(Top) APCO Founding President, Dr Cen Amores addresses the guests.  (Below) Representatives from APCO pose with the Nepalese leaders and organising committee of ‘Rebuild Nepal’ fundraising (Top) APCO Founding President, Dr Cen Amores addresses the guests. (Below) Representatives from APCO pose with the Nepalese leaders and organising committee of ‘Rebuild Nepal’ fundraising

APCO helps Rebuild Nepal Fundraising

A delegation from the Alliance of Philippine Community Organisations Inc (APCO) attended the Rebuild Nepal Fundraising Dinner and Dance organised by the Sweet Vibrations and other musical bands at the St John-Paul II Hall in Marayong last 20 June.
The group composed of Dr Cen Amores, Ruben Amores, Glorina Papaioannou, Albert Prias, Zeny Piosik, Brillo Amores, Melanie Balagtas, Francis Balagtas and Kristian Cacha represented our community and APCO. A total of $250 cash plus some raffle prizes were donated by APCO officers and members who could not make it to the event.
Sweet Vibrations Band helped in the massive fundraising campaign for the victims of Super typhoon Haiyan last year. Reigning Miss United Nations Australia and active APCO member, Melanie Balagtas helped in handing the raffle prizes to the winners
Addressing the more than two hundred guests from multicultural communities in attendance, Dr Cen Amores, APCO Founding President said, “It is a pleasure and a privilege to join you tonight for a good cause. More than a year ago, our country was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. In solidarity with the Filipino people, the Sweet Vibrations Band led by Nicky Pillay organised, in collaboration with APCO, two fundraising initiatives to help our people. On behalf of APCO, I would like to thank you all for your generousity in our time of need. Tonight, we are all here to help Rebuild Nepal. ” (Ruben Amores)

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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 RECONCILES PCC & APCO

     

    By Dr. Mars Cavestany

    At long last! After seven years of cold war, PCC and APCO, two of the leading but warring groups confederating many allied groups under each umbrella, have finally agreed to reconcile.

    This was one of the significant historical highlights emanating from the second-in-a series of discussion-cum-camaraderie meetings under the banner of UNIFICATION initiated and convened by PCHN publisher Evelyn Zaragoza in her own right and capacity as a community organizer/leader.

    The historical date that goes down as a high-water mark in the epic story of the growing Filipino community in NSW is 22 October 2017, recorded from 2:14 – 5:05 p.m. at the Sizzling Filo Restaurant, 13 Railway St., Lidcombe NSW by Acting Secretary, Pamela Ventura, former President of UPAA.

    Outgoing Consul Marford Angeles, who acted as moderator, offered to host at the Philippine Consulate office the soon-to-be-carried out reconciliation meeting among the officers of PCC, APCO including a third body comprised of non-aligned groups or people who are not affiliated with either of these two lead organisations.

    Additionally, the highly contentious suggestion by businessmen Ed Alcordo to merge the Philippine Independence Day Ball celebrations which has been conducted separately in the past seven years since the break-away of APCO from PCC was put into a vote and unanimously agreed upon by the body. Consul Angeles emphasized the fact that there’s a lot to iron out in terms of mechanics and details of the proposed combined PID celebration which can be discussed in a different meeting after the said reconciliation meeting.

    MESSAGES

    The prepared agenda and running order ran briskly and without any hitch with past APCO President Jun Salazar delivering the hearty and thoughtfully inspiring opening prayer.

    Evelyn Zaragoza’s welcome message set the tone, quoting and reminding everyone of former Consul General Anne Jalando-on Louis’ remarks delivered during the first Unification meeting hosted by PCC last August at Marayong Community Centre. (It must be remembered that Congen Louis was immediately appraised and affronted by the prevailing factionalism so she tried to call for a meet to reconcile the two bodies both claiming to be the peak/umbrella organization but failed as it was generally perceived by many pundits in the community then as too early when affected parties are still licking their wounds.

    Zaragoza also read the suggested options for conflict resolution prepared by Dr. Mars Cavestany that became the springboard for discussions. Her famous last words: We are not getting younger and let's leave something that will be implanted to the youth. Please think and reflect, it’s not only the name of the organization which we created and worked hard to establish that will be passed on to our next, future leaders. But they are our actions, good deeds, and intangible virtues and values which we shall impart to them like legacy of parents to their children.”

    Consul Marford Angeles highlighted the gathering of many talented and skilled people in the meeting, saying that the combination of these needs to be harnessed so we can move forward as a community. He acknowledged the presence of incoming Consul Manny De Guzman who he says would be able to witness the level of achievement that the community can attain. He also acknowledged Ms. Evelyn Zaragoza for organising the meeting, and Mr. Manny Roux for hosting.

    Manny Roux, said, among others, that “we are all salt of the earth…relevance has brought us all here.”

    Serna Ladia, reckoned that this gathering is an indication “that we have the same objective” and as (current) PCC-NSW President, she would like “to have peace and harmony in the community. Saying that each of us has a responsibility, she called on everyone to rally with one another, to support, to have harmony and to “seek the help of God.”

