20 December 2021


A Night of Diamond FilAus Friendship

After several postponements due to Victoria’s repeated lockdowns, the Gala dinner event to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Philippines- Australia diplomatic relations, which was originally scheduled on 29 May 2021, actualized on 18 December 2021 at Langham Hotel in the city of Melbourne.

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Speakers for the night, from top left: Consul General Maria Lourdes Salcedo, organizer Melba Marginson, Minister Ingrid Stitt and Federal MP Peter Khalil.
       A flagship project of the Steering Committee convened at the start of the year, the Gala was attended by 247 guests.Hon. Ingrid Stitt, State Minister for Workplace Safety and Federal MP Peter Khalil as representative of the Opposition leader Anthony Albanese led the VIP guests. The event was said to be the first Filipino Community gathering in Victoria attended by as many as 58 FilCom organizations/groups.
       The program proper kicked off with the singing of national anthems (Philippines and Australia) by the Filipino Chaplaincy Choir of Melbourne, followed by a ‘welcome to country’ by an aboriginal elder with a didgeridoo player and responded to by the Philippine side through an Igorot dance with live percussion music. The speeches were juxtaposed with two video presentations, i.e., Byaheng Australia and Mga Kilalang Australyano na may Dugong Pilipino as well as a Filipino medley by the Darwin and Canberra Rondallas while the dinner was served. pr 028 2021 02

The video message of Ambassador Ma. Hellen De La Vega was shown after the speech of Consul General Maria Lourdes Salcedo who announced the decision of the two governments to elevate relations from Comprehensive Partnership to Strategic Partnership that will deepen and broaden engagement in such areas as political priorities, trade and investment, defence, counter-terrorism and maritime security.

More importantly, she said that the strength of the bilateral relations lie on people themselves. As the fifth largest migrant group in Australia, Filipinos bring talents, skills, creativity, family and community values that contribute to social cohesion and progress.

“Continue to nurture that passion in your hearts that you too can make a difference in this country. But while you do, don’t forget to look back and look up to where your roots first sprang – the Philippines,” she enthused. She also appealed for support of the relief and recovery efforts in the Philippines due to typhoon “Odette”.

Thereafter, gifts consisted of premium Philippine products sourced from a local supplier, Filo Artisan, were given to guests at the Friendship Offering (Alay ng Pagkakaibigan) followed by the cutting of Filipino ube cake.

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Left, members of the Steering Committee led by Deputy Consul General Anthony Mandap; Right, Cutting of the cake by Consul General Maria Lourdes Salcedo and State MP Steve MCGhie. Below, paintings of the late FilAus artist Joel Magpayo were on exhibit on the evening of fabulous gowns and happy faces.

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The program was on cue and on time such that the guests excitedly took to the dancing floor as soon as the Band U4YA started to play disco music of such nostalgic tunes by the VST & Company and other Pinoy artists. -END-

It was a glittering evening to be remembered for a long time, most especially after Melburnians endured a challenging year of repeated lockdowns of over 100 days in 2021. -END-