Republic of the Philippines

50 Hobson Street, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand 6011

PHL Ambassador joins the big launch of six Filipino Businesses in ChristChurch, New Zealand

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As the Philippine Embassy continues to reach out and engage with the Filipino community in promoting economic, cultural and people-to-people ties, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez joined the first ever event called “THE BIG LAUNCH: Building a Stronger Philippine Community in Christchurch” of six Filipino businesses in Christchurch on 18 October 2014. They are among the trailblazers that harness and capitalize on Filipino talents, artistry and creativity in key areas of specialization – cuisine and catering, web-based platform for business and community connection, news and print media, events planning and management and sounds and lights set up for functions. These businesses are PriMaDonna EVENT SPECIALISTS LTD, a team of dedicated and dynamic Event Planners and Decorators in Christchurch, passionate about design and creativity with Ms. Donna Florendo and Ms. Maries Villa presenting their company’s specialization and team members, PALENGKE.CO.NZ a platform for New Zealand’s Filipino residents to be able to do business and connect with the community and provide a system of “bayanihan” (coming together) and help fellow Filipinos gain a sense of belongingness with Mr. Allan Vergara elaborating on the vision to share information, buy Filipino goods and products, to interact with and help each other, CUSINA FILIPINA offering full catering services featuring mainly Filipino dishes and other cuisines and This was formed by a group of Filipinos who keep longing for the distinctive taste of native Philippine dishes ranging from comfort food to all-time favorites to traditional Pinoy party specialties, DAD’S GRILL the first Filipino take-away shop in Christchurch offering patrons the best quality litson manok (charcoal-roasted chicken) and other grilled choices namely litson liempo (roasted pork belly), pork barbeque, among other all-time favorite dishes which are famous in the Philippines, with Ms. Shane Vargas, Mr. Ron Villasenor, Mr. Lito Mangubat and Mr. Rommel Guda aiming to bring well-loved Filipino cuisine to New Zealand and give their customers a taste of home away from home, KABAYAN NEWS “Keeping the Bayanihan Spirit Alive”, the first Filipino newspaper in South Island that intends to bring people together through its independent, up-to-date and accurate news reporting featuring New Zealand and Philippine culture through its lifestyle, sports and travel sections, accurate immigration advices and updates from several ethnic affairs sources, legal advice from Honorary Consul General Atty. Paulo Garcia and updates and bulletins from the Philippines Embassy in Wellington with Mr. Alfie Alojado, Mr. Ronnie Guevara and Ms. Lily Bloxham reinforcing the niche of the Filipino community in the media industry in the South Island with the support from its community broadcast partner – Kumusta Ka, Kabayan and D and J LIGHTS and SOUNDS led by Mr. Dante Asinas and Mr. Ronnie Guevarra who shared their passion for music, sounds equipment and services to liven up event and functions.

This is indeed a milestone event which highlights the vital partnership and close collaboration of the Filipino community in promoting Philippine products, services and news as well as strengthening people-to-people connectivity at this crucial time of the rebuilding and reconstruction of Christchurch. In congratulating and commending the Filipino businesses which organized THE BIG LAUNCH which will undoubtedly break new ground and grow from strength to strength, Ambassador Benavidez shared the five C’s that make Filipinos well-loved, widely acknowledged and wonderfully known for, namely, “our Christian faith providing the much needed spiritual anchor and guidance, our Cultural heritage, its richness and variety contributing to the multicultural and colourful landscape of New Zealand and uplifting the image and reputation of the Philippines as home to world class talents and an attractive tourism and visitors’ destination, our Community spirit and Compassionate attitude very much evident in our “bayanihan” spirit coming together and sharing, sacrificial and selfless, ready and generous to help especially during times of disaster and calamities, our Care and Commitment to excel in whatever we do, integrate with local communities and help make a distinctive difference in people’s lives with our talents and skills and our Cuisine abounding and overflowing on the food tables and our ever present Cameras.”

The Honourable Nicky Wagner, Member of Parliament for Christchurch Central, Minister of Customs, Minister for Disability Issues, Associate Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery and Associate Minister of Conservation lauded the launching of the Filipino businesses and their significant contributions to Christchurch. She also pointed out five admirable qualities of Filipinos that endear them to people and these are “they are a loving and law abiding community and have strong family focus, positive work ethics, connection with churches, courage and entrepreneurship that are being celebrated this evening.”

Christchurch City Councillor Jimmy Chen congratulated the Filipino businesses and spoke of the significance and importance of their contributions to Christchurch. He said that this is the first time that Filipino entrepreneurs are making their mark and the presence of many Filipinos and guests at THE BIG LAUNCH indicates the huge support for this significant event.

It was a lively, interactive and meaningful evening as Filipinos, officials and friends from other countries enjoyed the presentations and the cuisine prepared by the organizers. “They are our valued partners in reaching out to the Filipino community, promoting the values and culture that we hold dear as a people, engaging with the local communities to strengthen the bonds of friendship and understanding, fostering greater business to business linkages, broadening networking and building on their strengths and complementarities to move mutually beneficial business opportunities and partnerships between the Philippines and New Zealand. In infusing renewed strength, vim, vigour and vitality in our economic and socio-cultural relationship with New Zealand and other stakeholders in the local and regional arenas, today’s BIG LAUNCH is a real mile marker, another significant milestone in the economic horizon and cultural enrichment of the Christchurch of today and tomorrow,” Ambassador Benavidez stated.

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