PHL Embassy meets with the Filipino community in Dunedin, South Island in New Zealand
As part of the Philippine Embassy’s priority to reach out to Filipinos in various sectors throughout New Zealand, promote their welfare and well-being as well recognize their vital roles and contributions to nation-building in the Philippines and New Zealand, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez accompanied by Consul General Arlene Gonzales Macaisa met with the officers, members and friends of the Dunedin Philippine Club (DPC) on 13 February 2015 at the Dunedin Tech Club. Ms. Marilou Guangco Scott, President of the DPC led the “Meet the Ambassador” evening and warmly welcomed Ambassador Benavidez and Consul General Macaisa and organized a wonderful interaction and heart-warming fellowship with the members of the Filipino community, their spouses and families. Officers and members of the Otago Filipino Students Association (OFSA) were also present.
In her remarks, Ambassador Benavidez reiterated the deep appreciation of the Philippine Embassy to Ms. Scott and DPC for their invaluable assistance and commendable cooperation and sustained support which contributed to the success of the second mobile consular services to Dunedin for the benefit of the Filipinos in the South Island. The Philippine Embassy’s Mobile Consular Services Team were in Dunedin on 12- 16 February 2015, almost three years after the first consular outreach in May 2012, who rendered e-passport, notarials, authentication, documentation, dual citizenship and overseas voting services to hundreds of Filipinos in the different areas in South Island. She cited the vital contributions of the increasing number of Filipinos now estimated at 40,350 and comprising 1% of New Zealand’s total population with 1,089 Filipinos living in the Otago region and 7,551 in the South Island. They highlight the vital contributions of Filipinos to the multicultural fabric, ethnic diversity and strong sense of community of New Zealand. She also cited the 5 Cs of Christian faith, cultural heritage, community spirit and compassionate attitude, care and commitment and cuisine and cameras that make Filipinos well oved, wonderfully known for and widely acknowledged. She enjoined the Filipinos to avail of the dual citizenship and overseas voting registration being extended to them throughout the North and South Islands of New Zealand. “You have everything to gain, nothing to lose. You have the best of both worlds,” Ambassador Benavidez stated. She also shared with them the continuing mobile consular services which have benefitted more than 14,000 Filipinos and their families, the acknowledgement and appreciation of Government and people of New Zealand for the Filipinos’ roles and contributions to the country’s development and the strong economic position and unprecedented economic gains of the Philippines arising from the good governance and reform agenda of President Benigno S. Aquino III. His administration continues to give impetus to more extensive health care, education and social services for Filipinos who need them the most. In reiterating her assurance of the Embassy’s care, concern and commitment for their welfare and interests, Ambassador Benavidez said “Uppermost in our hearts and minds are the words and example of Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F. Del Rosario who aptly stated that the men and women of the Department of Foreign Affairs, in any time zone, must always serve with a smile, go the extra mile and reach beyond our grasp.”
Ms. Scott shared updates on the activities of DPC, especially the fund raising project to help a Filipino child afflicted with leukemia in the Philippines. Ambassador Benavidez commended them for their compassionate and “bayanihan” spirit in reaching out to those in need back home and donated the latest WOW Magic Sing system to help raise funds for DPC’s humanitarian project.
All of the guests enjoyed a meaningful and memorable evening of fellowship and interaction with songs, bountiful food and charitable contributions.