Women Shine In An All-Female FILCCA Board

February 22nd, 2022 · No Comments

It’s all women in the Filipino Communities Council of Australia Inc (FILCCA). The women board members were elected last 30 October 2021 which was live streamed via zoom.  The originally intended elections were planned to coincide with the traditional FILCCA national conference, but was cancelled due to the Corona virus.  The special National Awards Ceremony in honour and recognition of the Filipino leaders and achievers in Australia proceeded online.

FILCCA is the umbrella organisation representing all Filipino State organisations. It ‘s main aim is to advocate for the needs of the Filipino Community in Australia.  It is now on its 30th year of existence.

All the women elected to the FILCCA Board represent the different States and are dynamic achievers in their own rights.


President CECILIA FLORES, from Canberra won the top seat unopposed. This is the first time FILCCA has a president coming from the ACT. Flores is a civic minded leader and has been a strong and steadfast supporter and advocate of FILCCA for years. She served as the Public Relations Officer for two terms – in 2016-2018 and 2018-2021. Cecilia has held primary positions within her home state community council, the Filipino Community Council of the ACT Inc (FCCACT) and is also the current president.

“The greatest gift you can give someone is your time. When you give your time, you are giving a portion of your life that you will never get back,” said Cecilia Flores.  “I look forward to a stronger and a more robust community engagement and participation. she added.

Also elected to office were: FELI LACORTE (FABICCQ) as Vice President, External Affairs; SERNA LADIA (PCCNSW) as Vice President, Internal Affairs; RACHEL BERNABE (FCCACT) as Vice President, Youth Affairs; DIWANI “Kotch” VELASQUEZ (FCCACT) as Secretary; VERONICA PANTOS (FCCWA) as Treasurer; and CIELO FRANKLIN (FCCWA) as Public Relations Officer.

In her welcome speech, Cecilia expressed her vision and goals for FILCCA.

  • To raise awareness for FILCCA’s and lift its profile locally, regionally and nationally.
  • To further increase the visibility and raise the profile of Filipinos and the communities and networks they represent in Multicultural Australia.
  • To increase participation in Government policies and decision-making.
  • To continue working towards establishing relationships at all government levels and maintaining good relationship with the Philippine Embassy.

“Through the years that I have been associated with FILCCA, I have developed a greater and wider sense of understanding and appreciation of people and communities. In my role as President, I will be here to lead, to connect, to collaborate and create partnerships and continue to fulfil the goals and objectives of FILCCA,” said Cecilia.

Cecilia also congratulated and thanked the outgoing President, Carmen Garcia and her Board members especially for having survived the challenges during the pandemic times.

H.E. Ma. Hellen B. De La Vega inducted the officers in a warm, private online ceremony. Consul General, Mr Aian Caringal was also present and welcomed the new FILCCA Board.

“Our Bayanihan spirit will require dedication, patience, commitment to inclusivity, prioritisation of convergence of interests and strengthened efforts in reaching out to those who are vulnerable and in distress. I therefore enjoin FILCCA to move together in unison with the other Filipino community organisations towards the common goals that unite us and to celebrate in each other’s success” said Ambassador De La Vega.



Cecilia finished elementary, high school and college education at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree, major in Communication Arts.

Cecilia has had many years of extensive Australian Public Service experience in high profile Commonwealth Government departments in Canberra, ACT. Her private sector experience was spent at the leading regional daily newspaper in Albury-Wodonga, The Border Mail; and media, advertising and marketing research in Sydney. She is a dedicated community leader with current role as the National President of the Filipino Communities Council of Australia Inc (FILCCA), as well as the State President of the Filipino Community Council of the ACT Inc (FCCACT). She is also a Canberra International Women’s Day Committee Member for UN Women Australia and the Vice President, ACT Chapter for the newly formed University of Santo Tomas Alumni Australia (USTAA). Her other commitment is that of Liturgy Ministry role at St Christopher’s Cathedral, Canberra.

