Category Archives: Study Brisbane

The Stradbroke Connection: Study with my father again

“It is said some lives are linked across time, Connected by an ancient calling that echoes through the ages”

— From the 2006 movie Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time


NORTH STRADBROKE ISLAND, Queensland— The day for our trip to an island fell exactly on my birthday. It was the 10th of May 2012 and I was even more excited knowing that I can once again find myself on a quest to go on a soul searching of some description.

Photo by Shao Cheng Heng

Photo by Shao Cheng Heng

Another year has passed and I had a difficult juggling act of completing few academic work loads whilst battling with the tyranny of distance, being away from few family members back home. Plus keeping track of some priorities in life including most especially my faith, friends and university—so I have to make sure I have time to get a little time off and break away from the normal routine.

Little did my companions of that special trip know that after their singing of ‘Happy Birthday’, I was bound to entertain the idea of just sitting alone on a distant corner and engage on a peaceful relaxation and just forget about studying, while basking under the Aussie sun.  Despite the short break in between the next itinerary in the island, just around lunch time, oh boy was I lucky to take time drawing in the sand!


Personal reflections

Since it was my birthday it was an opportune time for me to reflect on what I have done so far in my life, particularly from the time I had to pick up myself after that tragic family event when I was nine, involving my mother’s vehicular accident—which led me to an awakening that I have to move on (hence, the theme of my very first post).

To start off, I guess I have constantly seen myself as a work in progress. Having to also endure the pain of the loss of my father due to complications of a health disorder, then to some of my own personal heartbreak stories and what not, sometimes I found that in nostalgic moments I clearly do not want them to be a usual refrain anymore.  Yet I know it is a part of my life and I am happy to rise and fall each time, and learn every step of the way—albeit those were all the source of my inspiration and definitely where I draw confidence from.


Seeking now for some connection whilst looking back to my timeline, allow me to start by remembering what my old man wished for in his own life. I have learned from my sister that it was my father’s wish to also study abroad—and he was nearly close to that as he was no doubt a brilliant guy who sought for possible opportunities in life to better the way of living after marrying my mother. I knew there was a sort of scholarship which he got qualified for, to study in the US during his early days.

Not only did he not have enough financial means to process his papers, he also did not get the much needed support from family members on his side including my mother’s—merely because of his imperfect health condition.  Early on, his life was a constant combat with life-threatening complications; heart-attack plus all the added misery and suffering caused by diabetes.  Particularly to his family and relatives, this meant that overseas travel would perhaps only worsen this.

But I’d like to believe that anybody who knew him well can easily get an impression that he is likely to set this plan in stone. But despite that sheer determination, he later believed that chasing this dream of furthering his studies abroad—as a conduit for escaping poverty—would only remain his one elusive dream.


Following Papa’s footprints 

Fittingly enough are the words spoken by the wife of the current US president, quoting the words she herself borrowed from her parents: “I may not have a chance to fulfill my dream, but maybe my children will, maybe my grandchildren will.”

And today I figured on my own that it’s as if these very words were spoken by my own father himself, and together with his constant encouragement and inspiration after all those years, continued to carry me through. He was this beacon of light that guided every path I tread on.  There were little disappointments on my part of course, but he continued to have that faith in me.


Like my mom, his attention to details was microscopic.  His mark of discipline for studying I have well-indoctrinated myself with, to an extent where—and I could still remember— I would sometimes blame him for not waking me up earlier than what we normally agreed to, sometimes 3, 4, or 5 o’clock in the morning.  Just so I can study well for exams back in high school/college in the Philippines.  Mind you, he would even feel sorry as if it was an important obligation as a father to me.

