Issue of March 10, 2019
Mt. Province

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Ibaloy leads creation of first Fil youth club in AU school
by Ofelia C. Empian

FAM -- Filipino students of Monash University established the Filipino Association of Monash (FAM), which is considered the first Filipino student club created in the history of the university in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Among those who helped establish the group is Gerard Carbonell Felipe (3rd from left), an Ibaloy from Tublay, Benguet who is the group’s indigenous advisor. Felipe also made history as the first appointed youth mayor of Frankston, Victoria, Australia by its city council. -- Ofelia Empian

A group of first year Filipino students, one of them an Ibaloy, formed the first Filipino student club at the Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, a first in the 61-year history of the prestigious institution.

Gerard Carbonell Felipe, who hails from Tublay, Benguet, said the student club, which was launched last month,  is dubbed Filipino Association of Monash (FAM).

“A young Filipino group connecting through friends of friends were motivated by the other various cultural groups at Monash University, and noted that there was no Filipino student club here,” Felipe said.

He said there were previous attempts of PhD students to create a Filipino group but these were not successful.

“We were inspired to set up the club to promote our Filipino culture with others and provide a forum for young Filipinos to connect with one another and to be part of a close family here abroad,” he added.

Felipe, who is the group’s indigenous advisor-Cordilleran representative, said it is also the first time for Australian-Filipino student clubs to have an indigenous  people advisor. 

His advises the group on how it could better incorporate and showcase the Igorot traditions and culture in the activities at the university.

“I am honored to be able to serve in this capacity to promote and share the almost unknown Igorot culture among young Filipinos living in Australia,” he said.

The FAM plans to hold gatherings, activities, and events promoting Filipino traditions such as cultural dances and performances and introducing the different foods in the Philippines. 

The group now has 190 members and counting, according to Felipe, who is also the youth mayor of Frankston, Victoria.

“Compared to other Filipino student clubs in our state, this is the first with that number,” the 20-year-old Criminology and Political Science student said.

Felipe, who earlier visited his hometown and graced several speaking engagements regarding the youth including the inaugural Entrepreneurial Leadership Summit in La Trinidad, Benguet, is the first appointed youth mayor of Frankston. 

He will turn over the youth mayor position, which is a one-year role set by the Frankston City Council, to his predecessor this month.

“They were asking me to extend but it’s time to give chance to other young people as well,” he said, adding that he would still pursue other public service-related activities in the future while linking with fellow youth in Australia and in the Philippines.

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