PHL Embassy hosts first ever Filipino Language and Culture Enrichment Programme (FILCEP) Fun and Educational Day (FED) in Wellington, New Zealand
As the Philippine Embassy continues its priority programme of promoting the rich history, vibrant language, renowned beauty and distinctive greatness of the Philippines and inculcating the time honoured values, deep rooted traditions and the artistry and variety of culture of the Filipino people especially among the children and youth of the Filipino community in Wellington, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez and her spouse, Engr. Pio J. Benavidez together with the Philippine Embassy Team and the Teachers and Volunteers from the Filipino community held the Fun and Educational Day (FED) of the “Filipino Language and Culture Enrichment Programme (FILCEP) at the “Ang Bahay” (Philippine Ambassador’s residence) on 13 October 2013. For the first time ever, the children of migrant Filipinos and those with mixed parentage and the Philippine Embassy personnel who joined the first run of the ten-day FILCEP programme on 22 April-3 May 2013 2013 and other members of the Filipino community, their families, friends and guests participated in the fun filled learning and creative educational environment amidst the sprawling garden and Filipiniana ambience of “Ang Bahay”. Several children, youth and adults excitedly, energetically and enthusiastically joined various learning and experiential activities that showcased Filipino roots and heritage. hat focused on singing of the Philippine national anthem, reciting the pledge of allegiance to the Philippine flag and learning the Filipino language, culture, symbols, values, geography, games, music and FILCEP volunteer teachers from the Filipino community, namely, Ms. Aurea Weatherall, Ms. Zenaida Savill, Ms. Shirin Zonoobi, Ms. Josephine Garcia Jowett, Ms. Ruth Abenojar-Yee, Ms. May Young and Mr. Jun Samblaceño and FILCEP parents, Mr. Mandy Herrera, Ms. Minnie Connolly, Mr. Nap Rodulfo, Ms. Elenita Bacus Stutz and Mr. Rey Cabauatan were joined by the Philippine Embassy’s Consul Arlene Gonzales-Macaisa as Principal/Coordinator, Vice-Consul Glenn Obach and Finance Officer Rosalyn Del Valle-Fajardo as Assistant Coordinators, Cultural Officer Ma. Victoria Reyes, Assistance-to-Nationals Officer Atty. Levy A. Strang, Collecting Officer May Bel Garcia, Passport Officer Julius Verano, Communications Officer Mauro Fajardo III, Mr. Larry Reyes, Mrs. Dorothy Obach and Ms. Doreen Maglasang, as Assistants. Mr. Allan Macaisa manned the first aid station.
Blessed with perfect sunny and cool weather after two days of gales and storms in Wellington, the FILCEP FED started with 11-year old Mia Abenojar Yee and 12-year old Samantha Samaniego proudly leading the singing of the “Lupang Hinirang” and 12-year old Paulo Raphael M. Obach reciting the “Panunumpa sa Watawat”. The opening prayer in Filipino was led by 9-year old Angelo Cabautan and the English part by 7-year old Ella Cabauatan. Ambassador Benavidez warmly welcomed everyone and said that the FILCEP FED is the continuation and application of what the children and youth learned during the ten-day classroom activities held at the Philippine Embassy Chancery in April and May this year. In behalf of Engr. Benavidez, all the Embassy officers and staff and "Ang Bahay" crew, she conveyed her heartfelt gratitude to the FILCEP students, parents, teachers, families, performers, friends, guests and all those who generously shared their time, talents and resources and who inculcate and promote Filipino heritage, values and traditions and demonstrate the artistry and creativity of Filipinos in New Zealand and wherever they may be. “Indeed, FILCEP (Filipino Language and Culture Enrichment Program) FED Day is a valuable partnership between the Philippine Embassy and the Filipino community showcasing the best of what the Filipinos have to offer and the fact that the Philippines is home to world class talent. We thank and praise GOD for the wonderful and perfect sunny weather. It was really a FED (Fun and Educational) Day, literally FED with distinctive Filipino food from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, socially FED with great fun and fellowship with one another and intellectually FED with Filipino artistry, information and visual and performing arts. Activities, functions, Filipiniana furnishings, Filipino ambiance and cuisine at "Ang Bahay" (Philippine Ambassador's residence) always show and make guests feel that "It's More Fun in the Philippines", Ambassador Benavidez stated. Mr. Raveen Annamalai, President of the Multicultural Council of Wellington spoke on the paramount importance of the FILCEP to preserve, promote and be proud of one’s culture and heritage especially among the children and the youth and commended the Philippine Embassy, the teachers, parents, children, volunteers and all those in charge of FILCEP FED for holding such a programme that will definitely be a precious legacy for the Filipino community and contribute to the multicultural enrichment of New Zealand. Consul Macaisa gave an overview of the day’s events, administrative and housekeeping matters and groupings of the children and youth for the different lessons.