Photo by Leong Ming En

Lunch at Point Lookout, North Stradbroke Island with student ambassadors Nathacha (Venezuela), Ali (Qatar), myself (Philippines), Guillaume (France), Shao (Malaysia) and Yoshiaki (Japan)   | Photo by Leong Ming En


No longer his unfinished business

Being on Queensland soil and soaking up on a brief island stint at North Stradbroke, quickly it came to mind that soon in December 2012 will be my graduation, I wish I can tell him that “what remained only as a dream for you Pa—to go overseas and study, has finally been realized by your own son, so thank you for giving me life.”   I have a strange feeling that his father (my grandfather) had the same aspirations for him.  True enough, my father’s life and my own are indeed interwoven by our common dreams and aspirations echoing through the sands of time. Needless to say that I love him even more, as besides our blood this is our connection.

How I wish he will be there in the audience clapping and saying, “I’m proud of that small guy right there. That’s my son!”

Not that he ever let me feel that he was not proud of me when he was alive. I know he is, but it’s a different feeling to get on stage being called with the surname we both share and to have him see that event unfold in his very own eyes.  This I’m sure—and many of you would agree (about your parents) that this is such a rare occasion that would serve as recognition of how much I value every bit of his legacy. For he once taught me how to pray, how to be humble, how to stand up for what I believe in, and he is one person I can show my genuine child-like character.  There would be no son in this world who will not be happy seeing a father happy and—most of all—proud of whatever that son achieves in life.

Aboard the Big Red Cat (catamaran vessel) off to North Stradbroke Island| Photo by Kritika Bansal

Aboard the Big Red Cat (catamaran vessel) off to North Stradbroke Island.  | Photo by Kritika Bansal

“Pa, I may not see you with Mama while I grab the parchment on stage but do know that this one’s for you both.  So here I am, finally did what you wanted to do in your life. Your words continue to carry me through and are much appreciated even to this day.”

This gave me a conclusion that my own father’s ‘American Dream’ has already become my own ‘Australian Reality’.




Article dedicated to Dionisio G. Villagonzalo (1935-2007)

Related Post: An Ambassador: The Child I Was


Summer is here in Brisbane. It’s the best time to embrace the beach culture of Australia’s sunshine state, Queensland. The Student Ambassadors (especially the birthday boy) just enjoy the treat from Redland City Council Tourism, a day at North Stradbroke Island is certainly the way to go when it comes to breaking the monotony of studying.

And finally the most awaited interview with Miss Tourism Vietnam 2011 Huynh Thi Ngoc Han. She shares about her life as a student in Brisbane & why she is proud of her roots.

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Posted by on December 9, 2012 in Study Brisbane


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New chapter of my Brisbane story

“Today my life begins” and so was the inspiring line sang by my favourite Filipino-American singer, Bruno Mars.

I know I try my best to keep this department a bit private but, yes it’s love—but sad to say—so it was.

I’m sure not a lot of people even find some entertainment in sharing miserable heartbreak stories, so I’ll try to keep it that way. Though I felt like I was almost there but some things are just not meant to be. Oh! Stop me now. Okay, let’s park that case right there.

So, ever wonder why my blog space was in deep slumber? Now it’s hoping to scream out louder.

“Love is like a river, never ending as it flows, but gets greater with time!”
—Reinhold Niebuhr

THIS NEW CHAPTER I wish you happiness with your ‘river’ as I stay here hoping this time I might finally find mine…

This is funny. At least I’ve got some excuse now—I hope it’s a valid one—for not having been inspired to get some literary concoction going on about my colourful life in Brisbane. Well that’s it, colorful indeed. You see wherever you go, you cannot deny people, things and events to come your way, and they are just inevitable. No way to predict. No way to avoid.  Every person you meet is a whole new experience.

I guess all you really want to happen is give yourself in. And I’m glad these all happened in Brisbane.

As I’m nearing towards the end of my two year role as a Brisbane International Student Ambassador, it just makes sense that I get to experience all the facets of living in this wonderful city. Not to mention all the fun, I got to meet some dignitaries around the world with the likes of Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group of Companies;  Philips Senior Director of Energy & Climate Change Harry Verhaar; and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani at the Asia Pacific Cities Summit in 2011.

