FROM NEGROS TO AUSTRALIA

Manila, July 1, 2003 By Bibsy Carballo (BULLETIN) Gems of learning from a study tour.

Last March 21 was an important date to all ethnic groups in Australia. And the Filipino-Australia Association of the Northern Territories based in Darwin, celebrated it in a major way. Particularly because this year, also marks the group’s 30th anniversary.

Organized in 1973, the association of 500 active members is the only Filipino organization recognized by the Australian government, and given land 10 years ago, where it has constructed an imposing building. There are 4000 Filipinos out of 80,000 population in Darwin, and 250,000 in the entire Northern Territories.

The association, under the aggressive leadership of Jon Rivas, is dedicated to the promotion of Filipino culture through barrio fiestas, cultural shows, Mutya competitions, sportsfests and participation in the international ARAFURA games, held in Darwin every two years.

Out of its many projects in pursuit of leadership development for the Filipino youth, FAANT is proudest of its study tour availed of by 11 students of the Kabankalan Catholic College, Negros Occidental (90 kms. south of Bacolod).

Serving as liaison with the Australian government in all aspects of development, Rivas was granted an A$5000 subsidy to hold the study tour. He acquired hosts for food, accommodations, entries to shows and the national parks.

IMPRESSIONS

The study tour was to say the least an experience of a lifetime for the students, this being the first trip outside the Philippines for most of them.

John Rupert, 13, was truly amazed at the discipline exhibited by the residents of Darwin. Furthermore, he observes, “There are no rich, and no poor… We met the Lord Mayor and the Chief Minister, and they didn’t have bodyguards.”

Miguel Marcelino loved seeing things alien to him like the kangaroos, and the Australian aborigines. Conservative Roshela, 16, was quite shocked by the lifestyle of the youth. A girl her age, she says, was living-in with her boyfriend in her own home.

Sophomore Leozelle, loved the sense of independence while 14-year-old Anna who lives a sheltered life was homesick, but was raring to learn independence.

Senior Charlene loved the rock climbing in Kakadu, a national park out of Darwin. Junior Emmanuel was impressed by the city’s cleanliness. Junior Emmanuel was impressed by the city’s cleanliness. Junior Katherine, at a loss for words, said, “”It was simply a great experience.”

For most of the kids, it helped that Darwin with its little town atmosphere and tropical climate, made them feel comfortable and at home. Rivas looks forward to more tours of this nature next year.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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