S T A T E M E N T    F R O M    T H E    D I R E C T O R


INDIO evolved from a single individual’s initiative to reach out to people.  It was not intended for heroics.   It was  simply to do the  decent thing and be a good neighbour.   Afterall, it was not difficult to  share knowledge on relevant community  information.  It was no effort to provide guidance  to  new settlers to a new culture and a new environment.  If you had once been on that same shoes, then you'd know that a kindly word, a gentle reminder, guidance and shared correct information are worth more than gold.

Initial efforts  at  assisting and representing community members to various government departments and public agencies on various issues related to their welfare have been gratefully received.   It was not only that  there was  a   need for a deep sense of understanding, there was also a bigger need for boosting people's morale.       There were numerous cases of people needing moral support  on a variety of issues.

With the emergence of social media,  social injustice cases were made known on line.  In response, advocacy efforts for social justice for Filipino overseas workers who were victims of human right violation were initiated  and were reported  to appropriate entities such as Migrante International, corresponding consulates or government entities.

Charity-oriented  Filipinos in the global diaspora and  other peoples from vulnerable  ethnic communities  supported  advocacy efforts by circulating petitions and  getting the information virally shared. The efforts  triggered widespread  uproar thereby pressuring relevant entities to address  issues.  Many joined charity causes that  were promulgated on line.  We developed outreach charity projects.  We carried out charity drives such as collecting and receiving in-kind donations of used books, garments, medical gadgets, tools and other helpful materials from donors in Australia and elsewhere outside Australia and  sent them to isolated indigenous community groups in remote areas in the Philippines.

During a number of calamities within and outside Australia, monetary and in-kind donations that were entrusted were remitted and sent to vulnerable institutions e.g. Red Cross, Caritas, Save the Children, parish churches and mission groups.

We linked other donors from other countries e.g.  New Zealand, U.S.A., HongKong, UK, Singapore, UAE, Germany directly with mission groups and community coordinators in the Philippines.  In 2012, I co-founded the INDIO association with colleagues from USA and the Philippines  to facilitate more outreach drives to the Philippines and other areas.

Since 2012, we have been conducting charity programs and sending donations to distant locations where social exclusion and marginalization are deeply felt.

INDIO’s efforts rely on members’ and donors’ generosity. We operate through the goodness of our hearts. Using the social media in conjunction with the outreach programs, we  network with other community units and church groups to provide continuing advocacy assistance and guidance to members of ethnic communities.


In November 2015, INDIO re-structured the association status as a facilitator-link between benefactors and beneficiaries into a public company with limited guarantee. The reason for the restructure is for INDIO to engage more pro-actively on issues of community welfare.

INDIO’s volunteering efforts have been instrumental in alleviating the sense of alienation, isolation and helplessness of various ethnic community members in circumstances such as death of a family member, financial and job losses and other difficulties. We continue to assist cross sections of newly arrived settlers guiding them on resettlement matters or networking them to their community groups.

INDIO develops and conducts programs that address isolation and marginalization of the elderly in ethnic communities. These efforts respond to identified needs such as age-based technological isolation, generational social exclusion and socio-cultural alienation.

We registered for a public company status in order to expand our drives into developing and delivering workable programs in response to emerging needs of the ageing generation of migrant arrivals from the 60s onwards and who comprise the increasingly marginalized sector of the ethnic ageing population. The new structure allows us to develop effective community-responsive programs focused on peoples from non-English background.
It allows us to apply for assistance from the government and other stake holders and enables us to deliver these vital  community-service -programs. 



"ART FOR CAUSES"  is a  INDIO'S drive to raise funds for its outreach programs and charity work. All artwork  at this site's Gallery, Galley 1 and Gallery 2 are sold either as Canvas Prints or as originals.  All proceeds will go to INDIO's funds for its projects.

Let us help you REACH OUT to others!  Let us help you make others  believe in beautiful hearts! Purchase an artpiece or a print. It will go a long way!   Just email us at indigenousindio@gmail.com

INDIO'S donors and volunteers are behind  INDIO'S  ONGOING  OUTREACH PROGRAMS AND CHARITY WORK. Click here for more photos.

                            FILIPINO HERITAGE IN AUSTRALIA - ART & CULTURE


The Filipino global diaspora of today resonates as echoes of centuries old wander-lust of our Malay ancestors. 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 Australia, it has been all the rarer, considering Australian ‘White Australia Policy’ from its federation in early 1900 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 17 and 1800s.

These wandering, sea-faring inhabitants of the las Islas Filipinas Archipelago were not known as Filipinos, then but Indios, locally and Manilamen outside the Philippine shores. Manila men were known to have been in Australia during the late 1800s as workers in the pearling industry. 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, these Manila men found a second home. Many of them settled, intermarried and had families. Some intermarriages between Filipino and non-Filipino partners 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. Many Manila men also made their way to the northern coast of Australia and found niche not only in the pearling industry but also 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. 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. Four  Manila men pearl divers in Thursday Island 1890s 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 four 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.

