￼Interview by Mars Cavestany
￼Dr. Corazon Alvarez-Francisco, belongs to that van- ishing breed of Filipino professionals who escaped the Philippines and chose to resettle permanently in Aus- tralia in 1987 after realizing the political turbulence of the 1980’s and what she aptly calls living in “false sense of complacency.”
Thirty one years henceforth. Dr. Francisco, so well- loved and highly respected by her kababayans in NSW, returned to the Philippines to claim 2018 Presiden- tial Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas, “Banaag Award” from President Duterte in Malacanang Palace during the awarding ceremonies, 5th December 2018.
“It feels so great to be awarded for something you love doing”, so says Dr. Francisco. Follow the short but sweet and very insghtful responses to this true-blue woman of substance provides to our Q-A that charts her humble be- ginnings as a university prrofessor in Manila, widening her horizons in a new-found land in Sydney, Australia and building up a tremendously successful career now being one of the most-sought after medical experts in Australia.
Gawad ng Pangulo Presidential Awards, 5th December 2018.
Dra Corazon Francisco with her husband Engr Ferdi Francisco at Malacanang Palace during the awarding, 5th December 2018
￼￼Q-1. Let’s starts off with statistics. How many years of professional medical service did you serve in the Philip- pines before you migrated to Australia. In what year did you first arrive here?
A I had 10 years practice as an Obstetrician Gynae- cologist in Metro Manila, before migrating to Australia in 1987. As well, I left behind my being an Assistant Professor in OB-Gyn at Manila Central University, Ca- loocan campus.
Q- 2. Would you be able to share us your respectable thoughts as to why you chose to migrate and leave the Philippines and why Australia and not somewhere else in US or Europe where your people of your higher cali- bre, educational, and experiential background is much in demand and would be verily appreciated?
Receiving the plaque as Presidential Awardee.
Q-7. You are a fellow Ilocano Manang, critically speaking, how would you react to some serious criticisms about so- called Ilocano leaders in general without dropping names) who have held the leadership reigns of this and that group, one too many major organizations headed by Ilocanos one after another . On top of that historical reality, there are always wrangling and infighting for positions. I ask these with the end in view of the underlying and never-ending issue of unification which as you know rocked the boats for almost a decade between APCO and PCC involving many Ilocanos bigwigs at that? Would you like to share us your well considered thoughts on such inter-related con- cerns?
A- The main reason why we left the Philippines was the political and economic situation during the 80’s. My eyes were opened suddenly in 1983 when Ninoy Aquino was assassinated. Succeeding events showed us the true picture of the country then; that we were living in a false sense of complacency. My kids were then so young and my husband was working in Saudi Arabia. We did not want our kids to grow up in such an environment, so we decided to leave. We chose Australia because of a more family oriented lifestyle compared to America. I had the chance to visit USA and Sydney before we made the de- cision.
A- Through the PAMA, we had been conducting an- nual, free Medical, Dental and Surgical missions in various remote areas in the Philippines, for the past 11 years. For our next medical mission, we will be going to San Narciso, Zambales and Munoz, Nueva Ecija in March, 2019. We plan to continue with this project yearly and as long as we are able to.
Q- 3. If you were to assess your own personal achieve- ments what are you most proud of and happy that you’ve done it?
A- Amongst my achievements, I am very proud of having founded the Philippine Australian Medical As- sociation (PAMA), Inc., knowing very well the hardships of Filipino doctors to apply for eligibility in Australian society. I organized review classes for those anxiously preparing to take the Australian Medical Council (AMC) exams, imbuing to the members a sense of camaraderie rather than of competition. Also worth mentioning are my being the First Filipino Doctor to become a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practition- ers (FRACGP) in 1996 and the First Filipino Doctor in Australia to become a member of the Panel of Examin- ers for the Fellowship Exams for General Practitioners in 1996. I am also very proud of maintaining my solo practice as a GP in Quakers Hill which is now on its 26th year.