     

    Michelle Baltazar, representing the youth shared 3 observations about the community stating that (a) “We are Filipinos first.”(b)“We don’t have the financial muscle.” (c) We have the social muscle and we are unstoppable if we want to do something. She further stressed: “You are the trailblazers and I am proud of the success you have made.” Noting the importance of unity, she encouraged everyone to reflect on where we want our community to be in 10 years.

     

    Ed Alcordo, representing the business sector as President of Australia Philippines Business Council affirmed that “Communities from third-world countries are characterised by disunity and the Filipino community is no exception, however there is unity within the Japanese and Korean communities. He added that “From an outsider’s perspective, there doesn’t appear to be a cause bigger than us.” Comparing and contrasting its CBL’s (constitution and by-laws), he commented that PCC-NSW’s constitution seeks to speak for the Filipino community whilst APCO’s is focused to those individuals and groups who are not represented. He noted that “we should concentrate on things that unite us, not divide us” and mentioned the following great opportunities to shows unity: President Duterte’s state visit to Australia in 2018, Philippine Independence Day celebration, Fiesta Kultura and Philippine Christmas Festival.

    Pet Storey, current President of APCO was meant to send Vice-President Charles Chan to read her speech but begged off last minute.

    Emailed messages from people who were not able to attend were read out to the body including commentaries from Jun Relunia, Raymond Policarpio, Robert Bock, Marilyn Chun, Lani Larsen, Benjie De Ubago, Manny Diel, Jasper Diaz, and Prof. Mina Roces.

     

    DISCUSSION PROPER

    The group agreed that something has to be done. Consul Angeles mentioned three options:
    • maintenance of the status quo – Let things be.
    • merging of the two organisations (PCC-NSW and APCO)
    • dissolution of PCC-NSW and APCO or leave them as is then establish a new body

    Mr. Bob Alipalo asked what the problem is. Prof. Ed Escultura replied that one of the problems is that there are two separate bodies, PCC-NSW and APCO. He then suggested that these two should unite, at least regarding the Philippine Independence Day (PID) celebration.

    Dr. Raul Amor postulated that the strength of the Filipinos – becoming successful individually – is also our weakness and that “we need to find a reason to be united.”

    Ms. Daisy Cummings cited that one of our weaknesses is that “we don’t know community leadership” and without knowledge on how to run a community, we’ll be self-centred. She underpinned the importance of “service above self” and that we need a “transformation of intention.”

    Ms. Cora Paras pinpointed the lack of humility friendship, acceptance, harmony and bayanihan spirit as a problem. She said that we should consider our young generations and our newer Filipino migrants. She then brought up the idea of starting a “friendship day”, having only one PIDC, and supporting the Philippine Christmas festival next month.

    Ms. Solina Lapalma predicated the following points:
    • What is it that we really want as a community?
    • No group, big or small, can exist if its members are individualistic.
    • We need to develop humility, why we want it and how do we get it?

    Consul Angeles opted for practical solutions and sure fire projects.

    At this point Ms. Fe Hayward of Hayward Real Estate took the floor and presented her proposal to Blacktown Mayor Stephen Bali re: building a “Philippine Bahay Kubo” at Narrating Reserve which will serve as a gathering/meeting place for members of the community. She asked help from the attendees to come up with a plan which can be submitted to Blacktown Council. Councillor Linda Santos said that she wants to support this project but asked Ms. Hayward to have the compliances ready.

     

    Mr. File Santos, in response to Ms. Hayward, reported that the Knights of Rizal has a project of having a bust of Jose Rizal and a surrounding garden at the Rizal Park in Rooty Hill which will cost $7,500. He said that KOR is proposing this to the local council.

    ON PCC

    Ms. Ladia highlighted the 27-year existence of PCC and the break-away group (APCO) that was formed only in 2010. She proposed that PCC remains as is and that other groups are welcome to join it.

     

    Ms. Evelyn Opals professed that she supports PCC-NSW due to its history, longevity and track record of organising the PID Ball. However, she lamented PCC’s lack of focus and envisions that it must establish a common ground, encapsulating her thoughts in what she calls SWOT analysis:
    • Strength – Filipinos are skilled.
    • Weaknesses – crab mentality, fear of speaking up
    • Opportunities – recognition of political power
    • Threat – negative attitudes

    Moreover, she defined the importance of volunteerism (commitment and sacrifice), leadership (have a selection criteria and training), and potential contributions to the mainstream community (e.g. participation in Australian of the Year).

    OTHER VIEWS & HOLDING A JOINT/ONE PID

    Mr. Richard Ford underscored the “biggest thing that happened to the Philippines” which is its independence. Underlining the importance of looking back at history, he suggested that PCC and APCO should still co-exist but have one group on top which will oversee the two, liaise with the government (e.g. councils), and to which we can submit proposals and the like.

    Mr. Ed Alcordo delineated the merits of running one PID celebration and called for a vote seconded by Ms. Lapalma.

    Mr. Jimmy Lopez spoke for APCO and clarified that they need to go back to their members before they can decide.

