THERE”S MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE

Just a simple letter from the Department of Fair Trading in response to Jhun Salazar’s letter of complaint as regards his ill-boding, inauspicious, and sinister dislodgement as Public Officer , but when you break it down to the basic premise/proposition, argumentation, and conclusion -- there ‘s more than meets the eye.

In effect, we are faced exactly with the very root as well as the bare realities underpinning the two-in-one APCO problem that has been pestering the Filo commune in NSW for two years now.

Allow me to quote just the last sentence of Ms. Jodie Matheson, Team Manager, Case Management, which goes:
“...Accordingly, whilst it is regrettable a small organisation such as this finds itself in a situation of conflict; I encourage all of the parties to make every endeavour to resolve the internal dispute as soon as possible.”
 
Let’s analyse this statement well. As we say in the vernacular, “kung baga may gusot, himay-mayin natin, para mahanap ang lusot.”
Going by the premise or proposition antecedently supposed or proved as a basis of argument or inference, it appears that...
• APCO is regrettably a small organization
• It now finds itself in a situation of conflict
• All of the parties are encouraged to make every endeavour to resolve the internal dispute as soon as possible.
We can assume, rather explicitly or implicitly, that it should not be logically difficult to support the plain and simple conclusion that all parties (MUST) endeavour to resolve the situation of conflict or internal dispute.
When all is said and done, one thing is loud and clear. The problem of APCO is not within the province or jurisdiction of Department of Fair Trading, nor is it their responsibility to interfere in internal dispute. .

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD

Where does this bring us? Back to the drawing board.
.
I take liberties to shift to our lingua franca .Mas mainam kasi kungTatagalugin na lang natin para mas higit na maunawaan at maliwanagan ng higit na nakararami.

Una, balikan natin ang tatlong bagay na hinimay ko sa simula’t sapul na napakasimple at diretsahang sinagot ni Ms. Matheson.

Kung tutuusin maliit na organisasyon lang naman talaga ang APCO kahima’t maraming iba pang samahang napapailalim dito.
Kaso ang problema ang lalaki ng mga “EGO” ng mga taong nasasangkot sa mga usapin.Lahat may ambisyon. Bawat isa may kani-kaniyang ipinagpupumilit o ipinaglalabang prinsipyo kuno. Ang tunay na nangyari sa APCO ay ang pagkabuwag ng pananalig at pananampalataya ng mga dati-rating sunud-sunurang miembro sa mga opisyales na naghari-harian.
Ang resulta nahati ang grupo at nagkampi-kampihan.
Hindi na bago ito sa ating mga Pilipino. Ugali na natin ito. Ang pagkakabuwag ng mga partido, pag-aaway-away ng mga kampo ng maka- Kaliwa o ng maka-Kanan (halimbawa sa Pilipinas ngayon, ang hidwaan ng mga Dutertards/DDS laban sa mga Dilawan) ay ordinaryong kalakaran na sa politika.
Bahagi na ito ng ating kasaysayan, ng ating pinagmulan at kinamulatan kaya paulit-ulit na nangyayari sa iba’t ibang panahon.
Sa kaso ng APCO, lumalim at lumala ang di-pagkakaunawaan nang pinangatawananan ng bawat grupo ang kanilang paninindigan. Umabot na sa puntong ang mga miyembro at opisyales mismo ng APCO ay di na magkasundu-sundo dahil nag-uumpugan ang mga EGO.

Eto ngayon ang tanong? Posible ba na magsipagbaba sa kanilang trono ang mga nagsasalpukang opisyal dahil iisa lang naman ang pinagmulan ng iisang bunga?
Matay ko mang isipin, pwedeng-pwede kung maghaharap muli ang dalawang grupo at magkakasundong mamili at maghalal ng mga bagong opisyal.
Balik-tanawin natin ang pinagmulan ng UNIFICATION MOVEMENT na pinasimulan ng pahayagang ito sa pamumuno ng Tagapaglimbag.
Patapus na halos ang dalawang taon ng bawat kampo. Nairaos din ang kanilang termino kahit nauwi sa malawakang bangayan. Tuloy naisantabi ang mga tunay na simulain at nakaligtaan ang mga proyektong pinaka – raison de etre (reason for being) ng organisasyon.
Ang dapat pagkasunduan ng dalawang kampo ay ito. Kailangang magtakda ng isang araw para sa UNIFICATION at RECONCILIATION kung saan nagkakaisa ang lahat na magsimulang muli – isantabi ang mga di pagkakaunawaan at magkasundong magbuo ng BAGONG PINAGTIBAY na APCO sa pamamahala ng mga bago ring liderato.
Para sa akin, kalokohan ang magtumbang preso pa kayo sa Korte Suprema, gaya ng isinasaad sa sulat ng Fair Trading. Wala naman kayong mapapala. Wala rin kayong mapapatunayan. Ending, bale minasahe nyo lang ang inyong mga ego na naman. At what cost?