Going to exciting familiarization tours—from the unforgettable overnight at Tangalooma Island Resort, to celebrating my birthday at North Stradbroke Island, and to visiting the lush, green side of Redland’s Indigiscape Centre—they are not just my favourite but a whole heaps more that are quite memorable too.

And when I say different facets, I also mean the not-so-good bits (besides the heartbreak) including the tyranny of distance; not being with few family members who are in the Philippines, having been absent in many relative and friends’ celebrations—from weddings, graduation, reunions and anniversaries and the list goes on…

Well it’s sometimes bittersweet you know but that’s life, we sacrifice one thing to also experience the joy of doing another. Pros and cons will not dare go out of our way, so we just have to go with the flow.  Like my niece Kerrie’s favourite line in ‘Finding Nemo’—when Dorry was trying to help a worried father find his lost son—“just keep swimming, just keep swimming”.  Oh swimming shall I go, amidst all the heaving waves that try to push me back—but I will keep going until I find what I am looking for (not Nemo of course!).

In a sea of endless possibilities, Brisbane has taught me to LOVE and BE LOVED—not only by a set of good friends in the Filipino Students in Brisbane group but also amongst my local Aussie friends and a beautiful bunch of international friends—so how will I forget my fellow International Student Ambassadors coming from 23 different nations.  I must say we have all journeyed together and have established a strong camaraderie that neither one of us will ever forget. You guys have probably gotten tired of my saying ‘Thank You’ so I say it in my own tongue ‘Maraming Salamat’.

I can safely say that regardless of our religion, colour of skin, cultural beliefs and background—it was all about FAITH, not only in some Divine Intervention but faith in ourselves and being aware that we are capable of doing things even bigger than ourselves, and lastly faith in shaping our dreams!

ALL of you friends (and also to her)—together with those dreams, we can still make them happen.

Our journey will not end there, it has only BEGUN!

“You only have one life to live, so you better make the best of it”—Bruno Mars

Graham Quirk with BISA 2012

The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Graham Quirk with the Brisbane International Student Ambassadors appointment in March 2012


 Au Courant’s Corner is preparing to air a whole new exciting set of webisodes. As a primer, have a look at the work of a very talented member (name withheld upon request) of the Filipino Students in Brisbane (FSB) who crafted this full of life OFFICIAL TEASER for the Brisbane Mabuhay Philippines Festival held last 12 October 2012.

An initiative of the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Australia-Philippines—together with the Filipino Students in Brisbane—and proudly supported by the Brisbane City Council, the Brisbane Mabuhay Philippines Festival this year was definitely more exciting as it showcased some of the best Filipino talents in the city from dancing to singing—not to mention an awe-inspiring cultural rendition of the Kalinga tribe of the Philippines by another FSB member Paul Mariano and a Melbourne-based international student, April de Chavez, who flew her way from interstate to enjoy the festival with us. Commenting on the success of the event, it was seen posted in the Facebook page of Lord Mayor of Brisbane – Graham Quirk on 15 October saying: “A great turn out at the Festival”

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Posted by on November 3, 2012 in Study Brisbane


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Get Wet and Learn To Surf at the Gold Coast

Whilst Brisbane is forecast to sweat through its hottest few weeks ago, the question is why swelter when you don’t have to. Being in the capital of the ‘Sunshine State’ one should always be on the look out for ways to staying cool.

Besides my Filo mates’ favorite artificial beach in Southbank, all the long sandy ones are just within striking distance of Brisbane. I am talking about the nine major beaches that dot along the Gold Coast which made the latter as Australia’s most famous tourist area. Not to mention all the innumerable high-profile attractions such as Warner Bros. Movie World, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Sea World and Paradise Country which Gold Coast houses, I still reckon this beach culture is ought to be the best way to embrace the sunshine.

