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Philippines Wins South China Sea Arbitration by Lolita Farmer OAM

Friday, 02 September 2016 12:18 Written by

A big legal win by the Philippines as the Permanent Court of Arbitration, Hague Netherlands unanimously delivered its Award on 12 July 2016, on the matter The South China Sea Arbitration, The Republic of the Philippines V. The People’s Republic of China.. The Tribunal was constituted under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea the “Convention”)
The Philippines sought the arbitration against China on the issues of “the role of historic rights and the source of maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, the status of some maritime features and maritime entitlements they are capable of generating, and the lawfulness of certain actions by China that were alleged by the Philippines to violate the Convention.”
• The nine-dash-line claim: The Tribunal concluded there was no “legal basis” for China’s claim to the ‘nine-dash-line’. No evidence that China had exclusive control over the disputed nine-dash-line as other states made use of the islands.
• Status of maritime features: The Tribunal “considered if any of the features could generate maritime zones beyond 12 nautical miles. Under the Convention islands generate an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles and a continental shelf, but rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf. Spratly islands not capable of generating extended maritime zones. “ China’s claim could not be supported by any evidence that it could generate an exclusive economic zone. “The Tribunal found that it could- without delimiting a boundary – declare that certain sea areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, because these areas are not overlapped by any possible entitlement of China.”
• China’s action a violation: The Tribunal found that China violated the Philippines sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone by (a ) interfering in with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration, (b) constructing artificial islands and (c) failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone. The Tribunal also found that fishermen from the Philippines had traditional fishing rights at Scarborough Shoal and that China had interfered with these rights in restricting access.
• Marine Environment Unlawful activities: The Tribunal found China “caused severe harm to the coral reef environment and violated its obligation to preserve and protect fragile ecosystems and the habitat of depleted, threatened or endangered species.”
China has refused to recognize the Award. It did not participate in the arbitration. China signed the Convention and yet does not respect the rule of law.
What next?

Filo-Aussie Arts, Culture and Innovation Hub Opens in Sydney

Friday, 02 September 2016 11:47 Written by

Sydney-based community associations, NARRA Co-op Ltd and Plaza Filipino Inc, makes history next month by launching the first ever community hub in Campbelltown City dedicated to promoting and showcasing Filipino art, culture and innovation.

The Philippine-Australian Arts, Culture and Innovation Central - or "ACI Central" for short - will be opened to the general public as a performance space, art gallery and networking hub.

It will aim to highlight the unique heritage of Filipinos as demonstrated by their art, music, literature and cultural traditions.

"ACI Central is a dream come true for all NARRA Co-op and Plaza Filipino officers, members and supporters who have worked hard to raise the necessary funds," said Dr Jimmy Lopez, NARRA president and founding president of Plaza Filipino.

Lopez said that ACI Central will provide a platform for up-and-coming and established Filipino-Australian artists, musicians and writers looking for a space to showcase their work.

"We will continue to do fundraising events so that our local artists and performers can use our performance space/art gallery at a heavily subsidised cost or for free. Ultimately, we hope to get government grants and sponsorships so we can help our local talents grow and hone their craft at ACI Central," he added.

In keeping with the times, ACI Central is also an "innovation" hub, providing a space for Filipino-Australian technology start-ups and small business entrepreneurs to meet and network.

"Besides music and arts, we believe another way to build a bridge between the present generation and future generation of Filipino-Australians is through technology and business innovations - it's another way ACI Central can be of service to the community," said Michelle Baltazar, president of Plaza Filipino.

The property is on the ground floor of a mixed residential and commercial building on 3-9 Warby Street in Campbelltown. The performance space/art gallery accommodates up to 70 guests at any one time and there are two workspaces available for lease once it is fully operational.

