Recently, the Australian Embassy in Manila, led by Ambassador Amanda Gorely and her spouse Mr. Stuart Hodge, hosted the celebration of Australia Day at the Rizal Ballroom of Makati Shangri-La Hotel.
Australia Day commemorates the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of 11 convict ships from Great Britain, and the raising of the Union Jack at Sydney Cove by its commander Captain Arthur Phillip in 1788.
Apart from the annual celebration to mark the historic event, Australia Day has also evolved to become an occasion to celebrate Australian culture, shared values, diversity and way of life.
Last year, the Australian Embassy began organizing events and activities that celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Philippine-Australia diplomatic relations.
Jumpstarting 2016 was the Say G’Day caravan at SM Aura Premier, SM City Cebu, SM City Davao and SM City North EDSA. Some highlights included the book launching of “Re-Imagining Australia: Voices of Indigenous Australians of Filipino Descent,” a fascinating social history by Deborah Wall.
“I would like to pay tribute to the first Filipinos who travel to Australia in 1800 to work as pearl divers. They were known as the Manila Men and until last year their history has not been very well documented,” Ambassador Gorely said in her address.
“Descendants of the Manila Men visited the Philippines for the first time last year for the launch of the book. They turned back to the islands with their family and they experienced overwhelming feeling and official sense of belongingness. The pilgrimage helped them to better understand their own identity – a proud indigenous Australian with Filipino heritage.”
Australia and the Philippines’ people-to-people links go back much further, the official start of the bilateral relationship can be traced back to the opening of the Australian Consulate in Manila on May 22, 1946.
“Many Filipinos have a strong connection to Australia – to study, to work, to travel. I often say that the people between Australia and the Philippines are the beating heart of our relationship: the warm, the passion and the accountable familiarity,” Ambassador Gorely beamed.
“In 2017, we will work with the Duterte administration to reinforce the foundation of our partnership for the next 70 years. Australia is looking forward to working on a number of initiatives with the Philippines for the following years,” the Ambassador added.