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FILIPINO HERITAGE IN AUSTRALIA - ART & CULTURE


The Filipino global diaspora of today resonates as echoes of centuries old wander-lust of our Malay ancestors Reason of Diaspora: economics, political escapism Manila men were significant in Australia’s Pearl Industry of late 1800s. Most were were divers and labourers in the lucrative pearling industry at the northern coastal towns of Broome, Darwin, Thursday Island and the vicinities of Torres Strait. They were indentured labourers and formed the backbone of the Catholic faith. Scant old surviving records which by luck, through today’s technological advancement in research and archive facilities , have been made available to researchers, reveal that inhabitants of this old archipelago have been found in every nook and cranny of the earth – from Greenland, to the remote outback of Australia.

"In searching for the faintest traces of Filipino heritage in South Australia, documentations to this effect was rare.   That it waas not altogether nil has been sheer luck, considering that the Australian government has so strongly adhered to its ‘White Australia Policy’ from the early 1900 to 1973.

The absence of records, however, was by no means indicative that the Philippines had had none more to offer by way of economy, trade and commerce save the ‘Manila folder,’ ‘Manila envelope’ or Manila hemp. Likewise, historically, the Philippines had had more than the galleon trade for its contribution to world’s history.   Some of the Philippine  earlier inhabitants  who journeyed out to  sea in search for alternative havens, established themselves elsewhere and scattered their cultural influences. They were not known as Filipinos then. The term 'Filipino' used to refer exclusively to the Spaniards (Peninsulares 'from the Peninsula of Mother Spain' or Insulares -pure Spaniard born of Spanish parents in the Philippines) and Spanish mestizos born in the Philippines during the early 18th century. At the later part of the 18th century, the term ‘Filipino’ got to include wealthy Chinese mestizos  as well as rich and educated urbanite natives.
Native inhabitants of lowly or who were  without ‘status ’ were  ‘Indios.’ Eventually,  the crumble of the Hispanic rule, the  upsurge of social and political upheavals brought about by the revolution of the 1890’s and the outbreak of the Spanish-American war ushered in changes.  Wars and devastations are people  equalizers,  reducing people  into their  bare humbled fundamental selves.    The survivors of the battered nation were all just of one name - Filipinos.

If the Philippines’ national hero – Dr. Jose Rizal was to be believed in his assumption that the ‘Filipino is as resilient as a bamboo,’ it would not have been impossible then that any ‘Indio’ who has journeyed away from his native land would have been game to anything and content to accept any categorization daubbed on him by other strangers. Those early sea faring ‘Indios’ who reached the shores of Western Australian during the late 1800’s identified themselves as ‘coming from Manila’ and thus came to be identified as Manila Men. A few who were not familiar with Manila and were not able to geographically connect their locality to the capital nor could identify their country of origin, were listed under a more general categorization – as ‘Asiatics,’ which obviously was bestowed on the basis of ‘anthropological attributes,’ color or physical considerations. From the late 1800’s, after Filipino pearl divers and sea men arrived in Western Australia, further documentation on their lives, families and work, was nil or scant at the most. It is imperative therefore to have an in depth analysis of some of the various circumstances that moulded Australia into being a most diverse and multi-cultural nation of today."

1890s -  With the lucrative Pearling Industry booming and boosting the Australian economy to record highs, these Manilamen opted to settle in Australia and they established families. Some intermarriages became the foundation of some influential hands that would make a difference in Australian multicultural society.

The Cubillo ancestral lineage whose patriarch was a Manila man from Samar, has made marks in the art and aboriginal land rights advocacy in Australia.

Heriberto Zarcal became a jeweller in Thursday Island and owned a hotel named Noli Me Tangere. Zarcal was one of Emilio Aguinaldo's links outside the Philippines throughout the period of the Philippine revolution through to after the declaration of the first Philippine Independence in 1898. Unsurprisingly, he operated a fleet of pearling boats, all bearing names indicating his Filipino patriotic and nationalistic sentiments. There were limited resources about these early Filipinos in Australia, a case that’s attributed to the White Australia Policy from 1901 -1973.

