OF FAKE NEWS, CLAIMING VICTORY OVER RESULTS OF UNIFICATION MOVEMENT and WHAT HARMONY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT? Featured

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)

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  • PCC & APCO ELECT NEW OFFICERS By Mars Cavestany

     

    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.”

  • UNIFICATION FINDS CLOSURE

    It took a long time coming. 

    The clamorous and vigorous attempt to unify the Filipino community in NSW instigated by Evelyn Zaragoza, publisher of this newspaper finally came to a not-so-dramatic ending with the much-awaited RECONCILIATION meeting between the break-away groups of APCO with the mother organisation PCC-NSW over and done with, as dutifully engineered by the Philippine Consulate during the last remaining days of outgoing Consul General Marford Angeles in January 16, 2017.
    It should be recalled that since June 2017, a series of exploratory consultative and educative public forums were orchestrated by PCHN publisher Evelyn Zaragoza and duly documented by this writer-editor in banner headlines tracing the development of the UNIFICATION MOVEMENT in its monthly issues beginning June-July 2017 through to the present , generating a massive information campaign of underlying issues and concerns and publishing as well the consensus of opinions from various respected leaders and so-called movers and shapers of the Filipino-Australian society.
    HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
    Needless to say, it’s been in the works since perhaps the earliest recorded history of Filipino migration in Australia. As our population rose to become one of the top ten sources of overseas migrants, it is but natural that more and more intrinsic, internal, and germane conflicts floated along.
    It has been said that where there are Filipinos, there will always be disunity so much so that the issue of unification has grown whiskers. The longest surviving confederation of Filipino organizations is in itself fraught with political strife and coup attempts but nothing as major major as the famous walk-out of the Amoreses almost a decade ago and the consequent formation of the APCO has put PCC-NSW on tenterhooks enough to reinvestigate its reason for being.
    IS IT REALLY CLOSURE OR IT REMAINS TO BE SEEN
    When all is said and done, the final verdicts as to the issue of reconciliations are simply NO RECONCILIATION!
    But, on a more positive note, a joint statement struck between PCC-NSW and APCO which turned out to be more like a tripartite agreement between the previously opposing parties with the Philippine Consulate thrown in as peaceful negotiator achieved some kind of an amicable agreement best left for our readers to decipher closely and reflect on what the following statement shall mean to them now and in the long run. Here goes...

    STATEMENT
    On 16 January 2018, the Philippine Consulate General in Sydney hosted a meeting between the leaders of the Philippine Community Council of New South Wales Inc. (PCC-NSW) and the Alliance of Philippine Community Organizations Inc. (APCO).
    The leaders affirmed their groups’ commitment to effectively serve their respective constituents and the Filipino community at large. They likewise both pledged to continue working with the Consulate in promoting and protecting the interests of all Filipinos in NSW.
    PCC-NSW and APCO will continue to carry out their respective projects and mandates, and work with the Consulate towards harmonizing their respective programs to maximize efficiency, resources and output. The Consulate will assist both organizations in exploring joint activities and other possible areas of cooperation, with concurrence of their respective memberships.
    PCC-NSW was represented at the meeting by its President, Ms. Serna Ladia, and Board Members Mr. Alric Bulseco, Ms. Mercy Jones, Ms. Angie Jenkins, and Ms. Rowena Gonzaga Turnbull, and APCO by its President, Ms. Pet Storey, and Founding President and Adviser Dr. Cen Amores, Immediate Past President and Adviser Mr. Ruben Amores, Adviser Mr. Jimmy Lopez and Asst. Secretary Linda Price. Acting Head of Post Consul Marford Angeles represented the Consulate, joined by Consuls Melanie Diano and Emmanuel Guzman.
    The parties plan to meet again in the next months, as well as maintain open communication and effective coordination into the future.

    Feedbacks
    PCHN conducted a quick random survey amongst the very same people who actively participated in the series of Unification Movement Public Discussions and culled the following initial feedbacks.

