Save 20% off! Join our newsletter and get 20% off right away!

Reflections of a community PRO

Promoting Community Organisations in Sydney

BY RICHARD FORD –  I MET a lot of Filipino friends when my wife Dian and I moved to  Liverpool, NSW in 2001. Then I became a member of Fil-Oz Liverpool and the Visayan Association of Australia Inc., (VAA) in 2004.  I became  Press Relations Officer of that association. Subsequently in  2010 I became the PRO for the Alliance of Philippine Community Organisations Inc.(APCO) and pretty much becoming so busy in writing articles for those two groups, that I soon acquired a liking to that role as I had a chance to meet so many Filipino-Australians.  I have considered them as my ˜second’ family outside of my own. For almost 25 years I have been married to my asawa Dian.

Why did I join and took the part of PRO? Well it was my desire that one, my asawa Dian did not feel lonely in a new country, and secondly, that she could make new friends that were mostly from her province called Leyte, in the area known as the Visayas, and thirdly, that I can make a contribution to the Filipino-Australian Community.

Being a PRO is a trying occupation when one has to meet media deadlines or trying to figure out what to say and what photos to use.  But all up it has been an interesting and learning occupation that has increased my learning in writings stories. It is also the time to learn new ways to express oneself eloquently in English.

Would I do it knowing what I know now? Of course, it was a chance to promote the associations and events to a wider audience. I do believe I may be the only Australian born and bred, that is white Anglo-Saxon to whom this coveted role has been bestowed upon by an ethnic community group, to say the least. As most I know are of Filipino background where mine is, ready for it English, Cornish, Irish and Welsh, as well as being French and Italian, and of course, Australian.

What difference does this make? Well, when you can speak only English and no other, ok maybe bits and pieces of Tagalog and Waray-Waray. It  still means I am an exception when I am told by someone, that I am half-Filipino and seem to know more about the Filipinos, They say it gives me an advantage when it comes to  expressing oneself in media writing. Well true or not I love  Filipino culture and traditions that at times are better than my own. They are things that help to make me feel comfortable and relaxed around Filipinos anywhere, especially back home in Tacloban City in Leyte.

So what do I find exciting about writing media articles about Filipino events and people? Well it has a lot to do with the privilege and thankfulness that come with the benefits of experiencing so much that makes the Filipinos to me so unique and special to me personally. Members of the Filipino-Australian community  have accepted me as one of their own.  I feel humble and proud at the same time to be a part of  the community since they have helped me to be more grown-up and mature in my dealings with people. I have respect for the people and their diversity and contribution to the country I call home.

What are my exciting moments in this field?  Well I can say the people I meet, the changes I have seen in people, especially the young ones, the entertainers, community leaders I have met, the events . I have been to many occasions  and seen. how much the Filipino wish to make a better life for their family, friends and Kababayans back home.

These mean so much to me personally as well. The charitable events I have covered and been a part of also have given me great joy. But most of all is the colour, the vibrancy and energy and sacrifice everyone puts in to make their event as successful as it can be for the benefit of all.

Everyone had a humble task I admire in all I have met and been a part of. Especially the amount of colour and diverse styles of Filipiniana and Barongs attires in important events. WOW so maganda to see.

The events I have been proud to cover for the VAA Inc. are the Valentines Day, Anniversary Night, Leyte Gulf Landing Commemoration, Lady of the Rule Fiesta, Joint Christmas Events, the Mrs Visayas Coronation, the Philippine-Australia Beauty Pageants, especially 2014-2015, when we had two winners, Glyssa Perez, then Rica Sey and One-Runner-up, being Adrianna Gravador in 2016.

For the first time while I was PRO, the first two have now gone on to greater things in other beauty pageants. Then of course, other events that the Visayan Association was and continues to be a part of, especially Charitable Fundraising Events, since becoming an affiliate under the Alliance of Philippine Community Organisations (APCO) Inc.

Then for Fil-Oz Liverpool there are functions such as the Santa Cruzan Flores de Mayo and the Christmas in July, and with APCO is the Freedom Ball and others like the Flavours of Auburn and others.

So my life as a PRO has been interesting and very much an exciting and eventful journey. I have been privileged to be a part of the very humble, active, caring and self-sacrificing community organisation that seeks to serve for the betterment of the Filipino-Australian community both here in Australia and to our “Kababayans” back home in the Philippines. BY RICHARD FORD.