The following blog was originally posted from my old blog, The Geejay Journal:
It’s 11:30 pm and we’ve just come home from our meeting with other Melbourne-based Filipino posters on the Philippines.com.au forum at the Crown Casino. It was suggested in the forum a few days ago that maybe we should all meet in person. Get to know one another for real.
I was very keen to be a part of it as Raquel and I do not really know anybody here in Melbourne. All of our friends are either in Sydney or Canberra. I thought it would be nice to make new friends here in Melbourne and the planned meeting of forum-posters is an opportunity to do just that.
The plan was that we will all meet at around 6:30 pm to 7 pm at the food court area of the Crown Casino near the cinemas. If anybody got lost, we can contact the mobile (cellphone) of the site’s administrator, Homer, who is also going to the meeting. Raquel and I got there at about 6:25. The biggest problem we realised then was that how would we tell these Filipinos apart from all the other Asians at the said food court. We haven’t met these people in person before so we really don’t know what they would look like. And they wouldn’t know what we’d look like as well.
We decided to sit in one table for a few minutes while we look about for a gathering of people who could be Filipinos meeting for the first time. We did hear a few people who passed us speaking Tagalog but they didn’t seem to be looking for anybody so they weren’t likely to be the people we were supposed to meet.
Then we spotted two guys looking around like us. I got my mobile and started to dial Homer to see if he was already in the food court area. At that moment, one of the two guys got his mobile. He must be Homer, I thought. I hung up and walked towards the two.
As it turned out, neither of them is Homer the Admin. It was Bryan aka Bongbong and Benny aka Gee. Benny told me he was texting (sending SMS to) the Admin when I took out my mobile so he thought I was the Admin.
So then, there were four of us. It was a start. We talked about job searching, where we were from, where we lived now and how long each of us have been in Australia. Shortly, Michael aka Milkshake joined the group.
We started combining the tables then when Alvin (the lurker, he just reads the forum he said) joined us followed by Homer the Admin and his business partner Giovan (I’m not sure what his forum nickname was). Then while we were settling in our seats, Richmond (D’oh! I didn’t get his actual name) joined us. He was the last to join the meeting.
We talked about a lot of stuff like politics, propaganda, the situation in the Philippines, where to go to buy Filipino items, travel, and heaps of other topics. It was very enjoyable to be able to commune with fellow Filipinos again because I was able to speak in Tagalog and I was able to talk to people who share the same interests and culture as I do.
It’s like being home again. I could’ve pretended that I was just in Festival Supermall (in Filinvest, Alabang) chatting away with friends while the mall employees are eyeing us for hogging the seats when we are not actually eating.
Speaking of eating, I just remembered that we were so caught up with trading stories and chatting that we almost forgot about dinner. Well, I say almost because I did remember and was the first to bring it up with the group. I suppose everybody was still full because they ignored my dinner comment. I had to bring it up again and we finally agreed to have dinner.
Richmond suggested we eat pizza at this restaurant within the casino grounds itself but decided against it later when we realised the hassle of leaving our bags at the cloak room and that the actual restaurant inside was already full. So we went back to the food court and had to put together some tables again.
We bought our food, sat down and chatted some more. We talked about forming a new Melbourne Filipino group that is at least internet-savvy. We may have to think of a name for the group. We can worry about that later.
Anyway, we enjoyed the meeting so much that we hardly noticed the passage of time. Soon, it was already 10:30 and we agreed to call it a night. Specially since some of us (Benny and Bryan) need to catch a train before it’s last service for the day leaves.
We said our goodbyes but before going on our separate ways, we agreed to meet again at a later date for a backyard barbeque or something. All in all, I was very glad to have joined that eyeball meeting. I hope that Raquel and I will make true friends from this group. And with everybody so easy to get along, it’s easy to see that we will.
PS. If I incorrectly put down the names of one of the guys who went to that meeting, I apologise to that person if he’s reading this. My excuse? I’m not really good with names. I’m surprised I remembered all of them (I hope).