The Philippine Community Council, New South Wales (PCC NSW) and Alliance of Philippine Community Organizations Inc. (APCO), two of the leading and opposing Filipino-Australian organizations confederating many allied groups under each umbrella in NSW recently elected its officers for the next term of office.
The separate elections came immediately after 7 years of cold war that climaxed in an open-ended joint statement signed by both groups affirming their commitment to effectively serve their respective constituents and the Filipino community at large whilst pledging to continue working with the Consulate in promoting and protecting the interests of all Filipinos in NSW.
The PCC NSW elected officers 208-2019 are comprised of: Serna Ladia, president; Alric Bulseco, external vice president; Ethel Singzon, internal vice president; Rod Dingle, secretary; Judith del Prado, treasurer; Mercy Jones, internal auditor; Angelina Jenkins, public relations officer; Sheila Collantes, Espie Pogson, Lilian de los Reyes, Emily Rudd, Precy Santos, Darell Swadling, Rowena Turnbull, directors.
APCO elected officers for 2018 to 2020 include: President (Violeta Escultura); VP Senior (Cora Paras), VP Junior (Charles Chan); Secretary (Linda Price); Asst. Secretary (Rita Agostino); Asst. Treasurer (Alma Middlebrook); Auditor (Richard Ford); PRO ( Ralph Imbrago) and Board of Directors (Cora Bojarski, Emma Braceros, Fe Hayward, Josie Maynard, Mick Miguel, Glorina Papaiannou, Albert Prias, and Linda Trinidad).
AGAPI scores change to PCC NSW oath-taking
We publish here in full a relevant and related press release from Evelyn Opilas.
The Association of Golden Australian-Pilipinos Inc (AGAPI) has scored a change in the way elected officers of the Philippine Community Council of NSW are sworn into office, clearly demonstrating the important contribution seniors can make to the community.
In a motion presented to the PCC NSW annual general meeting 25 March in Marayong, AGAPI moved that newly-elected officers of the peak body take their oath of office in front of the members, with the returning officer swearing them into their respective roles.
Public figures, such as politicians and diplomats, previously inducted PCC NSW officers-elect to commence their roles.
The Sydney Australian Filipino Seniors Inc. (SAFSI), represented by its president Angie Belleza, seconded the move.
The motion, passed overwhelmingly without further debate, brings to the fore the clamour for procedural changes besetting PCC NSW in recent years.
“I am glad AGAPI was given the opportunity to initiate this change,” said AGAPI president Dorothy del Villar, who is recuperating from surgery, and has appointed PRO Evelyn Opilas as her proxy to the PCC NSW annual general meeting.
The AGAPI motion presented a three-point rationale, namely: that PCC NSW was formed to promote the interests of the Filipino community in NSW; that PCC NSW gets its mandate from affiliate organisations in NSW; and that PCC NSW, while composed of volunteers, is accountable to its affiliates, hence it is only proper that elected officers take their oath of office in front of the body they have sought to serve with the returning officer inducting them into office.
Such move enables elected officers to perform their tasks immediately without having to wait until they are inducted by politicians or diplomats of choice.
Rey Manoto, coincidentally a councillor at Campbelltown Council, inducted the elected officers, being the returning officer for the PCC NSW elections.
UNSOLICITED KUDOS, HOWLS, & PROTESTS OVER MOSTLY REELECTIONISTS AND OVERSTAYING OFFICERS
In much the same way as APCO which may have a new President, PCC retained many of its long-standing officers who keep running year in year out in different posts leaving practically no room or chance to other aspiring leaders thus causing a lot of muffled howls and election protests.
The reality is that it will always be a numbers game so that new candidates who are hardly known and don’t really have the opportunities to campaign never get elected.
The ‘fury over the jury’ (the elections per se) became more evident and vociferous in the case of PCC this year, who by the looks of it, chose to close ranks and re-elected its former President Serna Ladia, making her the second to Elsa Collado, another Ilocano who was also re-elected in a row of two terms, in much the same pattern as Kate Andres had served as President three times at different intervals. These three ladies -- Ilocanas all -- compose the long list of Ilocano-dominated PCC past Presidents which also includes Malynne Andres-Chun, Ric de Vera, Jimmy Lopez and Ruben Amores.
