A celebration of Albie Prias’ 50th birthday dubbed as “A New Beginning” held on 17 November 2013 at Burwood RSL became a backdrop for a historic meeting. A selection of Filipino-Australian community leaders and media members present at the concert was invited by Michelle Baltazar, mediaawardee and co-host broadcaster of Sandigan Radio, to an impromptu meeting. 

Present at the meeting were Kate Andres, Ruben and Cen Amores, Michelle Baltazar, Violi Calvert, Daisy Cumming, Manny Castillo, Elsa Collado, Jhun Salazar and Neria Soliman.  The composition of the group heralds a new beginning for united community action; whereas before there had been no communication between the groups which results in holding activities which could be consolidated for bigger impact.

Baltazar briefed the group about a three-pronged project relating to the activities and fundraising events for TyphoonHaiyan survivors.  One part of the project involves cataloguing and documenting the fundraising projects conducted by individual organisations and the corresponding partner organisation for the disbursement of funds.  The other part looks after the keeping of a registry of the missing relatives and friends of Filipinos who live in Australia.   

The third aspect of the project is aimed at raising $1M to provide assistance to the Haiyan Typhoon survivors in collaboration with World Vision.   

"World Vision Australia has given the Filipino-Australian community a dedicated site for our donors. Once we achieve our $1 million target, World Vision will give us a selection of options on how to disburse those funds to those who need them - from immediate purposes such as temporary refuge for women and children affected by the typhoon to longer term community rebuilding programs."

Baltazar highlighted that to reach this goal there is a need for a united support by the Filipino-Australian organisations. The plan is to hold an event in the next ten days which will be attended by corporate organisations approached to give donations.  

Leaders from the various organising bodies, which represent thousands of Filipino-Australians through their affiliate member associations, agreed that they will provide the necessary working committees and volunteers to support the event. They will also seek corporate and community pledges to help meet the $1 million target.

"Our volunteer group will help collect all the information on any fundraising programs already underway or have been done. This will help us communicate with relevant contacts in the Philippines to get information on how the funds will be spent," said Baltazar.

"As for the $1 million typhoon appeal, I know it sounds like a lot of money to raise but with community associations working as one, it is not impossible."

"There are many things that can divide us but there are even more things that unite us. Our compassion for our fellow Filipinos horrifically affected by one of the worst typhoons in history is one of them. Together we can help them get back on their feet,” she said.

People’s Ambassador of Australia Cen Amores commented:  “In times of crisis, nothing is more rewarding than to be of help. The One Million Dollar Fund raising initiated by Michelle is a positive and quick response that requires collaborative effort from our community, the corporate sector and other volunteers. We fully support it and look forward to our active participation. We understand that while World Vision Australia will keep safe and administer the money in a distinct account for use exclusively for victims of the super typhoon Hayian (Yolanda) the Filipino community represented by Michelle can have a say toward how the fund should be utilised.”

Philippine Community Council – New South Wales President Elsa Collado added her support to the initiative.  She said: “I myself is all for the unity and solidarity of the Filipino-Australian community. I am in support for this worthy cause especially when it comes to helping our devastatedkababayans tract home.  Let us be one and not be afraid to walk hand in hand to address the present problems of our countrymen affected by communities affected by the calamities.  Let us be guided by love and compassion to reach out to all our brothers and sisters to make their lives right.  Let us be one and consolidate our energy to reach a common goal.  I am for the Bayanihan spirit to the highest level.”

Comments about the initiative were also received from Manny Castillo, President of the Philippine Australian Sports Council.  He said:  “On behalf of PASC Inc. I will support your $1Mil Fund Raising Initiative and support from Australian Financial Sectors for the Typhoon Haiyan(Yolanda) victims.  Since you have been working with World Vision well and good. Your initiative and contacts can maximize the commitments and donations from all Australian Financial institutions and achieve at the shortest possible time while the International HELPING momentum mode is still high.   

The catastrophic destructions brought by this event created a global awakening with financial support big and small send immediate donations to the Philippines. PASC Inc. cash and material donations (educational, medical and dental equipments) from recent Fiesta Kultura and other fund raising activities started last Sunday, 17 November at the Azkalroosand Nepalese Football Goodwill Games.  The collection is coursed and delivered by the current Charity Queen Australia who has committed donations to selected beneficiaries in affected areas in Samar and Leyte.”

Incumbent President of the Alliance of Philippine Community Organisations [APCO] Jhun Salazar also gave the initiative his support.  He said:  “The magnitude of the catastrophe caused by the super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) is beyond imagination. Thinking of the survivors who were left with nothing but a sense to live while desperately calling and praying for food to eat and water to drink is something that we as a community cannot ignore and must do everything we can muster to provide immediate relief as possible. Michelle’s idea to raise a million dollar relief fund is one solution we must do and act forthrightly. I absolutely support this initiative and encourage everyone to do the same.”

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