Founded in 2013, the National Affiliation of Respectable and Responsible Associations (NARRA) Co-operative Ltd was formed to appeal to Filipino-Australians who wanted to raise funds to build a community centre under a co-op structure. Through its successful fundraising events such as the Ambassador of the Year and the annual Tribute to Mothers and Fathers, as well as its membership drive, NARRA raised more than $104,000.
Meanwhile, community association Plaza Filipino, which was founded 10 years earlier (2003), also had funds of approximately $30,000 and shared the common goal of building a community centre.
Early this year, both associations discussed ways to realise their mutual objective and, after exploring several other options, decided to purchase the ACI Central property for $207,900 plus costs, with Plaza Filipino as the naming rights donor of $30,000.
"By purchasing a modestly sized property and joining forces with Plaza Filipino, we were able to save our members tens of thousands of dollars in interest costs," said Lopez.
To date, Lopez said that they only need to fundraise at least $100,000 within the next 12 months and the property will be fully-paid.
"We've already had pledges from new members of at least $10,000, which means we're that much closer to reaching our target," he said.
Daisy Ann Gonzalez Cumming and Manny Roux, both past presidents of Plaza Filipino, were among the group of association members who inspected the new 'ACI Central' premises early in July. They suggested a fundraising and membership drive at the August 6 opening for the outstanding payment of the property.
"This is a legacy we can all be proud of. A platform for our present and new crop of talented artists, musicians, writers and innovators to shine," said Cumming.
Besides Lopez, Roux and Cumming, past presidents of Plaza Filipino who have been part of the fundraising campaign since 2003 were Violeta Miguel, Rey Morcilla, Rise Roux and Elizabeth Escandor.
At NARRA, among the major individual fundraisers in the past three years include Brenda De La Sala, Ester Arador, Carmenchu Gresham, Rey Morcilla and Dr. Raul Amor.
For more information on the new culture, arts and innovation hub, contact Albert Prias, Public Relations Officer on 0402 533 587 or Jimmy Lopez, NARRA President, on 0478 540 889.

PCC, Inc. NSW Celebrating 25th Year

Friday, 13 May 2016 01:01 Written by

What a successful commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of PCC NSW, with three days of planned activities which culminated on 13th November Gala Night held at the Grand Ballroom of Bankstown Sports Club. Led by indefatigable Pres. Evelyn Beed and the BOD, affiliates and families and guests, the night was memorable and nostalgic, the program reflecting the journey of the Philippine Community Council NSW from the year 1990-2015.
The Tree planting ceremony in Campbelltown depicted the growth of this institution of friendship, solidarity, harmony, peace and hope among Filipino migrants. The Symposium at Mt Druitt Hub was held a week before the Gala Night and was convened as an open forum with Community leaders and invited speakers about issues that confront our daily life as migrants and leaders e.g. good governance, applying for community grants, how to become an effective Voice in the community, multiculturalism, compliance, integrity etc. In other word, Community Connections set the tone in every organization – and we must listen and be pro-active in making a difference in our adopted country Australia. Mabuhay tayong lahat ! Thank you to the organising committees for delivering a successful three-day celebrations depicting yesterday (Kahapon) today (Ngayon) and tomorrow (Kinabukasan).
The Gala Night was attended by Hon Consul Gen. Anne Jalando-on Louis and Dr. Gerald Louis, Consul Marford Angeles, Dr. Stepan Kerkyasharian, CEO of the Anti-Discrimination Board, Dr. Geoff Lee, representing Premier of NSW Mike Baird, Hon. David Coleman representing the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, former presidents of PCC NSW whose invaluable inputs in the succeeding years of PCC NSW have made a BIG CHANGE in the dynamics of integration and assimilation , embracing a new society so different from our motherland, the Philippines. Over 50 affiliate groups were represented on the night to celebrate this milestone. MULTICULTURALISM is the BIG ISSUE even then.
Ms. Sennie Masian was honoured as the convenor of the group that gave birth to PCC- NSW and recognised for assisting her at the time were Evelyn Zaragoza, Linda Swords, Dux Maniquiz and Lucy Jumawan. Three Affiliates of PCC NSW were also recognized for 20 years or more as loyal members. The respective presidents with members of the Ilocano Association of Australia ( Elsa Collado), Philippine Australian Medical Association ( Lorna Benedicto) Illawarra Filipino & Multicultural Women’s Group Inc. (Agapita Dorninger) were called on stage to accept their awards.
Thank you to the affiliates, benefactors and supporters through the years – the believers who have stood by PCC NSW, tall and proud with dignity and sense of purpose to make a difference in multicultural Australia. We contribute through our respective work in our homes, schools, business world, the land, in government and in remote places in mining towns, outback, deserts, and in the cities and towns . We are a lucky group of migrants, having arrived in a progressive and democratic country, given the freedom to exercise our rights and obligations as freedom loving and “free spirits” – enjoying each other and usually bolster each other’s confidence through “bayanihan”. In my humble assessment of my life here – I am delighted and always filled with gratitude for blessings received.
Congratulations PCC-NSW on your 25th Anniversary. Be proud and happy for the great job of helping Australia be a beacon in this part of the world. (EDRudd, Director PCCNSW)

