The Continuing APCO SAGA   Featured

The Continuing APCO SAGA
 
Since the time the Unification Movement began and ended with a paper reconciliation between PCC and APCO and problems reignited once again with the latter’s controversy-laden election of new office bearers, everything seems to have been polarised, literally dividing the APCO alliance into two sharply opposing factions.
 
Metaphorically speaking, what befell APCO is akin to the whiskered bamboo fairy tale splitting into two-halves, a two-ness not in the persons of Malakas or Maganda but in the characters of Madame Escultura and Madame Paras, two lady Presidents fighting for APCO Presidency thus splitting the organization into pro- this and anti—that, like two   souls with two thoughts and two conflicting ideals in the once wholesome but now split “dark” body.
 
“It is not the act itself that is salvific, the disposition alone is what saves.”
 
Despite this rather bleak scenario some beautiful people emerged and so I dedicate the self-concocted quotable quote above to these special people. It is a giant effort to pay tribute to the following dramatic personae who have bravely worn the “masks of the drama” that has been swiftly unfolding before our very eyes, namely:
 
---to Evelyn Zaragoza, my publisher for inspiring me to join hands with her redemptive efforts towards unification/reconciliation at a time when almost everyone has written it off their minds;   
--- to Jhun Salazar for dedicatedly “Fathering” the APCO Inc. that in context, he is best and more suitably befitting to be called one of the true selfless founders and not just allow someone to lay claim to the title as Founding President;
--- to Cora Paras for “for taking up the cudgels of “Mothering a suddenly motherless association usurped by power-hungry false prophets who present themselves in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
----to Benjie de Ubago who has consistently and inexhaustibly conducted investigative reporting in our community  unmindful of the fact that the very truth she espouses exposes and hurts some people most often than not;
... to Mesdames Serna Ladia and Elsa Collado, whose womanly virtues,  singularity of purpose,  and plurality of good deeds spell infinite value to our community at large and provide equanimity against the  over-zealous chauvinism in PCC as the one and only  peak body in our immediate environs in NSW;
--- to Jimmy Lopez for his ever-readiness to extend a helping hand even if he is always questioned as to the real measure of his vision and mission;
--- and last but not least, to the indefatigable partnership of husband and wife Ruben and Cen Amores for cultivating a culture of impunity and redefining to the community at large, what true leaders are not.
  
FALLEN OFF THE RADAR
 
The once seemingly encompassing encroachment of the old powers that be in the realm of APCO Inc. might have totally fallen off the radar but it does not mean that high-intensity conflict between the two divided groups in APCO has stopped raging on.
 
No longer just a purely internal conflict, pundits and armchair philosophers opine that if this deep-seated social and spiritual  malady persists it is likely to blow up into  civil conflict considered to be one of the most devastating social phenomena in this whole new world. Suffice it to say, in extreme cases, they often have staggeringly unimaginable tolls and toils we do not even wish to think of.
 
Trouble is, the ego beckons, and ambition pushes people to forge ahead. No they will not just bow out and give the floor to the other party.
 
Just witness the spate of things like the especially unpleasant stuff which has become the order of the day – a large number of them happening or appearing one after the other in a blink of an eye.
 
An example is the continuing series of damning testimonies emanating from the Escultura-Amores camp condemning the Paras-Salazar group. Initially the latter refused to dignify the former’s  pronouncements and just fanning off the flames and venom in such broadly indiscriminate and wholesale exaggerated public announcements they have reduced to  empty boasts and threats.
 
However, the atmosphere has been so tense and emotionally charged so much so that the state of affairs has been placed in agitation or turmoil with resentments seething and simmering between rivals.
 
ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT
For a while, it was all quiet on the Western front, an old colloquial expression that comes to mind to suggest the stagnation, or lack of visible change or definitive action in APCO affairs.
 