The absence of records, belies the fact that these almost ‘unheard of’ ‘Asiatics’ from the Philippines had, been a contributor to Australian economy during the late 1800. These wandering, sea-faring inhabitants were called Manila men and were known to have been living in Australia during the late 1800s Recruited in places like Hongkong, Colombo, Singapore and other places where they travelled as seamen, they came as divers and labourers in the lucrative pearling industry at the northern coastal towns of Broome, Darwin, Thursday Island and the vicinities of Torres Strait.

They were indentured labourers. In Australia, it has been all the rarer, considering Australian ‘White Australia Policy’ from its federation in early 1901 until 1973. The absence of records, belies the fact that the Philippines had, been a contributor to Australian economy during the late 1800 as it did globally through its galleon trade during the 1700s and 1800s. These wandering, sea-faring inhabitants of the Philippines were called Manila men and were known to have been in Australia during the late 1800s

 

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With the lucrative Pearling Industry booming and boosting the Australian economy to record highs, these Manilamen opted to settle in Australia and they established families. Some intermarriages became the foundation of some influential hands that would make a difference in Australian multicultural society. The Cubillo ancestral lineage whose patriarch was a Manila man from Samar, has made marks in the art and aboriginal land rights advocacy in Australia.

(Asian-Australians comprised around 1% of the population at federation. The 1901 census recorded 700 Filipinos in Australia. In 1954, Asian-Australians comprised .28% of the overall population. White Australia policy was finally renounced and rejected in 1973.)

Heriberto Zarcal became a jeweller in Thursday Island and owned a hotel named Noli Me Tangere. Zarcal was one of Emilio Aguinaldo's links outside the Philippines throughout the period of the Philippine revolution through to after the declaration of the first Philippine Independence in 1898. Unsurprisingly, he operated a fleet of pearling boats, all bearing names indicating his Filipino patriotic and nationalistic sentiments.

During the early 1890s, Francisco del Castillo, a  Manilaman along with three other Manilamen pearl divers in Thursday Island- Candido Iban, Valeriano Dalida and Albino Rabarria, all from Aklan,  won a major lottery in the island. With their saved earnings and lottery winnings, they returned to the Philippines and donated most of their winning to the revolutionary movement’s cause of Philippine freedom from the Spaniards. The movement was headed by the Philippine revolutionary hero Bonifacio and it kicked off the revolution that shaped the Philippine history. These  pearl divers, not only donated their winning and earnings, they took up the cause of the revolution. Today, three of them were among the 19 celebrated and venerated revolutionary martyrs of Capiz in the Southern Philippines. Many Manila men also made their way to the northern coast of in Queensland’s sugar cane plantations. Adhering to their Filipino traditions and their religious culture, their religious ethics became a backbone of faith in their settlements. Others would etch themselves in local history. 

WWII- Shared History – Philippines & Australia

Quezon passed through Australia on their way to exile in the USA.

Australia and the Philippines had historic bonding in the Second World War when the then Philippine Commonwealth president Manuel L. Quezon and close buddy of General Douglas Macarthur escaped from the Japanese occupied Bataan to the US, passing by Australia on his way to exile. Quezon, along with his Presidential entourage, were met by General McArthur at the Melbourne train station. Throughout the war, the major Allied intelligence operation in the Philippines which helped tilt the direction of the war in favour of the Allies, was monitored and directed from Melbourne. The operation’s success relied heavily on the Filipino guerrillas working for the Allies. War time communiqué and despatches vital to the end result of the war were transmitted from various points in the Philippines to Brisbane and Melbourne in Australia. The famous words of General Douglas MacArthur "I Shall Return" ( to the Philippines), which he made good a promise by his historic landing at Lingayen Gulf in 1945 were delivered in Terrowie, a town in the South Australian Outback. The promise that became the lifeline of the Allies' underground movement in the Philippines was delivered by hand by Emgidio Cruz, Quezon's physician all the way from Australia via clandestine channels. Such fibre of the past that is little known about doesn't undo history nor make it any less meaningful.

LORENZO GAMBOA

Lorenzo Gamboa, a Filipino sergeant serving in the American Army was evacuated to Australia with the commander of the Philippine and American forces, General Douglas MacArthur, during the Second World War. After the war, the Minister for Immigration, Arthur Calwell, deported Asians who stayed in Australia as refugees from the Japanese invasion of their homelands. Including those that served in the war. Gamboa’s permanent entry into Australia and the family reunited in December 1951 was treated a special case due to the intervention of the US. For a long time, however, it was official Australian policy that apart from Gamboa (his being a special case), there would be no other admission of Asians who had married Australians during the war.

