By Virginia Balanon
Commemorating 119 years of Philippine independence, the Filipino Community Council of Victoria Inc (FCCVI) and the Philippine Australian Foundation Inc (PAFI), together with government representatives, special guests and community leaders in Victoria, hosted the Annual Philippine Independence Ball on 10 June at the Ultima Function Centre in Keilor East.
Attended by about 400 guests from Metropolitan and regional Victoria including Geelong, Ballarat, Shepparton, Swan Hill, Bendigo, Gippsland and Traralgon, the event successfully captured a genuine Filipino experience of warm hospitality, joyful festivity, an exciting showcase of cultural performances and of course, the undeniable Pinoy passion for music and dance. But more importantly, it was the spirit of peace, cooperation and solidarity that made the evening memorable and worthwhile as Filipinos, with Aussie mates, celebrate together, guided by the theme, “Magandang Samahan Para sa Kaunlaran.”
A special addition to the program was a fashion show by Melbourne-based designer Lilian Bermudez, featuring her formal and bridal wear creations and a special segment on Filipiniana Collection including an exhibition of original local fabrics from the Philippines, courtesy of the Philippine Embassy in Canberra. Cultural performances were presented by Hiyas Dance Troupe (Sayaw sa Banga and Muslim Fan Dance), Bendigo Filipino Foundation, Inc. (Pandanggo sa Ilaw) and a duet by Anthony Crisostomo and Rachel Dizon-Livori singing an inspirational song “Pilipinas Kong Mahal”. Ethnic Community Radio 3ZZZ Filipino Program producers-broadcasters Chito Javier and Vergie Balanon jointly hosted the event program.
Distinguished guests who graced the event were Honorary Consul Felix Pintado with wife Diane; Australian Liberal Party Minister of Parliament Graham Watt (Burwood); Australian Labor Party political organiser Joseph Stroud; first Filipino City Council representative Walter Villagonzalo (Wyndham); Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) Filipino representative Melba Marginson and Filipino-Australian actors (father-daughter) Alfred and Charlotte Nicdao.
Wyndham City Councilor VIllagonzalo delivered an inspirational message, starting off with a recognition of the ongoing struggle of Filipinos who live overseas. He commended them for their courage and strong will, leaving home (the Philippines) and migrating to Australia (considered our second home) – for whatever reasons they may have; and keeping the flame of freedom, integrity and pride as a Filipino alive. Villagonzallo urged every Filipino to not give up and not lose hope; sacrifices and hard work always pay off, citing his own experiences. And this is the essence of freedom – achieving the desires of your heart and the victory, enjoying the fruits of your labour.
The Philippine Independence Ball was jointly organised by the officers and staff of FCCVI, headed by their President Perla Luetic and PAFI, with their Executive Director Marisa Vedar. The Programme Committee was headed by Willie Obien and Marithes Dumapias.
(Photos by FRED JOVER)