Filipinos from the Bicol Region feted at "Ang Bahay" in Wellington, New Zealand
As the Philippine Embassy continues to reach out to all Filipinos in New Zealand, convey its appreciation for their sustained support and kind cooperation as well as enable them to strengthen friendship and fellowship between the Filipino community and the Embassy team, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez hosted a get together for Filipinos from the Bicol region living in Greater Wellington at the “Ang Bahay” (Ambassador’s residence) on 23 March 2012 more than a hundred members of the “Bikolano Ako Wellington” and their families enjoyed an afternoon of bonding and interaction with one another amidst the Filipiniana ambience and Filipino festive atmosphere of “Ang Bahay”. Ambassador Benavidez warmly welcomed each and every guest and thanked them for their presence, hospitality, cooperation and support given to the Philippine Embassy all through the years. She said “that the Philippine Embassy is blessed to have them as vital and vibrant partners in projecting the favourable image and positive reputation of the Philippines and the Filipino people through their excellent work ethics, sacrificial service, recognized talents and skills and ability to relate well with people and integrate themselves easily with the local communities. You do our country and people proud as you carry out your respective roles and responsibilities, participate in several activities promoting Filipino cultural heritage and contribute to the multi-cultural enrichment of New Zealand, “Ambassador Benavidez stated. The group is composed of Filipinos in different offices, private companies, businesses and other professions and involved in various civic, church activities and Filipino community functions. In behalf of the “Bikolano Ako Wellington” group, Mr. Fil Ranga expressed their deep gratitude for “this wonderful opportunity for the launching of our group and interaction with Embassy officers and staff at the Ambassador’s residence where we truly experienced the warm reception, hospitality and graciousness of a Filipino home. For many of us, this is our very first time to be here and we will always treasure in our hearts the importance shown to us as we take part in our collective mission to be one and move together for the benefit of our beloved country and people.”
In her interaction with the Filipino community, Ambassador Benavidez highlighted the preciousness of keeping the Filipino traditions such as the Peñafrancia which serve as anchors to the Filipinos’ spirit and soul. She reiterated her gratitude for their hospitality and their sustained support, invaluable assistance and continued cooperation which help the Embassy render more effective and efficient consular services so far to more than ten cities in New Zealand and project the richness, variety and artistry of Filipinos wherever they are in the country. She also shared with them the acknowledgement and appreciation of Government and people of New Zealand, which was reiterated by New Zealand’s leaders during the highly successful State Visit of President Benigno S. Aquino III last October, for the Filipinos’ roles and contributions to the country’s development. Furthermore, Ambassador Benavidez updated the Filipino communities on the strong economic position and unprecedented economic gains of the Philippines arising from the President’s reform agenda which continue to give impetus to more extensive health care, education and social services for Filipinos who need them the most. She enjoined them “to remain strong and steadfast to follow the straight and righteous path that President Aquino has set out for all of Filipinos wherever they may be to secure a much better and brighter future that the Filipino people truly deserve.” In reiterating her assurance of the Embassy’s care, concern and commitment for their welfare and interests, Ambassador Benavidez stated “Uppermost in our hearts and minds are the words and example of Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F. Del Rosario who aptly stated that the men and women of the Department of Foreign Affairs, in any time zone, must always serve with a smile, go the extra mile and reach beyond our grasp.”
It was an enjoyable evening of fun, food and fellowship that made the Filipinos feel closer to each other and partake of “Ang Bahay” Filipino food and delicacies.