 

LORENZO'S STORY
Lorenzo was a Filipino who served his military duties in Australia under the U.S. General Macarthur during the war. While posted as a guard on a base section at Pt. Melbourne under the American Defense forces in Australia, he met and married his Australian wife. With his rank as sergeant at the end of the war, while in Australia, he obtained a formal discharge from his military duties from the U.S. Forces.

However, after his discharge, because he was not an American citizen, he was deported by the Australian government along with war brides to the United States. His previous war services to the country just did not matter nor that he was married to an Australian national and that his son was Australian. He then re-enlisted with the American forces in the U.S. A. and was deployed to the US base in Tokyo.

He applied at the Australian Mission in Tokyo for a visa to visit his family in Australia and was denied permission either temporarily or permanently. His being naturalized American citizen has become irrelevant because in the eyes of the Australian Immigration authorities, he was simply Asian. A chance encounter with a Reuter-AAP correspondent – Denis Warner, got him international media attention.

His plight stirred up anathema to Australia’s racist policy and caused international furore. The office of General Macarthur pressured Canberra for consideration to which the hardline response in the negative was ‘because it would lead to complications and establish precedent for other non-European husbands who had married Australians during the war.” Canberra offered instead a concession to pay the fares of Gamboa’s wife and children to the US for family meeting, one which was spurned by his wife as a matter of principle.

In Manila, the government’furore under then President Elpidio Quirino and public scorn was explicitly strong. An RAAF courier plane bound for Tokyo was held up in Manila, considerations for refusing landing rights to all Australian planes were passed, a bill to the senate was introduced which would have denied business or residency to Australians.

Harold Holt ended the heated affair. As Immigration Minister after the 1949 election which installed the Menzies government, he approved Gamboa’s permanent entry into Australia and the family reunited in December 1951. For a long time, however, it was official Australian policy that apart from Gamboa (his being a special case), there would be no other admission of Asians who had married Australians during the war.

Lessons learned from the events of WW II strongly influenced and directed the change in Australian attitude towards the other races. 

Nations which in 1939 were not regarded as equal (India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Rhodesia, Nyasaland, Malaysia, Ghana - all of which were governed from GBritain) became accepted as new nations. (pp. 280 An Introduction to Australian History). Simultaneously, other factors and considerations triggered changes in Australia’s policies if Australia was to assert its own respectable identity as a nation. The Japanese invasions made Australia realize that she could no longer ignore Asian countries at her doorstep. Great Britain has likewise showed vulnerability (weakness) when subjected to strong enemies in Europe, thereby making Australia realize that Australian Security and defence must be self-dependent. In so doing, Australia must carry out her own foreign policies and forge ties with other allies.

This sudden thrust into the international scene formed a basis for the internal changes and development that ensued. (Australia under Menzies signed the ANZUS pact with New Zealand and the US in 1951 in which treaty, Australia refused to the inclusion of Britain). Australia strengthened herself by developing her own resources. One of the major events it undertook after the war was a large scale immigration program.

Menzie’s departure from office (he retired in 1966) futher paved the way for the easing of the policy. His successor as Prime Minister was former Immigration Minister Harold Holt who was far more liberal in his policies. On Holt’s entry to office, he allowed granting of permanent residency to non-Europeans after five years of temporary residency rather than the previous requirement of 15 years. As migration policies were being changed, and acceptance of coloured people as equals was gradually, albeit begrudgingly being tolerated, there was a marked gradual visibility of non-whites in government.

In 1965 , a Chinese-Australian was elected as president of Northern Territory Assembly and was made Mayor of Darwin in 1966. Meanwhile, aborigines started to establish their own marks in the more open arena of sports.

In 1968, Lionel Rose (a 20-year old boxer) won the World bantamweight title in Tokyo. He was named Australian of the year in that year. Evonne Goolagong, another aborigine, bagged the Wimbledon Title in 1971 at the age of 19.

These successes not only increased sympathy to the aborigines but it boosted the aboriginal morale as well. An Aboriginal footballer-turned Pastor, Doug Nichols – who led a protest against the closure of the Aboriginal Settlement at Lake Tyers in Gippsland (Victoria) in 1963, won his cause. He was knighted in 1972 and was made governor of SA in 1976.

