Republic of the Philippines

50 Hobson Street, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand 6011

PHL Ambassador joins the Church of Christ North Shore congregation year end gathering in Auckland, New Zealand

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As the Philippine Embassy endeavours to reach out and be one with the Filipino community in celebrating milestone events in New Zealand, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez accompanied by Honorary Vice Consul Virginia Russell joined the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ) North Shore Congregation in their Year End Gathering, Filipino Food Festival, INC Evangelical Mission and Family Bonding on 28 December 2013 at the Glenfield Intermediate School Hall, Glenfield, Auckland. A splendid showcase of Filipino creativity and artistry through music and dancing and a wonderful array of food from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao were prepared on this special occasion.

After the Opening Prayer, Minister of the INC North Shore Congregation Uziel Bongares warmly welcomed Ambassador Benavidez, Honorary Vice Consul Virginia Russell and all the members and guests highlighting the significance of the annual gathering and fellowship intended to thank the local community in welcoming the Church of Christ in Auckland and engaging with the people to strengthen the bonds of friendship. This was followed by a video presentation of INC Giving projects such as blood donation, tree planting, beach clean-up, spring clean turf crater restoration, appreciation days for teachers, nurses, care givers and social workers, singing for the elderly residents, job hunting seminars, winter drive and family fun day being undertaken within the year as well as some of the Church’s activities held worldwide.

In her speech, Ambassador Benavidez congratulated the Church of Christ, North Shore Congregation for their continuing commitment, care and concern, generosity and giving and support for and solidarity with the Filipino and local communities. She lauded them for their various civic and charitable projects and for organizing the annual year end gathering featuring the Filipino food festival and cultural presentations. She thanked the Ministers and Deacons of INC for their presence and participation in the Embassy’s Prayer Gathering for those affected by typhoon Yolanda, the visit of District Minister for Australia-Oceania, Ranniel Serreno at “Ang Bahay”, the holding of a Filipino Food Festival by the INC Wellington Congregation led by Bro. Greguill Besa and the involvement of the INC youth in Wellington at the Embassy’s Fun and Education Day of the Filipino Language and Culture Enrichment Program. Ambassador Benavidez said that a Food Festival is a good way of promoting the Philippines as “the culture of a country and the warmth of friendship are best understood and reached through the belly, the palate and around the dining table. The gustatory delights and food varieties unique to the Philippines have become part of the world renowned Filipino hospitality and we Filipinos enjoy entertaining our guests and serving our families with the many wonders and variety of our cuisine.” She also pointed out that the program and activities prepared by the INC North Shore congregation manifest the five C’s that make Filipinos well-loved, widely acknowledged and wonderfully known for, namely, the Filipinos’ Christian faith, Cultural heritage, Community spirit and Compassionate attitude, Care and Commitment and Cuisine and ever present Cameras. Ambassador Benavidez thanked them for the outpouring of support, solidarity and sympathy for those affected by super typhoon Yolanda in Central Philippines and the earthquakes in Cebu and Bohol.

A colourful and culturally enriching Buklod folk dance performances, Kadiwa musical glee and solo song number and the Binhi Bible Story of Noah”s Ark presentation. After the closing remarks and prayer, Ambassador Benavidez, Honorary Vice Consul Russell and all of the guests and the INC North Shore Congregation went around the booths featuring various cuisine from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao and enjoyed the food, hospitality, generosity and graciousness offered throughout this significant and meaningful gathering.

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