By Fred Jover
The biggest multicultural event in the Southeast Asian community of Victoria, the Southeast Asian Street Food Festival was held 8-9 April 2017 at Argyle Square on Lygon Street, Melbourne. According to Albert Lim, Managing Director of Alive Group and principal organiser of the annual event, it aims to highlight and promote the cultural traditions in music, dance, apparel and cuisine of the various nation/states comprising the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The ASEAN is composed of the original founding states, of which the Philippines is proud to be one. The other co-founders are Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. All five countries signed the ASEAN declaration, popularly known as the Bangkok declaration on 8 August 1967. Other Southeast Asian nations later joined the ASEAN—Brunei Darussalam in 1984, Vietnam in 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar in 1997 and Cambodia in 1999.
The annual festival which started in Victoria market has been going on for a few years now, and is attracting participation both from different established and emerging communities from the ASEAN countries and now making Victoria their new home as well as guests/visitors from other multicultural communities of Melbourne and mainstream Australian society. The event was an opportunity for everyone to taste the traditional cuisine of the various ASEAN counties, as well as appreciate the music, dances and native attires.
All-time favorite Filipino food like pork and chicken barbeque, lechon, kare-kare, dinuguan, pinakbet were provided by leading Filipino food businesses. Regular participants in this and past events are Kabayan Restaurant owned by Jocelyn and Ding Gonzales, GJ’s Grill owned by Shiela and Lynn and the newly established “Kusina ni Lola” co-founded by Dave Viovicente of RDV Entertainment, a prominent basketball tournament promoter in the Filipino-Australian community.
Both native and contemporary Filipiniana Men’s and Ladies’ wear like Barong Tagalog and the iconic ladies gown were exhibited on stage and on the ground with a fashion runway show and a dedicated exhibit marquee. These were managed by Lilian Bermudez, a well-known Filipiniana fashion designer both in Australia and overseas and owner of Lilian Bermudez Fashion creations, based in Rowville, Melbourne.
For the first time, the event was co-sponsored by the Australian Council of Multicultural Entrepreneurs Inc (ACME), a multicultural small business advocacy and networking group established in 2012 by a core group of Filipino and other ASEAN small business entrepreneurs. The association is currently headed by Josephine Quintero as President and managed with the assistance of Vice-President Pin Rutaquio, Treasurer Melba Cabato-Waugh, Secretary Yolanda Larion, Auditor Michael Venezuela and PRO Felicity Swinney.