It took all of six months. Whereas in the beginning, the Paras-Salazar position was wont to take things gently, morally, and constitutionally. They lingered on the side of safety and chose to ignore what the other camp was doing in favor of something more important to them which is the over-all pooling of resources, strategies, and means. They believe that Escultura-Amores grouping will pass with flying colours or that methodically they were giving the other party enough rope to hang themselves with. Sooner or later they may fall into obscurity or simply disappear from public view
 
The wise men of the Escultura-Amores camp outwitted them. Moving so fast, they consolidated forces, elected new officers and totally revoked the memberships of Paras, Salazar, Hayward and Price whilst radically suspending suspended the others (Trinidad, Ford et al)  
 
Worse, the penny wise, pound foolish Paras-Salazar group awoke to discover one day that the Escultura-Amores group has done it again -- virtually withdrawing much of the hard-earned/saved APCO funds and reopened a new bank account to safety the money they just want to expedite for themselves never to be touched by the Paras-Salazar group.  
 
For its part the aggrieved Paras Salazar group has simultaneously written a letter of demand to Jimmy Lopez to fully liquidate the initial withdrawal of APCO funds to the tune of 13 thous and something. Consequently, they also lodged an official complaint to the bank seeking possible recovery of another 12 thousand that was withdrawn effortlessly by Jimmy Lopez acting as new Treasurer of the new signatories the bank seemed to have approved with complicity not even questioning why the sudden change of signatories when there has been an earlier modus operandi that has caused the bank to freeze the account. A simple phone call to the former set of Paras-Salazar signatories could have been done unless there is some complicity somewhere.  
 
As of this writing we gathered that the Paras-Salazar group is making representations with Fair Trading to set the records straight. Fair dinkum!
 
THE ‘ACTION’ OF TUMBALONG X_MAS PROJECT SPEAKS LOUDER THAN THE ‘WORDS’ of  UNIFICATION in that FAMOUS JOINT STATEMENT that was ALL SOUND and FURY SIGNIFYING NOTHING
 
Meantime, Christmas is fast approaching.
 At the press conference last 10th October at the Philippine Consulate re. the Pasko sa Tumbalong Park we discovered that this  annual project is now apparently singularly being pursued by PCC minus their past partner in the initial 3-years of operation, the Department of Trade.
 
The good news, however, is that PCC is not in principle, entirely going it alone. In more ways than one, there is an exciting bonus featuring the direct participation of newly-elected APCO Inc President Cora Paras as well as Board Director LindaTrinidad as Members of the Committee in-charge of the Choral festival at the same time acting as panel members of the jury substantially stepping up the artistic handling of this new project over and beyond the other standard fares and programs.
   
At the open forum, I took the liberty to call attention once again to that which I wrote in my September issue editorial specifically owing to what I called a “poignant metaphor” to the act itself of re-electionist Serna Ladia (wearing two hats as PCC President and as a radio broadcaster herself)   along with Elsa Collado and Ethel Singson in honouring the invite to the historic press conference held last 4th Sep. by the Paras-Salazar entourage.
 
This gesture on the part of PCC was being reciprocated by APCO’s full force attendance at the Pasko press conference which to me, vivified a more genuine testament to unification and reconciliation more than the slap bang “perfunctory show” staged at the Consulate with no less than the formerly long- estranged leaders (Amoreses representing APCO) and (PCC past and present leaders) forging a joint statement that was all noise but signified nothing.
    
Action always speaks louder than words which in this case became meaningless in that it turned out to be a mere show of force engineered by the Consulate to put a dot, ergo, a fitting closure to the PCHN-induced Unification Movement.
 
 ADDITIONAL BOW IN THE ARROW & END OF AUTHORITARIAN RULE
 
The point I’m driving at that I refer to as a more poignant metaphor of unified relationship is indubitably happening now more than ever between the Cora Paras-Jun Salazar APCO group and the PCC much like an additional bow in the arrow.
 
More seriously it marks the end of the old authoritarian, dictatorial rule that once characterised APCOS leadership that would not lift a finger nor extend a hand to PCC ever in their lifetime.
 
That is now a thing of the past. Full stop.  .  
 
Along this vein, I suddenly recall the scintillating statement of Jun Salazar when he said that “APCO was not founded by a single individual, and for anyone to claim that she is the founder is a gross misstatement and great insult to many men and women who helped establish APCO from day one. The act of promoting oneself as a founder is a selfish manifestation by someone who needed to bolster an image at the expense of the silent majority in order to gain authority and exert influence over others.”
 