9 Gold Coast Beaches

Coolangatta (Photo by Deiter Dizon)

Coolangatta in a Rainy Sunset (Deiter Dizon)

Coolangatta — fun for the whole family.

Currumbin — more famous for its bird sanctuary than its beach.

Palm Beach.

Burleigh Heads.

Nobby Beach.

Mermaid Beach.

Broadbeach — in the heart of the tourist attraction.

Surfers Paradise— the most famous of all the beaches. A long sandy strip backed by high-rise apartments.

Burleigh Heads

Burleigh Heads (Photo by Deiter Dizon)

Southport — the more modern and exclusive end of the coast

But wait before you even start your set of wheels please hold it right there, it’s important to keep in mind how to stay safer at the beach by remembering the FLAGS—well not the British Blue Ensign defaced with the state badge on a white disc in the fly, but simply these simple tips by Surf Life Saving Queensland:

Swim Between RED and YELLOW Flags

Swim Between RED and YELLOW Flags (Filipino Students in Brisbane's Romena de Chavez)


F—Find the flags and swim between them.

L—Look at and read the safety signs.

A—Ask a lifesaver or lifeguard for advice

G—Get a friend to swim with you

S—Stick your hand up for help.


Always remember to swim between the RED and YELLOW flags.

If either sunbathing or swimming is not your cup of tea, then SURFING should be your best option. That two-hour surf lesson with Get Wet Surf School last year together with Study Brisbane’s International Student Ambassadors just goes to prove (I am sure) that Queensland is not known as ‘Sunshine State’ around Australia for nothing, with plenty other ways to always keep cool.

Excited as I was to keeping my cool in The Spit Beach, Gold Coast, I frantically stood up on my first surfboard lesson in that one but I learned that I also have to keep a look around next time to make sure I won’t get washed into someone’s path again. For the less experienced like myself, learn to surf too on the Gold Coast & Surfers Paradise with Get Wet Surf School. (1800GETWET or

2011 - This was before, still struggling on making that stand.

Me Surfing in Action

2012 - This was after, just a perfect example of that mantra in life: "Try and try, until you SUCCEED!"



Another guaranteed FUN day out!

Brisbane Welcomes International Students 2012 event here we come.

We HOPE TO SEE YOU SOON wearing that smile!


And oh, just as you think of heading to the Gold Coast (I know it’s fun to surf) but do check out first our own story as documented by the video blog at  Au Courant’s Corner now on its seventh webisode with an exclusive up-close and personal interview with Charlton Brown’s 2011 Most Outstanding International Student, Kyoko Yamazaki from Japan.

Not even the afternoon storms possibly pushing temperatures into the high 30s last time could STOP Au Courant’s Corner from bringing you an entertainment while learning about the life of an international student in Australia’s New World City.

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Posted by on February 6, 2012 in Study Brisbane


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One Brisbane Christmas of Finding a Purpose

Photo credit: Debbie Yarra (’s almost my favorite time of the year once again and just as I was beginning to start writing again for my blog I realized something. This all started when a former classmate of mine since elementary up to high school posted on her Facebook wall:

(With permission to post from her)

With permission to post from Ms. Nikki Claire Flores









Contrary to what I have commented, I suddenly feel that what she said might also hold true to my situation. But there have been a lot of things that have happened in my life that I could say, in my humble opinion, are significant enough to me. The lost of both my parents at an early age I even consider well significant to make me understand that things happen for a reason. Moving to another country is perhaps another one.  But like Nikki, most of us know the emotions of life can take us into all the dark corners of doubt and I admit that I too have a lifelong dream that I’m continually working on so likewise I ask myself “What is the purpose of my existence?”

In the different stages of our lives, just like you, there are several times I asked that perennial question.  But to be quite honest no one here on earth would immediately have a ready answer. Other than the one above us, really it’s for us individuals to find out for ourselves through a life-long process I reckon.   Well lucky for those who think they might already have but at least for both Nikki and I, we don’t.

