It is with a deep sense of humility and honour that I take up the honorary post of Consul of the Republic of the Philippines in Melbourne, Victoria, and to be of service to the Filipino community.
In doing so, I would like to sincerely thank the outgoing Consul Virginia ‘Gigi’ Kalong for the superb manner in which she undertook the post over the past few years.
I am indebted to Gigi for the open and generous manner in which she has facilitated my transition into this role. Her invitation for me to accompany her to various functions allowed me to meet with members of the Filipino community from different organisations before I took up the post – I hope this helped them, it certainly was a marvellous introduction for me. Thank you for the very warm welcomes!
I am very grateful to the wonderful volunteers at the consulate office, and pleased to advise that we are retaining their expertise, which is a tremendous support during this period of transition and into the future at the new consulate office at Level 5, 11 Queens Road, Melbourne. I would also like to convey a special thank you to my wife, Di, for her help in the transition, set up and operations of the new office. The assistance from our volunteers is a significant contribution to the continued success of the consulate office in Victoria.
The Philippines is my mother country. My ancestors came to the Philippines when it was still a colony of Spain. Along with my four brothers and three sisters, I was born in Malate and grew up in the family home on Calle Colorado, before we moved to Bel Air Village in Makati.
I went to school at La Salle Greenhills in Mandaluyong and, as children, we used to holiday at Matabunkay Beach, Baguio, Antipolo and in my mother’s hometown of Bais City in Negros Oriental.
In the early 70s, my parents made the brave decision to migrate their immediate family to Sydney, Australia. I have always admired my father’s determination to seek out better opportunities for the education of his children and for their future. By the late 70s I had moved to Melbourne to study and have lived in Victoria ever since.
Like many Filipinos, I am a mix of Asian and Western influences. I am bilingual – in English and Spanish – and have a very limited understanding of Tagalog and Visayan. I want to be able to learn conversation Tagalog and regain an appreciation of the language.
What is an Honorary Consul?
The Australian Government has a long tradition of accepting Honorary Consuls, and over half of the many consular posts are headed by Honorary Consular Officers.
The appointment of an Honorary Consul reflects a formal agreement between a sending government (such as the Philippines) and a receiving government (Australia), as outlined in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
Honorary Consuls can make a substantial contribution to the conduct of individual bilateral relationships and, in many instances, an Honorary Consul’s personal connection with each side is particularly valuable.
My first priorities
While the consulate office provides services, such as acknowledging, authenticating and certifying documents and handling requests for consular services, as well as visa and NBI clearance applications, and general assistance to Filipino Nationals, the priorities and objectives of an Honorary Consul are clearly set out by the Philippine Government and directed by the Philippine Embassy in Canberra.
A key priority is a focus on economic diplomacy which includes promoting business and government interest, engagement and investment in the Philippines, as well as encouraging tourism and community building.
I am really looking forward to serving the Filipino community to the best of my ability as honorary consul. I know that with your support and patience, and God’s guidance, together we can bring the members of our community even closer together for the good of all Filipinos and Australians in Victoria.
Felix J. Pintado