PCHN gathered that many people questioned the winning of Mercy Jones, a long-standing PCC officer who has served the organization year in, year out in varying roles, this time as the new Auditor. Whilst everybody acknowledges Ms. Jones’ long-involvement and solid contributions to PCC, the “sayang na sayang naman” (loosely translated as ‘such a great loss’) general lamentation is really a hue and cry over the notion of letting good chances of discovering new people go by in reference to another new candidate who many opined should not have been wasted and given the opportunity to serve and offer new insights and experience given his professional background.
Ms. Jones was quick enough to post her credentials online in a bid to tone down the strong reactions.
Reacting vehemently to Ms. Jones, a Bicolana by the name of Demi Robinson who also ran for the post of VP Intl but lost, informed PCCHN that Ms. Jones sent her a “ Reference Letter from her Affiliate, the Illawarra Women’s Migrant Group as if justifying her win for the position of Auditor against a CPA/Lawyer.”
“This is incomprehensible and I think the Filipino Community needs to know”, Ms. Robinson decried.
Following is the rest of Ms. Robinson’s letter:
...In retrospect, I will start with what I saw as imperfections in the Election Processes. For all you know these ‘flaws’ in the systems may have contributed to my unsuccessful bid.
Notwithstanding, the wider Filipino community should be informed in regard to the standing procedures/systems prior and during the election. Why, because PCC-NSW Inc is the peak body Filipino organisation and for me this peak body is accountable to the community. Besides, we all purport visibility in the Community.
In a nutshell this was how the procedures went this year:
• The President and/or Secretary received nominations for candidacy 7 days prior to AGM/Election.
• A Working Bee within the Board convened to prepare the ballot paper 4 days before the Election.
• A Returning Officer was appointed to conduct the election 5 days before the election.
• A Reception Committee during the AGM/Election is appointed to authentic registered and financial Affiliates who will cast their votes.
It is my view that the nomination forms were not properly scrutinised/examined according to the Constitution and that some candidates background were not checked as to their suitability to the position. Further, an email to the Board and Affiliates was sent by the Secretary prior to the AGM re names of candidates but without the names of Affiliates who nominated them. How do we know the legitimacy of the nominations from Affiliates when these documents were vetted only by the President and the Secretary who were both running as Office-Bearers for 2018?
I am of the opinion that an independent person/s comprising a Committee on Elections (Comelec) must be appointed at least 4 weeks prior to the Elections, to ensure impartiality, transparency, accountability, accuracy, and most of all, data integrity. If the 7 days ruling is in the Constitution, then it has to be changed and develop new guidelines. Further, the preparation of ballot paper should be handled by the Committee on Elections and the appointment of the Reception Committee should be selected by the Comelec
I do not wish to judge the Reception Committee this year; however my view is that the executive power vested on the President was exceeded by President Serna Ladia by appointing Elsa Collado in the Reception Committee as Chair. Ms Collado, President of the Affiliate Ilocano Association was casting her vote and I saw a conflict of interest in her role as Chair. The Committee was tasked to scrutinize paperwork and to distribute the ballot papers. Aside from being a financial member in 2018, a form must indicate the Affiliate activity/ties for the year. However, what is written on the form may not be the truth or perhaps no forms were submitted at all. How does the Reception make an informed decision in allowing an Affiliate to vote if these requirements are not met?
Furthermore, and please correct me if I am wrong, Elsa Collado was given a Representative Form from another Affiliate (after the registration process has ceased) to cast a vote has, to authenticate her own paperwork co-signed by the other member of the Reception Committee.
NOT THE LAST WORD
In the same vein as taking PCC and Ms. Jone’s particularly to task, PCCH publisher Evelyn Zaragoza emailed Ms. Jone’s reinforcing other’s congratulatory messages re. Ms Jones background certifications displayed online at the same time prognosticating: “I hope with your 'Certificate' there will be a much better, more improved PCC, NSW.” Furthermore she underscored: “I also congratulate all the newly elected and re-elected officers. I wish all the elected officers PERFORM THEIR DUTIES/RESPONSIBILITIES ACCORDING TO THE 'TITLE' THEY ASPIRED FOR and they will be more VISIONARY, ACTION & RESULT-ORIENTED. Looking forward to seeing PCC, NSW's activities more 'unique' from what their affiliates are already doing. REMEMBER: 'PCC NSW is the PEAK BODY.PCC; NSW's involvement should extend to the greater Australian community and be able to utilize its resources which will benefit PCC's affiliates and the wider Filipino-Australian community in NSW. Be more ACTIVE in involving PCC NSW to the Ethnic Communities Council (ECC, NSW); FECCA and other policy-making body.
