....whoooaaaaah hoh hoh hoh hohhhhhhhhhhhhh! whoooaaaaah hoh hoh hoh hohhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I left Manila soon after the ASEAN Summit there had ended...and I arrived in Sydney just before the first ever Special Australia-ASEAN Summit is scheduled to start. 'Twas all good, with fun flashbacks and new experiences aplenty. We've come a long way from where we began lang ang peg. 

Some highlights and sidelights of the Summit preps and proper:

Meetings and briefings galore! A great opportunity to meet our ASEAN colleagues and Aussie  counterparts. And shout out to the members of the Australia organizing committee who went to Manila to observe and learn from our own summit hosting, and then shouted us out during the Sydney preparatory meetings.   

I don't know if this was their own plan or if they patterned it after other summits, but man the organizing committee seemed to leave it late. I took the above pictures of the Conference Center walk-through just two days before the event was set to start. (but they must have hit a NOS button or something because everything was fine by the opening)

pero mas maganda pa rin ang furniture sa Cebu

Country Rooms! Big roomy ones! Home to those who aren't part of the "Principal + X number" scenarios (like me)

Has there been any Fast and Furious installment set in Australia yet? They look ready.

We affectionately nicknamed one of our Aussie Liaison Officers "Harry Potter" (because he wore glasses and had hair which kinda made him look like Harry Potter) and another "Tom Clancy" (because his real name was, in fact, Tom Clancy). Ironically, it was Tom Clancy who was all bubbly and smiley and Harry Potter who was always serious and mission-focused. 

Some nice local touches were the extensive coverage by Sydney media of the summit and the welcome messages all around the airport for incoming delegations

i'm not sure if the furry greeters were part of anyone's official program though 

Programs begin! First up: a business council reception. Were there big trade and investment deals signed? Of course. Were lots of senior officials and C-level executives in attendance? Absolutely. Were selfies taken? So many selfies were taken.

Well hello again secretariat room junk food. My waistline missed you.

Signing ceremonies! Aside from the significance of the occasions, I like plenary meetings like these because they usually are the only "Principal + X number" scenarios I get to be included in.

Shuttle vans!  Usually the best (and only) way delegates left out of their respective country convoys can get to the convention center. Fascinating to observe how officials from different countries  diplomatically determine who gets "shotgun" and/or the remaining charger slot.

Fil-com Town Hall Meeting! Success rested on teamwork, preparation, and everyone doing their jobs. Mine included being a stand-in during photo-op blocking...

...as well as keeping the waiting audience engaged -- through DOT videos, fil-com performances, and regular announcements where the bathrooms were and when food will be served.  

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people sitting, people standing and indoor
But I really did serve as emcee for the event.  There were some early verbal stumbles on my part, but I managed to work through them. Once the ambassador let me talk in my native aussie-british-tandang sora twang, I was good to go.

Pare, pulis ako. The Fil-com meeting was dutifully treated as a high-security event, with extensive preparation and coordination done by our defense personnel, volunteers, and even federal police. All the work paid off with a successful, productive and orderly meeting and nary an incident....well, unless you count a story that two certain people were supposedly prevented by the feds from gate-crashing the event not because the two wanted to cause any real trouble but because they wanted to dress up, get up onstage, and perform. 

        pictured: witness' description. warrants further research

After completion of the main events, there is a frenzy of movement and activity, with countless number of people to be transported, reports to be drafted, and schedules to be coordinated. In the fog of war, a team member unfortunately mis-sends a message on the group's viber.  

the response was as swift and decisive as you'd expect 

Once everything has been resolved and the delegation's safely on their way home, the Consulate team re-groups at the hotel secretariat and I take charge of the congratulatory selfie that would memorialize our skill, effort and accomplishment.

literally seconds later, the Ambassador walks in and shows us how its done

Til we ASEAN again.



(imma let the LLDD-Hyhpen-L's facebook finish right now cuz she's better at this and at everything else than me)

"It was indeed a night of Pinoy pride at the recently held Fashions Of Multicultural Australia (FOMA) at the Nanda\Hobbs Gallery in Sydney. The FOMA Designer of the Year award went to Alberto Barros, a Sydney-based Filipino couture designer whose focus on quality and the value of making garments not just as art but as an heirloom, is driven by Filipino values and traditions. With huge participation from foreign embassies that included designers from around the world, the FOMA runway show featured 120 looks from 13 designers." #Pinoypride

Image may contain: 4 people, including Melanie Diano and Jean Chua-Guzman, people smiling, indoor

Image may contain: 5 people, including Jean Chua-Guzman and Melanie Diano, people smiling, people standing
...one of the best videos of all time…one of the best fashions of all time!



Y'all may have read in the papers that there's a big diplomatic event happening here in Sydney soon and a big delegation coming over, so our Embassy and Consulate have been doing a lot of reccy and advance visits to a bunch of possible meeting venues the last couple of weeks and, I don't know, something just compelled me to collect and share pictures of the different places we've been. Maybe someone out there has an auditorium fetish or something. 

So Fa... 

La la...

...la la...

...la la...

...la LAH.

'tis makes someone jolly?



Ah, to be young again. Congratulations to the University of Sydney Filipino Society on a great "Salubong" for the new batch of Pinoy students there. I actually enjoyed sharing my own international student experiences as a Hoya -- until I realized mid-way that most of y'all might not have even been in grade school yet at the time so I got depressed. Anyway, good luck on your studies, keep up the energy, and one day teach me how to use the apps on my phone.

seriously guys...I wanted to join your kahoot quiz but couldn't figure out how to download...guys



It seemed like a good idea. From the time we arrived in Sydney, whenever we'd cross the harbour  we'd notice some bright flashing lights in the distance just off the north foot of the bridge. We'd soon figure out that the lights were coming from Luna Park, an amusement park/historical landmark that's been operating off and on in Sydney since the 1930's. "Looks like fun!" we thought. "We can go there at night when the tickets are cheaper!" we rationalized.  So we headed there one evening, walked along the waterside path at sunset, rounded a turn, and arrived at the entrance.... 

the opening of Final Destination:3 was more comforting 

To be fair, the place was quite nice as we entered and did offer pleasant views of the harbour -- at least while there was still daylight

so the found footage was still adorbs

But as the sun got lower, the lights everywhere seemingly got eerier and eerier

and the kid deliberately got creepier and creepier

And as we went further and further in, the rides just got old-timey scarier. The Wild Mouse, in particular, was a rickety wooden roller coaster that - despite being advertised as good for kids - wildly rattled both me and the LLDD-baby around the car bereft of any modern harness and seemed certain to fling us off the narrow rails far into the darkness beyond.

"i'm suing dada"

Finally, at the back end of the park, the most horrifying sight of all: the dad who's feeling cool but is actually all shrieky and totally wa-poise