Hundreds of members of the community braved the early morning rains on Saturday (June 10) to participate in the annual flag-raising organised by the Australia Philippines Services League (APSL) and Blacktown City Council in connection with the 119th anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence.
Originally scheduled at Blacktown’s Village Green, the event moved to the Civic Centre’s Bowman Hall.
Philippine Ambassador to Australia Minda Calaguian-Cruz together with Consul-General Anne Jalando-on Louis and Consul Melanie Rita Diano and Blacktown City Deputy Mayor Tony Bleasdale led in the traditional flag-raising ceremony, with the singing of the Philippine and Australian anthems led by Brian Lorenz.
Other government officials who attended were State Member for Riverstone Kevin Connolly and Blacktown councillors Linda Santos, Susai Benjamin, Julie Griffiths, and Kathy Collins.
In their respective messages, Ambassador Calaguian-Cruz, Consul-General Louis and APSL president Col. Chris Pilao expounded on this year’s Kalayaan theme: “Pagbabagong Sama-Samang Balikatin” (loosely translated as, Changes to be shouldered together).
The Canberra-based ambassador also noted that there are Filipino-Australian councillors in the Blacktown City Council which, according to her, is a proof of the Filipino community’s ability to integrate. The councillors are Linda Santos, Carol Israel, Jess Diaz and Frederick Brillo, and Jaymes Diaz. (Blacktown has more than 27,000 residents of Filipino heritage.)
During the flag-raising, Consul-General Louis presented a certificate each to Cr Bleasdale and Col Pilao to recognise the joint efforts of the Council and APSL in holding flag-raisings during the last 13 years in Blacktown City.
After the formal ceremony, Filipino youth singers Jared Laseca and Chantelle Santos, Banag Banag Cultural Dancers and Sonata Singers performed entertainment numbers.
The Blacktown City flag-raising is part of the month-long commemoration in New South Wales of the 119th Anniversary of the Proclamatiion of Philippine Independence.
Other similar gatherings are scheduled in other sites: 17 June (Campbelltown, Penrith, Dubbo, Wagga Wagga), 23 June (Gosford) and 24 June (Parramatta and Hunter Valley).