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Friday, 14 June 2019 02:04 Written by


Tuesday, 19 March 2019 16:38 Written by


2019 midterm election hopefuls
Former presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. is withdrawing his bid for senator, he says on his Facebook page.

He says he is withdrawing because of health issues. “I have recently undergone a percutaneous coronary intervention following the discovery of an unstable angina coronary disease. In the days since the pro- cedure, I have been forced to confront the reality of my physical situation and what it ultimately means for my aspirations to pub- lic service,” he says.

Roque, a human rights lawyer before joining gov- ernment, had initially said he was running as a par- ty-list representative and would advocate passage of laws to protect the en- vironment. Days later, he pushed through with filing a certificate of candidacy for senator.
Reelectionists and for- mer senators are in the lead, some newcomers are gaining ground, while the rest still have to catch up if they want to be in the ‘Magic 12’ in the May 2019 polls
With only 12 Senate seats up for grabs in a highly- competitive field, getting into the “Magic 12” range is an indicator of a senato- rial bet’s winning chances. Based on each aspirant’s preference rating (or the share of survey respond- ents who said they will be
Angara also shot up in the December survey, gaining over 21 points from 37.1% to 58.5% to put him in 3rd place. Meanwhile, Binay and Pimentel are seen to place between 5th and 7th places, with 46.7% and 45.5%, respectively.
The rest of the names – those with ratings below 20% – are a mix of admin- istration and opposition bets. Leading them is former presidential aide Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go. His rating has gone up, in close range of the Magic 12, from 5.9% in March, to 29.7% in December. In a matter of 9 months, his rating increased by nearly 24 percentage points, or grew five-fold.
In December, Tañada got 5.1% (up from 3.4% in September), human rights lawyer Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno got 3.4% (up from 1.6%), Magdalo Representa- tive Gary Alejano received 2.8% (up from 1.6%), and former solicitor general Florin Hilbay got only 0.4% (up from 0.2%).
The Commission on Elec- tions released a prelimi-
The campaign period for national candidates for the 2019 midterm elections begins in February, but many senatorial aspirants
Many ex-senators are also performing well in their comeback bids: Pia Cayetano and Lito Lapid (who both placed ahead of Binay and Pimentel in the December survey), Sergio Osmeña III, Ra- mon “Bong” Revilla Jr, Jinggoy Estrada, and Ma- nuel “Mar” Roxas II. All of them have received rat- ings above 25% in the 4 Pulse Asia surveys.
In the lead-up to the 2016 elections, Senators Joel Villanueva and Sherwin Gatchalian were in a similar situation: they had ratings below 10% up to the first half of 2015 in Pulse Asia surveys, but they gradually inched their way to the bot- tom of, or just outside, the Magic 12 range by the start of 2016.


The initial list includ- ed those who had been named in the poll body’s law department petition to be declared nuisance can- didates for senator.
The Pulse Asia survey in December, the first one af- ter the filing of Certificates of Candidacy (COCs) in October, showed that some bets are already in the lead, others are gaining ground, while the rest still have to catch up if they want to be in the winning circle.
crease in December.
Aquino was in and out of
LP. The performance of the opposition Liberal Party’s 8 Senate bets has not been aus- picious so far. Only Roxas has consistently placed in the “Magic 12” while Aqui- no had just returned to that range.
He says he is withdrawing because of health issues. “I have recently undergone a percutaneous coronary intervention following the discovery of an unstable angina coronary disease. In the days since the pro- cedure, I have been forced to confront the reality of my physical situation and what it ultimately means for my aspirations to pub- lic service,” he says.
“Hindi pa lahat yan, sure na pasok. For verifica- tion of accuracy lang yan - so that the candidates can correct misspellings or errors, if any,” Comelec spokesperson James Jime- nez said on Twitter. (Phil- ippine Star)
So far, Pulse Asia has conducted senatorial pref- erence surveys for the 2019 polls in March, June, September and Decem- ber 2018. (There was a reported survey by Social Weather Stations also in December 2018, which could have been leaked as results are not yet available on its website. We consider the leaked results unoffi- cial.)
Consistently landing in the top are 5 of the 7 ree- lectionist senators: Grace Poe, Cynthia Villar, Juan Edgardo “Sonny” An- gara, Nancy Binay, and Aquilino “Koko” Pimen- tel III.
the Magic 12 in the surveys, returning to the 10th-16th range in December, after dropping to the 18th-23rd spot and suffering a 12-point decrease from June to Sep- tember.
B. Survey says: How 2019 senatorial bets are faring so far
Poe has so far pulled away from everyone else in all surveys, but Vil- lar seems to be gaining steam. Villar breached the 60% mark in the Decem- ber 2018 survey when she garnered 66.6%, up by nearly 9 percentage points from September.
Among those in the Magic 12 in the December survey, Angara, Lapid, Pimentel, Aquino, and Revilla got the biggest jumps from Septem- ber, while only Binay suf- fered a drop in rating.
The rest of the LP slate has not yet broken the 10% bar- rier. Their ratings in Decem- ber have moved up by only a bit – getting almost the same scores as in their first Pulse Asia survey debuts. The big- gest gainer among them was former Quezon representa- tive Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, who improved by 3.4 percentage points from March.

