Philippines Rugby League
Philippines Rugby League

By Erick Elefante, Date:30/8/13

The Filipino-heritage Rugby League players in the national PAL Tamaraws team of the Philippines National Rugby League (PNRL) have become enriched in their Filipino-heritage through their involvement with the national team.

It has strengthened their cultural identity through learning more about their Filipino customs and traditions. It has also made them aware of how fortunate they are, having grown up and living in the lucky countries of Australia and New Zealand and many have been moved to give back to the Philippines.

So when the Philippines Community Council of NSW (PCC) asked for “HELP” with their charity fundraising for the Australian Bushfire and Philippines Typhoon appeal the PAL Tamaraws were more than happy to lend a hand.

Led by their recently retired inaugural PAL Tamaraw, Vice Captain, Ron Pena, members of the national team; John Acluba, Jason Bedford, Ashley Black, Fred Colina, Amante Decena, Ricardo Hernandez, Kim Hillis, Glenn Power, Mark Reyes, Ned Stephenson, Mark De Ubago (PNRL Asst Coach), Erick Elefante (PNRL Secretary) and Brett Prado (PNRL Board) attended the PCC, Philippine Australian Disaster Emergency Relief (PADER) charity fundraiser last March, to do their bit in raising $12,000.00.

So when Jason Bedford suggested that we get involved with the Philippine Australian Sports & Culture (P.A.S.C.), Miss Philippines-Australia and Miss Charity Queen Australia pageant by supporting one of the contestants, Miss Sophia Matillano, the response from the PAL Tamaraws was again to help out!

The support for Sophia Matillano was an easy decision for the PNRL board because she too entered the pageant for the philanthropic work it championed and was searching for a way to give back to the community, and share her blessings with those less fortunate than her in the Philippines.

Sophia is relatively new to Australia having migrated here 10 years ago in 2003 with her parents from Bulacan in the Philippines. She is currently in her second year of a Bachelor of Commerce degree majoring in Information Systems at Macquarie University.

She entered the pageant as an opportunity to develop her self confidence, public speaking skill and to help people back home.

Sophia finds it an honour and a privilege to be a contestant in the Miss Philippines-Australia and Miss Charity Queen Australia 2013 pageant. And finds its charity work as a rewarding part of the experience, with funds raised donated to the ‘Home for the Angels’ Orphanage and to the Technological University of the Philippines to reward some students with full scholarships. With both charities focused on improving the lives of the less fortunate in the Philippines.

Sophia and her fellow Filipino compares’ in the PNRL are both on a journey together that have changed them both and brought out the best in them for the benefit of the community in the Philippines and Australia.

For those interested in meeting the PAL Tamaraws, Sophia Matillano and the other Miss Philippines-Australia and Miss Charity Queen Australia contestants you can do so by coming along to the 25th Sydney Kultura festival at the Fairfield Showgrounds on October 7th during the Labor Day long weekend and experience a bit of the Philippines in Australia!