The recently formed  community group, the Multicultural Assistance Task Force [MATF] held a meaningful and memorable inaugural event as a  commemoration of the declaration of the Philippine Independence Day.  The event which was held on June 20, 2020 at the Auburn Sports Complex doubled  up as an outreach to the Filipino international students needing assistance in collaboration with the Association of Pinoy Students in Australia (APSA). 

   The MATF is comprised by Filipino community leaders, Filipino business entrepreneurs, a church leader and a church leader and a multicultural network of CALD communities including refugees who are mostly residing and operating in the Auburn-Berala area, who were moved to forge together to extend support to international students and other groups adversely affected by COVID-19 restrictions.

   The founding members of MATF are: Alliance of Philippine Community Organisations Inc, (APCO), Kapit-bahayan Cooperative Ltd (KCL), FLAGCOM and Friends, Austral-Asian Financial Solutions, Salon de Anne, Auburn Small Community Organisation Network (ASCON) Inc, Crowe Productions, Iraqi Renaissance Inc, Auburn Youth Centre, Grace Church, Super-Save Convenience Store and La Sada Accounting Services.  MATF's Founding Chairperson is Dr Cen Amores who is the Founding President of APCO, Past President of ASCON and Special Assistant on External Affairs to Kapit-bahayan Coop Board.  MATF's mission is to provide assistance to multicultural communities in times of crises and calamities.

   The event started with the Independence Day commemoration program which was emceed by Dr Cen Amores and Mrs Violeta Escultura, current  current APCO President who has turned over APCO’s total donation of $3,800 presented in two events, to APSA for its Feed-A-Student Program.

   Dr Amores gave a warm Welcome Address, which was later followed by inspiring talks by Hon. Lynda Voltz MP, Member for Auburn, Shadow Minister for Police and Terrorism, and Shadow Minister for Sport and Recreation and Consul Emmanuel Guzman who represented the Philippine Consulate General in Sydney with the Assistant to National Office Maybel Marinay-Caparino.

   The entertainment included songs which engendered feelings of nationalism and nostalgia performed  by Ms Marjorie Bernardo and Ms Ross Vinculado  who are both talented Filipino international students  and by Ms Gilda Pagaduan, popular singer of the Kapit-bahayan Cooperative Ltd.

The acknowledgement of all who contributed to make the event a success was undertaken by Ghassan Alassadi, President, Auburn Small Community Organisation Network (ASCON) Inc with the assistance of Cen Amores.  The happy atmosphere was buoyed by the sharing of the good news by Cen that Covid-19 Community Support Grants of $5000  was awarded each to MATF members APCO and ASCON.  These funds will ensure more assistance will be extended to Filipino and multicultural international students.  

APSA founding President, Mrs Vida Aquino Fernandez delivered a very moving Closing Remarks.   She shared that she was inspired to form APSA with friends as she too had experienced challenges when she was an international student.  She encouraged the students to continue working towards their goals and assured them that "we are in this trying time together."  In closing, she also thanked all the donors, supporters and the community for the generosity and kindness shown to the students and supporting initiatives by the APSA.

The Independence Day commemoration event did not end at that juncture.  It was followed by the sharing of a sumptuous lunch prepared by the MATF members and supporters for the students and all present.  As they finished enjoying their lunch, an estimated 150 students were given food packs, grocery items and winter clothing.  The students expressed their appreciation of not only of the practical assistance they received but also of the camaraderie and friendship they felt.

MATF can be proud that it held a truly a meaningful and enjoyable commemoration of the Philippine Independence Day event, and with the receipt of grants it is on track all the more to pursue its goals.

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