Six groups of children and youth were rotated among the Learning area 1 teaching them the “Tinikling” dance and songs by Teachers Jun Samblaceño and May Young, learning 2 teaching them how to cook “palitaw” and prepare “halo-halo” by Teacher Aurea Weatherall and Parent Mandy Herrera, Learning area 3, where reading, storytelling from Lola Basyang, “alamat”, poems and stories of Jose Rizal, making of puppets, mini skit and “Teatrong Bulilit” were taught by Teacher Ruth Abenojar-Yee and Parent Minnie Connolly. Learning area 4 was a Parol Making workshop led by Teachers Josephine Jowett and Zeny Savill, Learning area 5 where games such as “Luksong Lubid”, “Sungka”, “Hampas sa Palayok”, “Pabitin”, skipping rope, Chinese garter, Filipino sayings/proverbs relay and other group games were organized by Teacher Silvia Shirin Zonoobi, Parents Nap Rodulfo, Ellen Bacus Stutz and Sheilah Kavinta and Learning area 6 where the Foto Wacko Booth of Lanz Mont with Parent Rey Cabauatan featured photos of children, youth and adults dressed in Filipiniana costumes and “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” tourism posters.
The much applauded cultural presentations were rendered by the talented young dancers of the Filifest Dance Group who performed the “Maglalatik” and “Itik-Itik”, the Free Style Dance movements of Stephanie Jowett, the saxophone number of Gino Tapia, violin rendition of Sam Non, the dance interpretation of “Pinoy Ako, Pinoy Tayo”and song with action rendition of “Panalangin” by Hazel and Mark Fryer of the Iglesia ni Cristo Wellington congregation, the song and guitar number of Kathy Lopez who sang “Beautiful” and “Next in Line”, the song number “Torete” by Jodie Marquez and ukulele number “ Ang Pipit” and “Tutira Mai” by Munting Tinig. Learning about the Philippines was made more enjoyable by the variety of distinctive food delights from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao consisting of “sisig”, “bopis”, pork barbecue, “Ang Bahay” fried chicken, “Ang Bahay” Caesar’s salad, macaroni soup, “paklay”, “Bicol express”, “pandesal” and puto. The children, youth and adults lined up for the “Ang Bahay” “taho”, sans rival cake, halo-halo and ice cream served from a traditional and authentic sorbetero cart.
The FILCEP constitutes a vital component of the Philippine Embassy’s cultural diplomacy thrusts and its partnership with the Filipino community in implementing the programme will go a long way in instilling love for country, family values and knowledge and understanding of Philippine history, language, culture and the arts, especially among the younger generation of Filipinos in New Zealand. The feedback from teachers, parents and grandparents is that they are so happy that the children are now making “mano” (showing respect by bringing the elder’s hand to the forehead),
The Philippine Embassy received several messages of deep appreciation from the parents and teachers for a well-organized, enriching, awesome, fun filled and highly educational and well attended FILCEP FED event that promoted the various aspects of Philippine music, dances, literature, cuisine, games, art and other activities, united the “kababayans” in a spirit of “bayanihan” and fellowship with one another and instilled pride and appreciation for the Filipino language and culture especially among the Filipino children and youth in New Zealand.