The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) was signed on March 27 between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). The Agreement is a significant step as it heralds the prospect of lasting peace Mindanao. This writer fervently prays so.
As I read the news report, I saw a small parallel of the war between the GRP and MILF, and the perceived rivalry between the Philippine Community Council (PCC) and the Alliance of Philippine Community Organisations (APCO). If the GRP and MILF can finally come to the table to talk about unity and peace, then why can’t PCC and APCO?
PCC and APCO (or APCO and PCC) are the two most prominent umbrella bodies in New South Wales (NSW) representing more than 100 Filipino-Australian organisations between them. Four years ago, there had been an unresolved point of order during the PCC elections that resulted in a walkout. The leaders who left the proceedings formed APCO out of their desire to also serve the community. Hence, the ‘rivalry.’ Operating under similar visions and mission objectives, PCC has long been known as the peak body in NSW, while APCO is a new body seen as functioning within the same purview.
This year, PCC is on its 24th year of operation. It had been successful in creating a brand that promoted the Filipino in the cultural pot that is NSW. It had been at the forefront of representing the community in different forums in the State. In its souvenir program for the Freedom Ball is a list of its accomplishments. Through the years, it had its share of glory. It may have even become a victim of its own success as some observers now view it as having lost its clout somewhat. Maybe, this was due to the ‘resting on laurels’ syndrome, or complacency. Observers further believe that it may not have had the right managers to lead it in recent years. One writer in another paper opined that PCC has ‘degenerated.”
On the other hand, APCO is the new kid on the block, brimming with ideas and an impressive agenda. It has an expanding portfolio of community-friendly projects. Its leaders have cleverly created an attractive alternative to PCC. It sauntered in directions where PCC did not tread. If this was a marketing venture, APCO offered a new product mix and differentiated itself, but still operating in the same market.
In essence, PCC and APCO seem alike as two peas in a pod. Similar but different like twins. I believe that both have a role to play in our community. However, I do not believe that they will ever merge. To borrow Rudyard Kipling’s words, “… and never the twain shall meet.” But along with other prominent organisations like FAME, ADHIKA, Global Filipinos, and PASC, to name a few, they can coalesce to advance the cause of the Filipino-Australian community they have vowed to serve. They can come to an agreement, just like the GRP and the MILF, for a common cause. This is their real test, their challenge. Failure to do this is tantamount to their turning their back to the spirit of true unity in our community.
This writer congratulates the newly-elected officers of PCC and APCO for 2014. I hope your tenures will be fruitful, truthful and faithful to your avowed missions as enshrined in your respective charters.