NSW–Benjie de Ubago, a writer contributor of several publications, including The Philippine Times has won the Premier’s Multicultural Media Lifetime Achievement Award for her 35 years of outstanding contribution to Filipino community media. Benjie was pleasantly surprised when she was announced as winner by New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Acting Minister for Multiculturalism Geoff Lee during the virtual awarding on 25 November.
Benjie arrived in Australia with her family in April 1971. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts at the University of Santo Tomas. She also completed an Advertising Certificate from the Sydney Technical College, and a Copywriting course from the Asian Institute for the Development Advertising. She is also a qualified trainer.
She’s a prolific writer with a creative flair who is able to fuse her journalism and advertising skills. She has amassed a wealth of experience working for: Channels 7 and 9 Sydney; Leo Burnett Advertising Agency; a 10-year stint with Paddy’s Markets Flemington and Haymarket; and as Filipino Community Relations Manager for Western Union. She started her own creative outfit, Ideas for Sale and some of her clients included: Roads & Traffic Authority, State Rail Authority, Parramatta City Council, Canada Bay, Auburn Council and most recently, Western Union.
She was a lecturer for TAFE – English/Communications; a mentor for “Women in Business” Training Workshops for Business Enterprise Center, Parramatta and was a member of the Filipino Consultative Committee.
She has dedicated more than 35 years to writing regularly as a contributor and a columnist for the Filipino papers ‘gratis et amore’. She has initiated and collaborated various cultural and fundraising projects of different Filipino government offices and community organisations, some of which are: Philippine Community Council of NSW (she was one of the original Board members), FILCCA, PASC/Fiesta, FAME, RPMC, SAFSI, PAMA, and was behind the State Visits of Presidents Ramos and Aquino and the Filipino Global Conference.
She also published the Filipin-Oz Directory, linking the Filipino-Australian community and co-authored a book “When In Doubt – Surviving Martial Law In Malacañang”.
Benjie’s achievements are duly recognised in this special award. “For me, the award is a validation of my ability and experience,” she said.
Benjie still has hopes to fulfil her long dream of writing a book about the Filipino community – the pioneers and the achievers – who lifted the profile of Filipinos in Australia. “I have a video of it, but it would be good to put it in writing too,” she said.
Benjie recalls the time when she struggled in her search for a job after arriving in Australia. “I was told I couldn’t work in an agency or in the media. Reason – no local experience!” she said. Three months later, Benjie tried again and landed a position at Channel 9.
“While at Channel 9, I checked out every position in the station until I found exactly what I wanted which was in the Promotions/Publicity Department. I asked the boss for the position and I made a deal with the boss. I told them they could pay me my old rate and if I couldn’t make it in three months, they could put me back in my old position. But if I made it, then they would pay me my correct wage. I made it!”
Benjie is encouraging other Filipinos to follow their dreams, just as she did. She says “keep believing that we Filipinos are equals. Stay focused and work it!”
Get more stories like this in your inbox!
Sign up for our newsletter and receive regular updates.