Two new names in the Senate race are joining the strong performers: Il- ocos Norte Governor Ma- ria Imelda “Imee” Mar- cos, and former Bureau of Corrections director gen- eral and former Philip- pine National Police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
Hugpong. Most of the candidates endorsed by the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) party of presidential daughter Sara Duterte Car- pio are also doing well.
Meanwhile, the two re- maining reelectionists are teetering on the edge of the Magic 12: Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito and
Per slate
PDP-Laban. Go and To-
Six of the 8 members of HNP’s slate with ally po- litical parties nationwide are within the “Magic 12”: Vil- lar, Cayetano, Marcos, Es- trada, Dela Rosa, and Ejer- cito. The other two are Go and Mangudadatu.
Two other aspirants had preference ratings above 10%: former presidential po- litical adviser Francis Tolen- tino (at 19.4%), and former senator Juan Ponce Enrile (at 19%), who appeared in the survey for the first time, after the surprise filing of his candidacy for senator.
Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, who made his first appearance in the Sep- tember survey with 1.3%, improved to 2.1% the fol- lowing quarter. Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc Tomawis, listed for the first time in December, received 1.3%.


nary list of aspirants for the 2019 midterm elec- tions for possible correc- tion of names.
have started making the rounds on social media and on the ground already, in the hopes of catching vot- ers’ attention early on.
voting for him or her), Pulse Asia projected the range of the senatoria- bles’ ranking among all the bets, as a preview of the place or rank they will most likely land on after actual votes are counted in the May elections.
Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV. Ejercito has ranked at the bottom of prospective Magic 12 placers in the 4 surveys, getting only a 26.7% rating in September. From there, he earned a nearly 7-point in-
bers, only Pimentel and Dela Rosa have placed in the “Magic 12” so far, while Maguindanao Congressman Zajid “Toto” Mangudadatu received only 5.5% in De- cember, up from 2.2% in September.

lentino are also among the 5 senatorial candidates run- ning under PDP-Laban, President Duterte’s party. Among this slate’s mem-
Among the 6 bets who are in HNP’s longer slate for Davao region (besides the 8 in the nationwide slate), only Angara, Pimentel, and Re- villa are in the “Magic 12” so far. The rest have yet to make it: Tolentino, former presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, and reporter Jiggy Manicad.
Other bets. These candi- dates have also received rat- ings below 10% in Decem- ber:
• Singer Freddie Agui- lar (independent, previously filed under PDP-Laban)
• Agnes Escudero
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Tuesday, 19 March 2019 16:35 Written by

As at January 2019, NARRA Co-op is the proud owner of Shop 2, Artisan Apartments 3-9 Warby St, Campbelltown. This is in addition to our first property Shop 4, which was bought two years ago.

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ACI Central - Home of Philippine Arts, Culture and Innovation in Australia.

EDITORIAL : DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS (But Constitutional & Structural Reforms may still save APCO)

Tuesday, 19 March 2019 16:31 Written by



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. .


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?


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.

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.
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

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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Fair Trading on APCO Dispute: Resolve Internal Conflict or Raise to Supreme Court (WHO WILL MAKE THE FIRST MOVE?)

Tuesday, 19 March 2019 16:21 Written by


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.


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.”


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.”

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.


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?