TABULA RASA (CLEAN SLATE)

Sa madali’t sabi, iminumungkahi kong magsimula sa zero, parang tabula rasa o yung tinatawag na CLEAN SLATE dapat.
Clean slate begins with the common decision and agreed action of wiping the slate clean. It’s like starting anew, a fresh approach. But the only way to do achieve this is to get rid of the old directors. Anybody who has been elected to the Board for more than two years should give a chance to those who have never served before.

MY RECOMMENDATIONS
What I believe that can be done is to form a Council of Elders – composed of those who began APCO, all the past Presidents and Vice Presidents and other outstanding past officers and Board of Directors. That way there can be no place `for DICTATORSHIP.
The Council of Elders are supposed to be respected and honoured for their experiential knowledge of the organization not to mention their actual work and life experiences. Factor in their spirituality, teachings, wisdom, and high intelligence --Elders have a deep understanding of people and communities. They are recognized for their gifts, special abilities and distinguished work that make them role models, resource persons, and advisors providing guidance and support to everyone.

Specifically, they shall work in partnership with the various Standing Committees by providing guidance, support, plus sharing of traditional knowledge of wisdom, beliefs and values in a caring and respectful way. Whenever consulted, the Council of Elders will be actively involved in decisions respecting the direction and governance of the organization.
 
What is more and very promising indeed, is that Constitutional Amendment is in the offing, and should by all means be the order of the day. This is the best opportunity whereby sufficient safeguards can be put in place to ensure an appropriate level of governance and financial responsibility.

To this end, and mindful of the lessons learned from the first-hand experience of a disintegrating organization, I am the first to suggest a structural change in the organization by demolishing the Board of Directors and creating instead a more streamlined yet very strong and encompassing STANDING COMMITTEES with a Chair and Vice –Chair.

• ETHICS COMMITTEE need be instituted in place of the age-old and ineffectual GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE so that any and all matters relating to the conduct, rights, privileges, safety, dignity, integrity and reputation of APCO and its members shall significantly fall under this all-important Committee.

Inevitably, this committee should encroach on and include Accountability of Officers and Proper Conduct of Investigations of any matter of public interest on its own initiative or brought to its attention by any member of APCO. Thus every APCO member is intrinsically tasked to report alleged wrongdoings of its officials and its attached agencies, including the management, control, and use of its owned equipment and facilities if any.
B.) COMMITTEE ON PEACE/UNIFICATION/RECONCILIATION shall handle all matters relating to peace, internal conflict resolution, political negotiation, cessation of hostilities, including integration and development thru national unification and reconciliation with other Filipino-Australian organizations.
C.SPECIAL PROJECTS COMMITTEE
All matters relating to SPECIAL PROJECTS
In the following areas :
-- The preservation, enrichment and evolution of Filipino-Australian ARTS and CULTURE.
_ ADVOCACY projects in public health in general not to mention IMMIGRATION issues, concerns, policies and programs affecting individuals and their families, as well as matters relating to the YOUTH, WOMEN, and FAMILY RELATION
--Establishment and maintenance of libraries, mini- museums, shrines, monuments, and other historical sites and edifices; training programs and cultural and artistic programs

BREAKING DOWN DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS
Finally my one last statement about what happened to APCO is akin to a death by a thousand cuts. This is a figure of speech that refers to a failure that occurs as a result of many small problems. Death by a thousand cuts could refer to the split within an organization such as APCO as a result of a tangle of individual egos concretised in the battle between two ladies each claiming to be rightful President.
To paraphrase Hamlet, the failure to come to terms or to reach mutual agreement, that is the question! Both parties failed to begin to or make an effort to understand, accept, and deal with a difficult or problematic person, thing, or situation. As such, the problem blew up to uncontrollable proportions and resulted in spewing several small issues rather than one major one.
Perhaps readers will understand the phrase better and my application of it in the case of APCO, when you consider the term was originally used to describe an ancient form of torture wherein the condemned person was subjected to a number of minor wounds until the accumulation of damage became fatal. This hyperbole, so to speak, refers to the idea that while a single small cut may not be all that fatal but the total cumulative effect may eventually cause a person to bleed to death.
This is what I’m afraid may happen to APCO eventually.
Hindi naman kasi ang mga taong napakatataas ng lipad, bilib na bilib sa sarili, at pagkalalaki ng mga ego (mas malaki pa sa organisasyon) ang sadyang nasasakal at unti-unting kinikitil ng walang pinatutunguhang pag-aaway ng dalawang kampo kundi ang APCO mismo.
(Mars Cavestany/All Rights Reserved)

