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Knights of Rizal out of HK flower show from this year

09 February 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao

After representing the Philippines for the past 15 years in the annual Hong Kong Flower Show, the Knights of Rizal will no longer have a booth in the spring spectacle starting March this year.

Pieter Nootenboom, Knight Grand Officer of Rizal, made the announcement on Jan 23 in a post on the HKOFW webpage that he administers. The post was, however, taken down the next day. 

He said the decision to retain only one Philippine booth in the flower festival was made by the Hong Kong government’s Leisure and Cultural Services Department. The Philippine Consulate has had its  own booth for the past several years.

Knights of Rizal display in a previous Hong Kong Flower Show.

The flower show is a major event organized by the LCSD every year to promote horticulture and public awareness on greening.  Last year its 200-plus stalls attracted more than 650,000 Hongkongers and horticulture lovers all over the world to appreciate the beauty of flowers. 

This year the annual event will have ‘Joy in Bloom” as theme and dahlia as the centerpiece. It will be held on March 16 to 25 at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay.

“Notice to the Philippine Community, The Knights of Rizal will not be in the Hong Kong Government Flower Show as of this coming March 2018 as the LCSD decided (that since) the Philippine Consulate will participate they do not wish to have two booths in that area to represent the Philippines,” Nootenboom said in his post.

For the past several years, the KOR had been taking part in the flower show, with its spacious booth strategically located beside the western entrance of the exhibition ground on Victoria Park.

Friends and supporters who commented on Nootenboom’s announcement were saddened by the KOR’s absence from the event starting this spring, but the top leader of the Rizalists in Hong Kong reacted positively to the development.

“Well, the positive side is, hopefully the Philippine Consulate will at last continue to join every year from now on,” Nootenboom said.

The Consulate first joined the flower show last year, and won the “Special Award for Design Excellence” for the everlasting-studded jeepney in its booth, but KOR also won for a “Special Award for Unique Feature” (a landscape display).

Nootenboom had been the prime mover of Philippine participation in the flower show year after year since 2003. He has won around 20 awards, since in some years he helped set up booths for other Filipino groups, winning three awards for them.

“I represented various Philippine organizations since 2003,” he told The SUN. He said he was doing it to promote the country to large crowd that visited the fair each year.

The Dutchman, who is married to a Filipina, said he was sad but relieved that the Consulate would be continuing what he had started.

Over the years, he helped set up booths for the Philippine Orchid Society in Manila three times. In some years, he said he did three booths at his own cost.

“I never received one cent in all the years I did this,” Nootenboom said

In the past 15 years, he represented Rizal Technological University, UP Los Baños, Philippine Indoor & Balcony Gardening Society, Kababaihang Rizalista HK Chapter, and Knights of Rizal. He was behind the KOR’s participation in the exhibition for seven years.

The KOR has consistently received the Special Award for Unique Feature (landscape display) for its imposing booth designed by Nootenboom himself. Its motif is a Philippine garden with rare orchids from the country’s forests hanging from the eaves of three tarpaulin tents.

At certain times of the festival days, Filipino domestic workers groups performed cultural dances, notably the “tinikling”, which features pairs of dancers skillfully hopping between four crisscrossed bamboo poles rhythmically tapping, sliding and knocking against each other.
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