Republic of the Philippines

50 Hobson Street, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand 6011

PHL Ambassador meets with Filipino students in Dunedin, New Zealand

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In line with one of the Philippine Embassy’s priorities to strengthen people-to-people interaction and foster strong educational linkages between the Philippines and New Zealand, Philippine Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez met with the officers and members of the Otago Filipino Students Association (OFSA) and a Filipino scholar at the Dunthat Motel Conference Room in Dunedin on 12 February 2015. This was among the highlights of the Philippine Embassy’s Mobile Consular Services undertaken for the benefit of more than 500 Filipinos in Dunedin and the surrounding areas of the South Island in New Zealand on 12-16 February 2015. OFSA officers and members, namely, Ms. Patricia Cinco, President, taking up Master in Science, Mr. Charlie Agapay Berja, Vice-President, pursuing Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Sociology, Mr. Jose Santos enrolled in the Bachelor of Business degree majoring in Accounting and Finance, Ms. Denise Vidallon, studying for a Bachelor of Commerce degree with double major in International Business and Finance, Ms. Caira Uy focusing on a Bachelor of Science degree major in Microbiology and Ms. Cheska dela Cruz who chose the Bachelor of Oral Health. They shared their respective academic fields of study and learning experiences at the University of Otago and their activities in OFSA.

On 14 February 2015, Ambassador Benavidez met with Mr. Ben Secretario, a Filipino scholar under the New Zealand ASEAN Scholarship Programme pursuing a Masteral Program on Entrepreneurship Class 2016 at the University of Otago. His brother, Spencer Secretario is also a New Zealand ASEAN scholar taking up Masters in AgriScience at Massey University in Palmerston North.

A lively fellowship and enriching interaction ensued with the students appreciative of the valuable opportunity to enhance their knowledge and upgrade their skills in their respective areas of study. They also shared with Ambassador Benavidez their meaningful experiences during their continuing educational journey. The Filipino students continue to maximize their learning experiences, do well in their research and studies, foster closer interaction with their fellow students, professors and members of the academe in the university and value the friendships they made with New Zealanders, Filipinos and other communities. Ambassador Benavidez said that the Filipino students, some of whom are children of Filipino migrant families in New Zealand and others who are scholars possess impressive credentials and very good academic record continue to bring pride and honour to the Philippines and the Filipino people. She said that “based on feedback from their educational institutions, it is heartening to know that the Filipino students are doing well and are building up an excellent reputation and record of outstanding academic performance and credentials. At the same time, they become our ambassadors of goodwill projecting the richness of talents and creativity of the Filipino people through their active involvement and participation in the multicultural events of their universities and their excellent academic performance in their respective fields of study”. Ambassador Benavidez donated the latest WOW Magic Sing to OFSA for their fund raising and raffle draw.

Mr. Charlie Agapay Berja subsequently gave an update on OFSA’s participation in the Clubs and Societies day at the Orientation week of the University of Otago by participating at the International Food Festival on 21 February 2015. They prepared the ever popular Filipino barbecue and chicken adobo which were sold out in an hour’s time and were able to showcase Filipino dishes to the Dunedin community for the third year. Plans are being made for OFSA’s welcoming event, a day of fun and games to make new members feel at home and promote a sense of belonging among Filipinos studying in Dunedin. Ambassador Benavidez reiterated the Philippine Embassy’s continuing support and cooperation for the Filipino students and lauded them for projecting the positive image of the Philippines and the favourable reputation of the Filipino people in the educational field in New Zealand.

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