First Philippine Independence Day ball to celebrate the 115th Anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence in Auckland, New Zealand
Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez graced the first-ever Philippine Independence Day Ball of the Filipino Community in Auckland, New Zealand to celebrate of the 115th Anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence on 08 June 2013 at the Rendezvous Grand Hotel. Consul Arlene Gonzales-Macaisa and Vice Consul Glenn Joseph Obach also attended the Ball together with other guests from Wellington, Hamilton and surrounding areas.
Philippine Honorary Consul General to Auckland Atty. Paolo Garcia and Mrs. Malou Garcia, Honorary Vice Consul Virginia Russell and Mr. Sean Russell and President of the Federation of Filipino Associations, Societies and Clubs, Inc., Dr. Tony Noblejas and Mrs. Cora Noblejas, Chairman of the New Zealand Philippines Business Council Mr. Lito Banal and Mrs. Sharon Banal, leaders and members of the various Filipino organizations in Auckland, friends from the Auckland Council, businessmen and the Filipino community enjoyed a memorable evening of music, dancing and fellowship and feasting on tables with a generous array of Filipino food and other dishes.
His Worship Mayor Len Brown, Mayor of the City of Auckland, was the guest of honor. He charmed the Filipinos with a candid speech in which he spoke a few Filipino words and stated that Filipinos in Auckland and all over New Zealand are exemplary migrants who bring diversity, warmth and industry in everything they do. He ended his speech with a meaningful a capella song entitled “The Olive Tree” with the words “I've heard them say a greener land is waiting there, Where people wake and find their dreams come true”, describing the feelings of migrants who have made New Zealand their second home.
In her message, Ambassador Benavidez conveyed the meaning of the year’s Independence Day theme “Kalayaan 2013: Ambagan Tungo sa Malawakang Kaunlaran” or Pitching In Towards Inclusive Growth as a resounding call to all Filipinos to do their part in accelerating the Philippines’ sustained march towards sustained development and shared prosperity, updated the guests the good news of the Philippines as the new emerging and fast growing market stars arising from the reform agenda and good governance of President Benigno S. Aquino III, reiterated the success of the President’s State Visit to Auckland in October 2012 in advancing the momentum of Philippines-New Zealand relations and exhorted the Filipino community to continue doing their best as they are an integral part of the deep and abiding people-to-people links with New Zealand. She also reiterated the Philippine Embassy’s deep appreciation to Dr. and Mrs. Tony Noblejas, Consul General Paulo Garcia, Vice Consul Virginia Russell, Mr. and Mrs. Rene Pascual, Mr. Nick Salas, Mr. Rio Beltran, Mr. Lito Banal, the Constellation Band, the Filipino Chefs and Staff of the Rendevous Hotel, the Rigodon de Honor performers and other cultural artists, the guests, the donors for the auction and all those who have worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the Independence Day Ball. The program started with the singing of both the New Zealand and Philippine national anthems. The Philippine Independence Day Ball featured among others the dance named “Rigodon de Honor”, a traditional dance reminiscent of formal gatherings and significant occasions in Manila. The event showcased various aspects of Filipino culture and the distinctive Filipino way of celebrating important occasions through music and dance. The Samu’t Sari dancers performed two well-loved Filipino dances – the Habanera and the Malong Dance. There were much applauded renditions of popular Filipino songs and violin presentations by highly talented performers. The Constellation Band’s excellent repertoire of songs and dancing music ignited the dancing skills of guests who had a great time on the dance floor until midnight.
The Filipino Chefs of Rendezvous Grand Hotel made a big Philippine Independence Day Cake which was cut by Mayor Brown and Ambassador Benavidez as the audience sang “Happy Birthday Philippines”.
It was truly an evening to remember as guests dressed in a dazzling array of Filipiniana and contemporary evening gowns and formal attire celebrated the Philippines’ national birthday with a stunning showcase of Filipino talents, creativity, and artistry. It was an unforgettable and meaningful event that projected a favourable image and positive reputation of the Philippines and the Filipino people. The unanimous feedback received from the guests was that the first-ever Philippine Independence Day was among the best events in New Zealand and they are looking forward to another one next year to highlight Philippine Independence Day activities in Auckland.