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By Mars Cavestany

The response of Fair Trading to the two warring camps in APCO is loud and clear: that it is none of their business to interfere in an intrinsically internal dispute that must be resolved following the constitutional provisions by the parties involved if not raised to the level of the Supreme Court.

NOT WITHIN THE DOMAIN OF DFT

Jodie Matheson, Team Manager, Case Management of the Department of Fair Trading wrote more explicitly of Fair Tradings’ non-involvement in matters not within their domain.
 
“The Association is registered under the Associations Incorporation Act 2009, which is administered by NSW Fair Trading. The Act is designed to find a balance between freedom and flexibility for associations to establish themselves and to operate while ensuring there are sufficient safeguards in place to ensure an appropriate level of governance and financial responsibility. It follows that the legislation does not provide the Registry with the authority to intervene in matters relating to the internal administration of an association.
For your information I have attached information on Fair Trading’s powers to enquire and investigate and areas for which Fair Trading does not have responsibilities.
 
The committee is charged with the responsibility of ensuring the association is operating in accordance with the legislation generally and the association’s constitution specifically. Fair Trading has no jurisdiction to determine the facts at the base of an internal dispute or an alleged breach of an association’s constitution, the only body with this jurisdiction is the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
 
It would appear the Association may be subject to an internal dispute regarding the validity regarding the identity of the validly appointed public officer and those responsible for the management of the Association. This is not a matter Fair Trading can determine, in such cases where such a dispute arises the association must resolve it by agreement, through the dispute resolution provisions in the Association’s constitution or ultimately by order of the Supreme Court.”

DOCUMENTS NOT ACCEPTED ANYMORE

As a result of the two different sets of protest letters with matching evidential documents being presented by two camps to Fair Trading, they ruled no to accept anymore documents lodged from both parties. Ms. Jamison further explains:
 
“In such cases, until Fair Trading has evidence of either an agreement or an order by the Court determining the matter the Association may be noted as being ‘in dispute’ on the Register of Incorporated Associations. In these circumstances Fair Trading will inform all parties to the dispute that no documents will be accepted for lodgement on behalf of the association.
 
Accordingly, whilst it is regrettable a small organisation such as this finds itself in a situation of conflict, I encourage all of the parties to make every endeavour to resolve the internal dispute as soon as possible.”
 
 WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

The internal dispute within APCO grounds began when the appointed and not duly elected President Violetta Escultura was removed from her post following a vote of no confidence from the Board and general membership.
Consequently Cora Paras won in the new elections to replace Escultura but the latter refuse d to step down and thus caused a rift and a split between two camps,
Trouble further ensued when the Escultura camp was quick enough to lodge their own documents to the Department of Fair Trading. They submitted a list of new Elected Board of Officers and even replaced the Public Officer to one of their own.
The documentation Escultura’s group received from Fair Trading effectively gave them further access to withdraw 12 thousand of APCO funds reportedly deposited in a new account for safeguarding.

THE BATTLE CONTINUES AS BANK ACCOUNTS AND DOCUMENT MOVEMENTS ARE FROZEN

Cora Paras’ camp which, from all legal indications and implications, appear to be the real legitimate APCO Board, did not take the Escultura group’s legerdemain sitting down.
Complaint/protest letters were filed to both the Fair Trading and Commonwealth Bank where proper investigations are ongoing.

Meanwhile, the final resolution to the seemingly never ending conflict has been offered by Fair Trading to let the Supreme Court rule over matters that cannot be resolved internally and amicably between the two-in-one APCO.

Needless to say, there are costs involved for lawyers’ fees and all other expenses. The big asks remain: Who shall make the first move? When and where will all these end?

