On the eve of the Philippine Communities Council (PCC) annual general meeting, scheduled this Sunday, February 13, we have heard snippets of information that there had been some political maneauverings and horse trading going on among aspirants for positions in PCC’s executive committee.
The name Chairman Mao was even included in some of the email exchanges and communiques. The political maneuverings in PCC’s last annual general meeting led to the formation of another alliance, the Association of Philippine Community Organisations.
I am hoping that after tomorrow’s meeting, we will not see a third “umbrella” organisation.
These ongoings amongst Filipino Australian groups are rather interesting, and look like we in the community have to live with them for sometime. I remember those events some 20 years back, the start of PCC, which have some semblance to the current situation.
I attended the first foundation meeting of the PCC representing the Cebuano Speaking Association of Australia (Venice faction) that was convened by Sennie Masian, then Ethnic Press Officer of Mr Nick Greiner (Premier of NSW at that time). The meeting was to deliberate upon and put to action the charter drafted by Sennie Masian and Dux Maniquiz, now known as HRH Prince Omar Dux Maniquiz Kiram of the Royal Hashimite Sultanate of Sabah and Sulu.
On that fateful day sometime in October 1990, in which a video footage I understand was filmed by Jun Caparas, as soon as Sennie Masian banged the Call to Order gavel to formally open the meeting, Jess Diaz raised a point of order, questioning the authority of Sennie Masian to preside the meeting.
In that instant I also raised a point of order on the point of order raised by Jess Diaz since by his attendance in the meeting, he was understood to have accepted the authority of Sennie Masian to preside the meeting.
Dux Maniquiz spoke after, and a loud noisy debate ensued between Jess Diaz and Dux Maniquiz.
Somehow, my point of order was lost in the confusion and verbal commotion that followed. Not having met most of those in the meeting before, I could not believe how passionate they could be as if their lives depended on the results of that meeting.
There were other speakers. Linda Swords, Joe Prieto, Manny Diel, Manny Villon and others spoke. Manny Castillo, Belen Oag, Ric and Emma De Vera and many others that I can no longer recall were also in that meeting.
In that melee, I simply kept quiet. I was shocked to witness the ugly side of the Filipino psyche and to witness how emotions could be displayed in a wreckless way.
In the end Sennie, Dux, Belen, a few others and myself walked out of the meeting.
We learned later that Jess Diaz came out as the elected president of PCC.
I remembered our group regrouping to a different venue and rescheduled to meet on a different date at the Marrickville area where the Ethnic Communities Council held an office.
On that rescheduled meeting, we formed a different umbrella group (sounds familiar?) with Belen Oag elected as the president and I was elected as vice president.
A month after in November 1990, we traveled to Melbourne to be part of the foundation meeting of FILCA with Ms Ruivivar from Victoria convening that meeting. I can remember Dux having a heated debate with the other attendees in Victoria.
The rest, as they say, is history.
As a people, historically, controversies and dissensions have been with us. Even during the time of General Aguinaldo, there were already disputes: Aguinaldo against Bonifacio, General Antonio Luna and others. Amongst the lower ranks, there was also dispute. The stoush between the youthful General Gregorio Del Pilar and General Isidiro Torres was so unashamedly displayed during the passing-in-review ceremony in honor of General Aguinaldo.
In themselves, controversies are not bad. Controversies are part of group dynamics. In an organisation, one should expect disagreements ~ especially amongst those who are passionate with their causes. As Filpress convenor Jimmy Pimentel said, “I am a true believer in robust debate to achieve the best results.”
As long as we deal with each other in a professional way and not use physical violence or foul language when somebody disagrees with our ideas, then yes, I also believe in debates. In debates, issues are sorted out and crystallised..
We live in a democratic country and we Filipino Australians love our democratic freedom to agree to disagree with each other and accept our regional differences. As Australians and as members of the community living in a multicultural society, we need to live in harmony where we should tolerate and respect the opinions and practices of others.