By Fred Jover
Several Filipino community leaders based in Metropolitan Melbourne and country Victoria formally called on the new Consul General Maria Lourdes Salcedo and her Deputy Atty Anthony Achilles Mandap. The group organised and led by Marithes Dumapias of the Australian Filipino Nurses Association of Victoria (AFNAVI) visited the two full time career diplomats of the Philippine government at their freshly refitted permanent office at Level 10, 257 Collins Street, Melbourne.
After a brief look-around of the permanent PCG-Melbourne office which occupies the entire 10th Floor of the building, ConGen Salcedo and Atty Mandap ushered the group to the spacious conference room, which will eventually be equipped with state of the art audiovisual equipment for teleconferencing and presentations.
ConGen Ma. Lourdes Salcedo, who prefers to be casually called by her nickname Odette , gave a brief and warm welcome to the group, particularly praising the leaders for their attendance, especially those from country Victoria who took the effort to travel to Melbourne. The leaders, most of whom were President of their respective club or associations, individually related and described their personal credentials and background of their organisations i.e. founding date, goals and objectives, leadership and membership profile, group size, geographical coverage as well as success and challenges encountered along the way.
In response, ConGen Salcedo explained that she and Deputy ConGen Mandap as well as the PCG-Melbourne team always appreciate any opportunity to connect with the Victorian Filipino community either directly or through its leaders. She went on to request the leaders to encourage their members and constituents to feel confident in availing the services and assistance of PCG-Melbourne. Salcedo further noted that it is now hassle-free and easy to avail of the popular services provided by the Consulate General, i.e. dual citizenship application, passport renewal/extension and consularisation services.
At the end of the meeting, all the leaders expressed their delight and satisfaction on the outcome and significance of the meeting, especially on the willingness of ConGen Salcedo to organise weekend mobile/outreach services to members of regional Victorian Filipino communities, as long as the number of individuals requiring consular services warrants, thereby saving them time and effort in travelling to Melbourne.
The leaders who made the courtesy call on ConGen Salcedo, were: Dr. Lerma Ung, President – Philippine Australian Community Empowerment PACE); Buena “Nin” Martinez President-Filipino-Australian Friendship Association, Geelong (FAFAG); Fe Mannix, Vice President-FAFAG; Nida Schofield, President – Filipino and Multicultural Support Society (FILAMSS); Maria Levic Gilles-Leemann, President-Bendigo Filipino Foundation Inc.(BFFI); Sherly Hart, President- Filipino Australian Association of Ballarat, Inc. (FAABI); Marithes Dumapias, President-Australian Filipino Nurses Association of Victoria, Inc (AFNAVI); Alexandrius Alba, Representative-Philippine Military Academy Cavaliers Association of Victoria (PMACAV) and Siegfred ‘Fred’ Jover, Chair/Convenor, Barangay Broadcasting and Cybercasting Network Australia, Inc.(BBCNAI).