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On its second international leg, TFCU Talks now gathers young Filipino-Australians to connect them to industry professionals who will inspire them to pursue their passion
Coming from its successful first international leg in Manila last March 2017, TFCU Talks now flies to Sydney, Australia for the very first “TFCU Talks Sydney”, happening on April 7 at the Ballroom of Blacktown Workers Club (55 Campbell St. Blacktown New South Wales, Australia).
TFCU is an initiative which aims to connect, inspire, and empower Filipino college students and young professionals through the TFCU Talks event, which features industry professionals and personalities who share their stories that will help the Filipino youth realize their full potential while embracing their cultural identity.
There have been a series of TFCU Talks already held in the United States, which are the “TFCU Breaking the Mold” in Long Beach, California; “TFCU Talks Seattle: Live Your Legacy” in Seattle, Washington; “TFCU Talks Carson: Rise Up” in Carson, California; “TFCU Talks San Jose: Breakthrough to Greatness” in San Jose, California; the most recent “TFCU Talks Davis: Embracing Identity” in Davis, California; and happening soon is the “TFCU Talks New York City: Visionary Leadership” in New York City.
TFCU Talks has created a positive buzz one talk after the other, with its reputable speakers who are the likes of Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race” season four winner Lanai Tabura, singer-musician-songwriter-recording-artist AJ Rafael, and tech entrepreneur and adventure journalist Garrett Gee of “The Bucket List Family.”
On its second international leg happening this year, “TFCU Talks Sydney” anchors on the theme Pursuing Your Passion and taps the young Filipino-Australians by featuring three industry professionals who went out of their comfort zones and discovered their full potential.
Eman Rodriguez

At the young age of 12, Eman Rodriguez already knew his passion – breakdancing. He kept honing his skills, until he decided to join “So You Think You Can Dance” season 2 in 2009. Even if he did not make the final cut, Rodriguez kept going after his dream. He joined the dance group Justice Crew to compete in “Australia’s Got Talent” in 2010, where they were hailed the season’s champion. This opened door of opportunities for them, such as a record contract under Sony Music where they had several platinum hit singles.
After leaving the group to pursue a solo career, Rodriguez focused on developing his talents to fulfill his dream of being a multi-skilled entertainer. One of the skills he worked on is hosting, which he exhibited at the “10th BC ONE World Breakdancing Competition" and his YouTube show “REEL.”
Aside from music and breakdancing, Rodriguez’ other passion is football and in 2017, he joined the Philippine rugby football team “Philippine Volcanoes” to represent the country in different international competitions.
Gretchen Ho

People first took notice of Gretchen Ho in 2008 when she joined and became one of the star players of Ateneo Lady Eagles, the volleyball team of the prestigious Philippine university Ateneo de Manila University. Aside from the scholarship, Ho joined the squad to prove to her parents that she can juggle her responsibilities as a student while still pursuing her passion in sports.
After she graduated in 2013, Ho tried her luck in the news and entertainment industry in the Philippines where she discovered her gift and spunk for hosting. It may be a far cry from her image as an athlete, but eventually she learned the ropes. Now, Ho has several regular hosting stints in ABS-CBN’s news programs like “Umagang Kay Ganda (A Beautiful Morning),” “TV Patrol,” and ANC’s lifestyle program “Modern Girls.”
Marco Andre Selorio

Marco Andre Selorio is the man behind some of the popular dance competitions in Australia. Selorio is not new to the entertainment industry as he once was part of the children’s show “Kulit Bulilit” (Curious Kids) in the Philippines. His acting career was cut short when his family migrated to Australia.
There he focused on his studies and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Commerce and Economics. He launched HOOPDREAMZ, a business that started by sending out newsletters for Sydney Kings basketball team. Eventually, it evolved into a company that organizes events that serve as platform for budding artists to showcase their talents, like the globally renowned “World Supremacy Battle Grounds” and the “GROOVE” street dance competition.
“TFCU Talks Sydney” will also feature an exciting performance from Eman Rodriguez with the JMA Dance Crew, choreographed by Maurice June. June is one of the founders of JMA Entertainment, the talent agency behind the popular Australian dance group Justice Crew.
“We are really excited to inspire the young people of Australia. We want to remind those who attend TFCU Talks Sydney that by living out their potential and pursuing their passions they can truly make a positive difference in the world,” said Romeo Marquez Jr., TFCU Program Director.
Experience an afternoon filled with inspiring stories that will fuel your desire to fulfill your dreams at “TFCU Talks Sydney”, happening on April 7, at the Ballroom of Blacktown Workers Club (55 Campbell St. Blacktown New South Wales, Australia).

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