Ignatius Jones Honoured as Filipino Australian of the Year

February 26th, 2015 · No Comments

ignaJones1When the temperatures dip in Sydney come winter time, Sydney lights up with the Vivid Sydney Festival. And you can feel absolutely proud that behind those dazzling light shows is the ingenuity of  Filipino Australian, Ignatius Jones.

There is nothing ordinary about Ignatius Jones.  He’s a journalist, actor, singer, producer, director and oozes with creativity in everything he does.  He is one of Australia’s most sought after event organizers.

Ignatius was awarded top honours by the Filipino Communities Council of Australia (FILCCA) last year, naming him the 2014 Filipino Australian of the Year. It was a recognition that has long been overdue.

Left: Ignatius Jones receiving his award from Ambassador Belen Anota.  Right: Ignatius Jones in the center proudly in his Barong with friends and Tourism Attache, Consuelo Jones on the right. (Photos by Jade Cadelina)

Left: Ignatius Jones receiving his award from Ambassador Belen Anota. Right: Ignatius Jones in the center proudly in his Barong with friends and Tourism Attache, Consuelo Jones on the right. (Photos by Jade Cadelina)

At the awards night, he touched the audience with his acceptance speech wherein he captured the essence of the “Mestizo” – a familiar term in the Philippines which refers to a racial mix and those whiter in complexion.  “In some way, the Mestizos felt discriminated in the sixties and also felt they had less opportunity.”  It was an honest and most refreshing sentiment expressed.

“My stomach is definitely Filipino,” he chuckles.  “I still eat all Filipino food at home.  Rice for breakfast, adobo and bagoong” –  he’s had it all.  He then went on to talk about how his acquired taste for the Philippines gastronomical delights came from his Aunt’s catering, La Mesa de la Peninsula, which catered for Presidential dinner parties even up to Marcos’ time.  “There is so much to love in the Philippines – the parols from Pampanga are simply amazing,”  he adds.

While most have heard of the name Ignatius Jones and most were in awe at the work he’d done, most Filipinos were not aware that he was Filipino born and bred.  “I was ecstatic and very proud” said Ignatius.  “I was very touched to have received the honour. At least, I also got to wear my Barong” he adds.

Ignatius is the epitome of multiculturalism today.  He is the perfect blend of cultures and typifies diversity at its best.   He was born Juan  Ignacio Trapaga in Singalong, Manila to  a Basque-Chinese father and a Catalan-American mother, who migrated to Australia in the early sixties. He  later changed his name to Ignatius Jones which is how the world has come to know and admire him.  He finds multiculturalism an amazing concept and says “the next generation of new Filipinos will be most interesting” he said.

Arts and entertainment are deeply ingrained in his roots.  It runs in his blood with his Aunt, Mecca Trapaga, the Spanish-Filipina opera singer  who was a regular at South Juniors; and his sister, Monica Trapaga a well known singer, author, TV host and presenter for the children’s show “Play School” and Better Homes and Garden TV Show.

He studied and performed classical ballet as a child then switched to the more contemporary scene.  He burst into Australia’s music charts as the lead vocalist of the group “Jimmy and the Boys”, the boy band that first placed the shock in rock and which lasted from 1976 to 1982. When the group disbanded he cooled down his tempo to jazz cabaret, reviving the swing band era in “Pardon me Boys,” and performing with his sister, Monica Trapaga.

Between gigs, ever so versatile and talented, he dabbled in journalism, writing for music publications, and took on acting bits in “The Man from Snowy River”, Pandemonium”  and even sang hits from “Strictly Ballroom.”

And then a chance meeting  turned out to be one of his big defining moments.  He worked alongside David Atkins, and directed segments for the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the Sydney Olympics.  Then the world took notice as he directed a show in East Timor for their Independence, the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010, the Shanghai World Expo in 2010, and the Gay Mardi Gras Event.

While projects are forever brewing in his mind, he now spends his time making Sydney a top ranking tourist destination.  Vivid Sydney opens the art world to the people of Sydney and the world.   So in just a few more months, when it’s lights on for Vivid Sydney, smile and feel proud knowing Ignatius Jones is behind the scenes.  He is proudly a Filipino after all!

Tags: Features