Easter gathering at "Ang Bahay" celebrates Filipino tradition in Wellington, New Zealand
Cultural and people diplomacy took centre stage when Philippine Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez hosted an Easter gathering for the third year with the Filipino community, children and youth of the Filipino Language and Culture Enrichment Programme, Embassy personnel and friends from New Zealand and their families at “Ang Bahay” (Embassy residence) on 20 April 2014. Ambassador Benavidez warmly welcomed all the guests and thanked them for joining the Easter celebration with their families and loved ones. More than 120 guests and their children celebrated the significance of our LORD’s resurrection through thanksgiving prayer, egg hunt, music and food. The children and teenagers had a grand time hunting for more than 500 Easter eggs around the sprawling garden of “Ang Bahay”. As the Filipinos and their New Zealand friends said, “this third Easter celebration at the Embassy residence is really an afternoon to remember. We hope that this will be repeated next year and in the years to come. GOD has even blessed us with good weather, perfect for egg hunting in the afternoon when it was pouring rain and howling winds the days before.”
The richness and variety of Filipino culture filled up “Ang Bahay” a truly Filipino home distinctively decorated and furnished by some of the finest art works by Filipino artists such as Jose Joya, H.R. Ocampo, Malang, Martin Manero, Paco Gorospe, Rodel Caparas, Pulido, Tagle and other Filipino artists, glass sculptures by Ramon Orlina, “Sarimanok” brass sculpture by Abdul Imao, living room sets by Ed Yrezabal, hand crafted dining sets by Pampanga craftsmen, colourful “sorbetero” ice-cream carts, typical “taho” containers, Jollibee icons and dolls, “Balikatan sa Kaunlaran” dolls with costumes designed by Patis Tesoro, woven tapestries by Narda’s, antique narra cabinets and wooden furnitures, “kulintang” gong set from Southern Philippines, “Tinalak” hand woven tapestries by the T’boli tribe, uniquely designed shell decorations and table settings, baskets, potteries, lamp fixtures and an array of Filipino furnishings and handicrafts. “We really feel we are in the Philippines, we can truly be proud of our different products and home decor and we can now say that the Ambassador’s residence is a showcase of Filipino creativity”, several Filipinos said. Many of them enjoyed taking photos in the different areas of “Ang Bahay”.
Ms. Arla Fontamillas, a scholar at Victoria University in Wellington together with Filipinos and New Zealanders enjoyed singing Filipino and English songs from the WOW Magic Sing microphone. Everybody thoroughly enjoyed the sumptuous spread of home-made “Ang Bahay” specialties such as pork barbecue, noodles with vegetables and meat, “dinuguan” with puto, “menudo”, fried chicken, flat bread with red pesto and olive oil with balsamic vinegar dips, ice-cream, carrot cake and sans rival cake.
The gathering made Easter more meaningful to everyone present, projected Filipino hospitality and culture, fostered closer friendship and togetherness among the Filipino community and enhanced closer people-to-people ties and understanding between the Philippines and New Zealand.