Richard Ford JP
The first Freedom Ball organised by the Alliance of Philippine Community Organisations, Inc (APCO) last 12 June at Maxims Function Centre at Bankstown was a resounding success.
Blacktown City Councillor and founding President of PCC-NSW, Jess Diaz, e-mailed APCO President, Dr Cen Amores his congratulations on the successful celebration: “The number of affiliates, the guests, the attendance and programme ushered in APCO as a legitimate peak body. While APCO is a breakaway from the PCC, this event vindicates your position that should have been seriously considered. I thank you for the opportunity of inducting the foundation officers of APCO. The friends I invited were most impressed.”
In her response to Tony Stewart, State MP for Bankstown who represented NSW Premier Kristina Keneally, Victor Dominello, MP for Ryde who represented Opposition Leader, Barry O’Farrell and Leader of the Greens, Lee Rhiannon, Dr Cen Amores, President of APCO, Inc, expressed her appreciation for their gracious greetings. She further emphasised that the Freedom Ball was a double celebration, to pay tribute to our forefathers who made the ultimate sacrifice to gain our freedom from more than three centuries of colonial rule and to publicly launch the Alliance of Philippine Community Organisations, Inc (APCO) and induct its founding officers.
The main guest speaker, MP Laurie Ferguson, who represented Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, acknowledged the contributions of the Filipino people in many aspects of Australian life and cited the couple, Ruben and Dr Cen Amores for their very successful housing co-operative project that has been assisting the community. The VIPs included politicians from the three major political parties including five former presidents of PCC-NSW.
Among the entertainers were: Marcus Rivera, whose career spans opera, musical theatre, cabaret, television and films; Linda Trinidad, a coloratura soprano pride of the Ilocos region; Marilyn Mendez, a cast member of the stage play, ‘Her Son, Jose Rizal’; the Carreon Family Quartet, composed of four musically talented children of Gabriel Jr and Beth Carreon: Francis, Patrick, Melody and Daniel who are all members of the Sydney Youth Orchestra and Hannah Jover, the youngest daughter of Drs Neil and Myrna Jover of Wollongong.
The audience warmly applauded the APCO, Inc officers and affiliates in their rendition of Sayaw ng Kalayaan, artfully choreographed by the very famous dance instructor, Albert Dimarucut and assisted by Albert Prias and Charles Chan of FLAGCOM & Friends.
The crowd was ecstatic watching elegantly dressed guests vie to be picked for being in the Best Classical Filipiniana, Best Modern Filipiniana, Best Classical Barong and Best Modern Barong. It was a challenge for the Board of Judges, composed of acclaimed fashion designer, Valerie Tolosa; former PCC president and Filipino Master Chef, Neria Soliman and Marilou Garcia Gorga. Lourdes Wilman won the classical terno, Raquel Pellero for the modern terno, Leichhardt Mayor Jamie Parker for the modern barong and another guest the classical barong.
Masterful emcees Michelle Baltazar, editor of the Financial Standard and a broadcaster for Radio Sandigan and Daniel Ross Aguilar, a singer and stage actor kept the Ball lively and organised. The band, Vocalise composed of musically superb brother and sister act, Phinemm Nelson and Jon Mac provided the music for over two hours of public dance.
A 64-page Freedom Ball souvenir program magazine was made possible through the generous support of 67 sponsors and advertisers. Presidents and representatives of 35 community organisations ushered in the start of formalities with Erwin Villaver leading the national anthem acapella. Guests, including many non-Filipinos, came from as far as Wollongong and Newcastle.