AMEN. HALLELUIAH, PRAISE THE LORD!
 

The “priestly” Salazar said it all. But then again, these are mere words. It remains to be seen how the new APCO board can unfetter itself from the clutches and influences of the former regime. 
FERVENT PRAYERS
One highly respected community leader has put it succinctly wwhen he opines : " Precisely, the reason why the Amoreses go to great lengths in choosing and anointing the President-cum- loyal surrogate or subordinate is beause they want to hold on to power and control. . Remember that’s exactly what happened to the poor past pawn of a past president, Pet Storey. Good on her she has awakened and found her wits again as to join up with the Paras-Salazar group. “

It is our fervent prayer that this whole brouhaha will end in the best possible way. We repeat the personal question Cora Paras personally emailed to Escultura. “How sure are you that the Amoreses shall be with you all the way?"

True indeed, when push comes to shove,  and reality bites, then we experience and chant along with Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles.”
 
Again, we await what’s going to happen with tense expectations. (All Rights Reserved)  

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  • EDITORIAL : DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS (But Constitutional & Structural Reforms may still save APCO)

     

    THERE”S MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE

    Just a simple letter from the Department of Fair Trading in response to Jhun Salazar’s letter of complaint as regards his ill-boding, inauspicious, and sinister dislodgement as Public Officer , but when you break it down to the basic premise/proposition, argumentation, and conclusion -- there ‘s more than meets the eye.

    In effect, we are faced exactly with the very root as well as the bare realities underpinning the two-in-one APCO problem that has been pestering the Filo commune in NSW for two years now.

    Allow me to quote just the last sentence of Ms. Jodie Matheson, Team Manager, Case Management, which goes:
    “...Accordingly, whilst it is regrettable a small organisation such as this finds itself in a situation of conflict; I encourage all of the parties to make every endeavour to resolve the internal dispute as soon as possible.”
     
    Let’s analyse this statement well. As we say in the vernacular, “kung baga may gusot, himay-mayin natin, para mahanap ang lusot.”
    Going by the premise or proposition antecedently supposed or proved as a basis of argument or inference, it appears that...
    • APCO is regrettably a small organization
    • It now finds itself in a situation of conflict
    • All of the parties are encouraged to make every endeavour to resolve the internal dispute as soon as possible.
    We can assume, rather explicitly or implicitly, that it should not be logically difficult to support the plain and simple conclusion that all parties (MUST) endeavour to resolve the situation of conflict or internal dispute.
    When all is said and done, one thing is loud and clear. The problem of APCO is not within the province or jurisdiction of Department of Fair Trading, nor is it their responsibility to interfere in internal dispute. .

    BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD

    Where does this bring us? Back to the drawing board.
    .
    I take liberties to shift to our lingua franca .Mas mainam kasi kungTatagalugin na lang natin para mas higit na maunawaan at maliwanagan ng higit na nakararami.

    Una, balikan natin ang tatlong bagay na hinimay ko sa simula’t sapul na napakasimple at diretsahang sinagot ni Ms. Matheson.

    Kung tutuusin maliit na organisasyon lang naman talaga ang APCO kahima’t maraming iba pang samahang napapailalim dito.
    Kaso ang problema ang lalaki ng mga “EGO” ng mga taong nasasangkot sa mga usapin.Lahat may ambisyon. Bawat isa may kani-kaniyang ipinagpupumilit o ipinaglalabang prinsipyo kuno. Ang tunay na nangyari sa APCO ay ang pagkabuwag ng pananalig at pananampalataya ng mga dati-rating sunud-sunurang miembro sa mga opisyales na naghari-harian.
    Ang resulta nahati ang grupo at nagkampi-kampihan.
    Hindi na bago ito sa ating mga Pilipino. Ugali na natin ito. Ang pagkakabuwag ng mga partido, pag-aaway-away ng mga kampo ng maka- Kaliwa o ng maka-Kanan (halimbawa sa Pilipinas ngayon, ang hidwaan ng mga Dutertards/DDS laban sa mga Dilawan) ay ordinaryong kalakaran na sa politika.
    Bahagi na ito ng ating kasaysayan, ng ating pinagmulan at kinamulatan kaya paulit-ulit na nangyayari sa iba’t ibang panahon.
    Sa kaso ng APCO, lumalim at lumala ang di-pagkakaunawaan nang pinangatawananan ng bawat grupo ang kanilang paninindigan. Umabot na sa puntong ang mga miyembro at opisyales mismo ng APCO ay di na magkasundu-sundo dahil nag-uumpugan ang mga EGO.