REMEMBER: PCC NSW is the PEAK BODY.”
YET ANOTHER FEEDBACK
Meanwhile, in fulfilment of our promise in the last issue that we shall ’ print other important feedbacks to the never-ending talk about the famous PCC-APCO reconciliation, here is one more incisive comment from Ms. Evelyn Opilas: “My apologies for the delayed response – it took me a while to process what happened because up to now, I cannot imagine how the Embassy and the Consulate got involved in the seeming mess between PCC NSW and APCO only to come up with a ‘statement’ confirming the status quo.
Reality check: It is not in the job description of diplomats to straighten out so-called wrinkles in a community that is not within their jurisdiction.
Am I correct in assuming that both PCC NSW and APCO are groups formed within Australian rules?
Then the two groups should have gone to an Australian arbitration/mediation body if they wanted their sad, sorry state to be straightened out, not run to the Consulate or the Embassy looking for ‘solutions’/ ‘reconciliation’/ etc. That’s not their job but then again, many so-called Filipino community leaders march to the Phil Consulate/ Embassy for recognition as if such gives them an imprimatur for effectiveness, ‘lakas’, and ‘karapatan’.
I can only say ‘Nakakahiya. Nagsayang pa kayo ng oras.’
Where is the integrity of purpose, stature of leadership, respect for process? How can you reconcile/ equate/ liken an apple with an orange that PCC NSW and APCO seem to have been? The only common ground would be that both have seeds, and assuming they grow, the plants would still produce apples and oranges. To her credit, the Ambassador’s letter seemed kind and non-committal.”
With this issue of the PCHN we put a dot to the long-winded story of unification movement that our publisher Evelyn Zaragoza began towards the middle of last year as a personal commitment, an advocacy, and a selfless cause so much so that it became the theme of the 23rd anniversary of this leading community newspaper. .
As in any arduously humongous task, we paid it a great deal of attention through to the minutest details. We encountered so many encumbrances but we were single-minded in trying to complete a task: With the release of the joint statement fully endorsed by PCC-NSW on the one hand, and APCO on the other, and with The Philippine Consulate harnessing both groups solidarity into some kind of a tripartite agreement, we can at least put the matter to rest.
To many, this means: No more. Finito. The end. But to us, the story is not over yet.
Truth to tell, the negotiations are far from finished. The two sterling groups still have to dot the i's and cross the t's, so to speak. There will be other meetings and hopefully more rewarding results for everybody let alone our entire commune. .
But for us at PCHN, and for me as the principal writer-editor, two things immediately come to mind that need be expressed for mine/our own sense of distributive justice and conflict resolution.
WE DID IT.
Firstly, and without self-aggrandizing, we say, WE DID IT.
Whatever has been thought of against us, we achieved what we had aspired for, short of delivering what had been expected of us, although we never really promised anything let alone a rose garden.
What can be more convincing evidence than the two official statements that materialised out of our news documentation and editorial opinions – the separate first statements by PCC-NSW and APCO INC. both sounding all-so-defensive and belligerent. Finally, with our constant egging of the Philippine Consulate through former Consul Marford who had publicly promised to organize this historic, milestone “reconciliation meet that became an agonizing wait-and-see if it happens. At the last days of the outgoing Consul’s extended stay in Sydney, his promise was fulfilled.
Finally, the long awaited reconciliation meeting happened and brought forth a second, this time, and joint statement. At first glimpse, it seemed like a very promising position paper full of motherhood statements couched in diplomatic sophistries that bespeak of classic Filipino OPM (oh promise me) and bears the hallmarks of hypocritical stances ( “pakitang tao.”) – all of which remains to be seen as well as proven and tested in the long run. .
In retrospect, we take credit for our sheer herculean efforts, no matter how self-congratulatory it may sound. After all, for two giants to react on record (i.e. their first separate statements), and then eventually get them to yield to a reconciliation meet we have pressed on so as to address issues we have tirelessly cavilled about is certainly no mean feat. That said, here comes our second other conclusion – a way of a rebuttal to APCO’s argumentation (nay accusation) charging us of “fake news”.
