On the 27th of November, this email from the Office of the President of the Philippines arrived in my inbox:
"Greetings from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas!
We are pleased to inform you that your website entitled “THE AUSTRALIAN FILIPINA” was chosen as the winner for the Interactive Media Award, one of the six categories of the second Migration Advocacy and Media Awards. This year’s awardees were chosen for having raised public awareness on issues on Filipino migration, advocated the cause of Filipinos overseas, and promoted a positive image of Filipinos overseas, and migration and development."
The official press release can be found on www.cfo.gov.ph and the award ceremony was held in the Philippines on December 18. Had I attended, I would have been allowed a three-minute speech. Alas I couldn't go so I gave them a short video instead (see below).
But there are many people I'd like to thank so I'd like to share this Thank You speech, had I been given the chance. :)
Hi! Greetings from Sydney, I’m Michelle Baltazar, editor and publisher of the community website The Australian Filipina.
First of all, a big thank you to the organisers of this award. I am honoured to be receiving this award on behalf of all my good friends, family and supporters who have contributed in one way or another to the website. The website wouldn't be where it is today without Mimmette Roldan who did a lot of the hard work behind the scenes and was the founding editor. This is as much her "baby" as it is mine.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Jaime Pimentel, a veteran Filipino-Australian journalist. He was the one who pushed me, Mimmette and Kristyn Maslog-Levis (who also helped build the magazine in the early days) to do this. He will always be an inspiration to all of us who do community media work in Sydney.
A big thanks to all who helped through the years: Michelle Roldan (late nights and all!), Edd Aragon, Neria Soliman, Lolita Farmer, Kat Mayo, Ala Paredes, Erica Paredes, Jim Paredes, Nicole Doughty, Veronica Stewart-Monro, Ramil Balingit, John Fick, Rosary Coloma, Ausseela Thanaphongsakorn, Margaret Bosworth, Agnes Lumanta, Lizza Gebilagin, Victor Del Prado Jr and the entire De Vera-Crame Family. I know these names probably don’t mean a lot to everybody but it’s important to me to say thanks to them. They inspire me to keep doing what I do.
As winner of the Best Interactive Media award, I also want to mention the managers of the website Christian Townsend and James Renton. You've both made it possible!
To Violi Calvert, Maria Nilda Carpo and Cita Hoersch who nominated the website (thank you!). And our supporters from FilPress Sydney Group (you know who you all are!), sponsor Philippine Airlines and Australia manager Arnul Pan, the Philippine Consulate in Australia, the Philippine tourism attaché in Australia Lito Jones and APCO. The website’s continuing advocacy around migration wouldn’t be possible without them.
Finally, a big thank you to my friends, family and to all our readers. You’re the reason the Australian Filipina website exists. Damo nga salamat ha inyong tanan. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a blessed new year ahead.
PS. I'm sorry if I've left out anyone. Just super excited at the moment and can't think straight.
BACKGROUND TO THE AWARDS (source: www.cfo.gov.ph):
From among the 37 official entries, the 12 media works from the US, Australia, Kuwait, and the Philippines, emerged as the best in their respective categories for this year's Migration Advocacy and Media (MAM) Awards.
The panel of judges for the MAM Awards is headed by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) with members from the different migration and media institutions, which include Philippine Migrants Rights Watch, Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Presidential Communications Operations Office, National Press Club of the Philippines, International Association of Business Communicators, UP College of Mass Communication, and Blas Ople Center.
The Australian Filipina was nominated for the award by Violi Calvert, a freelance writer and Michelle's co-host in volunteer community radio program Radio Sandigan. A submission, which features five articles from the website, was assessed by the CFO's judging panel. The Australian Filipina's winning submission was called "Pinay Pride", which featured a background on publisher/editor Michelle Baltazar and a collection of five articles highlighting the different aspects of Filipino-Australian migration.