Photo Credits:

Lately, because I miss home and especially that a recent flashflood badly hit the City of Dumaguete (my hometown) and 2 other cities in Mindanao—Iligan and Cagayan de Oro, I was listening to my favorite, The Black Eyed Peas’ music entitled The APL Song then came this strange feeling.  A sudden rush so powerful that inevitably caught my emotions to run deep. This does not happen too often though, but tonight conveyed a mind-boggling message I just cannot afford to ignore. No matter how hard I try to relax my line of thoughts, the surge just remained even stronger and stronger.

Oh well this is really nothing I thought, but there it was again now becoming a little too familiar. Then it struck like someone just poured a glass of cold water on me so I finally surrendered to it.

“Okay, okay you win.”  Nostalgia why do you knock on my door—all this sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in my not so distant past is perhaps not new to me and may be similar to others who have left from their place of birth to another where one have not yet significantly spent a good number of years. The longing for home can even become harder for some, especially during this holiday season.

Along with a friend Deiter Dizon, I helped established the Filipino Students in Brisbane, a group which started as a Facebook page now becoming a community for students who have just arrived in Brisbane to help them adjust to a culture different from what they are accustomed to.  Other local youth whose families have migrated from the Philippines years a while back to this city are also becoming active towards tracing back to their ancestral roots. In the SPIRIT of Christmas, the Filipino Students in Brisbane, or FSB as we commonly call it, is conducting this humble endeavor wherein we are requesting friends and members to donate their unused clothing and non-perishable food items.  As for money donations, the group has decided to direct all philanthropic hearts to UNICEF Philippines to support their emergency campaign for victims of Tropical Storm Sendong.

Back home I always believe that people are finely attuned to what we call as the spirit of “Bayanihan” – a Filipino word derived from ‘bayani’ which means “hero or heroine leader”; and bayan’ which means “town, nation, or community in general.”  If the essence of both words combined, it literally means “being a bayan,” and is thus used to refer to a spirit of communal unity and cooperation. Unarguably, that same spirit which is often exhibited during these times of calamities like earthquakes, typhoons and floods is perhaps part of every culture in the world the city of Brisbane included—with the January 2011 floods.


So it’s probably nothing more than a continuation of this synergy of togetherness all gluing us together.
Whilst I always understand that the purpose of Christmas is of course to celebrate the birth of Christ, with all these recent events this, I’m sure, was a portent of things to come. And that is why I still often find myself staring blankly wondering what could be the purpose He created me for and thinking back on my friend’s mind-boggling question: What really is my purpose?

Well, I may have not yet found the true purpose of my existence but I think as for now—being around and active with my fellow Filipino community—can serve as the reason for which my determination continue to exists.

And it is through looking back to where I come from that I can safely get to where I am going, that’s why in the many activities I try to emphasize not only to others—but for myself as well— that tracing back to our FILIPINO roots is one way of paying tribute to our worthy ancestors as we received from them a fair inheritance: OUR CULTURE, OUR TRADITION, and OUR IDENTITY.


I am Xavier Villagonzalo. I am a FILIPINO.

And probably from there, I will start finding my life’s purpose.  I hope you’ll find yours too. Merry Christmas everyone!



 Au Courant’s Corner gives you this holiday season a special webisode featuring the Filipino Students in Brisbane having their second Filo BBQ at Southbank Parklands, Brisbane. 

Philip Cox from the Brisbane City Council (City Cat Sales & Marketing) graced the occasion to witness what Filipino culture is all about. Lucky participants get FREE passes to the iconic “Wheel of Brisbane.”

If exotic food is your thing, then who would have thought that eating ‘balut’ in a contest would send audience grinning from ear to ear rather nefariously. Probably due to the bonus treats that aren’t usually included on your ordinary hard-boiled egg such as feathers, duck’s bill and what not. So if you are morbidly curious to know their reactions, then watch it for yourself!

