The Department of Foreign Affairs through the Philippine Embassy in Canberra has appointed Gigi Kalong as the new Philippine Honorary Consul of Victoria effective 24 May 2010. She will replace Honorary Consul General Raul Hernandez who has ended his term of office. The Consul General will not be filled. Instead, the Philippine Consulate will only be maintained by a Consul in an honorary position.
Consul Kalong, a staunch supporter of Filipino clubs and organisations, told The Philippine Times that she would like to thank the Filipino-Australian community for personally supporting her. “Without them, I would not be in the position to accept this position as Honorary Consul of Victoria. I am very confident that the majority of the Filipino-Australian community will be behind me and support the Office of the Consulate in Melbourne, Victoria. I feel very humble but proud to be given this appointment. I thank God for the opportunity.”
A well-loved and well-respected Filipino businesswoman in the Filo community, Consul Kalong will bring with her more than 20 years of managerial experience to direct the Consulate to the right direction and to be of better service to the community. She will still manage her own business as Managing Director of Villager Pty Ltd, owner of Philippine Tours, Philippine Holidays, www.discountflights.com.au, and North Suburban Travel in Brunswick. Philippine Tours has been, for years, received several awards including PAL Top Awards.
She said accepting the position was not an easy one as she herself is a busy person with so many personal and business commitments. But after consultation with people close to her, she noted that she feels she still has the strength to serve the community. “I can do it with God’s guidance,” she quips.
She wants to continue the programs that ConGen Hernandez have initiated. However, along the way, new ones will be introduced and implemented. This is only if the Consulate could afford it and the Community is willing to support new projects. She said she’s happy that the community knows that her position is an honorary one. “Nobody gets paid for doing the work. We are not short of volunteers to work with the Consulate,” she notes. One aspect of the Consulate she also wants to focus on is its financial operation. “I want the financial aspect of the Consulate to be transparent,” she pointed out.
Wishing ConGen all the best
As ConGen ends his term this month, Consul Kalong wishes him all the best in his future undertakings. “I am sure he will support the Consulate office since he knows how much assistance we need to survive,” she adds.
Meanwhile, ConGen Raul, in a separate Philtimes interview, said he will miss serving his kababayans and protecting their interests here in Australia. Despite limited resources, the Consulate Office was able to function well and came up with projects and programs for the Filipino community. During his term, the Filipinos also had a strong presence with the Australian government officials.
ConGen said as expected the biggest hurdle he encountered during his term was the financial resources attached to his position. “Due to this, I have other projets and plans that I cannot execute or sustain. I don’t want to ask from the Filipino community everytime I have a project because I know our community already suffers from donating to several appeals and projects,” he explains.
For more than five years, ConGen said the Consulate Office has survived and functioned well with the help of his dedicated volunteers. He would want to personally thank his volunteers– Tita Julie Uy, Gibson White, Anne Kristel Cabral, Marietta Sabello, Vanessa Chan, Mara Sy Coson, Andy Cabrera and Ed Pangilinan. “Without these volunteers and their commitment, it would have been more difficult to operate,” he ends.
ConGen is currently continuing his consultancy work with companies and individuals.
Consul Kalong said that she will be holding office in the same location at Suite 1205, St Kilda Towers, 1 Queens Road, Melbourne. The Philippine Consulate can be contacted on telephone (03) 9863 7885.