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Exhibition of prints from the Philippines, Canberra, Thursday 11 June 1998: address on the occasion of the opening.

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It is both a pleasure and a privilege for me to be with you this evening for the opening o f this very fine Exhibition o f contemporary prints from the Philippines, “ Hurry Up and Wait”

The Exhibition is at once a celebration o f the achievements o f the present generation o f Filipino artists and a celebration o f all that the people o f the Philippines have achieved over the past 100 years. Indeed, as Governor-General o f Australia, and on the very eve o f the centenary o f the declaration o f Philippine Independence on 12 June 1898, I am sure that I speak for all Australians when I offer our warmest congratulations to the Government and people o f the Philippines and extend our heartfelt good wishes both for their celebrations o f the centenary and for all the years that lie ahead

The relationship and the friendship between the Philippines and Australia go back a long long way. In that regard, I would like, with President Ramos’ permission, to read a few sentences from a letter which I was recently privileged to receive from him. The President wrote:

“ Our two nations have a long history o f co-operation and friendship. In World War Two, thousands o f Australian soldiers bravely took part in the Allied campaign to liberate the Philippines Our two nations have fought together on the same side for freedom and justice in almost every great struggle this century Today, Australia remains one o f the most important partners o f the Philippines in the Asia-Pacific region”

I reciprocate every word o f those sentiments Our two countries have a long and very strong relationship. We share a common outlook on key regional, economic and security issues. The Philippines remains one o f our most important partners and friends. And both our countries are putting a lot o f work into ensuring that we don’t take each other for granted. This Exhibition is an example o f that from the Philippines side On our side,

I might mention that, later this year, an important new promotion “ A ll The Best From Australia” w ill open in Manila, show-casing what our country has to offer in business, science, technology, culture and sport


The friendship between our countries is, o f course, underpinned by a growing Filipino community in Australia o f more than 90,000 people Indeed, the Filipino Community Council o f Victoria was one o f those instrumental in arranging the present Exhibition in association with the VicHealth Access Gallery at the National Gallery o f

Victoria, and the Cultural Centre o f the Philippines

As “ All The Best From Australia” w ill give the people o f Manila an opportunity to experience something o f contemporary Australian culture, so does “ Hurry Up and Wait" give us a sense o f the artistic vigour and innovation o f modern print-makers in the Philippines. It is a long tradition, going back perhaps 400 years to the beginnings o f

Spanish colonisation - although particularly since the 1950s and 1960s, Filipino print- makers have made the important transition from artisans to artists, as Victoria Herrera points out in her introductory essay and as this evening's Exhibition clearly demonstrates

The skills, the disciplines, the technical mastery o f the medium which these prints manifest, together with their challenging expression o f ideas and images, owe much to the great support the Cultural Centre o f the Philippines has given to print-makers over the past 29 years. All o f these works come from a period o f intense social, economic and political change. At the same time, many o f the prints reach back to images o f the past and offer a reinterpretation o f the mythology, the folklore, the religion and the traditions o f earlier times. Through this Exhibition, they enable us in Australia to join with our friends and

neighbours in the celebration o f the first centenary o f the declaration o f independence in the Philippines ... and to share something o f their pride and excitement.

Indeed, as we in Australia prepare for a similar landmark in our history - the Centenary o f Federation in 2001 - we understand those feelings very well. As the people o f the Philippines look to tomorrow, we Australians look forward to 1 January 2001 with great pride and anticipation. And we do so with confidence that we can work still more closely with the Philippines in pursuit o f common goals for ourselves, our region and the world.

And now, with great pleasure, I officially open the Canberra showing o f the Exhibition o f contemporary Philippine prints, “ Hurry Up and Wait".