By Melvin Espiga and Deena Wolfe
The annual Mothers’ Day Dinner celebration hosted by the Ilonggo Association of Victoria, Inc. Australia (IAVIA), was held on the 11th of May at The Grand Star Receptions and Convention Centre, Altona North, Victoria.
One of the highlights of the celebration was the special recognition of the IAVIA Mothers of the Year, namely, Mrs. Nicolasita Somodio (1998); Mrs. Mary Gardiner (2003); Mrs. Lilia Garlito (2015) and Mrs. Aurelia Cerdana (2016).
Honorary Consul Felix Pintado, the distinguished guest of the night, paid tribute to mothers and shared such a powerful and inspiring message.
In his speech, Consul Pintado stated that not even being a CEO of a big company or assuming a diplomatic position can be compared to the extent of responsibility and complexity of being a mother. There exist no procedure manuals; no courses or classes; or how-to instructions to be mothers. It is just a natural instinct. It is selfless and unconditional love. Raising a child and nurturing a family is simply learning from experience. And nothing can beat that. He said, “Indeed, mothers have the toughest job in the world.”
About 560 guests shared sumptuous meals, a lot of dancing and great performances by Melbourne’s best talents – balladeer Herbert Fangon, female artist Lora Love and professional ballroom dancers Justin Rafol and Renee Haggar.
Hosted by Sandy Lobriza and Nenita Wallis, the event also featured a fundraising auction, conducted by Filipino entrepreneur Charlie Yao, and a raffle draw, with proceeds to be used to support various IAVI’s charity projects in the Philippines.
Annual beneficiaries of IAVIA fundraising events include: Asilo de Molo Home for the Aged in Molo, Iloilo City; St. Vincent de Paul Home for Older Persons in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental; St. Joseph Orphanage, Roxas City; Ladies of Charity Home for the Aged, Sunshine Village in Banica, Roxas City; Feeding Program of Confradia del Sr. Sto. Niño at San Jose Parochial School, Iloilo City; and the IAVIA Scholarship Project Grant-in-Aid.
IAVIA takes pride in its Scholarship Grant-in-Aid Project which supports poor but deserving working students at Central Philippine University (CPU). This project, which started in 1986, provides meal assistance for working students, who skip their meals due to financial hardship.
From 2011 to January 2019, the project was able to support 175 scholars: 2011 – 10 scholars; 2012 – 20 scholars; 2013 – 8 scholars; 2015 – 12 Scholars; 2016 – 19 scholars; 2017 – 25 scholars; 2018 – 42 scholars and 2019 – 39 scholars. One of the scholarship recipients graduated with flying colours, cum laude.
In Melbourne, IAVIA also consistently sponsors the annual Simbang Gabi (dawn mass) as well as the feasts of two Filipino saints – San Lorenzo Ruiz and San Pedro Calungsod.
The current officers of the association include President Elaine Soriano; VP-Internal Affairs Patricia Gutierrez; VP- External Affairs Melvin Espiga; Secretary Enalyn McKernan; Treasurer Arlene Romerona; Assistant Treasurer Susan Garsulao; Auditor Carmi Clark; Coordinator for Group of Ilonggo Young Adults (GIYA) Ivan Monte and Executive Adviser Neds Sarcepuedes.