Filipinos in Australia from 1901

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, as it did globally through its galleon trade during the 1700s and 1800s. 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.

Incidentally, while I was researching years ago, Dr. Mary Ann Bin Sallik (Emeritus Professor, University of Darwin) mentioned about a ‘Sakristan’ who came with the first Irish missionary priests who came to Western Australia sometime mid 1800s. He has been known to be of ‘Asiatic’ descent. I searched far and wide, high and low for the minutest fragment of written record I may find about this, but my efforts led me to blank walls.

With the lucrative Pearling Industry booming and boosting the Australian economy to record highs in those days, these Manila men settled and established families in Australia. A number of intermarriages between Manila men and their partners from other cultural groups became the foundation of some influential hands that would make a difference in Australian multicultural society. The Cubillo ancestral lineage, for instance, whose patriarch was a Manila man from Samar, has made marks in the art and aboriginal land rights advocacy in Australia.

World War 2

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

Easing out of the ‘White Australia policy’ became more visible during the second World War. After the war, however, there, too was a threat of a blatant change of heart – a renewed spurt and growing support for a ‘White Australia’ thinking A special case in point was the case of Lorenzo Gamboa, a Filipino who served his military duties in Australia under the U.S. General Macarthur during the war. After the war, 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 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.


Colombo Plan

In 1950, thousands of Asian students took up studies at Australian universities under the Australian-initiated Colombo plan. The Colombo Plan is best remembered for sponsoring thousands of Asian students to study or train in Australian tertiary institutions. This plan in the 1950s was the blueprint of the recently reinstituted version of it in 2014 as announced by Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in September 2014 in Manila. She stated that the New Colombo Plan will be rolled out to over 35 countries in the region in 2015, including the Philippines, Australia’s best and brightest undergraduate students are being encouraged to study and undertake internships right across the Indo-Pacific region. 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. The first wave of Filipino immigrants came into Australia under this plan 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. 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.

Years ago, I went to the Copper Triangle in South Australia to cover the Kernewek Lowender Copper Coast Festival. The festival has been partly sponsored by the Multicultural Education Committee under the government’s multiculturalism portfolio. Hanging at a prime space of Kadina’s town hall walls, was a 24” X 36” Filipino painting of a tropical rural sunset with silhouettes of a church and a bell tower reminiscent of the remains of the buried church of Cagsawa in Albay (Bicol Region, Philippines). Here, in an old and bygone mining town, here in these deeply Cornish recesses of Australia, a piece of Filipino heritage is treasured and esteemed. Pinned onto the lower frame, in gold lettering and etched on a piece of brass, was a minuscule information. The painting was presented by the Rotary Club of Caloocan (Philippines) to the Rotary Club of Maitland (SA) in 1966. The date was interesting because it was a year before South Australia was yet to discard the White Australia Policy in 1967. But there it was. The painting in its allotted space for glory in far away Kadina, 4450 away from Caloocan.

The Colombo took under its programs many Filipino students who have 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. 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. Filipino Migration Filipino arrivals’ main purpose on entering Australia is employment and settlement. While Filipino immigrants’ entry in Australia is largely based on family reunions or as skilled migrants, intermarriage remain an avenue for many Filipino women’s entry into Australia.

Today, the Filipino community (103,942 all over Australia*) is the third largest non-European community in Australia, 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. And considering the extended-family-thinking of the average Filipino, the influence extends far outside their own families to friends and workmates.


Changing Tapestry

The Filipino culture and heritage is a constantly changing tapestry that evolved from a mould of cultural potpourri of the East and the West. The country ‘s geographical location at the gateway to the South East Pacific Region, puts the country-archipelago at the crossroads of cultural, social and international trade traffic to and from South East Asia. The various influences of four continents (Asia, Europe, South and North America) at different periods in the country’s ancient and recent past, are visible today in the varied social beliefs, ideologies, values, regional differences as well as the people’s way of life. The collective images in this collage draws on the Filipino psyche – the sunny courage of a people whose love for life, faith, optimism, hopes and aspirations have made them rise above their long history of oppression under foreign imperial and autocratic domination. While the images may well attest to a people’s own confusion at their national self-identity, the scenes are common images many a Filipino hold dear to his heart. The collage is on a ‘Barong Tagalog’ textile – an embroidered Filipino fabric used for Barong Tagalogs (Filipino national costume).


Art and Legacy

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.

TODAY... Many second generation Australians born to post war Filipino immigrants continue to carve their niches alongside the best in their chosen fields. Among those more known to us are Craig Wing, a rugby league player from Sydney Roosters, TV personality Kathleen de Leon, 2007 Australian ranked Number 1 female Chess player Arianne Caoili, Olympic swimmer Dyana Calub, celebrity singer Cate Ceberano and a host of others.

