By Alice Gregorio-Nicolas
Eighty-five year old Vic Icasiano, who was one of the two signatories of the purchase of the Laverton property, said that Hobsons Bay City Council’s issue with the Fiesta Management Committee when they were running the fiesta years ago was food preparation. “Every year it was always the food because our lechon, rice, and other dishes were not covered. And so the Council would remind us. The way we prepare food was the main problem, nothing else,” he said.
Reminiscing the Fiesta of yesteryears, Icasiano said he would do door-to-door visits to talk to the residents and give them free tickets to the Fiesta. This way, the Filipino community developed a good relationship with the neighbours. Icasiano shared this story with the other 16 people who attended the 12 May 2012 Special Meeting with the Management Committee. But there was no show for the Management Committee members, except for Alex Ordoña who came as an observer/guest.
The Laverton property was a former government school. Eddie Atacador recalls,“When the school closed down, a lot of students were forced to go to other schools nearby. The neighbourhood was agitated. We had problems with young kids coming here and hurting our Fiesta volunteers. But Vic walked and talked to the neighbours to let them know that we are not bad people. So we seek cooperation from the Council, the neighbourhood, the police. But we solved our problems.”
Atacador, who was PFVI Chairperson in 1995 when the Laverton property was bought, said they were also having problems with the Council during his tenure. “But the Council never threatened to cancel our permit. In fact, the Council always praised us. They would charge us only half of the Council rate to support us. This only shows you need to address the issue, rectify and improve,” he said.
Years passed and new Fiesta officers took over, the Council warnings were ignored until the permit was cancelled. “Because they did not address the council issues, now it is costing more money to hold the Fiesta at the Melbourne Showgrounds,” Atacador said. The Melbourne Showgrounds is costing the community $50,000 for the two-day fiesta.
Fiesta permit cancelled
In 2009, the Hobson Bay City Council did not renew the permit of the Fiesta Committee to hold the Philippine Fiesta at the Laverton ground due to the breaches stemmed from the 2008 Fiesta. Some of these are: noise, traffic, parking, food handling, and officers failing to provide working contact numbers throughout the weekend.
The last Philippine Fiesta held at the Laverton property in 2008 earned a profit of around $44,000. Since the transfer to the Melbourne Showgrounds, the PFVI has been losing money from the two-day Fiesta celebration. The chunk of the profit from the Fiesta celebration is being eaten by Philippine Fiesta Community Centre’s expenses such as the Council rate, water and electricity bills, insurance and related expenses. Unaudited PFVI financial reports show a deficit of $18,605 in 2009, $43,285 in 2010 and $7,471 net loss in 2011.
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