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Posted by on December 21, 2011 in Study Brisbane



34th IGC—Geoscience ‘Olympics’ in Brisbane

Asia Pacific Cities Summit Ambassadors rendering service in the spirit of volunteerism last July 2011

For the international student that I am here, I could not just disregard the beautiful trajectory for BrisbaneAustralia’s New World City—  last year and this year.  2011 saw Australia hosting a summit in July for Asia Pacific region and in 2012 still Australia will play host to another international event on behalf of Oceania.

Asia Pacific. Oceania. Wow! I know from a modest point of view (since I was never geek enough in the sciences) that they may seem just two orthographic projections playing in my mind. But how relevant then shall be our knowledge of the Geosciences today, when every so often we hear natural catastrophes occurring from this side of the planet to another?

We ought to stress that—as human beings living in this planet—we are in an unprecedented territory, just as we started to think that Mother Nature will leave us for a little while, it will always come back with a full force. Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods and other natural hazards are all inevitable—and all covered by Earth Science!

The International Geological Congress (IGC) is the leading global forum for the Earth sciences.

What is IGC?

The Congress, being held once every four years and typically attracts 5000 delegates from over 100 countries, has been referred to as the Geosciences’ Olympics.  Having been held first in 1876 in Paris, the IGC is one of the longest running professional sector conferences in the world.  It has been regularly held ever since with the most recent ones hosted in Oslo, Norway (2008) and Florence, Italy (2004).

Dr. Ian Lambert, secretary general of the 34th IGC Organising Committee, states that

“the IGC is really big and important…it is the premier global geoscience event.  It brings geoscientists from around the world where they freely exchange information, they give oral and poster presentations presenting their research. They also have the opportunity to go on field trips to look at geographical features in the field.”

With the theme Unearthing our Past and Future – Resourcing Tomorrow”, the 34th IGC is being hosted by the Australian Geoscience Council (AGC).  The AGC is the peak representative body for geoscientists in Australia and consists of the following member societies, which represent specialty areas of the Earth sciences:

  • Association of Applied Geochemists
  • Australian Institute of Geoscientists
  • Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists
  • Geological Society of Australia
  • International Association of Hydrologists (Australian Chapter)
  • Australian Geoscience Information Association
  • The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
  • Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia.

IGCs are run under the auspices of the International Union of Geological Sciences, which facilitates international geoscientific collaboration and development of standards.

Many delegates are involved in cutting edge research. There will also be distinguished senior personnel representing national geosciences agencies, major resource companies as well as the extensive supporting contracting industry.  In fact, the 34th IGC Scientific Program will feature a daily Plenary Session, 220 symposia under 37 themes in which distinguished speakers will give invited presentations on major contemporary themes in the geosciences.

One that I am particularly keen to meet for the day, if only we get lucky to have that same volunteering opportunity again just like last July’s  Asian Pacific Cities Summit 2011 (as student ambassadors for Brisbane), is a familiar face from my home country—Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum, Jr.who has said in one of his interviews that “the Philippines has 20 earthquakes everyday on average. Having 20 earthquakes is a normal occurrence.”



IGC’s are held in host cities throughout the world. Countries that wish to host an IGC must bid for the event. The bid must demonstrate that the country has the expertise and resources necessary to run the event and do so at a cost that is reasonable to delegates who must pay fees to attend. Bids are submitted by numerous countries and are subjected to a competitive selection process. The 34th IGC is being held in Brisbane as a result of a successful bid against India and Morocco back in 2004 during a previous IGC in Florence, Italy.

Accommodation in Brisbane 

As released in the third circular of the 34th IGC, there are discounted accommodation rates available that were negotiated particularly for IGC delegates only at an extensive range of hotels and accommodation establishments in central Brisbane. Booking your accommodation can be done when you register for the Congress via the online system or through the downloadable registration form.  Apparently since there is a heavy demand for accommodation in the city, expected delegates are urged to book accommodation as soon as possible.

