Philippine Ambassador Opens The Filipino Community Centre
The official opening of the Filipino Community Centre located at 92-94 Cuba Street Petone, Lower Hutt on 26 September 2015 began with a ribbon cutting officiated by Ambassador Benavidez and His Worship Mayor Ray Wallace of Lower Hutt. This was followed by a blessing of the Centre by Father Danny Cipriano who led the Filipino community and the Centre’s guests in prayer. A brief powhiri, a traditional Maori welcoming ceremony, was led by Mr. Tamati Cairns, Kaumatua and Chair of Puhoe Ki Pneke, and afterwards the Wellington Filipino Community Choir (WFCC) sang the waiata, a Maori song to enhance Mr. Cairns’ speech, entitled ’E Te Atua”. The ceremony proceeded with a prayer of dedication from Pastor Rasik Ranchord, Founding Pastor of the Abundant Life Centre.
Key speakers for the event were Mayor Wallace, Ambassador Benavidez and Ms. Flora Muriel Nogoy, Chairperson of the Bulwagan Foundation Trust. Mayor Wallace stated that as Mayor of Lower Hutt he was thrilled to have the Filipino Community Centre in his city and that he was honored that the Filipino community has chosen Lower Hutt as “the site for the many opportunities, particularly for the young people, to learn more about their culture but also to spread and share that culture with others in the community”. Ambassador Benavidez thanked the Bulwagan Foundation Trust for their hard work, dedication, determination and undivided heart in bringing to fruition the dream of the Filipino community to have their own centre stating that it was a proud moment for the Philippine Embassy to be part of this “groundbreaking event, it’s a mile-marker; it’s history; it adds to the wonderful growth story of the Filipino community here in the Wellington region and all over New Zealand”. “The FCC serves as a haven, home, headquarters and hive for promoting and sharing among Filipinos, New Zealanders and the wider communities the richness and artistry of Filipino culture and history, a place of belonging and togetherness and a legacy for the next generation of young Filipinos to celebrate their heritage, language and appreciation of the values, talents and skills of the Filipino people,” Ambassador Benavidez stated. Ms. Nogoy stated that since 1999, the Filipino community in Wellington have talked about having a centre of its own and it has taken long years of “planning, fundraising and praying” to finally open the Filipino Community Centre. She thanked those who so generously donated goods, cash and services to make Filipino Community Centre a reality, particularly the members of the Bulwagan Foundation Trust who have worked with her throughout the years.
Cultural presentations by various organizations showcased Filipino talents through song and dance. The Wellington Filipino Community Choir sang songs of praise as well as their trademark Original Pilipino Music selections. The NZ Filifest Cultural Group presented traditional Filipino dances, Ms. Kathy Lopez sang a song and played the guitar, Ms. May Young and Mr. Jun Samblaceño rendered Latin dance numbers, Mr. Sam Non played the violin, Mr. Gino Tapia played the saxophone, Mr. Denzel Lozano rendered three musical numbers on the piano and Mr. Reinz Tamayo and Mr. Kim Laroza sang a couple of songs. Tributes and farewell messages for Ambassador Benavidez were also given by Mr. Coco Tuazon of the Young Once, Ms. Chona Smart of Mabuhay, Ms. Anita Mansell of NZ Filifest Cultural Group, and a message from Ms. Alice Lozano was read by Ms. Nogoy. A midday salo-salo of Filipino food was shared by those who attended the event.
Ms. Nogoy and the Bulwagan Foundation Trust reiterated their gratitude to Ambassador Benavidez and the Philippine Embassy Team, the performers, sponsors, organizers, supporters, friends and all those who worked tirelessly to make the Filipino Community Centre opening a highly successful, meaningful and memorable one.
Story: Philippine Embassy