FAKE NEWS, FALLACIES and CONTRADICTIONS
From a more scholarly viewpoint, methinks there is really no such thing as “fake news” which became a sensational buzz word attributed to US Pres. Trump who first popularised it. The whole world especially Filipinos prone to aping, rumour-mongering, and crab mentality relished it to a point that it become a favourite byword or epithet.
As it is nowadays, “fake news” is a two-pronged phrase taken to dismiss or legitimize any piece of information one disagrees with or intentionally deceive a desired target audience with outright lies masquerading as truth. Apart from dismissal and deception the other elements of fake news are malicious intent, causality of panic, confusion or disorder, and the awareness of the falseness of the news.
In our case, had we been truly at fault as duly stipulated by APCO, then we would have been the first to publish an erratum and own up to our fault, me culpa. Besides we know that free speech, expression, or press freedom as it were is not absolute and that journalists and broadcasters are bound by a sense of professional responsibility, ethics, and code of conduct. That is a given, basic, and fundamental amongst those who profess to be journalists, broadcasters and other agents of mass media and communication arts be it electronic, digital or otherwise.
At the same token, this is also the main reason why we seek redress in the name of fairness and fair play. Similarly, we deserve a right of reply as well as right of correction to achieve equanimity. As well, consider this editorial response as my very own intellectual kung-fu -- the vital art of self-defense in a debate. Otherwise, if we let it pass without explaining ourselves justifiably APCO’s accusation shall remain unanswered and taken as the last word with everyone laughing out loud (LOL!)
But, lest you forget, he who laughs last laughs best. It is unlikely for this editor to be cowed into backpedalling by the sheer shockwaves of this public denunciation of the supposed “highly misleading, grossly subjective and untruthful reporting being disseminated by the proponents of the so-called “Unification” in a newspaper owned and staffed by “Unification” proponents who are also closely involved with PCC.”
In much the same breath APCO brazenly stated:
“APCO is not in agreement with the proponents for “Unification” in many aspects; hence, the glowing reports about the “Unification” are fake, dishonest and fabricated news. We also denounce the writers for their fictitious, false and malicious reporting about the community: that the organisations lack government support because it is not united, that PCC is doing community development projects while APCO is into multiculturalism and serving only its members.
Why tell lies if your intentions are really good?
I cannot help but be academic in pointing out that APCO has committed the greatest, gravest fallacy of Argumentum Ad Baculum or the "Might-Makes-Right" Fallacy. Witness their final verdict where they categorically underscore and literally underline what we have actually been cantankering away since day one
APCO is instead suggesting that the process of Unification should start with a Reconciliation
This is the final stroke -- a contradiction of the highest order. After all the brouhaha, they are actually in agreement with our editorialised call for reconciliation. In the first place, the impetus did not even come from us but from one Jhun Salazar, the fearless, level-headed ex-President of APCO.
What is beyond me is how APCO could deny recognition of their own people even claiming that “ APCO Inc has not made any official stand on the issue of “Unification” and those who attended any meeting have denied ever declaring that they were representing APCO in any capacity” thereby committing more contradictions after contradictions. Remember, in community life, we are judged by the company we keep. Thus, the notion of being officially tasked or appointed to represent of any organization, APCO, PCC or non-aligned, is immaterial in a gathering of community leaders. There is such a thing as guilt by association. You can never dissociate yourself from a group you’ve been identified with from the very start .unless you relinquish it publicly or disclaim/disown membership/affiliation altogether. .
The total effect is that APCO made fallacious statements that might sound reasonable or appear to be superficially true but are actually flawed or dishonest.
So who is creating “fake news” after all? PCHN or APCO? You decide...
Of course it takes thinking readers to detect the so-called fake news in our reportage and editorials where there is actually none or APCO could have underlined what they claim as “fake news” point by point to guide readers accordingly. We are getting to be repetitive here for a reason because these logical fallacies backfire by making the audience think the writer (yours truly) is unintelligent (bobo) or deceptive (manloloko). Que pobresito mio! (Oh, poor me!)
Our turn to ask? What happened to APCO’s boast that they were going to circulate their statement even to national dailies? Has any negligible if obscure community digest ever bothered publishing it? (Really now, please pray tell.).What publication would pick up a statement teeming with false line of reasoning to begin with? Who are you trying to fool? Sining niloloko ninyo?
