Around 350 attended the Philippine Independence Ball spearheaded by the Filipino Community Council of Victoria (FCCVI) and the Philippine-Australian Foundation (PAFI) last 5 June at the Millenium Reception and Function Centre in Sunshine. Commissioner Elizabeth Drozd from the Victorian Multicultural Commission was the guest of honour. The event was in commemoration of the 112th Philippine Independence Day.
Serrano: Leading the path of renewal nad reconcilitation
In her speech, Norma Serrano, Chairperson of the FCCVI, honoured the country’s fallen heroes who fought hard for the freedom of the Filipinos. At the same time, she also paid tribute to the members of the FCCVI, PAFI and Caretaker Executive Committees whom she said work tirelessly to improve the positive contribution of the Filipino community to mainstream Australia.
VMC Commissioner Elizabeth Drozd (left) and FCCVI Chairperson Norma Serrano
Serrano said FCCVI and PAFI are currently implementing programs and activities with a clear sense of purpose and direction. For the past six months, she reported that the following are happening: continuous strong linkages with funding bodies and partners; solid governance; a better workplace for member organisations, staff and volunteers, and reassurance to their stakeholders that FCCVI still acts an Umbrella Body and as an Aged Care Provider. She also mentioned that the Department of Health and Ageing, the Department of Human Services and the Victorian Multicultural Commission would continue to support the two peak Filipino bodies in Victoria.
“My stint as a Chair for two and a half years, has seen so many challenges, some disappointments but ultimately many triumphs in the last two weeks. Some people tried so hard to promote the so-called Filipino ‘crab mentality’, but it didn’t destroy our spirit. It is our absolute silence against our detractors that gives them the energy to continue doing what they are doing. My Executive Team , The Dream Team as called by FCCVI founder Marina Ruivivar didn’t worry about who don’t like us, who don’t believe in us, or who’s doing what. Instead we cherish the relationship with those who like us, who believe in us, who care about us and those who love us,” she explains. The current leaders, she said, will follow the footsteps of our fallen heroes by valuing the dreams for the people and ensuring that such dreams would materialise.
Referring to the recent controversy hitting the management of FCCVI and PAFI, Serrano assures the Filo community that the senior leaders are tracking down the path of “renewal, reconciliation and reinvigoration.”
Hernandez: Focusing on genuine service
In his last public speech as representative of the Philippine Government in Victoria, Consul General Raul Hernandez said that the crisis being experienced by our present leaders is similar to the freedom attained by the Filipinos from the oppressors 112 years ago. “Until now, our modern day leaders, including our Filipino community leaders, and including myself when I was in office, receive threats, bullying and unfounded criticisms like our great leaders who turned as our heroes in the history of our country. As my favourite verse from the Bible says “the devil is always looking for someone to devour”. But as good, Christian leaders, we always learn to “resists these devils, solid in our faith”. By ignoring the dictates of “devils” he said that Filipino leaders should focus on the true mission of service to the community.
Honorary ConGen Raul Hernandez becomes emotional while delivering his parting speech.
ConGen made mention of the significant accomplishments of the Consulate under his five-year term. Among these are: establishing a working relationship with the State Parliament of Victoria resulting to a 50 computer donation to the Bulacan Polytechnic School; organising linkage between the Philippine governors and the Victorian Local Governance Association; hosting of visits of leaders and dignitaries from the Philippines, including the visit of our former President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo; hosting of the Philippine Fibre Association, the Automotive Association, the Halal Group, the Call Centre Group and the Food Industry. Also, his office made possible cultural initiatives such as the Philippine Independence Day Flag Raising Ceremony at Federation Square, the Philippine Food Festival at the Grand Hyatt and the Apo Hiking Society Kumustahan Concert at the Victoria Arts Centre. The Consulate likewise has been assisting Filipino nationals in Victoria needing consular assistance such as passport renewal/application, work problems, status problems and the like.
He finally thanked the many individuals, volunteers, organisations, friends and family members who supported him throughout his term.
Kalong: Giving back the blessings to the community
In her first official function, new Honorary Consul Virginia “Gigi” Kalong said that this year’s theme aptly describes the significance of freedom and success. “As migrants here in Australia, we are free. Free to do what we wish, free to reach the highest peak of success, free from the clutches of poverty unlike our Filipino counterparts back home.” However, Consul Kalong reminded those in the audience that such freedom has an attached responsibility of giving back to the community whatever one is receiving in abundance. “This is the underlying foundation that centres my term here as your now Consul. It is about service to you, my kababayans, in my underlying belief that we are placed on this earth by God’s grace to make a difference.” Consul Kalong has been in the travel business for more than 20 years now.
The new Philippine Honorary Consul for Victoria, Virginia Kalong
On Saturday, June 12 Consul Kalong will lead the Philippine Consulate and the Filipino community in the Flag Raising Ceremony commemorating the historical event in Kawit Cavite last June 12, 1898. The ceremony will be held at 8am sharp at Federation Square. Fr. Loi Viovicente will also grace the event. Floralie Escano and Alyssa Limbo, two of female Filipino-Australian vocalists will lead the singing of the Philippine National Anthem.