Q- 6. Let’s focus now on your Australian matters and af- fairs most especially your involvement in the Filipino com- munity. What particular groups are you most active with and why? What have you particularly contributed to the organization per se and to our fellow migrants in general which obviously became the raison de etre of your award in Malacanang?
A-Truly, I feel sad about the fact that there is too much ego fighting among us. Too much emphasis on personali- ties rather than our being Filipinos as a whole. Breaking away from the mainstay association seems to be a pattern adopted by some, due to personality disagreements. Ana- lyzing historical facts however, it is very seldom that the break-away group becomes successful.
Q- 4. At these stage of your life where you would have attained probably what holds weight in your life and existence, and with the children having grown up and achieving fantastically on their own, should you be of- fered a good post back home (for government or pri- vately perhaps) will you pack up and leave everything behind?
B. The University of the Philippines Alumni Association in Australia, NSW Chapter (UPAAA-NSW). As President of the UPAAA-NSW from 2000-2002, I initiated the student exchange program in collaboration with the University of the Philippines (UP) and two prestigious Universities in Australia - The University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney. We were able to invite Prof. Fran- cisco Nemenzo, then UP President, to visit Sydney. Under my leadership we held fund raising activities to help sup- port the computerization of UP. Alongside my husband, I coordinated and spearheaded fund raising activities in con- nection with the UPAAA-NSW Scholarship grant project, whose activities (such as The Oblation Cup Golf Tourna- ment from 2008 to 2015) generated a substantial amount of funds to support 8 indigent yet deserving tertiary students in UP.
Regionalism is not good too. We should always remem- ber that we are Filipinos, and we represent our country as a whole, not just a part of it.
Q- 9. Is retirement something you have considered sooner or later? How do you wish to spend your time in retire- ment?
A- No. I have reached the stage where I would rather spend the rest of my life with my family and 2 lovely grandchildren.
Q-5. Talking of home, please highlight as to your own prioritizing, the help/aid or personal achievements you have extended or shared to our kababayans as a medical practitioner? Have or are these one off or continuing? Any project ideas brewing at the moment that most ex- cites and challenges you as far as helping our Mother country is concerned?
C. The Timek Iti La Union Association, (TILAUNA), Inc. I was one of the 7 founders in 2002 and became President in 2013 to 2017. I realigned the association into its goals particularly the Scholarship program, camaraderie and re- connection with La Union. In 2017, we participated in the outreach program of the Philippine Consulate General in Sydney which provided the Filipinos in Grafton, NSW and surrounding communities to obtain dual citizenship and to
Q-10. My usual goodbye note is to request you for a gen- eral parting message to our readers throughout Australia. Take it away Madam... Agyaman nac unay...
A- To be awarded for something that I love doing is great! So that my advice to the readers of PCHN, is to persevere in what you are doing, if you deem it good for the com- munity. Instil peace, joy, love and harmony among one an- other to achieve stability while we enjoy our lives in our adopted country.
A-A. The Philippine Australian Medical Association (PAMA), where I was the Founder and the Founding Presi- dent. In the early nineties, I helped struggling Filipino doc- tors to pass their AMC Exams, the requirement to obtain licensure to practice medicine here. The pitiful plight of the Filipino migrant doctors then, so inspired me. Some were working as clerks, factory workers, technicians, gasoline attendant, nurses, etc. They obtained their licensure one by one and redeemed their dignity as doctors.
Q-8. Would you care to comment about our intrinsic cul- tural traits, customs, mores, and traditional habits and manner of thinking and doing things that you yourself is not happy about and that which you may believe are pre- cisely the blemish, curse, if not the all-time deterrent to our growth and total development as Filipino-Australians? A- Crab mentality is a bad trait among us. We should recognize, support and praise the achievements of others rather than downgrade it.
process other consular documents.
A- No permanent retirement for me. For as long as God allows me, I will maintain my present state: part time gen- eral practitioner, enjoying family life especially with my grandchildren.
Stay healthy and wise! A very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year to all!!!