    Jhun Salazar, who for the record was the first ever who stood up and advanced the notion of “reconciliation” between APCO and PCC, has this o say: (EVELYN NASAAN ANG COMMENT NI JHUN. PASULATIN MO SIYA NG SINASABI NIYA SA IYO PARA SA KANYA MAGSIMULA PLEASE).
    Who does not know Blacktown Councillor Jess Diaz, the first Filipino political face NSW has ever encountered. He said “Good dialogue, warm relationship, motherhood statements!  Unification?  No. Focus on goals and forget and bury unification for another day.
    Perhaps one of the most outspoken and creative younger generation of leaders we have who unfortunately is also a disillusioned fall-out from PCC_NSW is Mark Selorio who thinks: “This is not a merger, isn't it?  If both organisations continue to do their job and serve the greater community, it's fine. No need to merge, but perhaps if they can do a bigger collaborative project together (Independence Day Ball or President's visit) instead of tree planting projects, the Filipino community could appreciate it more. They have good leaders, they just need to think bigger picture.”
    Worse, we get an honest, in-the-face reaction of an adopted Filipino supporter Robert B. D. Bock, who dismisses the whole shebang thus: “I’m sorry but it looks like same old, same old (faces.) Where is the new blood?
    As always there are two sides to a coin such that there are likewise more welcoming, positive comments to lend some balance.
    Atty. Tom Baena is perhaps the first Filipino elected director of a huge RSL club who is quick to gush: “One small step taken by a few leading to a giant leap of community harmony and prosperity. 
    Still, some of our concerned citizens wants to admonish everyone of their obligations:
    “It is wonderful to know that both parties have agreed to work together for the good of the Filipino people. The people around us are fully aware of the great contributions that we have as part of the community. Filipinos are full of enthusiasm and charisma. Wherever we are, we excel. Our goal is to encourage and lift each other up. And be there for the good of all not for personal gain.  Having a humble heart will make it happen.  This is what both parties are doing. Well done! As we continue with our desires to move on and focus more on the positive, with the help of God, we all can do what needs to be done.  Let us be a blessing in the lives of others.  With many willing hands to do the work, we can accomplish much.Thank you everyone.
    That was a message from Luz Osbourne. Of equal resonance is former PCC-NSW President Jun Relunia’s thoughts:
    “The key message of the tripartite statement issued by the Philippine  Consulate, APCO and PCC - NSW ( to me an agreement that will bind the three parties) is that each can continue their own projects  and activities and work with the Philippine consulate to harmonise these activities. Also by this statement both APCO and PCC - NSW can explore and undertake joint projects with the concurrence of their respective memberships.

    For me there is one important ingredient that is missing on this agreement and that is an agreement to meet regularly ( say quarterly) to explore joint projects that will help the Filipino Australian community. The Statement only states that the parties will meet again in the next months. The statement / agreement for APCO and PCC - NSW to meet regularly with or without the presence of the Philippine Consulate  will enhance the prospect of both parties exploring joint projects and advocacy  beneficial to the entire Filipino Australian community in NSW.

    One such project is a functional Filipino Australian community centre. We have already the MPC in Blacktown and what APCO and PCC - NSW is to explore on ways of improving the community centre to become a truly functional centre thru the support of Federal and NSW state governments and Blacktown City Council and the support of Filipino Australian community.
    This is a project that is achievable with joint commitment of APCO and PCC - NSW in coordination with the present management of MPC.

    Despite his proximity Ishko Lopez delivers what is expected of him as a leader. His general comments:
    “Many thanks for sharing this email/letter from the Honourable Ambassador Cruz to our good friend Mars.  In regards to the contents of the article between PCC-NSW and APCO. I personally feel that genuine reconciliation between these 2 groups will ot succeed this year or perhaps another year or years (who knows).  As a former OFW community leader in Saudi Arabia for 22 years, I had this kind of experience before and it took years to resolve and not even the Philippine Embassy and Phil Overseas Labor Office/OWWA intervention worked.  As always, the problem of factionalization and tribo-tribo system is always at the center stage.   There was an absolutely ethnic divide syndrome in terms of running a a pinoy community organization aroudn the globe and there's a number game approach which plays an important role to gain leverage on every issue whether an Ambassador or Consul is present to mediate between warring factions.  Perhaps our crab mentality will never wane wherever we are and wherever we maybe.  It was a exhausting and draining experience to be a part of any group meeting involving pinoy association/organization and based on my experience, every elected leader does not want to give even an inch to every argument/deliberation whether it's a planned community event or cultural celebration and for me, it's just a waste of precious time of every attendee as it was a never ending story of proving who is the best among the rest on every issue the protagonist deliberate.  Right now, I believe that unless PCC-NSW and APCO back down from their recriminating ways of dealing with any concerned issue(s), genuine and lasting reconciliation between these 2 groups will never be attained.  At this point in time, we can feel and see total disenchantment from the pinoy community in general as they await the result of this reconciliation process.   I believe it will be a long and tedious work in process for all the involved parties to come up with an effective formula to bring and achieve peace and harmony in NSW that we clamor for so long and after many years of failed expectations.  For now, I am not losing hope and I continue to pray that one day, everybody will say - 'We are ready to unite and work for the common good of all of us pinoys in NSW.  Unless this happens, we have to live by the day and as we pinoys say - Pagpapasa- Diyos na lang natin ang kahihinatnan ng walang katapusang pagsubok at pakikibaka sa ating buhay kahit saan man tayo naroroon"