Wittingly or unwittingly, APCO’s argumentation is generally categorised as Appeal to Force, using force, the threat of force, or some other unpleasant backlash to make the audience (i.e. the Fil-Oz community in NSW) accept a conclusion that what we have reported are “fake news” , in short lies.
This has obviously become their last resort in the absence of evidence or rational arguments that convince the reading public (i.e. subscribers and regular readers of PCHN).
MIS or DIS INFORMATION
At this point allow me to differentiate between misinformation and disinformation and whether or not the “fake news” accusation of APCO to PCHN makes sense. .
Several online dictionaries make disinformation the far more sinister term, one that suggests a conspiratorial institutional effort. They define it as a false information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumours) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth. It further adds that disinformation is deliberately misleading information announced publicly or leaked by a government or especially by an intelligence agency in order to influence public opinion or the government in another nation. Sometimes this is regarded as propaganda.
Misinformation is likewise information that is false or incorrect and the person disseminating it knows that precisely but is convinced otherwise for the main intention is to deceive and/or to offer a patent lie. Per one UP authority consulted on fake news hearing at Philippine Senate, she cited many kinds of “fake news” as not necessarily tainted with political colour. This include misinterpreted facts or beliefs packaged as raw information and spread throughout the networks e.g. satire posts that take the mickey out of anything but there’s really no real intent
So the main difference lies in and boils down to intent whether it is malicious, real, or imagined
Often the defence, as in the case of politicians, is posited in the passive voice, "I was misinformed". This is how they rationalise their mistake in many instances when they are caught out trying to pass disinformation. In these cases however, the intent to deceive is originally and pellucidly clear except that it didn't work.
In likewise manner, APCO did the same but for all intents and purposes, it boomeranged negatively on them yet served to positively increase our readership because people became curious to find out more about the whole shebang.
We understand that most often than not, mis or dis information can be given innocently, negligently, or carelessly. And we go as far as sharing above vital info to point out precisely the baselessness and malicious intent of APCO in declaring us purveyors of fake news in their first issued statement following our editorial that obviously did not sit well with those who actually read them or heard them from others as second hand info.
Aye, there’s the rub! Here lies trouble for they didn’t even bother verifying, vetting or ascertaining whatever dis or mis information might have been passed on to them. The evidence we have suggests that they never bothered to quote from what we have published WHAT PRECISELY they deem fake news.
It is one thing to accuse (easiest even to point an accusing finger), another to substantiate or prove it. It would have been our right to ban/bar APCO news whatsoever, but despite their “fake” accusation we continued publishing their press releases which more than eliminates any bias they try to impugn on us in stating such unproven statement that we were “closely involved with PCC.”
This kind of disinformation clearly implies that the person who wrote the statement for APCO is intentionally making a false statement that he or she knows to be false. On hindsight, this is funny pathetic given that APCO is seemingly hell-bent in proving to TPTB (the powers that be, who have decorated them with this and that award) that indeed harmony reigns amongst the Filipino community by their obvious act of “papering the house”, (a theatre expression meaning feeling the house with complimentary tickets to give the impression of a sell-out or as applied to local event organizers and their supporters, the closest Filipino translation is the “hakot:: syndrome).
So much so that APCO’s gone out of their way to subsidize part of the expensive ticket to this years’ annual Harmony Premiere dinner to the delight of unsuspecting folks until one member threw the wet blanket in an act of rightful indignation and finally cried foul: “What harmony are we trying to prove when we cannot even harmonize with our very own community? . Or something to that effect.
Well said. To this person who has the balls and gall to challenge APCO’s unseen hands but intriguingly felt touches of conjugal dictatorship, we say AMEN.
For the entire community in general, it’s time to end anonymity and put a brave face to one’s stand. Let’s not confine ourselves to “bulung-bulungan” on the sides. Time is rife for people to come out and fearlessly say their piece with no strings attached.
And then again. Election for new set of leaders/officers is just round the corner. Everyone needs to assess and analyse, make informed judgements, and have the courage of our convictions. (Mars Cavestany/All Rights Reserved)
By Dr. Mars Cavestany
At long last! After seven years of cold war, PCC and APCO, two of the leading but warring groups confederating many allied groups under each umbrella, have finally agreed to reconcile.