Cecilia was the recipient of the 2016 FILCCA State Leadership Award; 2016 Philippine Ambassador Certificate of Recognition for outstanding and dedicated service to the Filipino Community in the ACT, for the kind and generous support for activities and projects of the Philippine Embassy Canberra, and for strong commitment to further strengthen the friendship between the Philippines and Australia; and 2020 ADHIKA Sydney International Women’s Day Inspiring Woman Award.

FELI LACORTE – (Vice President, External Affairs)Queensland

Graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Ateneo de Davao University,
Feli first arrived in Australia in 2004 as a recipient of AusAID postgraduate scholarship where she completed Master of Social Administration at the University of Queensland. While in Australia, Feli also earned additional degree in Postgraduate Diploma in Human Services and Community Development, as well as Diploma in Small Business, and studied some subjects of Graduate Diploma in Migration Law. Feli is the current Vice President of the Filipino-Australian Business, Industry and Communities Council of Queensland Inc (FABICCQ), a state organisation where she holds the industry portfolio. Feli continues to lead the organisation in advocacy campaign for policy changes in employment and migration to support regional employers find suitable workers in a cost-effective way possible.

SERNA LADIA – (Vice President, Internal Affairs) – NSW

Serna is an Accountant and member of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) and the Institute of Public Accountants (IPA) AustraliaPost Graduate (Master of Business Administration), University of the Philippines. She was the former Treasurer of FILCCA; Past President of Philippine Community Council of NSW, Inc.; and Radio Producer/Presenter of Sandigan Radio 2RDJ 88.1FM, Sydney

RACHEL BERNABE – (Vice President, Youth Affairs) – ACT

Rachel holds a double degree: Bachelor of Communication and Bachelor of Event and Tourism Management. She is a Filipino-Australian with an emerging professional background in the ACT Government public service. 

Rachel has been involved in several Filipino community organisations in Canberra since the age of four (4). In 2018, Rachel was the recipient of the FILCCA Youth Achiever Award for the ACT. The award was presented to her during the 15th National Conference in Perth, WA. Currently, she is a committee member of the ACT Filipino Australian Social & Cultural Association (ACTFA-SCA) and Supporter of Answering the Cry of the Poor (ANCOP).

DIWANI REMEDIOS “KOTCH” VELASQUEZ – (Secretary) – ACTKotch attained a Bachelor of Business Management at the University of the Philippines, Cebu College; Master of Business Administration at the Ateneo de Davao University; and Master of Environmental Management and Development at the Australian National University. She is currently working as the Culture and Capability Officer of the Environment Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate in Canberra. She is the co-founder of the Filipino Language School of Canberra, established in 2010. She is also the PRO of the Filipino Community Council of the ACT Inc (FCCACT), a member of Filipino Advocates for Change and Transparency, Couples for Christ Community and the Holy Spirit Parish Community. Kotch was a recipient of the FILCCA Filipino-Australian Achiever Award in 2016.

VERONICA PANTOS –  (Treasurer) Western Australia

Veronica holds a Graduate Diploma in Secondary Education; Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Business; and Graduate Diploma in Information Technology.
She is a Secondary Education Teacher working for the Department of Education, WA.
She is also a volunteer for The Smith Family – Learning Club and Homeless Connect WA.

CIELO FRANKLIN – Public Relations Officer – Western Australia

Cielo has a degree in Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, Computer Science major. She was a computer programmer for 18 years, including three and a half years in Japan as her first job. In 2013, she established the Tagalog School of Perth, teaching the Filipino language to anyone who is interested to learn, regardless of age. She is also the newly elected President of the Filipino Community Council of Western Australia Inc (FCCWA); the President of Kababaihang Maka-Rizal Inc; and the Vice President, WA Chapter of the University of Santo Tomas Alumni Australia (USTAA). She also writes for The Philippine Times newspaper.

Press Release from FILCCA

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