Philippine Embassy joins the Filipino community in New Zealand at the Pistang Pilipino sa New Plymouth 2014
As the Philippine Embassy continues to reach out to the Filipino communities in New Zealand, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez led the Philippine Embassy Team and joined the festivities of Pistang Pilipino 2014 sa New Plymouth on 25-26 October 2014. This was the annual New Zealand Filipino Labour Weekend Reunion featuring a grand celebration of Filipino culture, beauty, sports, music, dances and entertainment. The Taranaki Filipino Society Incorporated (TFSI) hosted this much awaited festival, affording Filipinos from all over New Zealand to gather, celebrate, share and showcase the vibrance of Filipino culture to New Zealanders, people from other countries and the wider community.
Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez congratulated the TFSI in hosting an exciting and fun-filled annual gathering which brought thousands of Filipinos together from different parts of New Zealand and highlighted the vital contributions of more than 40,350 Filipinos to making New Zealand a multicultural and ethnically diverse nation. She commended the officers and members of TFSI led by its President, Mrs Ulinda Sandford, the President of the Federation of Filipino Associations, Clubs and Societies, (FFASC) Dr. Tony Noblejas, officers and members of the Federation, and all those who worked hard and gave their support, commitment and services to ensure that the Pistang Pilipino 2014 sa New Plymouth very memorable, meaningful and momentous occasion. Ambassador Benavidez also conveyed deep appreciation for the participation and cooperation of Filipinos all over Aotearoa and the presence and involvement of Government Officials from New Plymouth and friends from New Zealand during the event.
His Worship Andrew Judd, Mayor of New Plymouth hosted a welcome reception and extended gracious hospitality to the Filipino community. He stated that New Plymouth is thrilled to have the exciting Filipino festival hosted in the city.
Pistang Pilipino 2014 had an excellent line up of events which included sports tournaments in basketball, volleyball, golf, tennis and ten-pin bowling, two consecutive evening cultural performances featuring the Filipino Regional Ethnic Dance (FRED) Competition, the Miss Philippines-New Zealand Beauty Pageant 2014, hip hop competitions, folk and modern dances and rondalla performance and various music presentations. Food stalls featuring Filipino dishes and other culinary delights were also great crowd drawers. Highlights of the Pistang Pilipino 2014 were the basketball championship games, with Pinoy Sports Association (PSA) Basketball Team from Christchurch taking the championship, and the much awaited Miss Philippines-New Zealand, with Ms. Oleain Jaira Sophia Ona from Rotorua taking the crown.
The Philippine Embassy Mobile Consular Team was also in Taranaki and extended passport, authentication, dual citizenship, overseas voters registration and other consular services to hundreds of Filipinos attending the event. The Mobile Team is known for its tagline, “The Philippine Embassy in New Zealand: Serving with a Smile, Going the Extra Mile and Reaching beyond Our Grasp”. Ambassador Benavidez stated that “the mobile consular services have so far served the consular needs of more than 12,000 Filipinos, about 30% of the entire Filipino population here and this is one of the Philippine Government’s concrete ways of recognizing the vital roles and contributions of the global Filipinos to nation-building in the Philippines and New Zealand and bringing the Embassy’s services closer to more than 40,350 Filipinos here. They are able to save a considerable amount of money, time, days off and resources as it would have been extremely costly, inconvenient and difficult if they had to go all the way to Wellington. Ever since we arrived here, we are so amazed and appreciative of the hard work, great sacrifice and team effort of TFSI, the volunteers and friends from the Filipino community demonstrating the tried, true and time tested spirit of “bayanihan” to ensure the success of Pistang Pilipino 2014 sa Taranaki”.
Ambassador Benavidez’s meetings and courtesy calls on Member of Parliament Jonathan Young, Mayor Andrew Judd, CEO Richard Williams of the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Marcia Tippet, Business and Retail Association Coordinator, Ms. Maura Young, Business Development Manager, Ms. Loren Anderson, Advocacy and Administration Manager, Ms. Vicky Fairly, General Manager-Marketing, Venture Taranaki, and Mr. Nick Fleming, Regional Manager, Taranaki, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the full support of the communities, friends and businesses in Taranaki for the Filipino Grand Reunion speak volumes of the close friendship and deepening people-to-people ties between the Philippines and New Zealand. They were unanimous in their acknowledgement of and deep appreciation for the active involvement, extensive contributions, good behaviour and vital participation of Filipinos in Taranaki for the development of the communities and enrichment of the multi-cultural heritage and ethnic diversity of New Zealand.
The Philippine Embassy and the Filipino community together with the FFASC NZ reiterated their hearfelt gratitude to the TFSI Organizing Committee Executive Officers 2014-2015, headed by Ms. Ulinda Sandford, President, Ms. Lorin Rowe, Vice-President, Ms. Edna Wilson, Secretary, Ms. Lulu Mitchell, Treasurer, Mr. John Sanford, Adviser, Ms. Clarita Nono, Auditor together with Committee members, namely, Mr. David Ban, Ms. Prescilla Macales, Ms. Gemma Evans, Ms. Chona Garcia, Ms. Evelyn Rosewarme, Ms. Patricia Kemp and Ms. Sim de los Santos, esteemed Government Officials and friends from Taranaki, supporters, sponsors, sports teams, committees, the Philippine Embassy officers and staff and all those who have been working tirelessly behind the scenes for their invaluable and generous support and kind cooperation in making the Grand Labour Weekend Reunion 2014 a resounding success! May the close friendship, partnership, goodwill and understanding between the Philippines and New Zealand continue to grow from strength to strength. Everyone looks forward to going to Napier, next year’s host of Pistang Pilipino 2015.