Theatre actor and film director Marcelino Cavestany expressed disappointment over the recent NSW Premier’s Filipino Community Awards which was held on March 2, 2011.
In an open letter to media, Cavestany wrote: “In their best intentions to deliver the goods ASAP, the administrators of this award negated any and all room for community consultation that could have allowed for more systematic and democratic process of pre-selection based on clear-cut selection criteria crafted and distilled by the community in close coordination with the Community Relations Commission (CRC) so that there won’t be any pointing of accusing fingers later, when push comes to shove.”
He added: “… the unsettling if incestuous presence of a Filipina raised fury over the jury. How did she land into such a responsibly crucial and critical position? To think that she is not entirely insulated from conflict of interest (being a businesswoman herself), impartiality, and influence peddling, is beyond me, not to mention her dubious competence and professional conduct being widely known to be a close ally (some say gang mates) of the self-same eventual winners whose names were already talked about in whispers prior to the official announcement.” Cavestany was obviously referring to Tess Sayas, as the only Filipino member of the team that determined the winners.
Citing his own achievements in the field of Arts and Culture, Mars Cavestany questioned why that award was given to Manny Castillo. Cavestany said in his letter that “ARTS and CULTURE has never really been his (Castillo’s) forte, nor his playing field.”
It must be noted that Manny Castillo’s Fiesta Kultura has been running for 23 years and is reputed to be the largest gathering of Filipinos outside the Philippines. The Premier’s Award mentioned that as many as 40,000 Filipinos have attended the annual event which currently charges an entry fee of $20. Simple multiplication translates the number of attendees (40,000) to $800,000 in revenues from entrance tickets alone. However, their Statement of Income and Expenses covering the year ended 30 June 2008, show a total income of only $198,385. A net loss of $2,103.52 appears at the bottom of the P&L Statement.
Towards the end of his rather long letter, Mr. Cavestany declared that Manny Castillo “does not breathe the same air as Lucy Jumawan or Sir Ding Roces.”
In conclusion, Cavestany said that “whoever nominated Mr. Castillo, should make himself known and come out in the open to defend Mr. Castillo or at least share with us the responses to the eligibility criteria which is the real clincher here.”
MARCELINO CAVESTANY holds a PhD in Theatre & Performance Studies. He is the Founding Artistic Director of Filipinas-PETALS, among many other accolades to his name.