Purchased in 1974, the building was named in honor of Dr. José P. Rizal, national hero of the Philippines. A patriot, physician, polyglot, and man of letters, his poetry, essays, and novels awakened Philippine identity. He was a supporter of peaceful reform. José P. Rizal is remembered for his brilliance, courage, patriotism, and compassion towards the Filipino people and the country. He is also remembered for his expressed interest in learning and befriending other peoples and cultures. He lived by example, and showed that nativism is not patriotism.
Dr. Rizal's influence is reflected every day through the endeavors of the Filipino American Council of Greater Chicago, in its passion to celebrate Philippine and Philippine American arts and culture and its intersection with diverse ethnicities and cultures, as well as to serve the vulnerable; to fight hunger for low-income seniors and veterans; and to foster the thoughtful, caring, and supportive community that has become the hallmark of the organization.
The building was known as the Jose P. Rizal Heritage Center until it was renamed the Jose P. Rizal Community Center ("Rizal Community Center") in 2017.
José P. Rizal
(June 19, 1861 - December 30, 1896)
Chicago's Filipinos are a quiet and hardworking part of the city's fabric. Although scattered throughout the North Side, they do have one common meeting place: the Jose Rizal Center at 1322 W. Irving Park. Carmelito Llapitan, whose name appears across the street on the 3900 block of Wayne (Carmelito Llapitan Court), is recognized as one of the founders of this community center. ( Fremor, David, Chicago Tribune, "Where In The Windy City Is...", March 5, 1993)
The Rizal Center's auditorium Kalayaan Hall was renamed in honor of Dr. Rufino F. Crisostomo, who served as the Chair of the Board of Directors, Filipino American Council of Greater Chicago, from 2014 to 2017. He served the community from 1987 until his death in 2018. Dr. Crisostomo stepped outside of comfort and convenience and stood up to challenge and controversy. It is because of him that we are able to stand here today and celebrate community at the Rizal Community Center.
Dr. Crisostomo was a man who nurtured thoughtful inquiry, dialogue, and action through a combination of wisdom, optimism, and charm. His international background informed his vision of community as a conciliatory practice of listening, learning, and collaborating cooperatively between constituencies. He understood the intrinsic value of unity in diversity. His life exemplified the Filipino heart and the ideals of Philippine national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal. He will be remembered for his great intellect, sense of wonder, thoughtful stewardship, and dedication to community service and philanthropic leadership.