Workers needed in Sydney Metro and across the state for the NSW State election

Thursday, 21 February 2019 14:13 Written by


Are you free on Saturday 23 March this year to work at the NSW State election?
Would you like to earn nearly $400 to help deliver democracy?
The NSW Electoral Commission is urgently seeking people to work as election officials on election day. Election officials:
 provide great customer service and keep accurate records
 ensure electors are correctly marked off the authorised roll and issued with the appropriate ballot
 help sort and count ballot papers and decommission the voting centre at the end of the day.
NSW Electoral Commissioner John Schmidt said election officials were particularly needed across several regions and he encouraged people to take up the opportunity to participate in the democratic process.
“Successful applicants will be provided with all necessary training,” he said.
“We don’t require people to have any prior experience of working at an election but they must be enrolled to vote.”
There are nearly 40 out of 93 electoral districts across the state where more applications for election official positions are needed.
These districts cover the following geographical regions:
Sydney Metro
Western suburbs, Eastern suburbs, the Inner West, North Shore and Northern Beaches.
Hawkesbury, South Coast, Broken Hill, Bourke, Cobar, Narrabri, Walgett, Gilgandra Bega, Dubbo and Central Coast.
Election officials start at 7.15am and work until the ballot paper count is completed that evening.
To register your interest go to

An In-depth Interview with Ambassador: Ma. Hellen B. De La Vega By Mars Cavestany

Thursday, 31 January 2019 15:03 Written by

An eminent career officer of the Philip- pine Department of Foreign Affairs, an ex- perienced all-rounder top brass former Ex- ecutive Director of the Office of Asia and Pacific (ASPAC) ; as well as a Philippine Representative to the ASEAN High Level Task Force that drafted the ASEAN Vision 2025.
Needless to say, her scholastic record is dot- ted with honors ad dis- tinctions graduating cum laude at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila with a Bachelor’s Degree in Asian Studies.
sador De La Vega in June 2018, the Order of Si- katuna with the Rank of Datu (Gold Cross) for her important role during the Philippine Chairmanship of ASEAN. Ambassador De La Vega is married.
She is again dear readers on a more indepth question and answer repartee.
Q1. For us all to gain a brief profile and back- ground notes of your be- ginnings could you kindly give us a brief run-down of your career highlights as an Ambassador from you previous postings to your most important distinc- tions please?
A1. Australia is my second Ambassadorial post. I first became an Ambassador in 2009 and served in Yangon, Myanmar for three years. I was in Myanmar during the most important phase in Myanmar’s history- where Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was released from pris- on and thereafter she ran for elections and won. She is now the State Councillor. Under my watch in Myan- mar, we tried in our modest measure to help the coun- try in its economic reform
by sharing our best practices with them. In Manila, I was appointed in 2014 to be the Philippine Representative to the ASEAN High Level Task Force responsible for draft- ing the ASEAN Vision 2025. All of us in that group agreed without reservation that our focus will be the well-being of the more than 600 million citizens of ASEAN, thus we were guided by an overall aim of a “people-centered, people oriented ASEAN”. I did not realize then that this task will eventually lead to my next assignment as Phil- ippine Director General/ As- sistant Secretary for ASEAN. During this term, I was re- sponsible for shepherding the substantive preparations for our rotational chair- manship of ASEAN in 2017, which coincided with the 50th founding anniversary of ASEAN. Thus, I and my team needed to shepherd as well our national commemorative activities for this milestone. Q2. How would you assess the over-all state of Philip- pine-Australian diplomatic relations at the moment given some rather unsettling events such as the not so
To Page 37
Dear readers, let’s make welcome our new lady ambassador in the person of Ambassa- dor Ma. Hellen B. De La Vega
Her educational enrich- ment crosses far and wide having been a recipient of a Fellowship Program on Investments Promotion from the Belgian Gov- ernment, including, (take note) a Foreign Service Training Course under the auspices of the Austral- ian Department of For- eign Affairs and Trade so this isn’t the first time she had what we Filo-Aussies fondly refer to as fondly “Australian content and connection.”
She surely comes in our midst and brings with her a whole gamut of government ser- vice behind her including served as the As- sistant Secretary in the Office of ASEAN Affairs and the Director General of the ASEAN-Philippines National Secretariat from December 2015 to 04 September 2018. In her term, she organized and shepherded the substantive preparations for the Philip- pine hosting and Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2017 and ASEAN’s 50th Anniversary commemorative activities which were, no doubt humongous events that required Her- culean efforts. But that’s an expertise Mad- ame de la Vega wears daintily and o
Ambassador Ma. Hellen B. De La Vega
To complete and round off the equation, she was no less a Freeman Fellow at the famed John Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. obtaining a Master’s Degree on International Public Policy from the Paul Nitz School of Ad- vanced International Stud- ies.
Her past foreign service postings prior to Australia has been as Consul General in Los Angeles (twice, in 2003-2007 and then 2012 to 2014) .She was also the Philippine Ambassador to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar from September 2009 to October 2012.
(also known as Arroyo Administration that spanned two terms including the other half of the ousted President Jo- seph Estrada.
It’s interesting to note that she was likewise the Deputy Chief of Mission, Minister Con- sul General at the Philippine Embassy in Beijing, People’s Republic of China under the Presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Before that she rose from the ranks from Third Secretary and Vice Consul in Jakarta, Indonesia (1990-‘93); then Second Secretary and Consul in Ma- drid, Spain (1994-’96); and First Sec- retary and Consul Tokyo, Japan (2001- ’03).
The Philippine Govern- ment awarded Ambas-

