilar Street where Rizal is known to have also run a clinic. A tower block that houses various shops and restaurants now stands on the site, near the corner with Queen’s Road Central.

From there, the group went up a steep flight of stairs to Rednaxela Terrace, where Rizal lived for a few months. A sign in front of the exact spot where his old house once stood reads: “Here Rizal and his mother lived from 1891 to 1892.”

The group was told that OFWs led by the national hero, were the first Filipinos to make their mark in Hong Kong.

George Manalansan, an OFW who joined the walking tour, said that he felt like a newly arrived tourist because he managed to get to the important historial sites with guides who explained the significance of each stop. He said it was “very informative and inspiring”.

Another member of the group, Helen G. Elefante said after the walk, “It was indeed a great historical experience”. – with a report by Marites Palma

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