PHl Embassy congratulates Filipino Couple awarded the Queen's Service Medal in the 2015 New Year's honours list in New Zealand
Mr. Oscar Poquinto Batucan and his wife, Mrs. Miriam Alvez Batucan who hail from Cebu and are currently residing in Auckland are the first ever Filipino couple who were awarded the Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) in the 2015 New Year’s Honours List for their services to the Filipino community in New Zealand. The QSM recognizes the recipient’s valuable voluntary service to the community at the local or regional level. On behalf of the Philippine Embassy Team and the Filipino community in New Zealand, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez congratulated Oscar and Miriam Batucan who are shining examples of the globally known “bayanihan” – the unique Filipino strong sense of volunteerism and service for the good of the community - and an inspiration for many Filipinos who are aspiring to make a name for themselves in various fields in New Zealand. “Together with the other Filipino achievers whose works and talents have been recognized in New Zealand, you continue to do our country and people proud! You are among our valued links in enhancing Philippines-New Zealand people based relationship,” she stated.
In 1987, Oscar and Miriam Batucan decided to make New Zealand their second home where they raised five children who are doing well in their respective careers and professions. They are doting grandparents to eight grandchildren. In addition to their family and work commitments in the government and private sector, Oscar and Miriam carried out voluntary services and support to the Filipino community for the past 26 years. They remain very active in church helping increase attendance in church services and devotional activities and reaching out to new Filipino migrants to facilitate their adjustment to the way of life and culture in New Zealand and sense of belonging in the Filipino and local communities. They readily shared their experiences with and gave valuable advice to Filipinos in settling down in New Zealand. Oscar and Miriam also broadened their networking with Filipino and other ethnic communities, joined gatherings and meetings and pursued community service and advocacies. Since the establishment of the NZ-Filipino Devotees of Señor Sto. Niño Trust in 1994, Miriam Batucan is the Chairperson and together with Oscar, continue to serve and hold annual activities and a ten-day Sinulog festival attended by more than 10,000 devotees as well as programmes for the youth, women, families and senior citizens. For the past 15 years, Oscar and Miriam have been anchoring a radio programme, “Pilipinas Mabuhay” every Saturday from 5:55-6:40 pm every Saturday at 104.6 Planet FM providing counselling and updates on Philippine and local Auckland Filipino community news, activities, work vacancies and employment opportunities. In 2009, Oscar and Miriam were given the Benemerenti Papal Award by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in recognition of their outstanding service to the Filipino Catholic community and the Church in Auckland. Again, this was the first time that a Papal Award has been received by a Filipino couple. In addition to his awards from the Auckland City Council and Auckland City Hospital for outstanding voluntary services, Oscar was among the first Filipinos appointed as Justice of the Peace and continues to serve the public for the past 20 years. Oscar and Miriam Batucan were among those presented Certificates of Commendation during the testimonial dinner hosted by Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez at “Ang Bahay” (Philippine Ambassador’s residence) on 13 April 2012 for their steadfast efforts to promote the best of what the Filipino has to offer in their work, advocacy, profession as well as their involvement in church activities and spiritual upliftment of their fellowmen in the Philippines and New Zealand.
In the words of Oscar and Miriam, “we are so humbled and blessed to each receive the Queen Service Medal Award for our services to the Filipino Community. We are even more inspired to continue to make a difference in the life of our Co-Filipinos and are encouraged to open our doors to non-Filipinos thru our continued church outreach and social services. The community is very happy to see the fruit of working hard for others.”
Their inspiring testimonies to the dedicated and sacrificial traits of Filipinos and untiring commitment to community service and church activities are the embodiment of servant leaders who project the positive image of the Philippines and its people and raise the profile of the Filipino community as among the best migrant groups who have integrated themselves well in the local communities throughout New Zealand.