“Great to be awarded for something you love doing”- DR. CORAZON ALVAREZ FRANCISCO

Thursday, 31 January 2019 14:59 Written by


Interview by Mars Cavestany
Dr. Corazon Alvarez-Francisco, belongs to that van- ishing breed of Filipino professionals who escaped the Philippines and chose to resettle permanently in Aus- tralia in 1987 after realizing the political turbulence of the 1980’s and what she aptly calls living in “false sense of complacency.”
Thirty one years henceforth. Dr. Francisco, so well- loved and highly respected by her kababayans in NSW, returned to the Philippines to claim 2018 Presiden- tial Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas, “Banaag Award” from President Duterte in Malacanang Palace during the awarding ceremonies, 5th December 2018.
“It feels so great to be awarded for something you love doing”, so says Dr. Francisco. Follow the short but sweet and very insghtful responses to this true-blue woman of substance provides to our Q-A that charts her humble be- ginnings as a university prrofessor in Manila, widening her horizons in a new-found land in Sydney, Australia and building up a tremendously successful career now being one of the most-sought after medical experts in Australia.
Gawad ng Pangulo Presidential Awards, 5th December 2018.
Dra Corazon Francisco with her husband Engr Ferdi Francisco at Malacanang Palace during the awarding, 5th December 2018
Q-1. Let’s starts off with statistics. How many years of professional medical service did you serve in the Philip- pines before you migrated to Australia. In what year did you first arrive here?
A I had 10 years practice as an Obstetrician Gynae- cologist in Metro Manila, before migrating to Australia in 1987. As well, I left behind my being an Assistant Professor in OB-Gyn at Manila Central University, Ca- loocan campus.
Q- 2. Would you be able to share us your respectable thoughts as to why you chose to migrate and leave the Philippines and why Australia and not somewhere else in US or Europe where your people of your higher cali- bre, educational, and experiential background is much in demand and would be verily appreciated?
Receiving the plaque as Presidential Awardee.
Q-7. You are a fellow Ilocano Manang, critically speaking, how would you react to some serious criticisms about so- called Ilocano leaders in general without dropping names) who have held the leadership reigns of this and that group, one too many major organizations headed by Ilocanos one after another . On top of that historical reality, there are always wrangling and infighting for positions. I ask these with the end in view of the underlying and never-ending issue of unification which as you know rocked the boats for almost a decade between APCO and PCC involving many Ilocanos bigwigs at that? Would you like to share us your well considered thoughts on such inter-related con- cerns?
A- The main reason why we left the Philippines was the political and economic situation during the 80’s. My eyes were opened suddenly in 1983 when Ninoy Aquino was assassinated. Succeeding events showed us the true picture of the country then; that we were living in a false sense of complacency. My kids were then so young and my husband was working in Saudi Arabia. We did not want our kids to grow up in such an environment, so we decided to leave. We chose Australia because of a more family oriented lifestyle compared to America. I had the chance to visit USA and Sydney before we made the de- cision.
A- Through the PAMA, we had been conducting an- nual, free Medical, Dental and Surgical missions in various remote areas in the Philippines, for the past 11 years. For our next medical mission, we will be going to San Narciso, Zambales and Munoz, Nueva Ecija in March, 2019. We plan to continue with this project yearly and as long as we are able to.
Q- 3. If you were to assess your own personal achieve- ments what are you most proud of and happy that you’ve done it?
A- Amongst my achievements, I am very proud of having founded the Philippine Australian Medical As- sociation (PAMA), Inc., knowing very well the hardships of Filipino doctors to apply for eligibility in Australian society. I organized review classes for those anxiously preparing to take the Australian Medical Council (AMC) exams, imbuing to the members a sense of camaraderie rather than of competition. Also worth mentioning are my being the First Filipino Doctor to become a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of General Practition- ers (FRACGP) in 1996 and the First Filipino Doctor in Australia to become a member of the Panel of Examin- ers for the Fellowship Exams for General Practitioners in 1996. I am also very proud of maintaining my solo practice as a GP in Quakers Hill which is now on its 26th year.