This was one of the significant historical highlights emanating from the second-in-a series of discussion-cum-camaraderie meetings under the banner of UNIFICATION initiated and convened by PCHN publisher Evelyn Zaragoza in her own right and capacity as a community organizer/leader.
The historical date that goes down as a high-water mark in the epic story of the growing Filipino community in NSW is 22 October 2017, recorded from 2:14 – 5:05 p.m. at the Sizzling Filo Restaurant, 13 Railway St., Lidcombe NSW by Acting Secretary, Pamela Ventura, former President of UPAA.
Outgoing Consul Marford Angeles, who acted as moderator, offered to host at the Philippine Consulate office the soon-to-be-carried out reconciliation meeting among the officers of PCC, APCO including a third body comprised of non-aligned groups or people who are not affiliated with either of these two lead organisations.
Additionally, the highly contentious suggestion by businessmen Ed Alcordo to merge the Philippine Independence Day Ball celebrations which has been conducted separately in the past seven years since the break-away of APCO from PCC was put into a vote and unanimously agreed upon by the body. Consul Angeles emphasized the fact that there’s a lot to iron out in terms of mechanics and details of the proposed combined PID celebration which can be discussed in a different meeting after the said reconciliation meeting.
The prepared agenda and running order ran briskly and without any hitch with past APCO President Jun Salazar delivering the hearty and thoughtfully inspiring opening prayer.
Evelyn Zaragoza’s welcome message set the tone, quoting and reminding everyone of former Consul General Anne Jalando-on Louis’ remarks delivered during the first Unification meeting hosted by PCC last August at Marayong Community Centre. (It must be remembered that Congen Louis was immediately appraised and affronted by the prevailing factionalism so she tried to call for a meet to reconcile the two bodies both claiming to be the peak/umbrella organization but failed as it was generally perceived by many pundits in the community then as too early when affected parties are still licking their wounds.
Zaragoza also read the suggested options for conflict resolution prepared by Dr. Mars Cavestany that became the springboard for discussions. Her famous last words: We are not getting younger and let's leave something that will be implanted to the youth. Please think and reflect, it’s not only the name of the organization which we created and worked hard to establish that will be passed on to our next, future leaders. But they are our actions, good deeds, and intangible virtues and values which we shall impart to them like legacy of parents to their children.”
Consul Marford Angeles highlighted the gathering of many talented and skilled people in the meeting, saying that the combination of these needs to be harnessed so we can move forward as a community. He acknowledged the presence of incoming Consul Manny De Guzman who he says would be able to witness the level of achievement that the community can attain. He also acknowledged Ms. Evelyn Zaragoza for organising the meeting, and Mr. Manny Roux for hosting.
Manny Roux, said, among others, that “we are all salt of the earth…relevance has brought us all here.”
Serna Ladia, reckoned that this gathering is an indication “that we have the same objective” and as (current) PCC-NSW President, she would like “to have peace and harmony in the community. Saying that each of us has a responsibility, she called on everyone to rally with one another, to support, to have harmony and to “seek the help of God.”
Michelle Baltazar, representing the youth shared 3 observations about the community stating that (a) “We are Filipinos first.”(b)“We don’t have the financial muscle.” (c) We have the social muscle and we are unstoppable if we want to do something. She further stressed: “You are the trailblazers and I am proud of the success you have made.” Noting the importance of unity, she encouraged everyone to reflect on where we want our community to be in 10 years.
Ed Alcordo, representing the business sector as President of Australia Philippines Business Council affirmed that “Communities from third-world countries are characterised by disunity and the Filipino community is no exception, however there is unity within the Japanese and Korean communities. He added that “From an outsider’s perspective, there doesn’t appear to be a cause bigger than us.” Comparing and contrasting its CBL’s (constitution and by-laws), he commented that PCC-NSW’s constitution seeks to speak for the Filipino community whilst APCO’s is focused to those individuals and groups who are not represented. He noted that “we should concentrate on things that unite us, not divide us” and mentioned the following great opportunities to shows unity: President Duterte’s state visit to Australia in 2018, Philippine Independence Day celebration, Fiesta Kultura and Philippine Christmas Festival.
Pet Storey, current President of APCO was meant to send Vice-President Charles Chan to read her speech but begged off last minute.
