There was a lot of singing, dancing, chatting and laughing among a crowd of people gathered at one of the stalls at this year's Grand Fiesta Kultura, an annual Filipino fiesta held in Sydney.
This group of people weren't meant to be hanging out with each other. Technically, they are rivals: publishers of competing community newspapers, journalists at competing websites and radio hosts at competing radio programs.
But such is the rare camaraderie that exists among many of the press members of the local Filipino-Australian community. For commercial reasons, they should be mortal enemies chasing the same advertising buck. And yet they are firm friends, bonded by their common interest to report community-related stories on print, online, video and on radio. Many of them work in a volunteer capacity, squeezing in the media gig in between their family and work commitments.
At the centre, the spirit of bayanihan lives on. At one point during the stall set-up, Bayanihan News publisher Nonoy Perdon and Ang Kalatas publisher Millie Marcial-Phillips both helped The Australian Filipina publisher Michelle Baltazar put up her online magazine banners. Various radio broadcasters stood side by side distributing the newspapers owned by Nonoy and Millie.
Later in the afternoon, Evelyn Zaragoza, publisher of the long-running Philippine Community Herald, with Bernadette and Nikki (also from PCH) helped stall organiser and Radio Adhika hosts Gerry and Josie Musa do the final clean-up and pack-up. Earlier that day, InLife Magazine's Albert Prias, Radio Rizal's Charles Chan, Radio Agila's Marilie Bomediano and community association PR Richard Ford all helped with manning the booth.
It was a sight to behold and, under normal circumstances, shouldn't be happening. But such is the unusual world that the Filipino-Australian press has managed to live in: they hang out with each other, attend each other's birthday parties and even help each other source advertisers.
Of course, it's not picture-perfect. Some members of the Fil-Aus press are not as active or have chosen to do their own thing. But majority gave their full-hearted support to the Media Centre, designed to give the revellers at the Fiesta a better understanding of who are behind community media. Among those who said hello, helped set up the booth and/or do spot interviews were Ann Violata from SBS Filipino, Gloria Ross of Radio Canberra, Jhun Salazar of Radio Tamaraw, Ric De Vera of the Philippine Community Herald (sports contributor), Romy Cayabyab of the Filipino Australian, Cen Amores from Radio Mabuhay, Oliver Gadista of The Mob Radio and Cris Mostoles of Radio Bandila.
Eve and John of Bayanihan Radio, based in Campbelltown, also dropped by while Goyeta Armstrong, former Filipino community radio broadcaster of Tamworth, who now lives in Gold Coast, also lent a hand.
Violi Calvert, arts and entertainment editor of Ang Kalatas, co-host of Radio Sandigan and contributor on The Filipino Australian, as well as Mon and Nilda Carpo of Radio Dalisay, spearheaded the media spot poll, a quick five-point survey on how well the Filipino community know their local media.
And for a bit of a walk down history lane, Renato Perdon, a Filipino historian and author, brought along his books and a collection of books about national hero Jose Rizal for people to read at their leisure while they are at the Arts and Culture Pavillion.
More than just a meet-and-greet, there was a lot of work to be done, among them the media survey (over 300 responses were collected), the press briefing with the Premier of NSW, the Hon. Barry O'Farrell, interviews with the Philippine Ambassador to Australia, Belen F. Anota and Consul General Jalando-on Louis, local artist Jun Velasco, local actor Felino Dolloso, among others.
Finally, there was the coverage of the day's fiesta program and the Miss Philippines-Australia 2013 pageant later in the evening.
All in all, it was a busy and productive event for the first ever Media Centre at the Fiesta Kultura's 25th year celebration. Lead facilitator of the centre, Josie Musa, thanked FilPress Sydney convenor, Jimmy Pimentel, and the board of the PASC (Philippine Australian Sports and Culture, Inc), particularly Atty Lolita Farmer and PASC's head Manny Castillo, for making the inaugural project possible.