    NOT THE LAST WORD
    “I have read through the statements, and I have attended at least one your 'unification' meetings. In response to your request for comment, I have this to say: Personally, this issue of 'unification' or 'reconciliation' does not affect me. Further, I believe that the issue has no real impact on the larger number of Filipinos in Sydney or across Australia. The organisations involved with PCC-NSW, APCO - or the FILCAA for that matter - comprise only a very small section of the total number of members of Filipino-Australian community. They do not represent the rest of the Filipino community who are not members of these organisations. In effect, they do not represent every member or a great majority of the Filipino-Australian community.
    That said, I would like to see these organisations on friendly terms, working alongside each other on occasions. Whichever was founded first is of no great importance to me, especially considering that the truly first Filipino-Australian organisation in Sydney - and in Australia - was founded back in the mid-1960s - as was the first Filipino 'Federation' - both of which, as far as I know, have been defunct for decades.
    What I know is that conflicts among Filipino-Australian organisations reflect badly on all of us, and not just on the organisations. This is another reason why many members of the Filipino community do not join existing Filipino organisations. I am a member of the Ateneo Alumni Australia, but I have always resisted this organisation's joining the PCC-NSW precisely because I could see it being dragged into the conflicts of a larger organisation with agenda that do not represent the true spirit of my old school in the Philippines.

    A sticky point of conflict has been the idea of holding only one Independence Day Ball, organised by only one organisation in collaboration with the Philippine Consulate in Sydney. This seems unreasonable to me, even ridiculous. How could one fit in every member of the Filipino community - and friend - who wanted to celebrate Philippine Independence Day in single ballroom? The idea behind being able to accomplish this has been to price admission tickets beyond the affordability of the Filipino-Australian majority. The idea of democracy gives way to an elitist minority. My view is that the Philippine Consulate or the Embassy holds a Philippine Independence Day Ball on their own. After all, it's a 'Philippine' celebration ~ but open to any member of the Filipino-Australian community on a first come, first served arrangement. The Filipino-Australian community should then be able to hold their own Independence Day celebrations wherever and whenever.
    That's my own take.
    I wish your efforts in bringing 'peace' among the existing Filipino community organisations in Australia. And I wish these organisations would swallow their pride and co-exist without trying to outdo each other.
    As we go to the press, there are last minute messages which we could no longer include in this issue. Watch out or more feedbacks. (Mars Cavestany/All Rights Reserved))

  • UNIFICATION (IN MY OPINION) By Mars Cavestany

     

