Survivors of super-typhoon Haiyan will be the beneficiaries of a fundraising dinner and art auction held in Sydney last night.

Organised by the Australian Masonic Friends of the Philippines, Inc (AMFOP), thousands of dollars were raised at the 'Casino Royale' themed dinner held at Villa Blanca in Bankstown on Saturday (July 11).  The evening's sole purpose was to raise much-needed funds to go to the island of Bantayan in Cebu, one of the first provinces hit by the super-typhoon Haiyan (locally called 'Yolanda').

The event highlight was the auction of a painting by bush artist Peter Browne (present at the dinner) which raised $5,000. The winning bidder was Dr. Raul Amor, a Filipino-Australian cardiologist and head of AMFOP's charity committee.

The association also raised more funds through its other auction items, raffle ticket sales and donations by the event's business and individual sponsors.

In addition to the night's proceeds, the group has already made donations previously. They have commissioned 15 fishing boats to go to Bantayan, four members travelled there as part of a medical mission and they have sent a major shipment  (40-foot container) made up of more than 1200 chairs and tables, thousands of books (some donated by Filipino non-profit group Adhika, Inc., led by Josie Musa), medical equipment and consumables.

"We are fortunate to live in Australia and events such as this give us an opportunity to come together and raise funds for those less fortunate than ourselves," said Jamie Melville, AMFOP president, deputy grand master and grand master elect (see video interview).

The Hon. Anne Jalando-on Louis, the Philippine Consul General - Sydney, attended as the guest of honour while entertainment was provided by the PLCAA (Philippine Language and Cultural Association of Australia), musical theatre performer Daniel Placido and local celebrity entertainer Lillian de los Reyes. The night's master of ceremonies was Dr. Abraham Constantin.

Previous deputy grand master Manny Maniago and wife Remy were acknowledged by AMFOP for their work behind the scenes, alongside Filipino-Australian graphic designer Francis Malabanan and charity committee members Agnes Martinez, Antoine Georges, Dr. Arlene Amor, Marilyn Reyes, Rey Porras and Yuana Leonardo. 

More than 270 guests supported the fundraiser, including members of the Australian, Greek, Indian, Lebanese and Filipino community.

Photo credit: author's own, Josie Musa

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