Juan Eu Konek

Team Behind Knights Assembly in Rome

Gene Alcantara 

Rome- Every successful event, especially an international one, needs a solid event management team to handle all aspects before, during and even after the event.

So when delegates to the 3-day Knights of Rizal 8th European General Assembly started arriving at the Hotel Pineta Palace in Rome, Italy on 26th June 2023, they expected to get ushered in with identification tags, especially those who may have paid online in advance, to be greeted with coffee and drinks to start the day off, to purchase KoR barongs, shirts and pins, be given their bag of leather desk pad, coaster, fan and other memorabilia. 

They expected to see a programme to guide them throughout the 3 days (despite receiving an email of the programme a few days prior), and maybe a list of delegates with contact emails so it’s easier to see who was who, and who to ask in case of questions, issues or problems. 

There were other things to do like preparing the hall, hanging the KoR banners of different chapters, arrangements with the hotel management on catering and drinks, lights, sound system, projectors, and the karaoke, confirming the programme of speakers (2 Philippine Ambassadors — one to the Holy See, and one to Italy), and the various ceremonies, perhaps agreeing a raised  platform at the podium for the height-challenged.

The vans and buses needed to be confirmed for all the trips involved, including the courtesy call to the Philippine Ambassador to the Holy See, the visit to Vatican City early in the morning for Pope Francis’ blessings, the meal at Ala Eh Filipino restaurant, mass by 3 Filipino priests at the nearby church, and the wreathlaying at Piazzale Manila where Jose Rizal’s statue has been watching passersby since 2011, with ushers ready to herd delegates as necessary.

The Ala Eh Restaurant needed to be primed for the arrival of 2 bus loads at the same time, famished and thirsty.  Ushers needed to be ready to support less than young delegates in case they slipped on the inclined entrance.

I can honestly say I did not know the arrangements in detail as I was just a delegate.  The senior Knights and Ladies from Italy were busy with dealing with the VIPs from the Supreme Council and global delegates from the Europe, the UK, Philippines, USA, Canada and  Australia.  

But I was pleasantly surprised to see a valiant group of young Italian-Filipino men and women who dealt with everything else with aplomb and with a ready smile.  I stayed behind for a bit of tourism with Lady Liza Bueno, the newly installed President of the Kababaihang Rizalista sa Italya, and four of them were sitting on a bench under a tree to cool down.

I know from talking with the young leaders after the rather rushed wreathlaying [the 2 drivers of buses were only booked until a certain time and everyone was running late, with some delegates tarrying too long at the Vatican], that they were not quite prepared for the service they provided to KoR.  They were hungry and thirsty and had to look after themselves, and they had to prepare their own spreadsheet list of delegates for checking names against and for accounting.  

Some of the 150 delegates were not even listed so they had to prepare IDs there and then,  some with pictures from Facebook, and laminated them in situ.  [I myself was not on the list and paid the fee in Euro and GBP]. They even ran out of ink so had to rush out to buy some.  One Belgian delegate’s shoes broke so one of them had to drive with the Knight somewhere to get a new pair.

So there we were having espressos and cappuccino at the cafe near Rizal’s statue and I knew then it has been a massive learning experience for everyone involved behind the scene.  It was a test of their mettle that they managed it very well.  

I know the Supreme Council of the Knights of Rizal back in Manila will ensure that they are thanked properly for their contribution to the success of the event.  I certainly thanked all of them then, and I am acknowledging their contributions here and now with this blog.

And since we are talking about success, it would have been nice to have some sort of evaluation, maybe a questionnaire for delegates to say what went well, what went wrong, what could be done better.  With someone to collect, collate, analyse and report responses.   If nothing else it would help ensure the next European Assembly is an even bigger success, and be a template for other assemblies in other parts of the world to bring Rizal’s teachings to a wider audience.  

Non Omnis Moriar.

Gene Alcantara

Juan EU Konek