Rebecca Macdonald, Filipino Australian Society president
Every year at the Filipino Australian Society of the Hunter Valley’s annual general meeting, Rebecca Macdonald prepares to step down from her role as president, ready to give someone else a go.
But every year, no one else puts their hand up. Every member of the organisation tells her she must stay on, such is her rapport among the Filipino community.
President of the association since 2005, Ms Macdonald runs the Boolaroo-based group which has over 500 members, many still involved even though they’ve left the Hunter and moved to other parts of Australia.
But for the organisation’s local members, meeting regularly is an important part of their lives. The consistent socialisation helps them facilitate a holistic lifestyle.
“I come from a simple family in the Philippines, I’m a humble village girl,” she said. “To come to this country is a big change, a big leap.”
“We help people to develop their skills that we know they will need. There other government agencies who can do more, but we can help people in other ways.”
Ms Macdonald says she is honoured to be able to lead the members.
“I enjoy it, I like working with people,” she said. “I love the members. They all help and are all cooperative people every time I ask for help.
“People who have just come [to Australia], we welcome them to come to Boolaroo so they can acquire other friends.”
Major events for the group include Philippines Independence Day in June, a fiesta to celebrate Saint Lorenzo in September and monthly barbeques at their Boolaroo hall.
The barbecues, held on the last Sunday of every month, see members gather for a day of socialising, food and drinks, and even a bit of karaoke – a much-loved activity.
Ms Macdonald enjoys picking up the microphone just as much as she does dancing on weekends.
“I do dancing almost every Saturday, we have a group - all the Filipino's go,” she said. “When someone has a gig, we go there and support the Filipino community. We follow them.”
And that’s the example that she sets, always supporting each other no matter the occasion.
She learned those supportive skills over a long career in teaching and nursing. She taught in primary school education in Tacloban City, Philippines for 16 years, before moving to Australia and later becoming a nurse. Working in the Maroba Nursing Home at Waratah for the past 20 years, Ms Macdonald retired at the end of last year.
She plans to continue her love of gardening, travelling and volunteering; continuing her many years of serving the community.