CYRUS THE NEW X FACTOR CHAMPION Filipino-Australian singer newest superstar by Marco Selorio

Friday, 13 May 2016 00:42 Written by

Cyrus Villanueva is now officially crowned the X Factor champion of Australia. The 19-year old graphic design student could not hold back his tears when his name was announced last Tuesday November 24. Cyrus went up against fellow finalists Louise Adams and popular duo Jess and Matt in the grand finals, but the Wollongong kid will not be denied. He sang his winner’s debut single, “Stone”, to the delight of the adoring crowd.
His win is a major achievement and an incredible moment for the Villanueva clan, the MAS HOOPDREAMZ family and the greater Filipino community who went all out to throw their support behind Cyrus.
The grand prize is a management deal with Parade and a massive five-album recording contract with powerhouse label Sony Music, home to international stars Britney Spears, Fifth Harmony, Carrie Underwood, Tony Bennett and more. Cyrus’ X Factor mentor, American music star Chris Isaak also wants to invite his young protégé to join him in his Australian tour next April.
“I can’t thank everyone enough honestly. Of course I want to thank all my fans, everyone that supports this show and everyone that supported me, “ the newly-crowd X Factor champion said.
At press time, Cyrus’ new single has already hit #1 in the iTunes charts, toppling Adele and Justin Bieber. He is headed to Melbourne to finish his album, which will make its Australian debut on December 9.
The man behind Cyrus Villanueva’s sudden rise to stardom is none other than Hip Hop impresario Marco Selorio, who put the young talent into the X Factor auditions after he won the Urbanstar Talent Quest back in February.
Cyrus is the second Filipino-Australian to win the coveted X Factor crown. Last year, 15-year old teenager Marlisa Punzalan from West Sydney won the same title.

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New campaign helps Filipino travellers overseas

Friday, 13 May 2016 00:40 Written by

With the upcoming busy Christmas holiday period, the Australian Government has launched a new advertising campaign to help the Filipino community and other nationalities be even more informed and prepared when travelling home to visit family and friends.
An initiative of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT), the smartraveller website offers a range of an online resources to assist all Australians be prepared and self-reliant when travelling overseas. It includes travel advisories, information for dual nationals, tips on what to do in an emergency, and a guide to buying the right travel insurance.
Regardless of whether you’re travelling to a familiar place or have the support of your family and friends, the unexpected can happen. It’s vital to be well informed and prepared, so you’re equipped to handle unforeseen circumstances. Accidents can happen to anyone, even in familiar locations.
Without the right insurance you are personally liable for any medical or other costs resulting from unexpected incidents. Smartraveller offers a travel insurance guide to help you get the right travel insurance for your trip.
Smartraveller provides information on the type of assistance the Australian consulate can provide in an emergency and when Australians are expected to use the resources available to them before turning to the Australian Government for assistance.
Smartraveller also offers important information on the laws and restrictions that apply in the country you’re travelling to. For example, in the Philippines, possession of even small amounts of so-called ‘soft drugs’ attracts mandatory jail sentences.
Smartraveller contains a concise, translated summary of the key information you need to know before travelling overseas. This useful resource can be found at