Q- 6. Let’s focus now on your Australian matters and af- fairs most especially your involvement in the Filipino com- munity. What particular groups are you most active with and why? What have you particularly contributed to the organization per se and to our fellow migrants in general which obviously became the raison de etre of your award in Malacanang?
A-Truly, I feel sad about the fact that there is too much ego fighting among us. Too much emphasis on personali- ties rather than our being Filipinos as a whole. Breaking away from the mainstay association seems to be a pattern adopted by some, due to personality disagreements. Ana- lyzing historical facts however, it is very seldom that the break-away group becomes successful.
Q- 4. At these stage of your life where you would have attained probably what holds weight in your life and existence, and with the children having grown up and achieving fantastically on their own, should you be of- fered a good post back home (for government or pri- vately perhaps) will you pack up and leave everything behind?
B. The University of the Philippines Alumni Association in Australia, NSW Chapter (UPAAA-NSW). As President of the UPAAA-NSW from 2000-2002, I initiated the student exchange program in collaboration with the University of the Philippines (UP) and two prestigious Universities in Australia - The University of New South Wales and the University of Sydney. We were able to invite Prof. Fran- cisco Nemenzo, then UP President, to visit Sydney. Under my leadership we held fund raising activities to help sup- port the computerization of UP. Alongside my husband, I coordinated and spearheaded fund raising activities in con- nection with the UPAAA-NSW Scholarship grant project, whose activities (such as The Oblation Cup Golf Tourna- ment from 2008 to 2015) generated a substantial amount of funds to support 8 indigent yet deserving tertiary students in UP.
Regionalism is not good too. We should always remem- ber that we are Filipinos, and we represent our country as a whole, not just a part of it.
Q- 9. Is retirement something you have considered sooner or later? How do you wish to spend your time in retire- ment?
A- No. I have reached the stage where I would rather spend the rest of my life with my family and 2 lovely grandchildren.
Q-5. Talking of home, please highlight as to your own prioritizing, the help/aid or personal achievements you have extended or shared to our kababayans as a medical practitioner? Have or are these one off or continuing? Any project ideas brewing at the moment that most ex- cites and challenges you as far as helping our Mother country is concerned?
C. The Timek Iti La Union Association, (TILAUNA), Inc. I was one of the 7 founders in 2002 and became President in 2013 to 2017. I realigned the association into its goals particularly the Scholarship program, camaraderie and re- connection with La Union. In 2017, we participated in the outreach program of the Philippine Consulate General in Sydney which provided the Filipinos in Grafton, NSW and surrounding communities to obtain dual citizenship and to
Q-10. My usual goodbye note is to request you for a gen- eral parting message to our readers throughout Australia. Take it away Madam... Agyaman nac unay...
A- To be awarded for something that I love doing is great! So that my advice to the readers of PCHN, is to persevere in what you are doing, if you deem it good for the com- munity. Instil peace, joy, love and harmony among one an- other to achieve stability while we enjoy our lives in our adopted country.
A-A. The Philippine Australian Medical Association (PAMA), where I was the Founder and the Founding Presi- dent. In the early nineties, I helped struggling Filipino doc- tors to pass their AMC Exams, the requirement to obtain licensure to practice medicine here. The pitiful plight of the Filipino migrant doctors then, so inspired me. Some were working as clerks, factory workers, technicians, gasoline attendant, nurses, etc. They obtained their licensure one by one and redeemed their dignity as doctors.
Q-8. Would you care to comment about our intrinsic cul- tural traits, customs, mores, and traditional habits and manner of thinking and doing things that you yourself is not happy about and that which you may believe are pre- cisely the blemish, curse, if not the all-time deterrent to our growth and total development as Filipino-Australians? A- Crab mentality is a bad trait among us. We should recognize, support and praise the achievements of others rather than downgrade it.
process other consular documents.
A- No permanent retirement for me. For as long as God allows me, I will maintain my present state: part time gen- eral practitioner, enjoying family life especially with my grandchildren.
Stay healthy and wise! A very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year to all!!!