Cultural Pageant Reflection - Anika-Jovi McCarthy

January 3, 2019

To FAFQ, FAFQ Supporters and to anyone interested in the mission and cause of cultural pageant for scholarships for the young Filipinos/Filipinas. This was how the cultural experience of being Miss Philippines-Australia came to me.

The trip to the Philippines from 23rd January to 16 February, 2018 was a wonderful experience on so many levels. Personally, the experience of excitement about travel, nature, people, food and culture is a special memory that will live with me for a very long time. Although the excitement was mixed with fear of the unknown, I appreciate the knowledge, experience and the skills that I learned almost overnight.

Apparently, we toured almost all of Western Visayas in two days. Thanks to our FAFQ contingent who included my mother, Maria and my big brother Jonas, the awesome wonders of the tour outweighed its challenging bits. Best classic advice is to get plenty of healthy rest to toughen up the immune system before the trip; it could save you from the almost inevitable unfriendly colds and flu that travellers catch overseas. It’s not fun to miss the most fun bits when you get ill.

From my experience, one of the most exciting bits (and very meaningful as well) was the Dinagyang Fest. It was grand, it was colourful and there’s nothing like it that I have seen before. Gee the Filipinos sure know how to celebrate in style!

But the focal point of FAFQ’s community work is founded on scholarship and providing financial contribution to the young students of Iloilo. And meeting these talented young university students was second to none. They were very humble, so hospitable and kind.

Before coming to the Philippines for the purpose of FAFQ’s mission, I thought the years that FAFQ shared the scholarship mission was huge already, however being there in CPU (Central Philippine University) gathering, hearing and learning in person the history of humanitarian compassion handed down from so many generations shocked me. What a noble cause and I am humbled and proud of it; my title as Binibining Pilipinas-Australia was borne on goodwill, friendship and loyalty. I saw many people there from various generations of scholars; they were from various towns and many are currently residing overseas. They gathered together to relive their own scholarship days and offer the same depth and breath of kindness to the young generation of very intelligent promising young Filipinos/Filipinas. So wonderful to experience and be part of this.

I also got to present some bursaries to the primary school students at Makato; a nearby town to the hometown of my late grandfather (whom I never met). The interaction and program was brief but oh boy wasn’t I impressed how beautiful and well behaved these very neatly dressed elementary school kids were. I have not seen a sweeter and bigger and more grateful smile; so heart melting. And the cutest cultural performers just makes you smile infinitely. So heart-warming! I should not forget to mention the really cool band (all young gentlemen) that welcomed us at the airport of Makato. So talented and we all got quite emotional about this thundering drums and charming percussions; I can still hear the music until now. So special!

An important part of the trip was reuniting with my relatives; this was unforgettable. My cousins are so cool and very kind hearted too; even the briefest moments with them were full of laughter; similar to meeting my mum’s childhood and uni friends. And in between mum being busy, my brother and I had a good time too, just looking around shops cheekily pretending we knew the language by answering “opo and hindi po”. Seems like most questions were yes and no question so that made it easy for us (wink wink).

My 500 words for this reflection is not enough but I have to mention that the trip to other parts of the Philippine islands such as Boracay and Palawan were undeniably incredible with such beautiful nature and I can’t wait to see more of the 7, 100 islands of the Philippines… can’t wait!

So there you go, my fellow youngsters, that’s my little piece to share. I believe that FAFQ’s share of this community mission is older than my chronological age. We all could contribute in various ways regardless of age; if we all share a little, a handful of good edible seeds each will make a bountiful harvest and a bucket of sand each will fill the ocean wide… The more people lend a hand to currently more than 100 million Filipinos, the better future it will be for its many youngsters who will shape the Philippine life, people and land.

Maraming salamat po.

Anika-Jovi McCarthy

Binibining Pilipinas-Australia, 2017