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A Filipino Political Heritage in Blacktown

A win by Liberal Party candidate Jaime Diaz for the Federal seat of Greenway in Western Sydney, would be a fitting reward to the sustained hard work of the Diaz family of Blacktown through the years.

 One-time corporate financial comptroller Ps. Nick Pangilinan of Stanhope said this during an introduction of Jayme to a dozen or so members of the Filipino Pastors Association of Sydney otherwise known as the Fraternal. Ps Pangilinan is the senior pastor of the Filipino congregation New Life Centre in Prospect. NSW.

 Pastor Pangilinan said it will be an important step for many issues raised by the Philippine community to actually reach the decision makers in Canberra, especially if the Liberal Coalition wins government in the next Federal election.

 The question of political empowerment of Filipinos in Australia has been a perennial issue of involvement by Philippine community leaders and has been a favourite discussion topic by community pundits.

 In 1998, the Australia wide umbrella organisation Filipino Communities Council of Australia or FILCCA met in Gold Coast on the conference topic of “Empowerment of Filipinos in Australian Society.”

 Then as its name suggest the Filipino Australian Movement for Empowerment or FAME was established in Sydney basically to help potential Filipino candidates to be elected to local government, state parliament or in the Federal parliament.

 But as Ps. Pangilinan pointed out, the possibility of electing the first Filipino member of the Federal Parliament in Jayme Diaz should be a natural progression from the hard work of the Diaz family.

 The Diaz patriarch himself Blacktown Councilor Atty Jess Diazwa practically a solitary Filipino figure in one election after another until his first pre-selection by the Liberal Party and won a seat in the local Blacktown City Council. The elder Diaz had been in the forefront of Filipino political participation and multicultural community aspirations.

 Jess was one of the founders of the present Philippine Communities Council of NSW (PCC-NSW) and worked hard for the inclusion of the Filipino language among the optional language subjects in NSW high school. He was also among the prime movers of the MPC or then called Multi-purpose Philippine Centre.

 Meanwhile the young Jayme Diaz for a number of years was the main coordinator of Diaz Foundation which participated in a number of Blacktown multicultural community projects. One of them was the Miss Diaz Foundation Philippine Independence Day Beauty Pageant which gave Filipino Australian youth a community window to appreciate Filipino culture and history.

 While Blacktown had been considered by many to have a predominantly Labor Party voting Filipino population, the area had not have a successful Filipino politician until the election of Blacktown Cr Jess Diaz, now past his seventy.

 For years Filipino voters had almost automatically supported Labor Party in various levels of elections as the number of Labor Party branch members had swelled through the years.

 Paradoxically the first Filipino who might occupy a seat in Australian federal parliament may be from the opposite political party.