Featured image: Property ‘sold’ sign erected in the first week of February 2020. | Photo credit: Noel Tolentino
According to the sign posted by Reliance Real Estate on the Laverton property, the second lot of the three properties is now SOLD.
The Philippine Times has confirmed with PFVI Vice-Chairperson, Ross Manuel, that as of 8 February, the land is pending settlement within the next month.
The 4,701 square meters of property, known as Lot 2, located at 2-13 Thomas Street in Laverton, had been on the market since late 2018.
Of the three subdivided lots, this is the second property that the PFVI has sold. Lot 1 was sold in late 2015, while Lot 3 remains reserved for the proposed construction of the Philippine Community Centre. A building permit has already been granted by the Hobsons Bay City Council for 1 Thomas Street Laverton for the Community Centre classified by the Council under “Place of Assembly”.
In an interview with The Philippine Times last November 2019, Ross Manuel PFVI Vice-Chairperson stated that the sale of this portion of land (Lot 2) was needed in order to proceed with the planned Community Centre. Based on the costings of the latest design of the centre, Manuel said that a sale of at least $3.2m was needed to commence, as well as complete the project of the building. At the time, PFVI was not satisfied with the offer of $2.8 million in early 2019 and was said to have been negotiating for a higher offer.
PFVI has declined to comment on the price the recent property was sold for. Manuel commented that a full report on the sale will be provided at the upcoming AGM / Elections in May 2020.
Once completed, PFVI is intending to hold a smaller annual ‘barrio’ fiesta at the community centre, which, due to parking restrictions will require visitors to park their cars at the Laverton Train Station.
Manuel provided The Philippine Times with the project drawing, as completed by architects V.J. Agosta & Associates, along with an artist’s impression of the Community Centre.
Last November, PFVI informed The Philippine Times that Lot 1 was sold for $1.239 million in 2015 for development and the subdivision of the property to have individual titles. When questioned further on this matter, PFVI has not provided further comment.
“The dream is to build a community centre at Laverton” – Manuel
The vision of establishing a viable community centre that will cater to the needs of the Filipino-Australian community in Victoria has been a long-standing vision for the PFVI.
Manny Asuncion, PFVI Second Vice President, provided a statement entitled ‘The Philippine Community Centre’ in January 2020, in which he stated: “The primary goal of launching the Philippine Community Centre Project in 1988 was to acquire a ‘home’ for the Filipino-Australian Community which marked the focus of the succeeding Fiestas and is now being carried out by the present Fiesta Management Committee.”
Asuncion also expressed that once completed, the Philippine Community Centre will serve as a multi-purpose site to house the cultural, sports, and entertainment activities, showcasing Filipino cultural heritage, for other Filipino-Australian and multicultural groups in Victoria.
Manuel and Asuncion also reported in the interview that PFVI has always wanted to adhere to the management objectives and goals as stated in the Fiesta’s millennium souvenir book which was published in their Year 2000.
“The task has not been easy because it’s fraught with issues and problems along the way but the perseverance of the Fiesta Management Committee and the support of its members and the Filipino-Australian Community are taking shape towards the realization of establishing a Philippine Community Centre,” says Asuncion.
Philippine Fiesta Crusaders ask: ‘Where is the money?’
The Philippine Fiesta Crusaders visited the Laverton site on 8 February 2020 and expressed their disappointment with the sale of the property. The group has been asking the current management of PFVI about the first sale of the property (Lot 1) without proper consultation. This time they demand an explanation for the second, most recent sale. The outcry of the group “Where is the money?” seeks to gather conclusive answers as to the annual financial deficits which the management incurred, totalling $382,803, spanning as far back as 2009.
Meanwhile, eight officers of the PFVI have filed an application and summons for an intervention order against Roy Carbungco, leader of the Philippine Fiesta Crusaders. The hearing is scheduled for 5 March 2020 at the Sunshine Magistrates Court.
The PFVI officers said they were harassed and humiliated when Carbungco’s group staged a rally on 24 November 2019 outside the Millennium Reception Centre, the venue of the two-day Philippine Fiesta event. Carbungco and the members of the Crusaders have been posting similar demands for transparency and answers to their queries about the sale of the property on social media.
Regarding the intervention order, PFVI have stated that they will make no comment.