The history of the Order of the Knights of Rizal started in the Philippines in December 30, 1911 when Military Colonel Antonio C. Torres organized 9-group of men from different walks of life for the purpose of commemorating the martyrdom of the national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal. Thereafter, year after year, the same group would gather to commemorate his martyrdom.
To provide a continuing entity and encourage others to join, on November 16, 1916, a private non-stock corporation was organized by Antonio C. Torres, Juan Flameño, Martin P. de Veyra, Jose A. del Barrio and Jose S. Galvez, and founded the organization.
Colonel Antonio C. Torres, then the Chief of Police of Manila, was the first Supreme Commander. The following have since then been legion of most respectable men and figures in the Philippine society and history: Supreme Commanders of the Order: Martin P. de Veyra, Manuel Lim, Juan F. Nakpil, Herminio Velarde, Teodoro Evangelista, Hernenegildo B. Reyes, Santiago F. de la Cruz, Jesus E. Perpiñan, Vitaliano Bernardino, Jose Ma. Paredes Claudio Teehankee, Jose S. Laurel III and the incumbent, Justo P. Torres, Jr and down to the present.
In 1951 the Supreme Council of the Order created a Committee on Legislation for the purpose of studying the bill in the Congress of the Philippines to be enacted into law to enable the Order to secure a legislative charter. The bill seeking to give the Order of the Knights of Rizal a legislative charter was docketed as Senate Bill No. 251, with then Senators Enrique Magalona, Lorenzo Sumulong, Esteban Abada, Emiliano Tria Tirona, Camilo Osias, Geronima Pecson, Jose Avelino and Ramon Torres as sponsors. In the Lower House, Congressman Manuel Zosa of Cebu was the principal sponsor of the measure. The explanatory note of the Bill read as follows:
“The purpose of the attached bill is to accord to the civic and patriotic organization known as “Orden’ de Caballeros de Rizal” (Order of the Knights of Rizal) the same kind of official recognition and encouragement as that accorded to the Boy Scouts of the Philippines by Commonwealth Act No. 111, by granting to it a legislative Charter and investing with the necessary powers to enable it more fully and more effectively to accomplish the laudable purposes for which it was organized.”
The Bill constitute an official recognition of the inestimable value to the nation and the world of Rizal’s teachings and the wisdom necessity of inculcating in the minds and hearts of people so they may follow and practice them.
The Order of the Knights of Rizal was signed into law by the President of the Philippines on June 14, 1951, becoming Republic Act 646. Since then, its number grew upheld by the memberships of respectable leaders in the government and in the business field.
Knights of Rizal Charters have been installed abroad and memberships have been embraced by foreign citizens from major cities in USA, Canada and Europe. It being spearheaded by memberships of high ranking diplomatic figures, influential businessmen, artists and civilians abroad.
Today, there are approximately 11,000 members worldwide.
Dr. Jose Rizal