    Consul Angeles suggested that if Mr. Alcorcon’s proposal could at least be agreed upon in principle (unbinding), then representatives of various organisations may take this up with their respective constituencies.

    The body then voted on Mr. Alcorcon’s proposal through raising of hands: in favour – 39, not in favour – 0, abstained – 2 = 41 votes. Consuls Angeles and De Guzman, for obvious reasons, did not vote. There were others amongst the almost perfect attendance of 57 out of 60 RSVP’d cross=section of leaders who were present but did not vote at all.

    Mr. Alcordo then offered a second proposal to come up with a committee of 5 members who shall organise the PID celebration.

    Ms. Lapalma echoed the common sentiment of people pointing out that the need to bring the matter first to their respective organisations. which prompted Mr. Alcordo to respectfully withdraw this proposal.

    WHAT ABOUT PPC & APCO

    Mr. Cesar Bartolome streamlined that the final decision on what to do with PCC and APCO lies on their members. He admonished that if ever these organisations are abolished, instead of having an election of leaders, we should follow a “corporate governance” model wherein the officers would be chosen by an independent selection panel that will set the selection criteria and points system.

    Ms. Kate Andres agreed with this suggestion and added that “the government can’t respect us if we are not united.”

    Councillor Jess Diaz related the experience of having two groups of the Knights of Rizal in the Philippines but these groups were able to work together. He said that we have no legacy that we can leave to the community, citing that we still have no multi-purpose centre. Whilst he agreed that it is good to have the fiesta and PID celebration, he asked in the same breath, “what is the point?” He argued that the community’s lack of political power is precisely what makes it difficult for project proposals to get approved by councils. He pushed instead for PCC and APCO to toy with the notion of one or two-year plan of having “co-presidents”, and, eventually, resolve other intrinsic problems (e.g. clean up the elections).

    FINALLY “RECONCILIATION” COMES TO THE FORE

    Mr. Jhun Salazar, past APCO President, confirmed that it is true that APCO’s Constitution seeks to nurture its membership. He then called for humility and reconciliation in order for us to unite which was cheered and welcomed by everybody.

    Consul Angeles, quick to take the cue, offered for the Consulate to host a historic reconciliation meeting amongst PCC and APCO officials.

    Mr. Alipalo suggested that the meeting should include a third body comprised of people who are non-aligned or not affiliated with either of these two lead organisations.

    Consul Angeles added that the PID celebration may also be discussed in a different meeting after the said reconciliation meeting.

     

    CLOSING REMARKS

    Having covered all matters with a fine tooth comb, Ms. Zaragoza thanked everyone who attended the meeting and contributed their views as well as acknowledged the following:
    • Manny Roux and the Leon Aguila Association for hosting the event
    • Consul Marford Angeles for moderating the meeting
    • Pamela Ventura for being the acting secretary
    • Rise Roux for recording the meeting
    • Sergeants-at-Arms: Jojo Laquian, Ronald Cortez, George Torres
    • Photographer: Richard Ford
    • People who sent their messages/comments

    The closing prayer was led by Fr. Ed Orilla.

     

    SUMMARY OF MAIN POINTS RAISED

    1. Issue: Two main bodies (PCC-NSW and APCO) which have different objectives. They also have separate Philippine Independence Day celebrations (ball, get-together).

    2. Attitudinal problems: disunity; individualistic attitude; lack of humility, harmony, acceptance, bayanihan spirit

    3. Lack of proper community leadership – E.g. Importance of knowledge and training in properly running a community; need for selection criteria in choosing the leaders/officers

    4. Lack of political power and “financial muscle”

    5. Strengths: Skills, education, “social muscle”
    6. Opportunities to show unity: Events such as the Philippine Independence Day celebration, Fiesta Kultura, Christmas Festival, President Duterte’s state visit

     

    SUMMARY OF PROPOSALS:

    1. From Richard Ford: PCC-NSW and APCO to continue co-existing but have one group at the top which will oversee the two, and will also liaise with the government (e.g. councils) and to which we can submit proposals, etc.

    2. From Ed Alcordo: Have one Philippine Independence Day celebration – CARRIED. He further suggested that there should be an organising committee for this event.

    3. From Cesar Bartolome: In case PCC-NSW and APCO are abolished, establish a new organisation but instead of electing officers, there should be a selection panel that will choose the officers from among qualified applicants. This panel will set a selection criteria and a points system.

    4. From Jess Diaz: PCC-NSW and APCO come up with a one or two-year plan to have co-presidents, identify the problems and have resolutions.

    5. From Serna Ladia: PCC-NSW to remain as is and the other organisations (APCO, etc.) are welcome to join.

     

    NEXT IMMEDIATE ACTION

    Reconciliation meeting among officers of PCC-NSW, APCO and non-aligned organisations to be hosted by the Consulate. Meeting to merge PID celebration in one event to follow separately.

    TASK FORCE UNIFICATION

    As of press time, we received reports that a TASK FORCE UNIFICATION has been created and will be meeting soonest to pick up from where the second meeting left off continue the aims and purposes for which the Unification Movement was kick-started. (All Rights Reserved/MC).

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