The international congress, slated on 510 August, 2012 at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, will also provide an opportunity for young scientists and students to engage with some of the best geosciences minds in the world. The YES (Young Earth Scientists) Network will hold its second Congress within the 34th IGC.

This event is brought to you by Geoscience Australia, GNS Science (New Zealand), Carillon Conference Management along with academic partners Queensland Institute of Technology and the University of Queensland, while Vale as one of the major sponsors.  If interested, please register now by visiting its official website at


Lambert, I., & Gordon, A. (2011, September). Guest Lecture from IGC. In J. Watson (Professor), Entreprise 2.0. Lecture conducted from Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD.



Someone got even luckier on his last birthday to be granted an exclusive interview with a beauty queen whose interest lies in calligraphy, fashion, food and design, and who once said “I Just Got Lucky” in this one-on-one chat for a webisode that will take you to the changing skyline of her country.

Ms. Tourism Vietnam 2011 Huynh Thi Ngoc Han tells it all in this webisode while the rest of the student ambassadors enjoy their day at North Stradbroke Island, QLD, Australia. Here is the sneak peek to that upcoming Au Courant’s Corner webisode…


Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Enterprise 2.0, Study Brisbane


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Dinner With Brisbane’s Lord Mayor

The 22nd of July has truly been one nerve-wracking experience of mine here in the city. Having to share the same dining table with the city’s head was one opportunity I was not at all expecting. In truth, what rendered my relaxed nature useless was the fact that I even got to seat next to The Right Honourable, the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Cr Graham Quirk himself.

But of course there are many things that still send shivers down my spine like seeing an ex-girlfriend’s profile picture on Facebook (silly example), getting final results for a “uni” exam, among others.  Trust me! That night was one of them.  Left unaided, I finally found a way to cool down my nervousness and get back to my senses by admitting it in public that very same night. Just before it was my turn to say something about our Brisbane experience as student ambassadors, as requested by the dinner host himself, I said:

“Not only do I get to share the same table with the Lord Mayor, I get to seat next to him—it’s really nerve-wracking!”

While everyone was laughing, slowly I picked up myself and continued on by sharing “If Brisbane City was a person, I would be able to see so much of myself in him. Despite many adversities in life—like early this year’s floods—still that person managed to remain resilient.”

With the story of my childhood in mind, I have reminisced a bit of my past to begin seeing what could be the future that lies ahead.  It may be a little obscure for now but trusting in the possibilities of goodness I can only rest my shoulders as yet on wishful thinking.  More importantly, I know I will not be alone.

Albeit a plain reassuring mantra of mine “Life can only be understood BACKWARDS, but it must be lived FORWARDS,” I remain confident that just like Brisbane, coming together, at least forestalls whatever inundating situations.


And according to a former professor of mine now dean at Silliman University,

“Whether one creates a whale of a difference after everything one has been through, or whether one continues to live in a rut, is your own decision.”



 Au Courant’s Corner is also back and now better than ever.

I admire the sheer humility that the Lord Mayor Graham Quirk exudes, looking at him whilst on a quick auctioneering demo for us (not shown in video), I’m very sure that anybody can easily get an impression that he is a man who has a modest estimate of his own worth being the father of this city—which in fact he is— and always ready to submit himself to his constituents even with foreigners. Truly, he is the Right Honourable.

This webisode also examines the life of a ‘cool pare’ as he recollects how it is like growing up in Singapura”the Lion CityLeong Ming En tells it all in an interview as to how the city got its name & came to be!


Posted by on August 8, 2011 in Study Brisbane



Tangalooma Island Resort—Where New Friends Get Together

“Opportunity comes like a snail, and once it has passed you it changes into a fleet rabbit and is gone.” —Arthur Brisbane

This is a quote from the greatest journalist of his day, Arthur Brisbane, a former editor of the New York Journal, was noted by Time Magazine to have an estimated daily readership of over 20 million for his syndicated editorial column.

