Filipino bee hives owners/beekeepers and leaders making their mark in Wairarapa, Wellington Region, New Zealand
As the Philippine Embassy continues to reach out to Filipinos, directly engage with them on their work, livelihood and stay in the North and South Islands and thank them for their vital contributions to the Philippines and New Zealand, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez met with Mr. Fortunato Espero, Proprietor/Director of NZ Beehive Ltd., Mr. Julius Santos, Director/Owner, NZ Queen Bee Line Ltd., Mr. Enrico Morcilla, Mr. Ryan Erwin Soriano, Immediate Past President, Wairarapa Filipino Society, their families and friends on 9 March 2014 at Wairarapa, Wellington region. The Philippine delegation who was in New Zealand on official trip from the Philippine Council for Aquaculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARD), Department of Science and Technology, namely, Director Dalisay DG Fernandez, Mussel Program Manager Kristine Joy L. Tandang and Professor Carlos C. Baylon and Professor Liberato V, Laureta from the University of the Philippines, Visayas joined Ambassador Benavidez during this study visit.
Mr. Espera and Mr. Morcilla took Ambassador Benavidez and the visitors to The Farm Ltd. owned by Mr. Malcolm Brodie who graciously showed the sprawling grounds, garden, trees and facilities and the area where Mr. Espera’s beehives are placed. Mr. Espera gave an on-site briefing on his business of beekeeping and producing honey and beekeeping practices in New Zealand. He came to New Zealand seven years ago with his wife Hyacinth and worked as a beekeeper for quite some time until he decided to put up his own thriving beehive business. Mr. Morcilla, Hive Manager at Watson and Son Ltd. accompanied the group around the farm and with Mr. Espera’s hives also gave additional information on how the working bees and queen bee produce honey, especially the well-known manuka honey which is being used for medicinal purposes too. Mr. Morcilla with his wife Connie have been staying in New Zealand for ten years.
Mr. Santos brought the group to his residence in Masterton where he personally demonstrated how queen bees are raised and transported. He has built up his successful business based on the knowledge and experience he gained and his hard work as a beekeeper when he and his wife Diana came to New Zealand nine years ago. After a sumptuous lunch at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Espera, Mr. Santos took Ambassador Benavidez and the PCARRD delegation to the place in Masterton where his increasing number of beehives are located. While there, he shared the way and techniques on how to take care of his beehives and constantly monitor and safeguard the bee hives and bee production.
Mr. Ryan Erwin Soriano, Immediate Past President, Wairarapa Filipino Society, accompanied Ambassador Benavidez and the PCARRD delegation and assisted in the visit to Wairarapa and the meetings with Mr. Santos, Mr. Espera and Mr. Morcilla. Mr. Soriano who works as Community Coordinator at the Wairarapa District Health Board has stayed with his wife Mitchie for ten years in New Zealand. Mr. Soriano continues to actively lead in organizing Filipino events and mobilizing the Filipino community members on significant occasions.
During the dinner that Ambassador Benavidez hosted at “Ang Bahay” (Philippine Ambassador’s residence) for the Filipino entrepreneurs in the bee hives and beekeeping sectors and their spouses and the PCARRD delegates, she thanked them for their hospitality and said that “We are proud of the accomplishments of the Filipinos in the beekeeping business as they continue to excel in what they do and the support and cooperation of Filipino leaders in the Wairarapa region. They continue to do our country and people proud as they carry out their respective roles and responsibilities. The PCARRD delegation and I enjoyed the highly informative, interesting and interactive study visit to this part of the North Island where Filipinos continue to make a distinctive mark in their chosen professions and businesses. Indeed, the Philippines is home to world class talents.”