Manny Asuncion receives VMC’s award for community service

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Adrian M Prophet

Well known, Filipino quiet achiever Manny Asuncion has finished his year on a high. Manny has worked quietly but productively behind the scenes for 28 years to the benefit of the Victorian Filipino- Australian community. On Thursday, 3 December, at the Government House, Melbourne, in the presence of Her Excellency the Governor of Victoria, the Victorian Government, through the Victorian Multicultural Commission was conferred an Award for Meritorious Service to the Community. The award recognises the “achievement of a person who has “demonstrated outstanding voluntary commitment to the service of Victoria’s multicultural community, promoted cultural diversity and improved community relations and programs for at least 10 years.”

Manny’s award was “for his support of Filipino-Australian migrant communities and wider multicultural Australia through sharing his talents in arts, drama and language”.

Altogether 36 individuals and four organisations were recognised for meritorious awards. Manny is the only Filipino-Australian awardee for this year.

Manny migrated to Australia on 27 June, 1984 with qualifications in Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, and Bachelor of Arts, Speech and Drama. He pursued higher education in Australia obtaining Master of Applied Linguistics, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia, 1999; Graduate Certificate in Literacy, Victoria University, Footscray, Victoria, 2001; and PhD Education (Academics completed), Victoria University, Footscray, 2004. In addition, Manny obtained special qualification in Translator Level 3, National Accreditation for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI), English-Filipino (Both ways), 1996 and Certificate, Teaching English as a Second Language, University of Melbourne.

In 1987 Manny became one of the founders of Dulaang Bayan Melbourne Inc (DBMI) a Filipino Development Theatre, based in Melbourne. The initial performance of DBMI was Kayumangging Ibon (written and directed by Manny) which was presented at the Philippine Fiesta of Victoria in Footscray Park.

For almost 25 years, Manny has been writing and directing skits, monologues and plays for DBMI as well as initiating and conducting workshops for its members. Among his works are Kuwento ni Auring (1987), Kayumangging Ibon (1989), Autumn Sonata (2000), Kesehoda (2001), Mga Eksena sa Airport (2004), Summer Butterflies (2006), Ikalawang Tag-Sibol ni Mang Florante (2009) and Miting Sa Makiling (2011). Manny also wrote the lyrics for these plays.

Manny was one of the founders of the The Philippine Times, a Filipino-Australian community newspaper. He was one of its former Editor-in-Chiefs. He wrote several articles (news, essays, film critiques, feature stories, Filipino legends and short stories using different pseudonyms) and had a regular column, Pilantik ng Diwa that touched on the Filipino humour and psyche.

Manny also wrote and is still active as columnist/writer of the following publications: Bayanihan (Sydney), Philippine Community Herald (Sydney), Munting Nayon Newspaper Magazine (Netherlands), and Daily Mirror (New York, USA).

Manny was one of the broadcasters of Radyo Filipino 3ZZZ 92.3 FM in its early days.

He is a Filipino language teacher. He taught Filipino at the Victorian School of Languages, Princess Hill Language School, Philippine Language School of Victoria and was the chief lecturer of the Filipino language Department at the Australian Defence Force Language School (Laverton) and the ADF Special Task Force Language School, Perth, Western Australia.

A licensed Filipino translator and interpreter, Manny was a one-time chief examiner for the Filipino language group of the National Accreditation Authority for Translator and Interpreters (NAATI), a position he held for almost 10 years.

A deeply committed member of the Filipino-Australian community in Melbourne, Manny was the Vice President of the Filipino Community Council of Victoria for four years and is currently the PRO of the Philippine Fiesta of Victoria. He was also the Vice President of the Filipino Artists of Melbourne (FAME) and one time President of Filipino Toastmaster Club of Melbourne.

In 2014, Manny Asuncion published a book, entitled “Seasons, An Anthology of Filipino Plays Down Under”, 2014 (A collection of plays written in English and Filipino).

Manny Asuncion’s devotion, passion, commitment and effectiveness in promoting culture and heritage, and supporting multiculturalism and promoting community relations through language, arts and drama has been recognised by the peak Filipino associations in recent years.

He has received many awards for his community work, and in 2015 his work was recognised at the national and international levels.

He also received the Filipino Australian Achiever Award from The Filipino Communities Council of Australia (FILCCA) in 2014.

This year, he was also given an Eminent Alumni Award by Philippine Normal University and the International Jubilarian Leadership Award by Philippine Normal University.

Manny is quiet about his achievements personally, but people who know him, respect him and support him, believe he was a most worthy candidate for the latest award.

In her message to recipients of these awards, the Governor of Victoria, the Hon. Linda Dessau AM, wrote: “The Victorian Multicultural Awards for Excellence recognise and celebrate the extraordinary contribution of a diverse array of Victorians to our vibrant and inclusive society.” The Governor stated that in Victoria we “Collectively speak over 260 different languages and practise around 135 different faiths. We embrace different cultures from across the globe, and value the distinct contribution each culture makes to our broader community.”

In his message, the Premier of Victoria, The Hon. Daniel Andrews MP wrote that, “Since 2002, these annual Awards have recognised many remarkable achievements to support diversity, inclusion and cohesion in our community. We are very fortunate to have so many committed people and organisations working hard to maintain Victoria’s reputation as a world leader in multicultural affairs.”

“The 2015 Award recipients have made significant contributions to support Victoria’s diverse communities to fully participate in society, and to maintain and celebrate their different cultures, languages and faiths”, he wrote.

In a message The Hon. Robin Scott MP, Minister for Multicultural Affairs stated that “Victoria’s Multicultural Awards for Excellence are an important way for the Victorian Government and the Victorian Multicultural Commission to publically acknowledge Victorians who embrace our diversity…these awards pay tribute to those individuals, communities and organisations who contribute to our successful multicultural and inclusive society.”

Helen Kapalos, Chairperson, Victorian Multicultural Commission, wrote that “with recipients representing 22 different cultures, these awards highlight the depth and breadth of initiatives and programs that support and reinforce our strength as a multicultural community.”

She thanked the nominators for taking the time to put forward so many deserving nominees.

Following the presentations, the recipients and their guests were invited to partake of cocktails, and to view several rooms in Government House, including the State Dining Room and the State entrance and the billiard room.

To read more about the awards, please visit: http://www.multicultural.vic.gov.au/projects-and-initiatives/promoting-harmony/awards-and-recognition-programs/multicultural-awards-for-excellence

The presentation booklet can be viewed here: http://www.multicultural.vic.gov.au/images/2015/Michelle/VictoriasMulticulturalAwardsforExcellence2015booklet.pdf

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