Emailed messages from people who were not able to attend were read out to the body including commentaries from Jun Relunia, Raymond Policarpio, Robert Bock, Marilyn Chun, Lani Larsen, Benjie De Ubago, Manny Diel, Jasper Diaz, and Prof. Mina Roces.
The group agreed that something has to be done. Consul Angeles mentioned three options:
• maintenance of the status quo – Let things be.
• merging of the two organisations (PCC-NSW and APCO)
• dissolution of PCC-NSW and APCO or leave them as is then establish a new body
Mr. Bob Alipalo asked what the problem is. Prof. Ed Escultura replied that one of the problems is that there are two separate bodies, PCC-NSW and APCO. He then suggested that these two should unite, at least regarding the Philippine Independence Day (PID) celebration.
Dr. Raul Amor postulated that the strength of the Filipinos – becoming successful individually – is also our weakness and that “we need to find a reason to be united.”
Ms. Daisy Cummings cited that one of our weaknesses is that “we don’t know community leadership” and without knowledge on how to run a community, we’ll be self-centred. She underpinned the importance of “service above self” and that we need a “transformation of intention.”
Ms. Cora Paras pinpointed the lack of humility friendship, acceptance, harmony and bayanihan spirit as a problem. She said that we should consider our young generations and our newer Filipino migrants. She then brought up the idea of starting a “friendship day”, having only one PIDC, and supporting the Philippine Christmas festival next month.
Ms. Solina Lapalma predicated the following points:
• What is it that we really want as a community?
• No group, big or small, can exist if its members are individualistic.
• We need to develop humility, why we want it and how do we get it?
Consul Angeles opted for practical solutions and sure fire projects.
At this point Ms. Fe Hayward of Hayward Real Estate took the floor and presented her proposal to Blacktown Mayor Stephen Bali re: building a “Philippine Bahay Kubo” at Narrating Reserve which will serve as a gathering/meeting place for members of the community. She asked help from the attendees to come up with a plan which can be submitted to Blacktown Council. Councillor Linda Santos said that she wants to support this project but asked Ms. Hayward to have the compliances ready.
Mr. File Santos, in response to Ms. Hayward, reported that the Knights of Rizal has a project of having a bust of Jose Rizal and a surrounding garden at the Rizal Park in Rooty Hill which will cost $7,500. He said that KOR is proposing this to the local council.
Ms. Ladia highlighted the 27-year existence of PCC and the break-away group (APCO) that was formed only in 2010. She proposed that PCC remains as is and that other groups are welcome to join it.
Ms. Evelyn Opals professed that she supports PCC-NSW due to its history, longevity and track record of organising the PID Ball. However, she lamented PCC’s lack of focus and envisions that it must establish a common ground, encapsulating her thoughts in what she calls SWOT analysis:
• Strength – Filipinos are skilled.
• Weaknesses – crab mentality, fear of speaking up
• Opportunities – recognition of political power
• Threat – negative attitudes
Moreover, she defined the importance of volunteerism (commitment and sacrifice), leadership (have a selection criteria and training), and potential contributions to the mainstream community (e.g. participation in Australian of the Year).
OTHER VIEWS & HOLDING A JOINT/ONE PID
Mr. Richard Ford underscored the “biggest thing that happened to the Philippines” which is its independence. Underlining the importance of looking back at history, he suggested that PCC and APCO should still co-exist but have one group on top which will oversee the two, liaise with the government (e.g. councils), and to which we can submit proposals and the like.
Mr. Ed Alcordo delineated the merits of running one PID celebration and called for a vote seconded by Ms. Lapalma.
Mr. Jimmy Lopez spoke for APCO and clarified that they need to go back to their members before they can decide.
Consul Angeles suggested that if Mr. Alcorcon’s proposal could at least be agreed upon in principle (unbinding), then representatives of various organisations may take this up with their respective constituencies.
The body then voted on Mr. Alcorcon’s proposal through raising of hands: in favour – 39, not in favour – 0, abstained – 2 = 41 votes. Consuls Angeles and De Guzman, for obvious reasons, did not vote. There were others amongst the almost perfect attendance of 57 out of 60 RSVP’d cross=section of leaders who were present but did not vote at all.
Mr. Alcordo then offered a second proposal to come up with a committee of 5 members who shall organise the PID celebration.
