30 July 2022

Filipinos in Victoria ‘Meet & Greet the Ambassador’

In a very rare opportunity, leaders of various Filipino Community organizations gathered at the Philippine House in Footscray on the evening of 30 July 2022 for an event called ‘Meet & Greet the Ambassador’.

The Ambassador was earlier at the Philippine Consulate office to witness the Signing Ceremony of the Philippine Studies Program at La Trobe University and speak at the Student Forum/Networking attended by some 70 students, academics, government officials and select leaders of the Filipino Community.

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Left: Ambassador Ma. Hellen De La Vega confers the Presidential Award for Individuals and Organizations Overseas or Pamana ng Pilipino Award to Walter Villagonzalo with Consul General Maria Lourdes Salcedo and Luisa Rivo, Executive Director of PAFI. Below: Visibly inspired, FilCom leaders share a rare moment to be up-close in person with the Ambassador.

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Over 60 guests attended, including leaders/representatives of around thirty-five (35) Filcom bodies in Victoria who individually introduced their respective organizations and programs. At the start of the program, representatives from The Philippine Times narrated (1) their recent dialogue with Premier Daniel Andrews on the Filipino community and the working conditions of Filipino healthcare workers in Victoria; and (2) important information regarding COVID.

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Clockwise from top left: Editor-in-chief Jason Cordi of The Philippine Times narrates their recent dialogue with Premier Daniel Andrews while publishers Alice Nicolas and George Gregorio articulate important information on COVID; Manny Asuncion, writer, playwright and Filipino instructor, share his poem Awit ng Migrante: Bayan mo, Bayan ko; FilAussie children dance the Sayaw sa Bangko.

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Ambassador De La Vega thanked the Filipino community for the milestone activities held last year in celebration of the 75th anniversary of PH-AU bilateral relations, in particular the Barbecue Festival held in May 2021 and Philippine Gala held in December 2021. She acknowledged the success of Filipino businesses in Victoria, including Filipino food establishments, noting that Good Food Australia has identified Filipino food as a “Purple Revolution”, in reference to our love for ube.

One of the highlights of the ‘Meet & Greet’ event was the conferment of the 2021 Presidential Award for Individuals and Organizations Overseas (PAFIOO) or Pamana ng Pilipino Award to Walter Villagonzalo by the Ambassador. Mr. Villagonzalo, in his brief remarks, stated that he was the lone award recipient from Australia in 2021 but that he expected many more after him as there are indeed many deserving Filipinos in Victoria of the recognition. He pointed to two PAFIOO awardees in the past who were in the audience, i.e., Marina Ruivivar and Manny Asuncion.

The event was also held in anticipation of Buwan ng Wika in August. Manny Asuncion, artist, playwright and director of Philippine Fiesta delivered an original Filipino poem, Awit ng Migrante: Bayan mo, Bayan ko while students from the Philippine Language School of Victoria performed Sayaw sa Bangko and various Filipino songs. END