Electoral voting was further granted to the Aborigines in 1962 and in 1966, SA was the first state to pass the Act against Racial Discrimination. This Act was federally passed about a decade after.

Between 1947-1959, there has been more than 1 million emigrants to Australia – about 50% from Britain and the rest from all over Europe. At the outbreak of the war, Australia’s population was around 7 million and in 1959, it was about 10 million. Japanese divers were readmitted to the pearl fishing industry in the northern shores in 1952.

"Earlier on, in 1950, there were also thousands of Asian students taking up studies at Australian universities under the Australian-initiated Colombo plan. The plan was meant to fend off the call of communistic ideas to poor Asian people by promoting the development of their countries and thus helping to ensure that they will not look on Australia for their economic salvation. The presence of these students helped overcome Australian prejudice against the Asians. In opinion polls conducted in 1950’s drew 30% positive response and increased to 50% during the 1959 opinion polls. In South Australia, the population rose from 646,000 in 1947 to 797,000 in 1954 and to more than a million in 1963."

"Despite this figures, there was perception during the late 60’s and early 70’s that Australia still needed a rapid increase in its population. Catholic activist B.A. Santamaria who had opposed the use of the contraceptive pill and the greater participation of women in the workforce in 1966, made recommendation to resolve the labour shortage – that Australia turn to the Philippines for immigrants. The immigration Act in 1957 underwent changes which allowed non-Europeans to become residents after 15 years and the dictation test was dropped in 1958 due to international pressure. This change allowed long-time residents of Asian background to secure their status in Australia. Permanent residency in Australia was granted to applicants based on racial-origin criteria." ‘Non-Europeans’ were almost invariably refused permission for permanent residency.

"From 1940-1960, there was less than 2000 Asians who were granted the status in Australia. (Australians overall population in 1945 was 7 million and it grew to 10.5 million in 1961). During the 1950’s, racial criteria was eased off a bit in granting of permanent residency to Asian applicants, judging instead on the basis of the applicant’s ‘taking a full part in normal Australian life,’ or a ‘reasonable part in all of the circumstances. Early in the 1960’s Australia’s growing dependence on the Asian market for her product exports rendered further the futility if not ludicrousness of the ‘White Australia policy."

 

 

POST WAR MIGRATION - AUSTRALIA

Post war migration in Australia started off selectively. The post war lack of British migrants gave way to influx of European prisoners of war at the end of the war and onwards. In January 1950, the COLOMBO PLAN was hatched for non-European entrants. The Colombo Plan sponsored thousands of Asian students to study or train in Australian tertiary institutions. Many of the earlier arrivals from the Philippines were scholars and highly qualified teachers and educators. They excelled themselves in teaching mathematics, sciences and subjects for higher learning.

In January 1950, Commonwealth foreign ministers in a meeting in Colombo, Ceylon, created the COLOMBO PLAN - scheme under which bilateral aid could flow to developing countries in South and Southeast Asia. (7 founding nations: Australia, Canada, Ceylon, India, New Zealand, UK – later joined by Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, japan, Laos, the Philippines, US, Vietnam and Thailand) The Colombo Plan is best remembered for sponsoring thousands of Asian students to study or train in Australian tertiary institutions. Many of the earlier arrivals from the Philippines were scholars and highly qualified teachers and educators. They excelled themselves in teaching mathematics, sciences and subjects for higher learning.

Colombo Plan – then and now 


Bilaterally, under this plan the Australian Government funds a program of Australia Development Scholarships to assist a range of developing nations. The post war Colombo Plan, saw over 20,000 talented young students from around the region study in Australia from the 1950s to the mid-1980s. 2015: New Colombo Plan will be rolled out to 35 countries, with the Philippines as one among them.
As of 31 March 2005 there were 2430 students on Australian Development Scholarships studying at Australian universities and TAFEs, with the main recipient countries Indonesia, Vietnam, PNG and the Philippines. In 1950, thousands of Asian students took up studies at Australian universities under the Australian-initiated Colombo plan.

