Constituency Statement - Bundaberg and District Australian-Filipino Association
On Saturday night I was very fortunate to attend Pearl of the Orient, an occasion which celebrated 30 years of the Bundaberg and District Australian-Filipino Association and, of course, the 116th anniversary of Philippine Independence Day. And what an event it was, attended by the local mayor, Mal Forman, and his wife, Joy, my colleague Stephen Bennett, the state member for Burnett, and Councillors Honor, Forgan and Hamilton from the Bundaberg Regional Council.
The event was a huge success, with a record almost 400 guests attending. I congratulate the association's president, Mila Schneider, and the rest of the organisers. It is not often that you see a queue of 200 people waiting for a meal, but it was certainly a wonderful occasion. This included traditional Filipino foods such as the lechon, which is a pig on a spit, prepared by International-Wide Bay TAFE students. There was a flower parade, which acknowledged all past and present members, who had raised enormous amounts of money for the association. Having never attended a Filipino association event before, it certainly was an eye-opener to see such a long list of attendees and people who have raised such an enormous amount of money.
There was a stage performance about the life of the Filipino national hero Jose Rizal—a gentleman whose life, unfortunately, was ended because he was executed—and the work that he did for Filipino independence. This was conducted by local primary and high school students. There was also an artwork as a stage backdrop, which was done by 20 or 30 individual students in separate panels and then put together as a collage. It was a wonderful event.
It is great to see the Filipino community enjoying themselves, after a tough year following tropical Cyclone Haiyan. Certainly, the discussions I had with my colleagues and the counsellors at the event felt like an enormously large family Christmas lunch. More than 171,000 Australians were born in the Philippines. In my electorate of Hinkler there are approximately 700. People came from Hervey Bay and Childers to the event. At a number of events people wore traditional dress. It certainly was a spectacular event, which I enjoyed enormously. I look forward to attending next year's anniversary of Philippine Independence Day.
I congratulate president Mila Schneider on a job well done. It certainly was a wonderful event. It is good to see that they are part of a local community. The community is much stronger for their presence.