    Eto ngayon ang tanong? Posible ba na magsipagbaba sa kanilang trono ang mga nagsasalpukang opisyal dahil iisa lang naman ang pinagmulan ng iisang bunga?
    Matay ko mang isipin, pwedeng-pwede kung maghaharap muli ang dalawang grupo at magkakasundong mamili at maghalal ng mga bagong opisyal.
    Balik-tanawin natin ang pinagmulan ng UNIFICATION MOVEMENT na pinasimulan ng pahayagang ito sa pamumuno ng Tagapaglimbag.
    Patapus na halos ang dalawang taon ng bawat kampo. Nairaos din ang kanilang termino kahit nauwi sa malawakang bangayan. Tuloy naisantabi ang mga tunay na simulain at nakaligtaan ang mga proyektong pinaka – raison de etre (reason for being) ng organisasyon.
    Ang dapat pagkasunduan ng dalawang kampo ay ito. Kailangang magtakda ng isang araw para sa UNIFICATION at RECONCILIATION kung saan nagkakaisa ang lahat na magsimulang muli – isantabi ang mga di pagkakaunawaan at magkasundong magbuo ng BAGONG PINAGTIBAY na APCO sa pamamahala ng mga bago ring liderato.
    Para sa akin, kalokohan ang magtumbang preso pa kayo sa Korte Suprema, gaya ng isinasaad sa sulat ng Fair Trading. Wala naman kayong mapapala. Wala rin kayong mapapatunayan. Ending, bale minasahe nyo lang ang inyong mga ego na naman. At what cost?

    TABULA RASA (CLEAN SLATE)

    Sa madali’t sabi, iminumungkahi kong magsimula sa zero, parang tabula rasa o yung tinatawag na CLEAN SLATE dapat.
    Clean slate begins with the common decision and agreed action of wiping the slate clean. It’s like starting anew, a fresh approach. But the only way to do achieve this is to get rid of the old directors. Anybody who has been elected to the Board for more than two years should give a chance to those who have never served before.

    MY RECOMMENDATIONS
    What I believe that can be done is to form a Council of Elders – composed of those who began APCO, all the past Presidents and Vice Presidents and other outstanding past officers and Board of Directors. That way there can be no place `for DICTATORSHIP.
    The Council of Elders are supposed to be respected and honoured for their experiential knowledge of the organization not to mention their actual work and life experiences. Factor in their spirituality, teachings, wisdom, and high intelligence --Elders have a deep understanding of people and communities. They are recognized for their gifts, special abilities and distinguished work that make them role models, resource persons, and advisors providing guidance and support to everyone.

    Specifically, they shall work in partnership with the various Standing Committees by providing guidance, support, plus sharing of traditional knowledge of wisdom, beliefs and values in a caring and respectful way. Whenever consulted, the Council of Elders will be actively involved in decisions respecting the direction and governance of the organization.
     
    What is more and very promising indeed, is that Constitutional Amendment is in the offing, and should by all means be the order of the day. This is the best opportunity whereby sufficient safeguards can be put in place to ensure an appropriate level of governance and financial responsibility.

    To this end, and mindful of the lessons learned from the first-hand experience of a disintegrating organization, I am the first to suggest a structural change in the organization by demolishing the Board of Directors and creating instead a more streamlined yet very strong and encompassing STANDING COMMITTEES with a Chair and Vice –Chair.

    • ETHICS COMMITTEE need be instituted in place of the age-old and ineffectual GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE so that any and all matters relating to the conduct, rights, privileges, safety, dignity, integrity and reputation of APCO and its members shall significantly fall under this all-important Committee.