Some earlier Prominent Australians with Filipino Ancestral Traces

1. Dr. Mary Ann Bin-Sallik Professor Emeritus and Dean of Faculty at the University of Northern Territory, Darwin on September 2001.Mary Ann has Filipino and Muslim roots, the first Asian-Aboriginal woman-academic to achieve doctorate at Harvard University; and was the only Asian-Aboriginal to be included among the foremost 100 Australian Women who were acknowledged at the Centenary of Australian Federation to have been instrumental in the shaping of present-day Australia.

2. Olympic sprinter Nova Peris Kneebone, (Now Senator from Western Australia) whose grandfather was also an Ilonggo from Panay

3. Frank Reys, ("The Filipino Boy Who Has Done Well!") was a legend in the horse racing sector. He topped his outstanding career as jockey by winning the Melbourne Cup in 1973 on the horse Gala Supreme. His father was a Filipino cook. The Filipino heritage bears a quiet presence among its descendants. Shelley Reys, a forceful advocate for aboriginal rights once said: "...My father was one of the nine. His name was Frank, the first child in this second round of children. They knew that life could be difficult if certain standards were not adhered to, an 'unsaid agreement', 'instinct' or 'silent understanding' that served them well. The instinct was to maintain their Filipino heritage, build their standing amongst the community on such a heritage and only then could the family remain intact, free from being removed from their parents and free from the many struggles that other Aboriginal families faced..."

4. The first female recording artist in Australia was a Filipino-Spanish singer named Pilita Corrales "...who was shipwrecked on her way to Australia with a circus act in 1958 and rescued by the Navy. She became a star of the Melbourne TV circuit, and became the first female artist to score a hit on the newly-established pop chart, with the song Come Closer to Me."


Faith and Art 

The earliest arrivals of Manila men in Australia who settled here, brought up their families in that faith. In many remote areas, notably along the coast from Queensland to Western Australia where the Catholic faith was spread by Irish Catholic missions, Filipino families became the backbone of this religion. They also revived within their community’s music and fiestas. In Darwin, there was bandurria ensemble of Filipino-Australians that lived on until the late 80s. Migration ebbed from 1901 until 1973 during the White Australia Policy period. Save isolated cases of Filipino nationals getting getting to settle in Australia by marriage, the next wave of Filipino migration into Australia was after the Second World War. During this period, Filipinos were scattered sporadically. Filipino-Australians integrated in the Australian society and strove to excel in their fields based on their individual efforts.

Collectively, Filipino-Australians thrived as a robust social community group rather than political. Although, individually, there has been a number of Filipinos who entered the Australian political arena in various state government posts. In states where the Filipino population is higher, i.e. Sydney and Melbourne, community print media was initiated by enterprising members of the community. In other states, i.e., Adelaide, radio broadcasting by government funded community radio organizations were started and operated. The Ethnic Broadcasters Inc. in South Australia has under its wing 50 community radio groups, among which is Radyo Pilipino which, to date is now well over 30 years in operation. Non-English speaking background visual artists were slow in asserting themselves compared to their Australian born or European-counterparts. During the 1992 world renown Adelaide Fringe Festival, a Filipino cultural participation under the direction of Amelia Apolinario – former Allegro Dancers director (1960s-70s) etched itself as the first Filipino participation in that event. Filipino artists including my first one-woman exhibition in 1998 followed.

In 1998, I coordinated the first Filipino community artists’ art and culture showcase in South Australia at the city of Marion. This won the event of the year award in 1999. It was also the first multi-media cultural exhibition by an ethnic community in the council. This exhibition served to reinforce the push by a group of local artists in the area, for the establishment of a cultural centre. The next year, then Mayor Collins approved the blue print of the building for cultural centre.

Filipinos from various states often organise musical c productions (such as concerts) using Philippine based music or movie talents for tour-performances in major cities in Australia. The major organizer coordinates with volunteer local venue organizers for all the details and nitty gritty of the show. The productions are, more often than not at a loss or break-even, with the organizers, gaining compensation from other considerations rather than outright profit. Second generation Filipino-Australians have, during the more recent years started getting more ‘aggressive’ in the field of arts. Growing up in the local culture enabled them to take on competitiveness with more ease and confidence than their migrant parents. In South Australia, a government funded Filipino school under the program of multiculturalism is operated by volunteers once a week. The purpose of this is to educate Filipino children of Philippine traditions, culture, language and history.


Fast Facts

2013-2014 Between January 2013 and June 2014, a total of 6,993 Skilled migrants arrived in South Australia, mainly from India (1938), Peoples Republic of China (1696), Philippines (304), Australia (301), Malaysia (270), Republic of Korea (229), United Kingdom (228) and Vietnam (212).

Between January 2013 and June 2014, a total of 8,077 Family stream migrants arrived in South Australia, mainly from People's Republic of China (1081), India (878), Philippines (656), Vietnam (592), Afghanistan (566), United Kingdom (511), Thailand (254) and USA (245).

The top 10 birthplaces of new arrivals in 2011 were China (750), India (709), England (659), Malaysia (463), New Zealand (335), Philippines (301), Afghanistan (295), Korea (201) South Africa (199) and Indonesia (176).