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Australia honors outstanding Filipinos for their contributions

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By Marinel Peroy 

Having been considered as one of the top study-abroad destinations among international students, Australia offers excellent educational opportunities through the country’s world leading institutions. 

Since the 1950s, thousands of Filipinos have studied in Australia and now form part of the dynamic Australia Global Alumni community in the Philippines, including senior Philippine government officials, scientists and esteemed members of the academe, as well as business and industry leaders. 

On Feb. 26, The Australian Embassy in the Philippines recognized the exceptional achievements of extraordinary Australia-educated Filipinos at the annual Australia Alumni Excellence Awards 2024 at The Peninsula Manila. 

Australia-alumni Filipinos as ‘ambassadors’ 

During her speech, Australian Chargé d’Affaires Dr. Moya Collett shared that these Australia-educated Filipinos play a significant role in the cornerstone of the Australia-Philippine relationship, fostering collaboration as ‘enthusiastic ambassadors’ with their personal endeavors that now impact the world.

Acting Australian Ambassador, Dr. Moya Collet underscored that these Australia-educated Filipinos play a significant role in the cornerstone of Australia-Philippine relationship by fostering collaboration as ‘enthusiastic ambassadors’ with their personal endeavors which now impact the world.

“They embody the values of Australian foreign policy, and are interested in building a stable, prosperous and resilient inter-discipline,” said Dr. Collett. 

She also emphasized on the impressive service of Filipinos who have been using their Australian education, expertise, experience, and networks to contribute enormously to the Philippines. 

“In our new development policy, we hope to encourage greater action on climate change and gender equality. And so, we hope as well that this is just the beginning of a partnership with Australian alumni to safeguard our planet and to build a more equitable future,” added Dr. Collett. 

New-gen and future scholars’ inspiration

With their extraordinary contributions in their chosen fields, the following awards were given to the respective alumni winners — Alumnus of the Year, Excellence in Innovation, and Young Achiever. 

Alumnus of the Year – Dr. Dexter dela Cruz (Ph.D. in Marine Biology, Southern Cross University, 2019) — a leader for the development of groundbreaking coral reef restoration techniques both in the Philippines and Australia which have helped improve climate change resilience. Also, Dr. dela Cruz is a recipient of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research’s prestigious John Allwright Fellowship. His reef experiments and studies in the Philippines assisted in the restoration of degraded reef areas, and have been used in the Great Barrier Reef. 

From left, Professor Wendy Umberger, CEO of The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), Excellence in Innovation and Alumnus of the Year Awardee, Dr Dexter dela Cruz, and Acting Australian Ambassador, Dr. Moya Collet 

Dr. dela Cruz emphasized how Australia has become his own magical, luminous wave which paved the way to make his childhood dream into reality. 

“The scholarship molded me to become a better young budding scientist and helped me to critically design, create experiments, and conduct science that [have] real and positive impact in the conservation of marine resources — and society in general,” said Dr. Dela Cruz. He also hopes that through the Australian Government, more talented and aspiring Filipinos will “achieve their dream and become leaders for the benefits of the common good.”

Excellence in Innovation – Dr. Ma. Asuncion Beltran (Masters in Tropical Veterinary Science, James Cook University,  2003). Dr. Beltran develops innovative agricultural technologies as well as practices that help boost food security in the country. She also introduced technologies to improve the viability of backyard poultry as a source of livelihood among farmers. 

Young Achiever – Abigail Tan (Graduate Diploma of Health Promotion, Deakin University, 2020). She has been helping to increase health-seeking behaviours and strengthening health governance at the local level across the Philippines. She led the Optimising Health Literacy and Access to Health Services process in the Philippines, in partnership with the Department of Health’s Health Promotion Bureau. 

Meanwhile, the seven alumni were recognized with Special Citations in several fields:

  • Alumni Network: Medal of Valor Awardee – Col. Ariel Querubin (ret.);
  • Culture and Arts: National Museum of the Philippines’ Director General Jeremy Barns;
  • Community Development: Entrepreneurs – Emmanuel and Mary Grace Belviz; 
  • Health: Paediatric Oncologist Dr. Amy Dy
  • Education: Dr. Dionisia Rola;
  • Environmental Conservation:  Dr. Jayson Ibanez; and 
  • Gender Equality, Disability, and Social Inclusion: Imari Roble-Cesario.

As someone who’s considering to pursue further studies in the near future, having been immersed in a setting filled with visionary leaders provides a great inspiration to a young individual like me to continue with my mission filled with passion as reflected in both diplomacy and truthful journalism. 

With these alumni reaching their dreams while paying it forward along with their own legacy, remarkable achievements, and excellent contributions through their craft in the Philippines, may this serve as a reminder to everyone to keep going, embrace their advocacies, and appreciate the career timeline that they are navigating in life. 

Congratulations, Australia alumni (and future Filipino scholars!).

Australia Global Alumni in the Philippines are invited to register or update their contact information at https://www.australiaawardsphilippines.org/alumni

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