    Inevitably, this committee should encroach on and include Accountability of Officers and Proper Conduct of Investigations of any matter of public interest on its own initiative or brought to its attention by any member of APCO. Thus every APCO member is intrinsically tasked to report alleged wrongdoings of its officials and its attached agencies, including the management, control, and use of its owned equipment and facilities if any.
    B.) COMMITTEE ON PEACE/UNIFICATION/RECONCILIATION shall handle all matters relating to peace, internal conflict resolution, political negotiation, cessation of hostilities, including integration and development thru national unification and reconciliation with other Filipino-Australian organizations.
    C.SPECIAL PROJECTS COMMITTEE
    All matters relating to SPECIAL PROJECTS
    In the following areas :
    -- The preservation, enrichment and evolution of Filipino-Australian ARTS and CULTURE.
    _ ADVOCACY projects in public health in general not to mention IMMIGRATION issues, concerns, policies and programs affecting individuals and their families, as well as matters relating to the YOUTH, WOMEN, and FAMILY RELATION
    --Establishment and maintenance of libraries, mini- museums, shrines, monuments, and other historical sites and edifices; training programs and cultural and artistic programs

    BREAKING DOWN DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS
    Finally my one last statement about what happened to APCO is akin to a death by a thousand cuts. This is a figure of speech that refers to a failure that occurs as a result of many small problems. Death by a thousand cuts could refer to the split within an organization such as APCO as a result of a tangle of individual egos concretised in the battle between two ladies each claiming to be rightful President.
    To paraphrase Hamlet, the failure to come to terms or to reach mutual agreement, that is the question! Both parties failed to begin to or make an effort to understand, accept, and deal with a difficult or problematic person, thing, or situation. As such, the problem blew up to uncontrollable proportions and resulted in spewing several small issues rather than one major one.
    Perhaps readers will understand the phrase better and my application of it in the case of APCO, when you consider the term was originally used to describe an ancient form of torture wherein the condemned person was subjected to a number of minor wounds until the accumulation of damage became fatal. This hyperbole, so to speak, refers to the idea that while a single small cut may not be all that fatal but the total cumulative effect may eventually cause a person to bleed to death.
    This is what I’m afraid may happen to APCO eventually.
    Hindi naman kasi ang mga taong napakatataas ng lipad, bilib na bilib sa sarili, at pagkalalaki ng mga ego (mas malaki pa sa organisasyon) ang sadyang nasasakal at unti-unting kinikitil ng walang pinatutunguhang pag-aaway ng dalawang kampo kundi ang APCO mismo.
    (Mars Cavestany/All Rights Reserved)

  • Fair Trading on APCO Dispute: Resolve Internal Conflict or Raise to Supreme Court (WHO WILL MAKE THE FIRST MOVE?)

     

    By Mars Cavestany

    The response of Fair Trading to the two warring camps in APCO is loud and clear: that it is none of their business to interfere in an intrinsically internal dispute that must be resolved following the constitutional provisions by the parties involved if not raised to the level of the Supreme Court.

    NOT WITHIN THE DOMAIN OF DFT

    Jodie Matheson, Team Manager, Case Management of the Department of Fair Trading wrote more explicitly of Fair Tradings’ non-involvement in matters not within their domain.
     
    “The Association is registered under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009, which is administered by NSW Fair Trading. The Act is designed to find a balance between freedom and flexibility for associations to establish themselves and to operate while ensuring there are sufficient safeguards in place to ensure an appropriate level of governance and financial responsibility. It follows that the legislation does not provide the Registry with the authority to intervene in matters relating to the internal administration of an association.
    For your information I have attached information on Fair Trading’s powers to enquire and investigate and areas for which Fair Trading does not have responsibilities.
     
    The committee is charged with the responsibility of ensuring the association is operating in accordance with the legislation generally and the association’s constitution specifically. Fair Trading has no jurisdiction to determine the facts at the base of an internal dispute or an alleged breach of an association’s constitution, the only body with this jurisdiction is the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
     
    It would appear the Association may be subject to an internal dispute regarding the validity regarding the identity of the validly appointed public officer and those responsible for the management of the Association. This is not a matter Fair Trading can determine, in such cases where such a dispute arises the association must resolve it by agreement, through the dispute resolution provisions in the Association’s constitution or ultimately by order of the Supreme Court.”

