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Community author Neria Soliman feted for 25 years of community involvement

Neria Soliman
Neria Soliman, 5th from right

When does a community volunteer such as a long serving Philippine community scribe  retires? Never.  Like good old soldiers they just fade away and better still the community reporter is feted by friends, relatives and associates with a milestone party such a what happened to Mrs Neria Soliman of  Sydney.

A self- confessed jill of all trades in the Philippine community in Sydney having been a book author,  a food columnist, a dance correspondent, former president of the peak organisation PCC-NSW,   one of the face of NSW Healthy Eating campaign, long running president of active women’s social club Hot Mamas of Sydney, convenor of the religious association Australian Devotees of Our Lady of Penafrancia (ADOLP),  one time Blacktown candidate for councillor, Mrs Neria Soliman, 65, of Hassal Grove in Western Sydney  had showcased for the past 25 years what a self involved woman can do for her community.

A memorable celebration was held  in her honour last 22 February  at the South Hungarian Club in Glendenning to celebrate Neria Soliman 25th year as a writer.   Friends who have bought copies of her book and have read her column in two main Philippine community newspapers, one after another, had come to enjoy the event  and made sure it was as memorable as it can be.

Unexpectedly some friends and visitors from overseas and interstate came to celebrate with Neria to make the event even more significant.

At the same time, Mrs Soliman turned the event into  a recollection of  her first book launching as author  visiting Australia in 1986 sponsored by then  Philippine  Minister of Tourism,  Jose Antonio Gonzales.

Titled Bicol and Filipino Recipes, Soliman’s book   that year also found its way to South Australia and Victoria  in separate book launching.  Soliman’s trip in 1986 was her prize  from the Philippine Tourism Ministry for  chairing the 1ST BICOLANDIA FESTIVAL in Manila, held at Manila Garden.

During the event, dishes were served for one month  in La Granja Fine Dining as patterned from her book were lifted from Soliman book. Soliman who used to work with a hotel for almost two months liaised with the Chefs on how to prepare Bicol delicacies  Pinangat, Laing, Bicol Express among other recipes.

Invited to Australia in 1986 through then  Consul General Oscar Valenzuela, Soliman was able to contact old friends and relatives like the Imperials.  Mrs Soliman recalled she met with the late Dr. Elias Imperial, former Albay Governor Diding Imperial and Smito and Baby Kasilag Imperial.  A cooking Demo and book launch was held  in Marayong.

Twenty five years later last month,  many of Soliman’s friends and colleagues  turned up and attended the event at Glendenning.  They  included   Sydney’s Philippine community luminaries such as  Albine Martin, Winnie Biala, Cora Espinosa, Espie Bables, Agnes Garcia, author Neria Soliman, Vivian Tee, Baby Kasilag Imperail, Delilah del Rosario Villahermosa, Debbie Santiago and Olivia Sabat.