2017 was a year which would go down in the history books of Filipinos in Australia as one of the most exciting and productive despite being a challenging one.
The relation between the Philippines and Australia grew stronger from the political ties, celebrating Fil-Oz friendship through commemorative events to helping each other through charitable works and military assistance.
Walter Villagonzalo, who won the Social Enterprise Award last 2016 for establishing the Migrant Hub, was elected Deputy Mayor of the City of Wyndham.
In music, Filipino-Ethiopian singer Fasika Alleyew was runner-up in X Factor Australia. While not taking on the title which upset the Filipino-Australian community, Fasika won the hearts of fans from all over.
Mary Ann Vanderhorst represented Australia and was awarded Senior Champion of the World (Vocal Pop), Gold Medal for Vocal Pop Category and Silver Medal for Vocal Open and Original Works in the World Championship for Performing Arts in California. Her original single “Paradise” also won Best Pop Music in the Akademia Awards in Hollywood.
Several Filipino-Australian talents also figured prominently in local events or staged their own concerts, including The Quinals, Zabrina Araya and Vanessa Cox.
While in sports, Chrysela Gracias prepares to achieve her goal to play and compete in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for table tennis. She makes sure to practice every single day to enhance her skills for this big event.
On 13 May 2017, Luke Catubig brings home the MMA Bantamweight belt after winning his match with Edwin Arana. The referee had to stop the match during the second round.
One of the major events in sports happened in Brisbane last 2 July when Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao was defeated by the Australian boxer Jeff Horn. Everyone was shocked by the turn of events during the fight. Meanwhile, Randy Petalcorin made up for the loss by winning in round one against Indonesian champion Oscar Raknafa.
The Philippine Australian Golf Association (PAGA) had a fundraising event for the community outreach program in the Philippines. This includes medical and dental mission and gift giving to the Payao Elementary School in Ilocos Norte.
KADASIG was established to continue their support for the educational needs and women empowerment through projects from sewing to other livelihood programs.
Another great charity event was held by the Ilonggo Association of Victoria Inc. (IAVI) when they went on a mission trip to the Philippines. The Pampangueño Club of Victoria, Emergency Relief Fund for Philippines, Gawad Kalinga Australia, Give Love on Christmas, Share Me a Dream, Give A Textbook Inc, Le Oscars charity group, to name a few, are some of the groups that conducted medical missions and helped send money, toys, goods and even books to the Philippines.
Deaf Ministries International along with the Eleven88 organisation raised funds last September to aid the schools located in the province of Davao.
Sec. Judy Taguiwalo from the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Australian Ambassador in Manila Amanda Gorely launched a new and enhanced humanitarian capacity through the new warehouse funded by Australia.
The Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop visited the Philippines for the launching of the Education Pathways to Peace in Mindanao and the Investing in Women’s Initiative last March.
She also met with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to reiterate support for the country. Australia provided aid to Filipino soldiers who fought the Mautes in Marawi City in Mindanao.
On the local level, the Cebuano Association of Australia tied up with the Philippines’ Department of Tourism to help promote Cebu as a tourist destination.
A reason for celebration
In a move towards fairness and inclusion, Australia’s Parliament voted to legalise same-sex marriage and the Senate passed the legislation. The legalisation had it long time coming as the bid for gay marriage started in 2004. In a national referendum, gay marriage was supported by 61.6% of the population.
To read more detailed information about the events and issues, visit http://philtimes.com.au/print-edition/