Peace highest calling of UN, says Edwards at Blacktown flag rites by Evelyn Opilas

Peace highest calling of UN, says Edwards at Blacktown flag rites by Evelyn Opilas

“Peace is the highest calling of the United Nations. It should also be the highest calling of everyone who engages in war and conflict – reflected in the presence here today of the Australia Philippines Services League (APSL),” said Dr Zenaida Edwards (nee Sicat), delivering her keynote address at the 13 June flag raising rites at Blacktown to mark the Philippines’ 117th Independence Day.
“You in the services fought for freedom. I hope that you also fought for peace. Because there could not be freedom without peace. And there could be no peace without freedom.”
Dr Edwards, an architectural historian and the current director of the UN Peace Program for the UN Association of Australia, said that while Australia is a ‘peaceful country as a whole… we still have a long way to go in achieving peace in our communities, in our schools, in our families, in ourselves’.
Of her role, Dr Edwards, an alumna of St Theresa’s College QC, said, “We try to make others connect emotionally, intellectually and spiritually to a larger cause – Peace – to enable others to exceed their grasp and transcend their ‘immediate self-interest’.”
Having served as president of the National Trust of Australia, the first woman of Asian heritage to hold the post, Dr Edwards said that ‘Heritage is something that is inherited from past generations, maintained in the present, and bestowed for the benefit of future generations. It is a dynamic continuum. I don’t cease to be Filipino just because I have become an Australian citizen. I haven’t lost my identity. I would hope that you retain your identity and allow it to be enriched by the culture of Australia through integration. Open yourself up to the possibilities and opportunities that this country offers to everyone. I have.
“Multiculturalism is about inviting every individual member of society to be everything they can be and supporting each new arrival in overcoming whatever obstacles they face as they adjust to a new country and society and allowing them to flourish as individuals. A truly liberal society is a multicultural society.”
Marking the 117th Phl Independence Day commemoration, the flag raising rites have been conducted annually since 2005 as a joint project between the Australia Philippines Services League (APSL) and Blacktown City Council.
APSL commander Col. Chris Pilao (ret) said the event highlights the impact the Filipino community has in the Blacktown area and by being the sponsor, Blacktown City Council recognises Filipinos’ contribution to the city.
Speaking on good governance, Col Pilao said it is in the best interest of the community that all members feel they have a stake in it.
“The ideal may be difficult to achieve but actions must make it a reality like our heroes have done,” he said.
Mayor of Blacktown Cr Stephen Bali thanked the Filipino community for sharing their tradition and culture with Blacktown, even as he encouraged them to “mark that moment in history to become independent”.
Consul General Anne Jalando-on Louis meanwhile said that the flag raising ceremony “bring to the fore our pride in our history”, noting that Filipinos not only mark the Phl Independence Day in June but that the birth of the country’s national hero, Dr Jose Rizal, also happens to be in June.
She encouraged the community to be partners in nation building, emphasising that the gains through government-initiated reforms are within reach.
Fr Nestor Candado of the Society of St Paul led the invocation while the Sonata Singers, the Westmead Cultural Dancers, the AGAPI Cultural Dancers and the Banag-Banag Cultural Dancers performed at the event.
In the evening, APSL held its traditional dinner dance at the newly-refurbished Rooty Hill RSL.
The annual June 12 observance of Philippine Independence Day came into effect when then President Diosdado Macapagal signed Republic Act No. 4166 on August 4, 1964.
The Act legalised the holiday, which is based on the Declaration of Independence from Spanish colonisation on June 12, 1898 by General Emilio Aguinaldo and Filipino revolutionary forces.
Independence Day was officially observed on July 4 until Republic Act No. 4166 moved the holiday to June 12.

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