VICTORIA, Australia — After a much-awaited annual event, more than 40 Filipino Australia community organizations joined the annual Fiesta parade during the 30th Fiesta Celebration at the Exhibition Pavilion, Melbourne Showgrounds.
The parade was led by the vibrant Ati-Atihan group of the Samahan ng mga Pilipino sa Gippsland (SPAG) and the officers of the Philippine Fiesta Management Committee, followed by the different Filipino-Community associations in Victoria and the Miss and Mrs Philippine Fiesta Beauty Quest candidates. The parade was also participated in by the officers and members of the Filipino Communities Council of Australia (FILCCA) headed by its chairperson, Ms. Aida Garcia.
The parade collectively concretized the spirit of the Fiesta’s theme – Bukas Bisig or Welcome. Every association in the Filipino – Australian community in Victoria was invited to participate in the parade. Over three hundred people happily joined this annual parade, the longest ever in the history of the Philippine Fiesta.
Unlike previous Fiestas, this event was marked by beautiful sunny weather which contributed immensely to the 2-day jovial celebration. Many arrived in festive moods chatting with relatives and friends and catching up with the news.
The cavernous Exhibition Pavilion bedecked with multi-colored banderitas or mini buntings , was filled with revellers not only from Victoria but visitors coming from different states of Australia: savoring tasty Filipino food and drinks and enjoying Filipino dance, music and cultural exhibitions.
Filipina song diva, Dulce wowed the audience with her powerful rendition of a number Filipino songs, especially Ako ang Nagwagi, which is her signature song. Beauteous Shirley Fuentes and veteran comedian Tiya Pusit graced the occasion.
The two-day program really showcased the talents of Filipino-Australians in Melbourne by the Gintong Galing Singing Competition and a number of Filipino song-and-dance performances.
Hon. Gigi Kalong, the Philippine Consul General of Victoria, commended the Philippine Fiesta as one of the uniting factors in cementing a good relationship among the burgeoning Filipino-Australian community organizations in Victoria and a very effective vehicle in promoting the culture, language history, values and traditions of the Filipino people.
Hon. Bill Shorten, representative of the prime minister of Australia and Minister Financial Services and Superannuation, praised the Fiesta for its invaluable cultural contribution to the multi-cultural Australian society.
Other speakers were Jing Sosa, the chairperson of the Filipino Community Council of Victoria; Marina Garcia-Ruivivar, the founder of the Filipino Community Council of Victoria and one of the pioneers of the Philippine Fiesta and Sherlita Hart, the chairperson of the Filipino Community of Ballarat.
After the speeches, ConGen GKalong had the honor of cutting the ribbon flanked by the officers and members of the Philippine Fiesta to mark the formal opening of the two-day festivity.
Other features of the Fiesta was the colorful performance of the Sinulog by the Halad Group and the time-honored Flores de Mayo and Santacruzan with their full religious pageantry – complete with a number of beautiful “Reynas” or queens in their dazzling gowns, dashing escorts and florid arches – all in coordination with Filipino Community of Lara and the Philippine Miss and Mrs. Fiesta Beauty Quest 2012. There was a traditional “pabitin” after the Santacruzan initiated by the Don Bosco Association of Melbourne.
People flocked to see the cultural exhibit area mounted by the Filipino Club of Melbourne (FCCM) and the Ilonggo Association of Victoria. The exhibit featured the photos of the previous Fiesta Managements Committees, Filipino clothing and artifacts, different Santo Nino icons, the past winners of the Miss and Mrs Philippine Fiesta Beauty Quest and the private collections of Don Belardo resonating with Philippine history and culture.
A three-minute video about the Philippine Fiesta of Victoria produced by the Filipino Camera Club of Melbourne (FCCM) was regularly flashed across the big screen during the two-day festival. Interested attendees had their glamor shots taken by the FCCM for a minimum fee.
Ross Manuel, the Philippine Fiesta chairperson, delivered the closing remarks – thanking all individuals, volunteers, families, business enterprises and Filipino-Australian community organizations for making the Fiesta possible.
With the comments gathered from people who attended this year’s Philippine Fiesta celebration, most agreed that this Fiesta was one of the most successful fiestas ever held in Victoria.
“Talagang babalik uli ako sa Fiesta sa isang taon!” (I will definitely return to the Fiesta year!), quipped one of the attendees.
Manny G. Asuncion is Philippine Daily Mirror’s correspondent in Australia.
FIESTA MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE WITH GUEST SPEAKERS – L-R: Orly Victuelles (Assistant Treasurer), Manny G. Asuncion (PDM correspondent), Emmy Du-Lake (Director), Marina Garcia Ruivivar (Founder of the Filipino Council of Victoria), Resy Lim (Treasurer), Hon. Gigi Kalong (Philippine Consul General of Victoria (Guest Speaker), Liz Honey (1st Vice President), Sherlita Hart (Chairperson, Filipino Association of Ballarat), Suzette Manuel (Reception) and Ross Manuel (Fiesta Chairperson)
REYNA EMPERATRIZ – Marches during the Fiesta celebration.
FIESTA ATTENDEES – Fil-Australians pack the Exhibition Pavilion, Melbourne Showgrounds.
SINULOG DANCERS – Showcasing their dance.
INIMITABLE DULCE – Belts out one of her songs.
SHIRLEY – Guest artist from the Philippines singing a lovely song.
BARBEQUE ‘CHEF’ – Tends to his product to be sold.