    I know whereof I speak
    Beginning this issue, I am reviving my old PCHN column that ran from mid- to late 90’s – previously called “Light from Mars” the selfsame column I have been identified with since I began column writing as college editor –in-chief for an unduplicated length of 3 straight years of the Philippine Normal University-National Centre for Teacher Education where I graduated a bachelors degree in English and Journalism was my initial preparation.
    From Uni, I hit the ground running doing the ABC’s of professional ‘Fourth Estate’ work in Metro Manila beginning from rookie news reporter to becoming a full-pledged columnist-cum-theatre and film/critic to arts/entertainment/lifestyle and features editor to managing editor of top national broadsheets, local tabloids, magazines and periodicals.
    Although my career in Manila peaked largely in the performing arts where I harvested my national awards, my real grounding is in the fundamentals of press work, i.e., as a newspaperman or “dyarista” as we say in Filipino idiom. In other words, I am an honest-to-goodness journalist-writer of some qualification and distinction and not just someone who loves to write. There is a world of a difference.
    Hindi po ako pawitwit na manunulat na pinabili lang ng suka, wiki nga, nagsulat na.
    Ergo, I know whereof I speak, but do forgive me for prefacing this initial salvo with a bit of my relevant background because my first hurdle here is to stand my ground against the misguided, baseless and preposterous miscalculations of some people reacting to my three-in-a series of news reportage bannered by PCHN , not to speak of a controversial editorial and poetry – all on the very subject of “UNIFICATION” – a passionately inspired and concerted movement almost single-handedly spearheaded by Evelyn Zaragoza, the tireless publisher of this oldest surviving and largest circulating Filipino printed community newspaper with matching online version both valued and read throughout Australia.
    In more ways than one, I have volunteered to be EZ’s creative partner, sidekick in light banter, or a Sancho Panza to a Don Quixote of you like literary parlance. Having rejoined her pool of writers after more than a decade of inactivity and semi-retirement, I suggested to EZ to tie-up the concept of “unification” as the underlying theme of the 23rd anniversary of PCHN.
    EZ and MARS Creative Partnership: This is where it all caught fire and picked up steam.
    Together we began exchanging and percolating ideas , pursuing what EZ has earlier began as two exploratory brainstorming sessions with selected “movers and shakers” of the community attached or associated with PCC and/or APCO. Opening Pandora’s Box after seven years brought forth differing opinions expectedly but the one common denominator was the deeply felt and expressed need to unify which egged her to forge ahead. This need t be emphasized because the provocation came from fellow “kababayan” but the impetus or driving force was positively engendered by the opposing leaders themselves, otherwise, EZ would not have deliberately if enduringly plodded along
    But the continuing state of resentful antagonism between two parties (PCC and APCO) has been raging for seven years and something needed to be done NOW before things spin out of control and all hell breaks loose. To test the waters, EZ disseminated an email questionnaire asking people to share their thoughts on the notion of “one voice.” The number of responses from who’s who in the community far exceeded our expectations.
    Thus, UNIFICATION banner headline number 1 came out in the June-July issue just in time when PCHN turned 23. We published not all but as many of the email responses at the same time as I began sifting through all the ideas and distilling their essences and synthesizing them into three possible options of conflict resolution: status quo, reconciliation, or dissolution. Given the resounding imprimatur from a cross section of personages in the community, we further conceptualised and sallied forth organising the twin-bill of fora in which to present the 3 golden suggestions for further discussion, if at all – resolution. Lo and behold, EZ coordinated with PCC first and they gamely complied following their general assembly meet at Marayong Community Centre in 20 August.
    Afterwards, came UNIFICATION GATHERS STEAM banner headline number 2 featured in the August-September issue which highlighted more fervid expressions, this time, from outspoken PCC former Presidents the likes of Kate Andres, Malynne Chun, Ric de Vera, and Jun Relunia among others with transcripts of messages and other verbal inputs incorporated in my 2nd news report.
    Banner headline number 3, which came out in the October issue was entitled UNIFICATION RECONCILES PCC & APCO with a matching editorial also by yours truly titled, PCC and APCO RECONCILE, AT LONG LAST. Both drew a lot of flak and negative feedbacks.
    Unfortunately I missed such historic meet that fateful day of 22 October 201 as I had been hospitalized. But we proceeded with aplomb, as if nothing had happened. Evelyn supplied me with all the materials I needed to write the news. But even before that, I couldn’t help myself hearing what’s what so that I had already phoned my good friend and former high school classmate Francisco de los Santos, plus the host himself, the ever-reliable Manny Roux of Leon Aguila group who donated a thousand dollars to pay for the merienda that day.
    Initially, they had briefed me, blow by blow on the flow of dialoguing amongst an amazing array of personalities that took one Evelyn Zaragoza to gather under one roof, Certainly no mean feat, this! Of course the venue available could only accommodate 60 PAX so much so that Miss Benjie de Ubago, the self-anointed chronicler of both PCC history and happenstance, cried foul for having been “simply not advised” or “disinvited”. She wasn’t literally present at the event either but that didn’t stop a true journalist that she is from filing a report. See the point Madame Serna? Since you have propped yourself up as a broadcaster it would be wise to learn some ethical practice and professional cordiality amongst your fellow colleagues, the same way Ms. Ubago observes hers de rigueur, so that in the final analysis, she merely freely expressed her opinions without having to castrate her fellow writer. Respetuhan lang. We can agree to disagree on the level of ideas and opinions pero walang bastusan, which brings me to the case of APCO.
    Charlatanism and Philistinism Amongst My Critics: (Sagot sa mga Bumabatikos
    As to the other points questioned by Ms. Serna, I find them too naive and puerile to dignify. EZ’s response will suffice. “If you're worried about the title of his editorial, "PCC and APCO reconcile at long last!” can you not think of it as POSITIVE and forward looking?
    Can you not feel a positive vibration with that title? Anyway, if you read carefully the content of the news it explains that a meeting is being organized by Consul Marford for 'PCC & APCO officers to meet re: reconciliation and PID.”
    Quite the contrary, APCO’s supposed press statement attacked us hook, line and sinker. This is a classic case of argumentum ad populum (go ahead Google that). In hindsight however, this is the kind of positioning that could only be reduced to mere charlatanism or at best philistinism amongst our attackers.

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