August 14, 2023, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – The Philippine Consulate General in Melbourne facilitated a landmark fellowship called Pagtitipon of the members of the three Knights of Rizal Victoria chapters (Southeast, West, Entrepreneur) and Kababaihang Rizalista, Inc. Victoria to mark the celebration of Buwan ng Wika on 11 August 2023 at the Mission to Seafarers Victoria (MtSV).
In collaboration with the Saluhan Collective, a vibrant group of young Pinoy/half-Pinoy creatives spanning various art fields, the Consulate General highlighted the “Pagbasa Archives,” an exhibit underscoring Filipino literary heritage, attracting around 50 guests.
Left: MJ Flamiano (left) and Catherine Ortega-Sandow of Saluhan Collective introduce the “Pagbasa Archives” in the MtSV; Right: Dr. Allan Terret speaks of Rizal’s multi-faceted contributions to the nation.
Consul General Maria Lourdes Salcedo thanked the Saluhan Collective and the MtSV for agreeing to host the Pagtitipon and expressed hope that the gathering could spark new ideas for collaboration. She was recognized as being instrumental in the chartering of KRI in March 2023, which inspired the creation of the three KOR chapters in June. Mr. Neil James, CEO of MtSV, welcomed participants and shed light on some of the services they provide to seafarers in Victoria. Notably, of the approximately 11,000 seafarers visiting Melbourne annually, more than 60% are Filipinos.
Dr. Allan Terret, KOR and senior lecturer at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), gave an insightful discourse on his experiences as an exchange student in Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte almost fifty years ago, where he learned about Rizal and his multi-faceted contributions to the nation. Dr. Terret initiated the installation of the Rizal plaque in Ballarat along with the Deputy Chief of Mission Edwin Bael in 1999.
Sir Manuel Asuncion of KOR gave a stirring reading of Rizal’s early poem, “My Fellow Children”, while young artist Antoine Aquino serenaded the Pagtitipon with a medley of Filipino songs in his classical guitar. Sir Walter Villagonzalo, Chapter Commander of KOR Melbourne Southeast, presented potential initiatives to bolster the presence and sustainability of KOR and KRI, including the vision for the establishment of a “Dapitan Cooperative” and a coffee shop where chapter meetings may be held. Discussions around these proposals will continue in subsequent formal meetings between the KOR and KRI. The event, which was wrapped up with two patriotic songs led by Sir Arlan Fajardo, Chapter Commander of KOR Melbourne West, was hosted by Sir Edward Dela Cruz of KOR Melbourne West and Lady Josephine Quintero, KRI, great grand-niece of Dr. Jose Rizal.
In celebrating Buwan ng Wika, the Philippine Consulate General in Melbourne lent support for the strengthening of bonds between groups to promote Filipino heritage thereby fostering unity and pride among those who attended the event.