Long-time Philippine Fiesta officer and member Roy Carbungco rallied fellow Fiesta member and supporters as a ‘crusade’ against the current management of Philippine Fiesta Victoria, Inc. (PFVI) in a bid to question its decision to put the Philippine Laverton property for sale allegedly without proper consultation, in addition to financial losses over the years. Supporting the crusade are various individuals from different businesses and associations in the Filipino community. Carbungco is formerly First Vice Chairperson of the PFVI from 2008 to 2012.
The campaign is dubbed “It is the time to have the voice and power of the community be the driving force of change.”
The disputed piece of land pertains to the Laverton property which was procured by the original management of the PFVI, paid off back in the early 2000s, of which a part is currently placed on sale. Back in 2012, it was announced that the 2,685 square metre part of the property was already sold for an estimated $1.1M allegedly without seeking the consensus of the PFVI members.
The said property was acquired by the pioneers of PFVI to become a site for the highly-anticipated Philippine Community Centre, a project which was to be a milestone achievement and a legacy of the founding members of the group, but did not see the light of day over the years.
Furthermore, the Carbungco-led campaign against PFVI also seeks to gather conclusive answers as to the annual financial deficits which the group had incurred, totalling $382,803, spanning as far back as 2009.
According to the publicly-released information within the annual PFVI Financial Reports, the crusade presented the overall deficits broken down into the following:
2009 $18,605 2014 $97,000 2010 $43,285 2015 $46,000 2011 $7,471 2016 $61,000 2012 $1,471 2017 $56,000 2013 $9,714 2018 $42,000 Total losses $382,803
The losses were incurred in spite of the group’s $1m funds in the bank which the founding members and volunteer members had raised since the establishment of the group in the ‘80s, specifically via the annual two-day Philippine Fiesta as well as the Fiesta Beauty Quest. The money in the bank is reportedly the same cash being used to cover the yearly losses accrued by PFVI and the legal case filed a few years ago by the Concerned Members of Philippine Fiesta, a notion which has gotten the ire of Carbungco and his supporters and makes one of the cruxes of their campaign.
Ultimately, the Carbungco-led rally seeks not only the potential cessation of the group’s management of PFVI’s finances but also demands accountability for the ongoing losses and transparency with regards to such deficits. Furthermore, the group also attempts to look into the case of the property sale in Laverton, specifically on the matter involving the purpose and the intended destination of the potential profit of the sale.
The first attempt to have the group meet with the PFVI officers did not materialise and was eventually cancelled.
There were at least two public forums that were conducted by Carbungco’s group to explain the issues to the community, with another booked for 1 December. At each forum, PFVI ignored calls to attend to address concerns as requested by Carbungco. All are welcome to the forums, as Carbungco has openly stated, “Please come if you are interested to know the truth and nothing but the truth.”
Peaceful rally held outside Fiesta
The Carbungco-led rally was held on 24 November to communicate their message to all those in attendance, including the Fiesta committee, volunteers, and the general public. The rally was registered with the local police to ensure it was not in breach of any laws. The PFVI was aware of the planned protest, and according to the Chairperson Mario Magbiray, they did not feel that it caused much disruption to the Fiesta event.
Rallyists were asked not to stand on the road and to stay outside the perimeter of the Millennium Reception. Placards were used to communicate messages of the crusade to those attending the Fiesta, along with a display board on a tent, with information which included the list of losses over the last 10 years. Over 30 individuals were present on across sides of the street, with food, music and dancing to lighten the mood. Loudspeakers were used in the street during the protest which often overshadowed the outdoor music at the Fiesta event. Throughout the day, Carbungco, as well as other individuals at the rally took turns to speak on the microphone. The core message was, “Where is the money?”
Carbungco openly challenged the PFVI to a public debate. Fiesta spectators were curious as to what was going on outside, which formed a common topic of discussion during the Fiesta festivities. While there were some Fiesta attendees curious about the protest that collected fliers, some others drove past in shock or disappointment.
Members of the Fiesta Beauty Quest and Santa Cruzan participants reacted to the calls of the protesters, particularly as they expressed that they were bullied when called ‘pangit’ or ‘ugly’.
A day after the protest, Carbungco issued a statement on his Facebook page to apologise to those who were offended by the word pangit or ugly, even as he took full responsibility as leader of the rally. Carbungo stated, “It’s the emotions of some of the protesters who were provoked by showing ugly gestures by some of the participants during the parade”. The rally was otherwise peaceful, with those who joined the rally satisfied with their outcome of spreading their message to the Fiesta attendees.
(Editor’s note: For video footages, view the live coverage at The Philippine Times’ FB page)