Filipino Community Cooperative Celebrates 40 Years Anniversary

December 18th, 2021 · No Comments

By Benjie de Ubago

It’s the season for giving and to celebrate their 40th Anniversary, the Filipino Community Cooperative (FilCoop) turned their 40th Anniversary celebration  into an afternoon of  gift-giving afternoon on 12 December 2021.  Christmas hampers were handed out much to the delight of the senior citizens as part of the Covid-19 assistance program and with the NSW government’s help.

The current Officers and Directors of the Filipino Community Cooperative.

It was also the time to acknowledge and thank the pioneers and those who gave of themselves in the service of FilCoop and the community throughout the years. 

The atmosphere at Bowman Hall, Blacktown was electric and the entertainment featured a cavalcade of musical talents. Opening the show was the charming Jojo Sebastian and multi-talented  Tina Bangel with “Give Love on Christmas Day”.

The fabulous entertainers.

Also on the show were:  soothing voices of The Sonata Singers who added a little choreography to their performance; stage veteran Ms. Chit Conway proved she was a real trooper;  the One Voice Singers and the graceful Six Pak Dancers. Highlight of the show was Seann Miley Moore who brought the house down and managed to shock a few seniors with his provocative attire.  The show was hosted by the versatile Ms. Michelle Baltazar.

The total entertainer, Seann Miley Moore.

Being an anniversary event for FilCoop, Chairperson Ms. Kate Andres, the longest chairperson of the FilCoop (since 2001) thanked the pioneers of the organization and all those who contributed to FilCoop through the years. Among those present were: Linda Villareal (founding chairperson), Malyn Andres, Sennie Masian, Bert Garcia, Ning Allejo, Jun Relunia and Marissa Bala. Kate also thanked the community for their support throughout the years. “The Child Care Centre has changed management but this leaves us free to do other things for the community.  We are now entering a new phase for FilCoop. “Kate said.

Recently re-elected, Councillor Tony Bleasdale, OAM of Blacktown City Council was the special guest and assisted in the handing out of tokens of appreciation.

Cr. Tony Bleasdale OAM handing token of appreciation to founding chairperson, Linda Villareal.


As Filipino arrivals had increased by a hundred fold, Linda Villareal, one of the Filipino pioneers who arrived in Australia in 1962, had the vision to start an organization that would offer welfare services for newly arrived migrants. Armed with her passion to help fellow Filipinos, Villareal established the Filipino Community Cooperative on 21 March, 1981.

An office was rented at Addision Street, Marrickville  which became the centre for community meetings and even dance practices.

The directors then aimed for a Child Care centre and with government assistance for 25 kids, the first child care centre was established in Mascot called “Hiyas ng Bayan”.  However problems with the local residents, and a legal case ensued but they won.  As a compromise, the government agreed to provide a grant for their building of their own premises if they moved.  The compromise was accepted.

Property was found at Mt. Pritchard and the building of the Hiyas ng Bayan Child Care Centre was finally completed in 1989 during the term of Jose Relunia Sr. The name Hiyas ng Bayan was later changed to HNB Child Care Centre to cater for the growing multicultural community. Children aged 0 to 5 years old were accepted.

The former Chairpersons of the FilCoop include:

Linda Villareal (Founding Chairperson – 1981-1983), Raffy Duarte (1984), Les Bullen (1985), Malyn Andres Chun (1986), Jose Relunia  Sr.(1987 – 1993), Nancy Casaol (1994-1995), Federico Rafanan (1996), Jovencio Ponce (1997), Federico Rafanan (1998), Jose Relunia Sr.(1999 – 2000) and Kate Andres (2001 to present). Andres is the longest serving Chairperson and is one of the few dedicated and untiring community leaders.

Many others passed through its doors rendering voluntary service in one way or another: Lolita Farmer, Jess Diaz, Lucy Saladar, Ampy Natividad, Tey Valencia, Agnes Crame, Gloria Gumban, Mena Santos and Bert Garcia. They were the unpaid workers who gave of themselves to simply help the community.

Currently serving the FilCoop along with Kate Andres (Chairperson) are:  Normie Steward (Vice chairperson), Edna Longhurst (Secretary), and Jimmy Lopez (Treasurer). Directors include:   Millie Banan, Malyn Andres  Chun , Elsa Collado, Serna Ladia,  Lillian de los Reyes  and Dorothy del Villar.

During Andres’ term, the FilCoop collaborated with other community projects and they tried their  hand at production to raise funds for their humanitarian programs.  Some of them include: The staging of Leonor Orosa-Goquinco’s play “Her Son Jose Rizal” as directed by RC Reyes; the ambitious back-to-back concert of Dami Im and Rose Fontanes at the Sydney Town Hall; the Reo Brothers and the UST Singers.

After 40 years, the HNB Child Care Centre in Mt. Pritchard has changed management last May.  The FilCoop now enters  a new chapter in its history.  And something is brewing but better to  just wait and see!

18 December 2021

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