Birthday Blues or Faux Pas

June 20th, 2011 · No Comments

Any Independence Day is considered the birth of a nation. This is echoed in countless speeches and messages that aim to inspire its people.   Therefore, to put in simplistic terms, Philippine Independence Day is our birthday.  All the celebrations, trappings and flag raising ceremonies serve to reinforce the fact that it is our birthday. 

It is the time to reflect on the gift of freedom and rekindle the Filipino spirit.  It’s time to pump patriotism through our veins that we all may throb and pulsate again as Filipinos.  It is a time to take a break from the rigours of our daily life and catch up with old friends.

And since it is our Birthday, one would expect that the birthday celebrant is allowed to speak. In the absence of the President, their duly designated representative speaks on their behalf.  While it is nice to invite our Aussie friends to our birthday, the fact remains that it is our birthday!

When the new Philippine Consul General Anne Jalondo-on Louis opened the doors of Philippine House and hosted the annual Flag Raising event at Philippine House last June 12, it was heart-warming.  It was nice to meet her young family; get acquainted with the Consular staff who are forever bothered by our pleases; mingle with our kababayans and devour that hearty Filipino breakfast that had been prepared.   And despite the downpour, the event went undeterred. Consul General Louis spoke of unity and a video clip of the President Benigno Aquino III’s message was shown.  We felt at home.

However, the Flag Raising event at Blacktown went completely awry (aray could be quite right). The Flag raising ceremony hosted by Australian Philippine Services League (APSL) drew gasps and whispers from the audience who were aghast when Consul Anthony Reyes, representing the Philippine Consulate was not asked to speak.  The ramblings of “why not?” continued even after the event.”  It’s our birthday and the birthday celebrant was not asked to speak!

According to the Chief honcho of APSL, Mr. Chris Pilao, “It was a management decision.”  

Mr. Pilao elaborates: “It is protocol to invite the Consulate, but it is not protocol that they speak.  We invited the Philippine Ambassador, who could not make it and a representative of the Philippine Consulate. There is nothing personal to the deputy consul.  The management of APSL decided that a Federal member and a State member would speak.   Thus, John Robertson, Leader of the Opposition and Ed Husic, was asked to speak.”

“They can raise the question, but we will not be dictated. It was a management decision. Next year, it may be different” Pilao emphatically adds.

With a reply like that, what else is there to say except… but…but….but,  it’s our birthday!  And it’s not even the organisation’s birthday.  This is not a battle of Councils – it is our birthday!!

It may be a management decision, but it’s still a faux pas!  Be it for the lack of knowledge or the absence of common sense what is most obvious is that the thinking process is flawed.  Garbage in – garbage out! Maybe it was the rain that clouded their better judgment or maybe the winds blew away any traces of common sense.  Who knows?  But can we really entrust the Filipino  this group to represent us or to make  decisions on our behalf?  Frightening, don’t you think?  Can these people even march?

Perhaps, when Australia Day comes, the Filipino may be asked to speak, or maybe the Chinese …or any other nationality.  It would be just as laughable but why not?  It is a scary thought, don’t you think?

The public  flag raising ceremony was initially started in Parramatta during the term of then Consul General Libran Cabactulan.  Why?  Because Parramatta is the sister city of Cebu.  It was only right that such cultural and ceremonial exchange take place there with the involvement of Banag-Banag,  after all  their members are mostly from Cebu and Visayan speaking.  If other flag ceremonies happen at other Councils, then that is fine – BUT let us not forget it is out birthday.

At yet another mind boggling scene, this year marks the 150th Birthday of our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal and I understand that a painting was to be unveiled at Bulwagang Rizal Hall at the Consulate.   Oh my, that’s a real bulaga for Rizal who will be turning over in his grave!  As for me, I will need to see the actual process to believe it!! 

This reminds me of the scene in the movie “Grease” when Travolta screams…”oooh, they’re multiplying!!”  And trust me, it is not “heartening”…it is “hurtening”!


Tags: Grey Matter