It was under this plan that the first wave of Filipino arrivals into Australia came. The plan was meant to fend off the call of communistic ideas to poor Asian people by promoting the development of their countries and thus helping to ensure that they will not look on Australia for their economic salvation. The presence of these students helped overcome Australian prejudice against the Asians.

In opinion polls conducted in 1950’s drew 30% positive response and increased to 50% during the 1959 opinion polls. In South Australia, the population rose from 646,000 in 1947 to 797,000 in 1954 and to more than a million in 1963. Despite this figures, there was perception during the late 60’s and early 70’s that Australia still needed a rapid increase in its population.

It was under this plan that a number of today’s Filipino-Australian success stories came by. Foremost of these success stories is Rudy Gomez, a mine-prospector and scientist with more than 50 copyright of inventions under his belt. He discovered Australia’s the largest iron ore deposit in 2011.

Filipino post war arrivals were a hit in Australia. SO much so that Catholic activist B.A. Santamaria who had opposed the use of the contraceptive pill and the greater participation of women in the workforce in 1966, made recommendation to resolve the labour shortage – that Australia turn to the Philippines for immigrants. Many of these students have since gone on to become leaders in their field, including scholars from the Philippines.

Accomplished Filipino Colombo Plan scholars include former Department of Education Secretary Fe Hidalgo; Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns Rafael Seguis; University of the Philippines-Visayas’ first Chancellor Dionisia Rola; and University of the Philippines-School of Urban and Regional Planning pioneer Roque Magno.

The New Colombo Plan which was introduced during the last quarter of 2014, is a flagship initiative of the Australian Government. It aims to foster closer ties between Australia and its Indo-Pacific neighbours, enhance knowledge of the region in Australia, and strengthen people-to-people and institutional relationships through study and internships undertaken by Australian undergraduate students.

Australian ambassador to the Philippines, Ambassador Tweddell said that the 2015 New Colombo Plan is set to mark another milestone in the vibrant relationship between the Philippines and Australia. The original Colombo Plan benefited both countries with its historic scholarship scheme that was availed of by over 20,000 scholars from around the Pacific region who came to study in Australia from 1950 to 1980.

  

Filipino-Australians are behind Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants. In South Australia, there are close to 6 thousand Philippine-born South Australians – men and women. However, for electorate’s sake, most of those close to 6,000 Philippine born-South Australians today would have families of 2,3, 4 and extended families of far more.

The earliest arrivals of Manila men in Australia brought along with them their Catholic religious traditions. They brought up their families in that faith. In many remote areas Filipino families became the backbone of this religion.

In South Australia’s Migration Museum – the first museum of its kind in the world and the only one in Australia, Filipino legacy is acknowledged with a memorial plaque.

Two years ago (2013), a shrine of Jose Rizal was erected in New South Wales which Pres. Ninoy launched during his first visit to Australia. In other states, other patriotic endeavour was continually being manifested and celebrated. Some of these intermarriages became the foundation of some influential hands that would make a difference in Australian multicultural society.

The Cubillo ancestral lineage whose patriarch was a Manila man from Ilo-ilo, has made marks in the art and aboriginal land rights advocacy in Australia. The nationally esteemed Bengara Dance company draws its initial successes from the efforts of the Cubillo artists. Incidentally, Amelia Apolinario a former Allegro Dance Company choreographer in the Philippines, was one of Bengarra’s initial dance instructors while it was still starting in Sydney, NSW.

In South Australia’s Migration Museum – the first museum of its kind in the world and the only one in Australia, Filipino legacy is acknowledged with a memorial plaque. Filipino representation is maintained in its 12-member foundation committee. December 8, 2007: Filipino settlers in Australia etched their mark in Australian history with the unveiling of the first Filipino-Australian memorial plaque to celebrate old and new Filipino arrivals to Australia at the South Australian Migration Museum, Kintore Avenue, Adelaide.

The marker was the newest plaque addition onto the museum's memorial wall and was set alongside that of migrants from the Baltic, Slovenia, Vietnamese, Jewish, Ukrainian, Serbian, Tatar-Bashkurt, Polish, Hungarian communities and one which acknowledges British child migrants sent to Australia. Two years ago, a shrine of Jose Rizal was erected in New South Wales which Pres. Ninoy launched during his first visit to Australia. In other states, other patriotic endeavour were continually being manifested and celebrated.