Pinoys feel a surge of pride in the Filipino diaspora, making the country proud wherever they are across the globe.
In Toowoomba, Queensland, in Australia, the High Vis Toowoomba (HVT) publication came up with an issue last year that included a Filipino—Roberto Garcia—as one of the individuals aged 60 or above who had helped contribute to shaping the city.
The skeptic may shrug this off, invoking that other Filipino migrants are equally doing well in other parts of the world, but Garcia’s feat is far from being ordinary.
As a multicultural development officer of the Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC), he has become a significant part of the city’s bedrock.
The HVT said that since becoming the Toowoomba Regional Council's multicultural officer in 2010, he has made the role his own.
"Roberto was directly involved with Toowoomba Languages, the Cultural Festival, and Harmony Day events. An early advocate for Toowoomba becoming a Refugee Welcome Zone and a City of Peace and Harmony, for two years Roberto built community support, then successfully presented the proposal to Council for Toowoomba to be declared the Third Refugee Welcome Zone in Queensland in 2019," the publication said.
Moreover, it said Roberto’s tireless work helped earn Toowoomba Regional Council the 2019 Multinational Queensland Award for Government (State and Local).
It added that Roberto’s networks he uses to advocate for migrants, refugees, skilled workers, and international students are exhaustive, including the Cultural Diversity Network, Multicultural Advisory Committee, Pure Land Learning College, Goodwill Committee, the Interfaith Working Group, the Queensland Police Service, the Queensland Justices Association, and the Filipino Communities Council of Australia.
"A spiritual person, one of Roberto’s favorite things is his association with the Freemasons. He also loves going to art shows and spending time with his precious grandchildren. His message to young people is to value themselves—hold on to their self-esteem and self-worth. Listen to those who have gone before; they have wisdom. Roberto sees Toowoomba’s strength as its people, the opportunities, and a family-friendly, welcoming place where people smile at you," HVT said.
To understand Garcia’s role better, let’s have a better perspective on his job.
Toowoomba’s residents, totaling 175, 316 according to the June 30, 2021 Census, consist of nationals of diverse ancestral backgrounds: Afghan, Australian, French, Filipino, Hongkongese, Sudanese, Congolese, and Yazidis.
Yazidis are a Kurmanji-speaking endogamous minority group indigenous to Kurdistan, a geographical region in western Asia that includes parts of Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Iran.
Right after they arrived in Toowoomba, they depended on city officials for help—from accommodation to shops or outlets for food, laundry, transportation, and reintegration into mainstream society.
For these, Garcia was the point man, tapping the Council or TRC in his capacity as a multicultural officer. An example: Two Filipino workers specializing in grain silo building—Carlo Totanes Gales, 39, and Arvin Cordero Obando, 36—arrived in the city sometime back.
They had been referred to Garcia, who met them, gave them a tour of the city, and invited them to a meal.
In the foreword to the publication, Wendy Allen of MTA Travel said, "I am honored to be the Ambassador of High Vis Toowoomba. This publication showcases some of the wonderful citizens and families who have made Toowoomba great."
"We are blessed to live in this city, which has a strong warmth and sense of belonging. This is the best regional city in Australia. His Vis Toowoomba captures amazing stories of everyday people who make communities strong by their contributions to their towns."
His Vis Toowoomba took note that "experiencing the migrant journey for a better life, Roberto saw a need for support services helping newcomers adjust to the Australian way of life."
Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.” Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.