How a Filipino lime is driving inclusion in Australia

How a Filipino lime is driving inclusion in Australia

Growing up in Australia, Fides Mae Santos and Grace Guinto didn’t always embrace their Filipina roots. But now the business duo make it their mission to instil pride in their community.

The daughters of migrants from the Philippines both struggled with their cultural identities throughout their childhoods in Melbourne’s western suburbs in the 1980s.

Grace Guinto (left) and Fides Mae Santos have launched a campaign aimed at improving inclusion for Filipino-Australians.Credit:AAP

But these early challenges would later inspire them to help others like them by breaking down barriers.

“We had a very difficult upbringing, where you turned up to your schools in the 1980s and you really just wanted to be one of the white kids in your class,” Santos said.

“When people would ask, ‘What are you?’ I thought, ‘I’m Australian, can’t they tell?’”

Guinto said it wasn’t until she had children that she became curious about her cultural heritage.

“When we were young, we really wanted to assimilate and just belong. I feel like as we get older and have children, there’s this need to reconnect back with our culture,” she said.

There are about 300,000 Filipinos across Australia, making them the fifth-largest ethnic group in the country and the third-largest Asian migrant group after Chinese and Indians.

But they are vastly under-represented across many sectors, including the media and the public service.

Australian-Filipino Community Services managing director Corina Dutlow said better representation was needed to promote Filipinos’ inclusion.

“Having more Filipino representation in mainstream media creates safe spaces for people who want to explore their cultural heritage,” she said.

Santos and Guinto – who together founded The Entree.Pinays, a collective that aims to better promote Filipino culture, language and cuisine – have launched a campaign called The Calamansi Story to promote social cohesion through their community, and hope their migrant journeys will inspire others.

The campaign name references the calamansi lime, a key ingredient in Filipino cooking.

“The Calamansi Story epitomises what’s possible when purpose, place, people and passion connect and thrive,” Santos said. The campaign was a call to action for the sustainable future of the lime and fair trade for Filipino farmers, she said.

The project has received grant funding from the Australia-ASEAN Council of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The project also aims to increase cultural awareness around the contributions of Filipino migrants.

It is due to launch this week as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, ahead of the 77th anniversary of Australian-Philippine diplomatic relations.

The event includes a screening of a short documentary on The Calamansi Story and the launch of a book featuring essays, stories, recipes and art.


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