Albert De Jesus - President of PAA Albert De Jesus - President of PAA

Philippine Heritage Day


by Bimbi Flor




The Philippine Heritage Day which has now become an annual celebration was held on a cold and frosty Sunday, May 26 in Deakin. This year’s venue was cosy, relatively small in comparison to its previous choice of the Belconnen Arts Centre.  But it was an excellent choice. The venue was warm and inviting and presented a more family-oriented event, now in its fourth year.


The afternoon began with a welcome address by current Philippine-Australian Association (PAA) President, Albert De Jesus who introduced Ms Mary Ann Padua, Minister and Consul General, Philippine Embassy, to officially open the event. Ms. Padua commended the association for its continued commitment in showcasing Filipino culture and tradition. There was plenty to entertain the crowd including performances from the Rondanihan as well as poems by the students of the Learning Filipino Together School led by its principal Gloria Ross. A special dance number from the esteemed ACTFA dancers followed a compelling performance of ‘Child of the World’ by singer, songwriter and former PAA president Toti Versoza.



Performers at the Philippine Heritage Day


Mr. Tony Meloto, Chair of Gawad Kalinga, who happened to be visiting good friend Sally Barber in Canberra, was kind enough to spend time with the audience speaking about voluntarism and social entrepreneurship. It was easy to see why Meloto has become a success as he engaged the audience in his heart warming invitation to volunteer time and talent to a worthy cause. Meloto articulated the need for all Filipinos to continue to see opportunity in the Philippines and he also had high praise for the nation’s leader, President Benigno Aquino III who he believes has achieved so much in his term of office. After a brief slideshow, the effervescent Meloto was happy to chat with everyone about Gawad Kalinga, its achievements and future goals.



 Noonee Doronila with Tony Meloto, Chairman - Gawad Kalinga


This year’s presentation was more visual as the venue was surrounded by striking arts and crafts from all over the Philippines, donated by members of the community including beautifully designed Ternos and other traditional costumes draped on mannequins. As the audience feasted on the display, we were given a quick lesson by Beth Berdin and Seny Benedictos on the art of cooking Puto while listening to calming music provided by the Rondanihan


Then an incredibly powerful piece entitled “100 Years of Philippine Independence through Filipino Women’s Voices” followed. This featured monologues performed by Sarah Bernasor-Holdsworth, Kym Kunze, Elizabeth Garrett, Sally Barber and Gloria Ross, taking on the personas of Josephine Bracken, former First Lady, Imelda R. Marcos and the late President Corazon Aquino just to name a few.  It was an emotion-filled performance from all the ladies.


Later Zeny O’Reilly led the PAA Choir with a heart wrenching mini concert of nationalistic songs, all of which have become hymns of patriotism. ‘Bayan Ko’ and ‘Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo’ were superbly rendered by the choir and a very fitting finale to a wonderful day.


My congratulations go to Ms. Noonee Doronila, Vice-President (External) as well as the entire PAA Committee, performers and volunteers for a well-organised and well-presented programme this year. Looking forward to next year’s event.



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