Republic of the Philippines

50 Hobson Street, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand 6011

Philippine Ambassador joins the Christmas celebreation of the Marlborough Filipino Community Club, INC. in Blenheim, New Zealand

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As the Philippine Embassy endeavours to reach out and be one with the Filipino community especially in celebrating the Christmas season, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez and Finance Officer Rosalyn T. del Valle-Fajardo attended the Christmas Party of the Marlborough Filipino Community Club, Inc. (MFCC) headed by its President, Ms. Cristina Radley on 14 December 2013 in Blenheim in the South Island of New Zealand. The Filipino community from Blenheim, Havelock and Picton were also present.

They prepared an early evening programme showcasing Filipino talents and creativity with Ms. Dana Roque singing a very inspiring invocation, Ms. Grace Roque, Social Committee Convenor giving the welcome address, Ms. Cristina Radley, President, introducing Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez as Guest Speaker, the MFCC Kids roleplaying the nativity story, Ms. Bea Pereyra singing “Away in a Manger”, MFCC Kids, Youth and Dance Group performing a dance number, a surprise medley song rendered by the Visayan Trio, and various dance numbers by the MFCC Kids Group, May and Jenjen, MFCC Dance Group and the MFCC Youth Group. Santa’s gift giving underlined sharing and thanksgiving by distributing personalized gifts to children.

Ambassador Her Excellency Virginia H. Benavidez conveyed the gratitude of the Philippine government and the Filipino people for the generous contributions of the New Zealand government for relief operations in the disaster stricken areas, the deployment of a C-130 plane for logistical support, expressions of sympathy and solidarity from Prime Minister John Key, members of Parliament and national and local leaders, assistance in providing disaster management expertise, the New Zealand public throughout the North and South Islands who are undertaking incredible fund raising drives in local councils, private companies, schools, media, civic clubs, multicultural groups, individuals, families, churches, associations and organizations, celebrities, Red Cross, UNICEF, Caritas, Save the Children New Zealand, among others, and in every sector of New Zealand society. She stated that the Filipino’s unshakeable faith in GOD, remarkable resiliency and steadfast hope amidst the rubble and the ruins proved far stronger than the biggest storm ever recorded and one of the worst tragedies that the world has ever seen. She congratulated the Marlborough Filipino Community Club, Inc. for donating medical and dental equipment used during the medical and dental mission in the Bantayan Islands of Cebu in partnership with the Rotary Club of Kamuning East on 19 November 2013. “Our never ending gratitude to the you and the members of the Filipino community throughout Aotearoa who like our fellow “kababayans” in other parts of the world keep the true spirit of “BAYANIHAN” alive in words and in deeds, especially in times of great need. Home is where your heart is and even if majority of you have made New Zealand your second home, we know you still hold a special place in your hearts for your Motherland. The Head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the Philippines had a striking observation on “how the typhoon survivors are picking themselves up, lifted by a nation with a unique weapon – the spirit of “BAYANIHAN” that he believes is imprinted in the Filipino gene”. You continue to endear yourselves with the people of New Zealand and this has contributed immensely to the outpouring of empathy, generosity and kindness springing forth among New Zealanders”, Ambassador Benavidez said.

The Filipino community Christmas gathering in Blenheim captured and cherished the heart-warming traditions and shared the Filipinos’ rich cultural heritage in the joyous season of hope, thanksgiving and togetherness.

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