Ms. Lapalma echoed the common sentiment of people pointing out that the need to bring the matter first to their respective organisations. which prompted Mr. Alcordo to respectfully withdraw this proposal.
WHAT ABOUT PPC & APCO
Mr. Cesar Bartolome streamlined that the final decision on what to do with PCC and APCO lies on their members. He admonished that if ever these organisations are abolished, instead of having an election of leaders, we should follow a “corporate governance” model wherein the officers would be chosen by an independent selection panel that will set the selection criteria and points system.
Ms. Kate Andres agreed with this suggestion and added that “the government can’t respect us if we are not united.”
Councillor Jess Diaz related the experience of having two groups of the Knights of Rizal in the Philippines but these groups were able to work together. He said that we have no legacy that we can leave to the community, citing that we still have no multi-purpose centre. Whilst he agreed that it is good to have the fiesta and PID celebration, he asked in the same breath, “what is the point?” He argued that the community’s lack of political power is precisely what makes it difficult for project proposals to get approved by councils. He pushed instead for PCC and APCO to toy with the notion of one or two-year plan of having “co-presidents”, and, eventually, resolve other intrinsic problems (e.g. clean up the elections).
FINALLY “RECONCILIATION” COMES TO THE FORE
Mr. Jhun Salazar, past APCO President, confirmed that it is true that APCO’s Constitution seeks to nurture its membership. He then called for humility and reconciliation in order for us to unite which was cheered and welcomed by everybody.
Consul Angeles, quick to take the cue, offered for the Consulate to host a historic reconciliation meeting amongst PCC and APCO officials.
Mr. Alipalo suggested that the meeting should include a third body comprised of people who are non-aligned or not affiliated with either of these two lead organisations.
Consul Angeles added that the PID celebration may also be discussed in a different meeting after the said reconciliation meeting.
Having covered all matters with a fine tooth comb, Ms. Zaragoza thanked everyone who attended the meeting and contributed their views as well as acknowledged the following:
• Manny Roux and the Leon Aguila Association for hosting the event
• Consul Marford Angeles for moderating the meeting
• Pamela Ventura for being the acting secretary
• Rise Roux for recording the meeting
• Sergeants-at-Arms: Jojo Laquian, Ronald Cortez, George Torres
• Photographer: Richard Ford
• People who sent their messages/comments
The closing prayer was led by Fr. Ed Orilla.
SUMMARY OF MAIN POINTS RAISED
1. Issue: Two main bodies (PCC-NSW and APCO) which have different objectives. They also have separate Philippine Independence Day celebrations (ball, get-together).
2. Attitudinal problems: disunity; individualistic attitude; lack of humility, harmony, acceptance, bayanihan spirit
3. Lack of proper community leadership – E.g. Importance of knowledge and training in properly running a community; need for selection criteria in choosing the leaders/officers
4. Lack of political power and “financial muscle”
5. Strengths: Skills, education, “social muscle”
6. Opportunities to show unity: Events such as the Philippine Independence Day celebration, Fiesta Kultura, Christmas Festival, President Duterte’s state visit
SUMMARY OF PROPOSALS:
1. From Richard Ford: PCC-NSW and APCO to continue co-existing but have one group at the top which will oversee the two, and will also liaise with the government (e.g. councils) and to which we can submit proposals, etc.
2. From Ed Alcordo: Have one Philippine Independence Day celebration – CARRIED. He further suggested that there should be an organising committee for this event.
3. From Cesar Bartolome: In case PCC-NSW and APCO are abolished, establish a new organisation but instead of electing officers, there should be a selection panel that will choose the officers from among qualified applicants. This panel will set a selection criteria and a points system.
4. From Jess Diaz: PCC-NSW and APCO come up with a one or two-year plan to have co-presidents, identify the problems and have resolutions.
5. From Serna Ladia: PCC-NSW to remain as is and the other organisations (APCO, etc.) are welcome to join.
NEXT IMMEDIATE ACTION
Reconciliation meeting among officers of PCC-NSW, APCO and non-aligned organisations to be hosted by the Consulate. Meeting to merge PID celebration in one event to follow separately.
TASK FORCE UNIFICATION
As of press time, we received reports that a TASK FORCE UNIFICATION has been created and will be meeting soonest to pick up from where the second meeting left off continue the aims and purposes for which the Unification Movement was kick-started. (All Rights Reserved/MC).