• Dale Roberts

Philippines and Australia's Eurovision relationship



Filipino Australians are one of the largest and fastest growing community groups in the country.


According to 2020 data, over 300,000 Australians were born in the Philippines, making it the fifth highest ranked country behind England, India, China and New Zealand.


Filipino Australians have made a mark across film, TV, music, sport and more, with well known names such as Jason Day (Golf), Kate Ceberano (singer) and Craig Wing (Rugby League) having heritage from the nation.


Another important area the community has impacted is Australia's Eurovision history.


Over 10% of Australia's Eurovision and 'Eurovision - Australia Decides' acts have Filipino heritage.


Let's look at the connections between the two countries.


Sheldon Riley



Australia's Eurovision 2022 artist has a Filipino with his original name being Sheldon Hernandez.


Although he said he had at times struggled with his heritage and his struggles with masculinity telling SBS Filipino:


"I always used to blame it on the fact that I was the mix that I was and I had the culture that I had. Why couldn’t I be a stronger man or someone who could grow facial hair? I wanted to be more masculine - that’s where the negative stuff came from. I was blaming myself for not being more manly."


But his dad, who is also an artist and often helps Sheldon with his costumes, helped him celebrate who he is. He told Aussievision earlier this year that,


"For a long time I thought these things, like my heritage or my queerness, those were the things that would set me back, but these are things that I'm being celebrated for."


He also told SBS Filipino about his pride and connection to his heritage:


"My biggest connection to my Filipino background is definitely the food. We had lots of Filipino parties, celebrations and food. I love Filipino food so much...pancit and adobo and sinigang and all the food is amazing," he laughs, adding, "But what is so special about being Filipino is the family aspect of it. Everyone is so together. It's all about love and celebration."


Sheldon Riley represented Australia at Eurovision in Turin this year, making the Grand Final by finishing runner-up in the semi-final and finishing in 15th place overall.


Montaigne



Montaigne, real name Jess Cerro, is a true Australian multicultural melting pot with French, Argentinean, Spanish, and Filipino background.


She told SBS Filipino that component of her heritage was the one that stood out to her growing up.


“I grew up with some of those cultures, Filipino predominantly, and a little bit of Argentinian.

But mostly Filipino because my family had friends around that were Filipino in Sydney. My mum was born and raised in Manila until she was about 18 or 19," she said.


Like Sheldon, it was particularly food that brought her closer to heritage, saying:


“The most culture I got from my parents that was from our origins was Filipino food, like ginataan, and sinigang, and adob."


Montaigne won 'Eurovision - Australia Decides' in 2020 with her song 'Don't Break Me'. Unfortunately the Contest was cancelled due to the pandemic. Montaigne did get to compete in 2021 but again unfortunately she was unable to travel to Rotterdam and perform remotely. She did Australia proud finishing 14th in her semi-final with 'Technicolour'.


Seann Miley Moore



Seann Miley Moore is an accomplished performer who has appeared on X Factor UK, The Voice Australia and also at this year's 'Eurovision - Australia Decides'.


His mother, Mimi, is Filipino, and the family lived across Indonesia, Thailand and Australia due to his father's work.


Seann's biggest connection to his community was through Filipino karaoke parties, sharing his experience with SBS Filipino.


"Growing up, we would have these parties that I would go to with these fabulous, fierce, free women - my crazy Filipino titas - with the karaoke mic, causing a loud raucous and wearing their fabulous clothes! I got my energy from them," he said.


Seann performed the song 'My Body' at this year's 'Eurovision - Australia Decides' on the Gold Coast.


Erica Padilla



'Eurovision - Australia Decides' performer Erica Padilla also has Filipino heritage.


Between herself, Sheldon and Seann, three of the eleven acts competing had connections to the Philippines.


She told Aussievision in an interview that this visible representation was important.


"In the Australian industry, it's been very hard, in the past few years there's been a lot of talk about diversity, but... it's very hard to see diversity, but us being on stage unifies us."


Erica won her spot at the contest through the TikTok wildcard competition where she has over 1 million followers.


She finished 9th place at 'Eurovision - Australia Decides' with her song 'To The Bottom' which included her sister Isabella as a co-writer.


Justice Crew



Not strictly Eurovision but the group Justice Crew performed at the ABU Song Festival, the Asian cousin of the Eurovision Song Contest.


Justice Crew features twins John Len Ruela Pearce and Lenny "Len" John Ruela Pearce as well as Paul Merciadez all of who have Filipino heritage.


At the 2013 non-competitive show in Hanoi, the group performed their songs 'Boom Boom' and 'Everybody'.



Apart from Australian Filipino representation at Eurovision, there have been a number of artists in recent history who also have connections.


Vincent Bueno - represented Austria at Eurovision in 2021

LIAMOO - three time performer at Sweden's Melodifestivalen

Bella Santiago - finished 3rd at Romania's Selecția Națională in 2019

Camille Cabaltera - 7th place at Una voce per San Marino in 2022

Howie Danao - semi-finalist at HaKokhav HaBa L'Eurovizion in Israel 2018


With two out of three 'Eurovision - Australia Decides' winners and a number of other artists having Filipino heritage, there is no doubt the community has had a strong impact on Australia's burgeoning Eurovision history.


We look forward to seeing more artists representing this wonderfully talented community.


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