Republic of the Philippines

50 Hobson Street, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand 6011

Southland Filipino Society commended for the first Filipino community centre in Invercargill, New Zealand

The Southland Filipino Society, Inc. (SFSI) in Invercargill, New Zealand exemplified the best of Filipino togetherness and resourcefulness when it set up the first ever Filipino Community Centre (FCC) that continues to assist and address the concerns of the Filipinos in this area of the South Island, spearheads and coordinates activities for the benefit of the Filipino community there, collaborates and networks with the local authorities, multicultural bodies and key organizations for the promotion of Filipino culture and participation in community events and partners with the Philippine Embassy for programmes and projects for the welfare and well-being of the Filipinos in Invercargill and surrounding places.

During the Embassy Night hosted by SFSI on 17 May 2014, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez congratulated its President, Ms. Dorothea Hawkins, the Committees, members and all those who worked hard and persevered to fulfill their dream of having the first Filipino Community Centre in the South Island. “You are truly outstanding and a standout as you blazed the trail for other Filipino communities in New Zealand to follow in having their own FCCs centre that will serve as a haven and headquarters for Filipino community contacts, activities and programs. The FCC in Invercargill, borne out of the determination, initiatives and collaboration of SFSI, is a proud testimony, concrete showcase and valuable legacy of the Filipino community in Invercargill to promote, project and maintain the uniqueness and richness of Filipino culture, identity and creativity and assist in reaching out and helping Filipinos there,” Ambassador Benavidez stated. She assured SFSI and the Filipino community of the Philippine Embassy’s continuing support, cooperation and assistance.

Ambassador Benavidez presented a Certificate of Appreciation and Commendation to SFSI for “its exemplary work in the establishment of the first Filipino Community Centre in New Zealand, the Filipino Community Centre of Southland, which serves as an inspiring testimony to the collective efforts and “Bayanihan” spirit of the Filipinos to have a place where they can showcase the best of Filipino culture and traditions and reach out to the Filipino community through services and programmes of interest and relevance to them. The Embassy of the Philippines is pleased and blessed to have the Southland Filipino Society as its vital partner in connecting with the Filipinos in the Southland and promoting their welfare and well-being”. Individual Certificates of Appreciation and Commendation to SFSI’s Executive Committee composed of Chairman, Dorothea Hawkins, Vice-Chairman, Regina Bennet, Secretary, Socrates Mallari, Treasurer, Editha Villanueva and Sub-Committee Heads, namely, Shelly Ballentine, Dante Banzuelo, Annie Catli, Virginia Cacho, Rose Coles, Lolit Gorton and Centre Co-ordinator, Conchita Escalon. Chairman Dorothea Hawkins was commended for her excellent leadership and together with the Committees and Coordinator for their invaluable assistance and sustained support to the Southland Filipino Society Inc. and for their vital contributions and services to the establishment of the first Filipino Community Centre in New Zealand. SFSI has demonstrated that a dream could be a reality and the FCC is a laudable project following the best practices of professionalism among like-minded individuals and groups demonstrating sacrifice, unity, hard work and solidarity, Ambassador Benavidez added. Ms.Hawkins and the SFSI officers and members reiterated their gratitude to the Philippine Embassy for recognizing their efforts and services to the Filipino community and look forward to growing the SFSI and the FCC from strength to strength.

Ambassador Benavidez and Vice-Consul Glenn Joseph Obach thanked Ms. Hawkins and the SFSI Committees and members for the warm welcome, gracious hospitality and excellent arrangements extended to the Philippine Embassy Mobile Consular Team who conducted consular services on 15-19 May 2014 at the Filipino Community Centre in Invercargill for Filipinos in the South Island.

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