by Richard J Ford, PRO – APCO Inc.
Guests are all relaxed with a no frills entertainment and display of Philippine culture and artefacts. Plenty of Filipino dishes and children are seen playing the games we love to play back home. Very evident is the hands-on approach of the APCO leadership in recreating Filipino indigenous arts and crafts display from different regions and the care-free ways of incorporating them in the program. Much work and positive coordination from different groups made the Pista sa Nayon not just a success but such a delight to both guests and visitors in appreciating what it means to be a Filipino. The Bayanihan spirit lives on to animate APCO’s events and activities.”
The above comment from Bicol Inc. Chair, Bobby Lastica encapsulates the sentiments of the multicultural guests who came from all over Sydney, Canberra, Illawarra, Lismore, Bathurst, Gosford and Newcastle to celebrate a one of its kind Philippine Independence Day 2016.
Pista sa Nayon: Alay sa Kalayaan, a pilot that was an open free public celebration, was organised by the Alliance of Philippine Community Organisations Inc. (APCO) on 13 June 2016 attracted an unprecedented big crowd to the newly-built Berala Community Centre. The VIPs present included Leader of the State Opposition Luke Foley MP, Consul General Anne Jalando-on Louis who represented Philippine Ambassador to Australia, Her Excellency Minda Calaguian-Cruz, Member for Epping, Damien Tudehope who represented Premier Mike Baird, Executive Administrator of the newly amalgamated Cumberland LGA Viv May, Ethnic Communities Council -NSW Chairman, Peter Doukas and Board Member, Siddique Panwala and many leaders of the multicultural communities.
In a bold but socially relevant move, APCO experimented in a more inclusive and accessible celebration shifting from the elitist high-brow Rigodon and Terno Ball that reminds us of the colonial past to a family and budget-friendly village-type fiesta celebrating liberty and happier life. But this festival is comparatively very different from the commercialised ones held in other places: Pista sa Nayon 2016 attempted to portray the traditional village festivals in the different parts of the mother country: with lots of musical and cultural presentations, regional favourite food, arts and craft exhibits, games and contests participated by the general public including young children and youth.
Various activities were held simultaneously in different parts of the Centre such that the big crowd of about 1,000 at any given time could mill around attending to all activities that started with a parade, along Berala CBD, of regional celebrations like the Sinulog of the Visayas, Wedding entourage of Ilocos, Santacruzan of Katagalogan, Bulaklakan of Central Luzon and Muslim Princess of Mindanao.
From the feedbacks received including those in the social media, indicate that this initial Pista sa Nayon is a roaring success:
Well respected journalist, Bless Salonga said, “The first Pista sa Nayon organised by APCO was a success! I love the welcoming atmosphere, people were warm towards each other and organisers were not just focused on the event, but most of all, the guests. Congratulations to everyone!”
Romy Cayabyab, Chair of the Board of Judges said about the on-the-spot essay writing contestants, “I am very impressed with the quality of the entries. Even at very young age, the contestants have a very good knowledge of the Philippines and its traditions. Big congrats to Dr. Cen Amores, Ruben Amores and APCO organisers for a very successful community event. Mabuhay po kayo.”
A very satisfied senior citizen and dancing enthusiast, Dante Amores opined, “The best “Araw ng Kalayaan” in Sydney. Let’s have more!”