Friday, 13 May 2016 00:38 Written by

We meet in the wake of the horrendous terrorist attacks against unarmed and defenceless victims in Paris. In condemning these horrific events, we are also reminded that we must stand united in the fight against global terrorism wherever it may arise.
I welcome the Philippines’ leadership of APEC this year, and I thank Secretaries del Rosario and Domingo for their warm hospitality here in Manila. I will highlight Australia’s work and priorities relating to the “Inclusive Growth” agenda.
Enhancing and fostering innovation will be vital to increasing private sector investment including in necessary infrastructure and driving economic growth. The Australian Government has put innovation at the heart of our economy. We are supporting our creative industries in attracting and retaining our best talent, encouraging and training our entrepreneurs, encouraging start-ups and new ways of financing new ideas, and embracing ingenuity and enterprise.
This is a whole-of-government approach. In our foreign aid program we are tackling seemingly intractable development challenges with new and innovative ideas and ways of providing development assistance.
Our innovationXchange – an ideas hub for our aid program – is working with some of the best creative thinkers internationally and from the private sector to come up with solutions to development challenges.
For a start, we are sourcing new ideas, for example, for aquaculture technologies that will deliver sustainable food and protein sources to developing communities and better manage the environmental impact. Our “Blue Economy” challenge is a $3 million initiative that seeks ideas from an open source base meaning that anyone from a young university student in Manila to an experienced engineer in Perth can submit their ideas to our website on how to use the oceans as a source of economic growth and opportunity. The best and boldest ideas will be selected for trial, and scaled up.
Building skilled and innovative workforces is also a major challenge facing all economies. Education and training must be relevant to industry if we are to seize the opportunities that new technologies offer.
The Australian Government consults closely with business and training providers in shaping our technical and vocational education training system. Industry drives around 80 per cent of all changes made to training programs. Australia has identified areas for improvement in skills training systems across five APEC economies, in transport and logistics, and in lifting connectivity, productivity and labour mobility. A second phase of this initiative, which I announced in Peru earlier this year, is being developed for the four economies of the Pacific Alliance – Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru.
Women’s economic empowerment remains a regional and global challenge. Addressing limits on women’s participation in the workforce could add around US$90 billion a year to economies in our region. Australia is funding APEC trade promotion agencies to train SMEs operated by women. The training programs will help them access finance, and build technology and logistics capability. It will also include education in international business such as letters of credit, accessing tariff information and e-commerce.
I am pleased to announce a new $46 million flagship project “Investing in Women”, funded by Australia in partnership with a number of APEC economies in Southeast Asia. The initiative will help unlock finance to women-led SMEs via loan guarantees, and micro finance. Business coalitions will be formed in developing countries to promote gender equality throughout their supply chains. The initiative will also promote cooperation between governments and business to improve employment conditions such as parental leave, flexible work arrangements and to increase the number of women in leadership roles.
Australia recognises that open and transparent energy markets are the best guarantor of energy security and resilience. We are cooperating with other economies to ensure energy is accessible and to end the “energy poverty” that exists in our region.
We are working with the United States and Indonesia to provide loan guarantees to local commercial banks to encourage the financing of small-scale clean energy projects in 14 provinces in Indonesia, such as micro-hydro power schemes.
Australia has funded a new APEC mining facility to support projects that improve the environment for mining-related trade and investment. Without new investment in coal and gas projects, we will not meet our global energy needs. For example, coal currently supplies around 30 per cent of primary energy and over 40 per cent of global electricity. The use of coal to generate electricity is forecast to rise by over 50 per cent by 2030. The International Energy Agency estimates that over the next 20 years, cumulative global investment in energy production alone will approach US$50 trillion.
Given the opportunities this will provide for mining and energy service providers, Australia is working with several APEC economies and the private sector to encourage the growth of trade in mining-equipment, services and technology in the region.
The rate of urbanisation in our region is among the highest in the world, challenging the liveability of our cities. Around 80 per cent of APEC’s GDP growth is produced in urban areas. Public Private Partnerships are the most effective model to deliver quality urban infrastructure. PPP centres in sixteen APEC economies are sharing expertise and lessons learned to deliver bankable projects. Australia’s G20 Infrastructure Hub, based in Sydney, is working with APEC, to match projects with finance.
Natural disasters impose high costs on the region’s economy. I welcome APEC’s leadership in promoting emergency preparedness and disaster resilience. Australia is bringing together agencies from across the region to boost our ability to detect seismic and ocean changes using a range of technologies. Early warning of natural disasters will give governments longer response time to minimise the loss of life and limit the social and economic impact.
Our focus on these six priority areas – innovation, industry-relevant education and training, women’s economic empowerment, energy resilience, urbanisation and infrastructure and disaster resilience – will lead to shared economic growth and prosperity across our region - which of course is APEC’s reason for being.