    DOCUMENTS NOT ACCEPTED ANYMORE

    As a result of the two different sets of protest letters with matching evidential documents being presented by two camps to Fair Trading, they ruled no to accept anymore documents lodged from both parties. Ms. Jamison further explains:
     
    “In such cases, until Fair Trading has evidence of either an agreement or an order by the Court determining the matter the Association may be noted as being ‘in dispute’ on the Register of Incorporated Associations. In these circumstances Fair Trading will inform all parties to the dispute that no documents will be accepted for lodgement on behalf of the association.
     
    Accordingly, whilst it is regrettable a small organisation such as this finds itself in a situation of conflict, I encourage all of the parties to make every endeavour to resolve the internal dispute as soon as possible.”
     
     WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

    The internal dispute within APCO grounds began when the appointed and not duly elected President Violetta Escultura was removed from her post following a vote of no confidence from the Board and general membership.
    Consequently Cora Paras won in the new elections to replace Escultura but the latter refuse d to step down and thus caused a rift and a split between two camps,
    Trouble further ensued when the Escultura camp was quick enough to lodge their own documents to the Department of Fair Trading. They submitted a list of new Elected Board of Officers and even replaced the Public Officer to one of their own.
    The documentation Escultura’s group received from Fair Trading effectively gave them further access to withdraw 12 thousand of APCO funds reportedly deposited in a new account for safeguarding.

    THE BATTLE CONTINUES AS BANK ACCOUNTS AND DOCUMENT MOVEMENTS ARE FROZEN

    Cora Paras’ camp which, from all legal indications and implications, appear to be the real legitimate APCO Board, did not take the Escultura group’s legerdemain sitting down.
    Complaint/protest letters were filed to both the Fair Trading and Commonwealth Bank where proper investigations are ongoing.

    Meanwhile, the final resolution to the seemingly never ending conflict has been offered by Fair Trading to let the Supreme Court rule over matters that cannot be resolved internally and amicably between the two-in-one APCO.

    Needless to say, there are costs involved for lawyers’ fees and all other expenses. The big asks remain: Who shall make the first move? When and where will all these end?

  • BEAUTY PAGEANTS GALORE By Mars Cavestany

    BEAUTY PAGEANTS GALORE
    By Mars Cavestany
     
    Life within the Filipino community won’t be complete without the traditional beauty pageants. In the past month of September alone four beauty pageants reeled off within our midst.
    One is spectacularly humongous in scope and production staging being essentially global in nature and is a brainchild of Filipina-Australian who is a nurse by profession and a beauty specialist by trade apart from her unstoppable passion to professionalise the mechanisms of beauty pageants. She is none other than Ms.  Cindy Dionisio.
    The other must-see events are all integrated with the annual biggest fiesta celebration in NSW (proudly on its 30th year) as institutionalized by Philippine Australian Sports & Culture Inc. celebrating beauty, diversity, talent and intelligence of Filipino-Australian women.  
     
    Whereas in the past years the beauty pageant itself was the main event climaxing the Grand Philippine Fiesta Kultura in the evenings, this year, the grand coronation night of Miss Philippines-Australia and Charity Queen Australia 2018 reeled off earlier with the most-coveted title-holder of “Miss Philippines- Australia” representing the Filipino community throughout Australia to the most iconic and wonderfully storied Miss Universe Pageant in our home country Philippines.  
     
    Be it a marketing strategy or simply an inevitable expansion move, this year the organizers created a three-pronged competition reviving the long-sought-after crowd favourite “Little Miss Philippines Pageant” on the one hand, as well as adroitly including the hugely popular if controversially exciting search for “Miss Transgender Global Queen, “on the other.
    Both events proved to be such a crowd-pleasing and teasing happening for the motley crowd who experienced a double treat on d’ day of the Fiesta celebration.  

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