Philippine Ambassador calls on the head of state of the independent State of Samoa
Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Her Excellency Virginia H. Benavidez made a farewell call on the Head of State of the Independent State of Samoa, His Highness Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, at the Head of State’s Official Residence in Apia, Samoa on 27 August 2015.
His Highness and his wife, Her Highness Masiofo Filifilia Tamasese nee Imo warmly received Ambassador Benavidez, who was accompanied by Vice Consul Glenn Joseph Q. Obach. Ambassador Benavidez and His Highness shared their experiences at the recent 50th Constitution Day of the Cook Islands they both attended in Rarotonga, together with Heads of State/Government from the Pacific countries, Officials, Members of Parliament, Ambassadors, High Commissioners and VIP guests.
Further discussions focused on the recent pressing issues in Asia, specifically the pursuit of territorial claims in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea, and climate change and its impact in the Pacific. His Highness also mentioned his Vatican visit and the private conversations he had with Pope Francis who he finds open, humble and inclusive. According to His Highness, Pope Francis has a big and loving heart that resonates and responds to the cry of the poor. Ambassador Benavidez stated that during the recent visit of Pope Francis in the Philippines in January 2015, the Pope celebrated an outdoor Mass that gathered an unprecedented crowd of between 6-8 million in Manila. Ambassador Benavidez further stated how Filipinos abroad would animate churches, such as in New Zealand, which is very much appreciated by the local community. As Ambassador Benavidez stated that 10% of the Filipino population are spread around the world, employed in a wide range of sectors, His Highness said he is impressed with the skills and talents of the Filipinos.
Ambassador Benavidez thanked His Highness for the warm reception and insightful meeting, expressed appreciation on how Filipinos are treated fairly and well in Samoa, and wished him the best in all his endeavours. Further, Ambassador Benavidez stated that the Philippine Government remains committed to strengthening the people-based relationship with Samoa and the mutually beneficial partnership and linkages between the peoples of both countries.