It was because of what Brisbane said that I decided to make as many friends as I can whilst studying here in Brisbane—referring to the city this time and “Australia’s New World” at that.

Getting a chance to be with all the international student ambassador friends at an Island Getaway to Tangalooma Island Resort—an hour by catamaran from Brisbane, is one great opportunity that I was totally blown away to share with them.

Whether one is looking for an action packed experience or something a little more relaxed and away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Tangalooma has something to offer everyone.  It’s good crazy that with over 80 activities on offer it’s impossible to list them all here.  And as they say more than half are FREE, and I reckon the toughest decision really will be which to choose first!

Just some of the highlights of the student ambassador activities

ATV quad bike tour

The quad bike drive gave me the excitement I was looking for in that action packed afternoon. Although, it wasn’t much of a thrill anymore riding on a bike as I hail from a place known as the “Motorcycle Capital of the Philippines”Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental (because of the excellent performance of local motorcycle dealers). But still this one is special since it reminded me of my own Honda Wave 100 which I used to drive on a daily basis back home. Both are unique yet incomparable of course!

Providing us with bush track training to handle the challenging trails were professional guides who patiently assisted everyone regardless of experience.

Segway ride

It was really interesting to try on the new self-balancing personal transporter called a Segway. Admittedly, it was funny that I had one of their friendly guides Cathy Chen (whom I’ve personally met before) to almost give up on me as the Segway’s sophisticated tilt sensors are just hard to manipulate at first, especially if you’re not good enough to maintain the balance.

My first few attempts I thought were just futile as I kept treading on different directions. But good thing she laughed it off and was patient enough to teach us some tricks to ride that amazing vehicle.
Eventually I learned some skills from Cathy. With their big tires came along a big fun to cruise the beachfront and amazing white sand whilst sightseeing from the not so far crystal clear waters.

Desert safari tour including sand tobogganing

On the way to the desert safari tour, one can enjoy seeing Moreton Island from a whole different perspective amidst luscious landscaped gardens and natural bush lands—thus, a unique opportunity to closely interact with nature.

Now down to one of my favorite activities, sand tobogganing face first is just perfect for the thrill-seeker that I am.  And according to our main guide Chad Croft, Moreton Island has the distinction of being the second largest sand island in the whole world.  Part of this sand stands almost on its edge, with the tallest sand dune on the coast soaring 280 meters into the sky.  Imagine tobogganing down that!

And yes I did, but only on areas which tobogganing are allowed so it was rather not that soaring high, say just a little above the adrenalin-pumping level.

Wild dolphin feeding

From sun up to sun down at the stunning beach resort surrounded by National and Marine Park, it’s imperative to experience the highlight when the evening sets in, a local pod of inshore bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) swim into the shallow waters at the beach.  Finally, a chance we have been all waiting for in this unique location was viewing of the natural behaviors of one of the most intelligent animals living on our planet, the dolphins.


At the end of the day, these special memories with my new friends here at Tangalooma and the bond that we’ve created would also help define what Arthur Brisbane said about opportunities.  At some point different people of diverse backgrounds come slowly like mere strangers, but before they will go pass you, know them well before that chance just slip away.


Be enchanted by the playful antics of the wild bottlenose dolphins that visit Tangalooma jetty each night. Hand feed Nari, Echo, Tinkerbell and family as they gather at the shore, or watch from the jetty.


Au Courant’s Corner visits what is known as Brisbane’s Island Getaway—Tangalooma Island Resort, where you can feel like a “Billionaire” as you relax and soak up the island lifestyle whilst enjoying a day or two at a stunning beach resort surrounded by National & Marine Park.

If you’re a Scooby Doo fan, you will certainly recognize this island being the set for “Spooky Island”. Join the Brisbane International Student Ambassadors as they escape to this must island getaway. Don’t miss out the lady ambassadors as they show their moves doing the Macarena to thank their friendly staff!

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Posted by on July 14, 2011 in Study Brisbane