Red Elephant Group   25 January 2019

At WorldRemit we love to celebrate the work and achievements of unsung heroes in diaspora communities around the world. Michelle Baltazar, President of Sydney’s Plaza Filipino, Inc. is a fine example of one such hero.

She’s no stranger to the struggle of being a migrant in a country such as Australia. Initially finding it difficult to grasp having a dual identity, she now embraces being Filipino-Australian with pride. And she’s made it her mission to bring her traditional culture to Australia.

So, when the Philippines Consulate General of Sydney asked her organisation to put together an event for some of the top sustainable Filipino designers, she wholeheartedly agreed. She couldn’t resist the opportunity to showcase the innovation her ancestral country has brought to the fashion industry.

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Fashion for good

The first ever Tuloy Po Kayo Fashion Expo took place in June 2018 and was a great success. Around 250 people attended in the former historic Rozelle Tram Depot in Sydney. Michelle decided to help put the event together when the Consulate mentioned they’d be working with an indigenous Filipino community from South Cotabato in Southern Mindanao.

She explains, “The magic word they used to really reel me in was ‘Tboli', which is the name of a little known ancient tribe in the Philippines. It was a passion of mine to just showcase them and their amazing work.” Part of the funds from the expo was to be used supporting the tribe and other indigenous communities – particularly to support their weaving of traditional fabrics. This is an art form hundreds of years old that’s dying due to cheaper manufactured clothing.

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Promoting Filipino culture in Oz

Michelle believes it’s important to educate people living in Australia about Filipino culture. Why? Because it forms a major part of the diverse culture of the nation, particularly in New South Wales, currently home to over 40% of the Filipino diaspora in Australia. To that end, the organisers of the fashion show decided to create greater understanding and appreciation of the culture in the Philippines by keeping the event’s name in Filipino.

A Tagalog phrase commonly used by Filipinos to welcome guests into their homes, ‘Tuloy Po Kayo’, was chosen to ensure guests felt they’d been completely embraced by Filipino culture throughout the event.

“This was our way of showing how the Filipino community is welcoming Australia into our homes, and at the same time, how the Australian community is welcoming us into theirs,” Michelle explained. Michelle hopes that after the show there’ll be a greater understanding and appreciation of Filipino culture across the wider Australia society.

WorldRemit also reaches out in The Philippines

The Philippines is our biggest receive country, perhaps because we also do all we can to support the communities living in the more remote regional areas of the country. In partnership with local Filipino businesses from Aparri to Jolo, we ensure recipients can instantly pick up cash transfers, without having to travel too far or worry about an internet connection.

By working with leading names in the Philippines like MLhuillier, Cebuana Lhuillier, BDO, Metrobank and Palawan Pawnshops, we’ve created more ways for Filipino-Australians like Michelle to connect to their loved ones in the Philippines.

“I send a lot of money back home, maybe half my salary, and like most Filipinos, a lot of my family still lives over there and it will certainly continue to be part of my lifestyle to be able to send money back for special occasions,” Michelle said.

Read a story about Mark Selorio, another brilliant Filipino-Australian who has turned a local dance crew into a worldwide phenomenon.

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A WorldRemit special offer

WorldRemit wants to help people like Michelle continue to showcase the Filipino culture in Australia and support the people back home.

So we’re proud to offer a Refer a friend promotion to our customers. Invite a friend to send money online and both get a discount voucher code.

Refer a friend today!