At the outset, I should take this opportunity to introduce myself and my office, the Consulate General of the Philippines in Melbourne, which has consular jurisdiction over Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania.
Ok, I get it. Some people are still confused. “Don’t we already have a consulate in Melbourne?” “Are you still on Queen’s Road,” they ask. I can’t blame them.
It will be hard to let go of Consul Pintado and his team, as they have been the Philippine Consulate here in Melbourne, all these years, and they have done their job splendidly well.
But Consul Pintado and his team are, in a very real sense, volunteers, and they have done this service practically pro bono and for the love of country. I doff my hat to them, as everybody should tonight, so I invite everybody to please stand up and give a round of applause to the outgoing Honorary Consul, as he bows out of office after five years of hard work and dedication.
For proudly holding up the Philippine flag in this region while giving valuable service to our kababayans, Mabuhay ka, Felix!
We, on the other hand, are a full-fledged career consulate, and as such, we will be providing a broader range of services. We owe it to our burgeoning Filipino community to have a larger presence here, so you won’t need to go to Canberra or Sydney, for instance, for your passport renewal, or wait for them to come here. That will be coming soon—hopefully by March–if our personnel and equipment get here soon.
Passport services is the key addition to what the honorary consulate has been providing: visas, notarial services (that means your affidavits and SPAs); civil registry (that means registering births and marriages and deaths of overseas Filipinos with the Philippine civil registry or PSA, which is what used to be NSO; assistance to nationals (these are special forms of assistance to Filipinos in distress situations, like victims of calamities and disasters, such as those affected by the recent bushfires, as well as those enmeshed in legal, labor or immigration issues).
We will also begin receiving applications for dual citizenship, or citizenship retention or reacquisition under Republic Act 9225. This is one topic that’s close to my heart, so I welcome questions and opportunities to speak and expound on this topic, for those interested to learn more.
As a fully-staffed career consulate, we also have a role to play in the various areas of diplomacy—political and security partnerships with Australia; economic diplomacy, meaning the promotion of economic, trade, investment and tourism cooperation between the two countries (and we will lean as well on the Filipino community on this); and, of course, cultural exchanges and cooperation.
Suffice it to say that we have a big job ahead, and we have to be up to the challenge.
But we shall depend heavily on the Filipino-Australian community, whom we consider our valuable partner in these endeavors. In a community forum last Tuesday, I referred to the Filipino community here in Melbourne as one of the most highly educated, informed, articulate and socially-aware and caring Filipino communities overseas. Trust me: I meant every word I said.
While we applaud our gains in international cooperation, we must be wary of the dire effects of globalisation, such as the spread of terror, and the outbreak of pandemics like the deadly novel coronavirus which has claimed hundreds of lives and continues to confound our leaders, while scientists scramble for a solution.
At no time has unity and concerted effort been more sorely needed—globally and domestically—to fight common problems and find coordinated solutions.
The message applies with equal force to our community here. It’s time to transcend differences and focus on what can unite us—believe me, there are more things we have in common than we care to accept. Let us begin building bridges again.
Get more stories like this in your inbox!
Sign up for our newsletter and receive regular updates.