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New Book

Connecting Two Cultures: Australia and the Philippines

By Renato Perdon
Sydney, Australia
June 24, 2014


Education is a cornerstone of the strong and enduring friendship between Australia and the Philippines. Our education partnership dates back to the 1950s, when future Filipino leaders built their knowledge, enhanced their leadership skills, and forged enduring ties as scholars in Australia, supported under the Colombo Plan. – HIS EXCELLENCY BILL TWEDDELL Australian Ambassador to the Philippines. From the Appendix:  ‘Australia and the Philippines: Best Partners in Education - An Australian Angle’
The history of Philippine-Australian relations is hardly written about, and given the size of the Filipino Australian community today, such a history would be relevant. Renato Perdon’s work is an important step in understanding this little known aspect about our past. – DR. MARIA SERENA I. DIOKNO, Chair, National Historical Commission of the Philippines, The Philippines
We embarked on an ambitious project of producing a two-hour Dance Concert showcasing our rich cultural heritage through Philippine dances. In 1974, we performed to a packed audience of Filipinos and Australians at Chatswood Civic Hall. While there may have been others who had presented Philippine folk dances, the complete folk dance repertoire has never been replicated.  – BENJIE DE UBAGO, Writer and Media Practioner, Sydney, Australia, From the Appendix:  ‘The Philippine Folk Arts Group’

[The author] obviously put a considerable amount of time and effort into writing this work, and the results speak for themselves. My first impressions are that he has written the definitive story of Australia and the Philippines, their linked histories and cultures.  – NICHOLAS TIPPING, NSW, Australia

I’m very impressed with this latest book on the relationship between the Philippines and Australia. The author has a remarkable talent with a particular focus on exploring the symbiotic connections between his mother country and adopted country. He has worked as a prominent archivist in both countries that significantly contributes to his primary source research which is of an impeccable standard. He infuses this material with well crafted analysis which provides the reader with a thought-provoking, high quality experience as they endeavor to learn more about the multifaceted similarities and evolving connections of these two close Asia Pacific regional countries.– GLORIA ROSS  Radyo Filipino Canberra-Australia (RFCA)

This scholarly attempt of author-historian Renato Perdon to closely look into the colourful linkages between Australia and the Philippines  and the  historical presence of Filipinos in Australia is a welcome contribution and development in the ever growing  lives of Australian migrants, particularly Filipino Australians.  Many Filipino Australians  have already made significant contributions to a diverse  Australian society, and it is through literature like this that the public becomes aware.   Hopefully, the book finds its way to private and  public libraries as it might help readers  understand  the strong bond that connects the two countries. – RONALD MANILA, Executive Producer, Filipino Program SBS.

Book Synopsis: This book covers in 15 chapters the historical and contemporary interactions and strong connections between the Philippines and Australia. Readers will learn how a Filipino-Australian identity has developed. While Filipino-Australian like to call Australia their home, they continue to regard their country of origin with sentimental importance and family connection— home to visit, building true permanent linkages between the two countries. It is regarded as the first book that has been written about the relations between the two countries, although many short articles and papers were written on various topics affecting Australia and the Philippines. 

This book will travel down from the past. It begins from the time the Philippines was linked to Australia through the historic voyage of Luis Vaez de Torres in 1606 and the reports he made in Manila while awaiting his return to Spain. That historic event and the early linkages that followed are discussed in the beginning of the book. Comparative discussion also touches on the pre-history of both Australia and the Philippines and how each developed into colonies of European countries. Succeeding events that occurred between the two countries, linking them through individual activities from that period onward, provide interesting insight into how the identity of Filipino-Australians evolved and contributed greatly to a strong relationship between the two countries.

The ties between the two nations have been amicable despite Australia’s historic white Australia policy (1901-1973) that championed a racist attitude towards Asians, Filipinos included. The Filipino migrant to Australia of recent years is ever aware of this, from graffiti signs on public walls that scream ‘Asian out!’ to much more subtle allusions to ‘boat people’ or ‘mail order brides’, or the raised-eyebrows comment. ‘Where did you learn to speak English?’ The fortunate Filipino migrants who manage to excel in their professions, or in public and community service, are often relegated to the background while controversial Filos such as convicted murderer Sef Gonzales or public figures such as millionaire Rose Hancock Porteous get the media limelight.  

This cultural connection, deserves the attention of both countries, it paints a portrait of the history and culture of two nations over many years, providing extensive, richly detailed, research on the interaction between the two cultures, each coloured by its own unique history. 

A comment on Perdon's new book:

Filipino Migration represents an area that is still insufficiently appreciated, an understudied field in Australia. Most of current literature says little about Filipino migration experiences in this country.

In South Australia, a small scale investigation endeavoured to develop a profile of migration experiences of Filipinos that settled in the State in post Second World War from 1950 to 1989. The study was to mark the 30 years service of Radyo Pilipino in Adelaide, the first major volunteer, service-oriented medium in Filipino ever broadcast in Australia. (See Of Guts, Grit and Dreams: early Filipino migration experiences in South Australia 1950-1989 by Dr. Reynaldo Dante G. Juanta OAM and Norma Banaga Hennessy, Adelaide: Ethnic Radyo Pilipino Incorporated, formally launched in November 2008 by His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce AC CSC RANR Governor of South Australia).

Wherever Filipinos are, they utilize ingeniously the resources they brought in from the Philippines. They contribute their talent, industry, education, culture and service to the development of the place, While many Filipinos in South Australia, for instance, may get into their specialized study fields, some land in areas allied to previous preparation, training and experience in the Philippines, others accept jobs in areas even outside of their training. For Filipinos believe in human dignity and in the dignity of labour.

The book Connecting Two Cultures: Australia and the Philippines by author-historian Renato Perdon is welcome news and very timely by all accounts. By its size, volume and extensively wide scale research on the history of relationships between Australia and the Philippines spanning more than four centuries, readers gain a better understanding of this important part of history in the Asia-Pacific region.

Filipinos in South Australia and this Consulate offer best wishes and congratulations to Mr. Perdon for his efforts and wealth of scholarship.

– Dr. Reynaldo Dante G. Juanta OAM
Philippine Honorary Consul General
Adelaide, South Australia

For release towards the end of 2014. Reserve your copy from The Manila Prints, P. O. Box 1267, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010 Australia

    Write a Comment
    Peter Wyatt
    Mon 14th July 2014
    Gosford NSW
    I am no stranger to the work of Renato Perdon, having already read four of his previous books. As such, I find this latest book (or at least the part sent to me) to be on a par (or better than ) previous books. The title is intriguing because as an Australian born I am very nationalistic and proud of my country and also as Renato will know I am also very pro Filipino. I welcome with enthusiasm this book because it brings together the two cultures I hold strong.His coverage of racism and the “White Australian policy” was handled delicately because to everyone today this Government folly was an abomination. I look forward to reading this book in its entirety and I hope that the matter of racism on an individual level is dealt with on an equal footing.
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