Republic of the Philippines

50 Hobson Street, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand 6011

PHL Ambassador inducts the New Zealand Philippines Business Council Wellington Directors

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As part of the Philippine Embassy’s economic diplomacy thrusts and continuing support for and importance given to its partnership with the New Zealand Philippines Business Council (NZPBC), Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez led the induction ceremony for the NZPBC Wellington Directors at “Ang Bahay” (Ambassador’s residence) on 27 July 2013. She administered the oath of office to six Wellington based Filipino businessmen and entrepreneurs, namely, Mr. Roy Cabauatan, owner of The Great Tasti Café and involved in the ICT/IS sector, Ms. Agnes Espineda, Managing Director of TACTICS Ltd. specialising in customised training and documentation design and development, Ms. Irene Noval, Retail Director of Specsavers Queensgate in Lower Hutt with professional credentials in optometry and integrated health services and currently a registered dispensing optician in New Zealand and was formerly a newspaper columnist on health advocacies, Ms. Caroline Parreno, who has extensive experience in business and project management consulting, involved in government reform initiatives and active in serving and organizing events for the Wellington Filipino community for the past 20 years, Mr. Reynald Cabauatan, business manager/consultant of Pinoy Central, home of Filipino and Asian products and services and has professional experience in software testing and Mr. Gilbert Azuela who holds Master’s degree in occupational therapy from Otago, New Zealand and post graduate qualification in health profession education, focuses on supporting people achieve their potential and is involved in sensory modulation educational sessions for mental health staff.

NZPBC’s Chairman Lito Banal and his wife, Sharon, together with Philippine Honorary Consul-General Paulo Garcia, Mr.Rene Pascual and his wife, Betchu, Mr. Nick Salas, Ms. Blossoms Cruz, Mr. Ed Viterbo, Mr. Ariel Abrogena who are Directors based in Auckland travelled to Wellington to witness the induction of the Directors in Wellington and personally meet and interact with them. The Philippine Embassy’s First Secretary and Consul Arlene Gonzales-Macaisa and Third Secretary and Vice-Consul Glenn Obach and Filipino community member, Mr. Terence Ibasco and Argentinian friend Mr. Ricardo Paino were also present.

In warmly welcoming all the guests, Ambassador Benavidez stated that the Philippine Embassy is proud to partner with NZPBC on this significant occasion and highlighted the crucial role of NZPBC in bringing together successful entrepreneurs and dedicated professionals from the Filipino community in Auckland and Wellington to foster closer people-to-people ties especially between Filipino and New Zealand private sectors, broaden networking and linkages and build on their strengths and complementarities in an increasingly globalized world and at a time of unprecedented opportunities and challenges. She shared with them the unprecedented economic growth and good news of the Philippines recognized as one of the new emerging and fast growing market stars, a winner of several investment grade credit ratings and now a favourite investment destination and the current all-time high of the state of Philippines-New Zealand relations following the successful and productive State Visit of President Benigno S. Aquino III to New Zealand on 22-23 October 2012. Ambassador Benavidez likewise pointed out the increasing opportunities and areas of cooperation following the launching of the New Zealand Inc. ASEAN Strategy by Prime Minister John Key on 12 July 2013, the ASEAN Heads of Mission Visit to Dunedin on 22-24 July 2013 and in the context of the ASEAN Australia New Zealand Free Trade Agreement and the holding of the ASEAN New Zealand Commemorative Summit in 2015. “Today’s induction ceremony is another milestone event that highlighted the importance and recognition given by both the Philippines and New Zealand for government and private sector, like hand in glove, working alongside each other, moving in the same direction and making the most of our resources. We at the Philippine Embassy is blessed to have a vital and vibrant partner in our economic diplomacy initiatives and priorities with NZPBC in Auckland and now in Wellington infusing renewed strength, vim, vigour and vitality in our economic relationship with New Zealand. The doors of “Ang Bahay” are open all the time for NZPBC events and functions as we continue to collaborate, cooperate and collectively pursue our goals and objectives for the benefit of our beloved country and people and in close partnership with New Zealand and other stakeholders,” Ambassador Benavidez stated.

NZPBC Chairman Lito Banal thanked Ambassador Benavidez for hosting the induction of the NZPBC Wellington Directors, for the sustained support for NZPBC projects and activities and for the gracious hospitality and reception extended to all of them. On behalf of the NZPBC Auckland Directors, he welcomed the NZPBC Wellington Directors who will undoubtedly pave the way for a strong and expanded membership similar to the NZPBC in Auckland. Mr. Banal emphasized the importance of passion, integrity and commitment that every NZPBC Director and Member must have in carrying out their respective roles and responsibilities. “The unique advantage we have over many business councils is that our members are not only linked through their business and professional affiliations but also through their strong friendship and the feeling of being as one big family,” he said. As reiterated by Chairman Banal, NZPBC stands ready to be part of the opportunities arising from the positive economic developments in the Philippines, to work more closely with the Philippine Embassy to attain economic diplomacy objectives and to forge solid partnerships with the business community and various sectors in New Zealand.

Speaking on behalf of the NZPBC Wellington Directors, Mr. Roy Cabauatan reiterated his deep appreciation to Ambassador Benavidez for “being a very generous NZPBC advocate” and organizing a historic event in formalizing the presence and participation of NZPBC Wellington Directors as “frontrunners in promoting the mission of NZPBC in the Wellington region and to any part of New Zealand where our help in the NZPBC initiatives are called for.” He stressed the importance of working together closely as a team in Wellington and in synergy with the NZPBC main group in Auckland and outlined the activities for membership expansion in the Capital city, the development of an Information Pack on NZPBC Wellington and key reference materials on investment and business in the Philippines and New Zealand, publication and dissemination of a Directory of Filipino and non-Filipino professionals and businessmen in the Wellington region and the setting up of a Philippine Hub showcasing Philippine products and services.

During the State Visit of President Benigno S. Aquino III to New Zealand last October, NZPBC Chairman Lito Banal signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Chairman Philip Yao of the counterpart Philippines New Zealand Business Council witnessed by the President himself, ushering in greater collaboration and institutionalized linkages between the two business councils.

All those present felt very much at home at “Ang Bahay” where they enjoyed the Filipiniana ambience and home cooked Filipino gustatory delights served during this special event. “The luncheon was exceptional, the company was excellent, the laughter, camaraderie, attention and creativity that were evident throughout made it an afternoon to remember,” Mr. Banal and the guests stated.

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