News from the Filipino Community in Bathurst and Central West
by Nenita Lopez
Pink Ribbon October Cancer Awareness Month Fundraising
Filipiniana Friends Group Bathurst & Central West Glamour Day fundraising
Breast Cancer Foundation & Philippine Disaster Project
The Filipiniana Friends group of Bathurst and the Central West held a Glamour Day to support the fight against cancer and Philippines disaster relief. The event was held in the St Michael and St John Parish Hall on 19th October 2013 and was a tribute to all cancer survivors and carers. Our guest speaker, Maribel Bradbury gave an informative message on cancer awareness which was also very much appreciated on cancer prevention and entertainment included live music by Oliver Harris, fashion parade, Philippine traditional dance and Filipino cuisine. The pretty in pink event raised funds to help cancer awareness, prevention and treatment, and support Filipinos and their families who were injured, killed or made homeless by recent typhoons and earthquakes in the Philippines.
Despite a reduced attendance due to the Bush Fires in the Blue Mountains, substantial donations were made to the Cancer Council and Bohol Earthquake victims. The $500 monster raffle prize was won by Dr Silvio Tenicio and the most glamorous winner was the elegant Rowena Turnbull while the most glamorous man goes to Jay Rementilla. Minor raffle prizes went to Fe Knott and Marie Tandang. Good to see the community members ‘struttin their stuff’ for a good cause. Thanks for all helpers including and to Rolly and Marie Tandang, who supplied the music and entertainers Oliver Harris with his Tuba and thanks to the Filipiniana dancers, Norrie Baumgarten, Robert Huppatz and Marilyn Walpole, who performed the Bakya Dance in authentic costume. A big thank you also to Claire Torreno for the DVD presentation and our raffle donor Jay and Bel Rementilla.
The event also was a way of honouring those friends and relatives who celebrated their birthdays in the month of October, being the Cancer Awareness month. More than a dozen blew out their special candles and cut their joint birthday cake. Happy birthday and congratulations to the Octoberians and many happy returns.
Most Glamorous winner Rowena Turnbull (center) with Mila, Agnes, Bel, Fe and Tita Brown
Winner of the minor prize raffle Marie Tandang, Fe Knott, Melicia Mayers and Vilma Lewis
Yours truly with the winner of glamour man, Jay Rementilla with Marilyn Walpole
Inland 2013 Sea of Sound Music Festival
The annual Sea of Sound Festival recently hit Bathurst with a selection of visiting artists from many cultures. It was a celebration of the Diversity world music, across the Great Dividing Range in the wonderful Bathurst Region. Catering was provided by the multicultural community who included local Filipinos, African and Middle Eastern cooks, bringing a bit of exotica to the concert. Musical entertainment was provided by Hana Patmore (Minh Ha) with her traditional Vietnamese instruments and sounds, local aboriginal/folk band Gamarra and West African Drumming Band Keyimba. In what was a very much “grass roots” community music and dance festival.
Spring Garden Spectacular
Ten of the best gardens in Bathurst opened their gates to raise funds for the Red Cross. We managed to visit all of them in a ten hour marathon. We saw Bush gardens, native gardens and English gardens. People are a lot more conservation conscious now and create fantastic results with minimum water use, but I still love green lawns and lush flower beds. Fortunately, Bathurst has a very large water supply, unlike most inland towns, but it is far too expensive to waste. Most Filipinos are not keen gardeners, but they love the results. If you have ever lived and worked on a farm, more digging and planting is not a preferred form of relaxation.
Cooking up a perfect storm
Things have been bad in the mountains. If you wanted to write a film about a bushfire disaster the you would start with a wet warm winter allowing plenty of vegetation to grow, then have a hot dry Autumn to get the bush ready to burn, the have high temperatures and high winds. Next start fires in inaccessible highly forested areas, where fire fighters are almost powerless. And finally build houses in the bush where they cannot be protected. The result is a perfect firestorm, travelling at high speed destroying houses and threatening extreme devastation. This is exactly what is occurring now, let’s hope the fire-fighters are not overwhelmed by the terrible hot and windy conditions predicted for tomorrow. They are ordinary people doing an extraordinary job and cannot be praised enough. We thank the Lord that there has been only one death so far and pray for those who have lost their homes. Our thoughts are also with our Filipino friends in the Blue Mountains and Lithgow who have avoided the worst, but still live in fear. Unlike the Philippines we do not have earthquakes and typhoons, but do have bushfires and floods. Fortunately Australia has world class fire-fighting and emergency services, backed up with accessible medical support. In this we are fortunate, but no one can stop a wall of fire 20 metres high travelling faster than you can run. Only the rain can do that, and none is forecast, so we can only hope for calmer weather. If Filipinos want to see a good example of community harmony and support in a common cause, they need to look no further than the Rural Fire Service, whose many volunteer brigades work together in perfect harmony, even leaving their own districts to help in areas of greatest need. No competition or jealousy here, just cooperation and common purpose.
From bad to worse
The recent earthquake disaster in Bohol was bad, but in the long term some of the following events could be even worse, if allowed to continue unchecked.
After the earthquake the many homeless and needy were quickly helped by the International Red Cross, one of the most effective, honest aid agencies in the world. However, local politicians in Bohol stopped the aid distribution claiming the Red Cross was helping the wrong people and politicians would have a better knowledge of local conditions. I smell a very large rat. Wouldn’t the local politicians love to get their hands on the aid donations? At best they could big-note themselves and generate support, but at worse, they could take the money for themselves, their families, their friends and neighbours. Aid for the needy would become aid for the greedy. The Red Cross are no fools and have seen this all before, so soon shut the politicians up and resumed fair distribution of aid, not even requiring thanks for their efforts.
This sad little episode illustrates much of what is wrong in the Philippines, corruption exists at all levels from Senators to Mayors and unfortunately is entrenched as a way of life. How can the country expect aid and investment when everyone is trying to line their own pockets? Stricter laws and government controls may help, but the big battle is for the hearts and minds of the Filipino people who must abandon corruption as a way of life and do the right thing. The President alone cannot solve the problem without the will of the people. ‘Do the right thing’ as the Aussies say!