Calls for innovation culture change welcome

Friday, 13 May 2016 00:36 Written by

Calls for a wide-ranging national approach to strengthening Australia’s innovation culture have been welcomed by Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Christopher Pyne.
Addressing the Committee for Economic Development of Australia in Adelaide, new Innovation Australia chair Bill Ferris said Australia needed a cultural shift across research, industry and policy to boost venture capital investment, increase collaboration and embrace the opportunity inherent in risk.
Mr Pyne said Mr Ferris’ comments confirmed the need for action to help Australian businesses in all sectors to embrace innovation.
“Mr Ferris has long experience in the risky venture capital industry and is taking a keen advisory role during the development of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, and we value his perspective and the wealth of experience he contributes,” Mr Pyne said.
“Mr Ferris has correctly pointed to the importance of innovation both for today’s jobs, exports and profits – but also ensuring that future generations can exploit these opportunities.
“He reminds us that Innovation applies to all sectors and areas: from agriculture to IT, from start-ups that don’t exist yet and small businesses all the way up to our biggest companies.
“We have got to look at all options to ensure the money the Government spends on innovation – all $9.7 billion of it – goes where it can do the most good.”
The Agenda will focus on four pillars of improving talents and skills, commercialising research, raising capital, and government to change a pervasive culture of risk averseness and build entrepreneurship, and is expected to be announced early next month.

Fighting Crime With Google Glass in Dubai by Lance Ulano

Thursday, 05 May 2016 16:08 Written by

Policeman and detectives in Dubai are about to get some high-tech,
wearable help in the fight against crime. Dubai's police department
plans to distribute Google Glass to law enforcers.

As part of a plan to make Dubai's police force the "smartest in the
world" by 2018, the police department in the country wants to equip beat
officers - and eventually, its detectives - with Google Glass running
customized facial recognition software.

Google Glass, which offers a tiny, computer powered heads-up display
that can deliver news, directions, search and other information powered
by Google Glass apps, has not quite taken the world by storm.

At $1,500, it's well out of the range of most affordable portable
consumer electronics.

However, business has started to warm to the cutting-edge wearable that
can also be worn with specially designed prescription glasses. Google
Glass has also started to show up in hospitals, and while there have
been consistent privacy concerns over consumers wearing Glass in public,
the purpose of policemen wearing it would be gathering information
during investigations.

"The software that we developed internally enables us to connect a
database of wanted people with the glass," Dubai police's director
general, Colonel Khalid Nasser Al Razooqi, told the Dubai-based news
site 7DaysinDubai. "Once the glass recognizes the suspect based on a
face print, it will give an alert to the officer wearing it."

The rollout, however, appears to be moving slowly. The four Google Glass
headsets in the Dubai police department are mostly being used to catch
traffic offenders.