[ Note : We don’t always engage in hyperbole, but our Embassy has been an overachieving team that has exceeded even the most generous expectations. Kudos to Her Excellency Ambassador Virginia H Benavidez and her dedicated, workaholic team at the Embassy! ]
THE NUMBERS say it all : 4,895 e-passport applicants, 1,242 overseas absentee voting registrants, 220 notarial documentation, 143 National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearances, 165 reports of birth and marriage and 18 dual citizenship.
Exceeding even the most optimistic goals, the past 14 months have seen our Philippine Embassy reaching unprecedented heights in delivering more effective and efficient services to Pinoy communities throughout New Zealand and countries in Polynesia under its jurisdiction through its groundbreaking mobile consular outreach missions.
Bannered The Philippine Embassy in New Zealand: Serving with a Smile, Going the Extra Mile and Reaching Beyond Our Grasp, direct and onsite consular missions started upon the arrival of Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez in September 2011. Since then, the outreach missions have been a game changer in concretely manifesting our government’s priority concern for kabayan OFWs‘ welfare, protection and interests.
To date, our Embassy has conducted no less than eighteen (18) mobile consular missions, bringing unquantifiable benefit to 6,680 Filipinos in key cities in the North and South Islands in New Zealand and in Tonga, Fiji, Samoa and Cook Islands. We don’t mind saying that not many in the diplomatic community can lay claim to such a gold standard of pro-active performance. 🙂
Just to give you an idea of how busy the previous calendar year was for our Embassy, its mobile consular team reached out to Pinoys in Christchurch and Auckland in January; Rotorua and Fiji in April; Auckland in May; Dunedin in August; Cook Islands, Whangarei and back to Auckland in September (in fairness, over half of the NZ Pinoy community are based in AKL); the Independent State of Samoa in November and Christchurch again in December.
But even in 2011, mobile consular services started for the first time in Hamilton in October; Ashburton, Invercargill and Auckland in November and Auckland and Tonga in December.
Significantly, in all of the cities visited by the Philippine Embassy, meetings and coordination were made with the respective Filipino community organizations and groups, namely, the Waikato Filipino Association in Hamilton, Filipino Dairy Workers of New Zealand, Incorporated in Ashburton, the Southland Filipino Community Club in Invercargill, Good Shepherd’s Church and the Garcia Law office in Auckland, Association of Filipinos in Tonga, the Alpha Phi Omega Aotearoa, Philippine Culture and Sports and Christchurch Migrants Centre Trust in Christchurch, the Philippine Club of Rotorua, Inc. and the Bay of Plenty Philippine Friendship Society in Rotorua, Filipino Association led by Honorary Consul Dr. Virgilio De Asa in Fiji, Dunedin Philippine Club, Inc., Filipino Community in Cook Islands, Whangarei Filipino Society, Inc. and the Filipino Community in Samoa.
“Their warm hospitality, invaluable support and exemplary cooperation have contributed immensely to a highly successful, productive and meaningful stay and service of the Embassy’s mobile consular team in the various cities in New Zealand and in Tonga, Fiji, Cook Islands and Samoa. Indeed, they are shining examples of the vital partnership between the Philippine Embassy and the Filipino communities in carrying out our God-given mission for our beloved country and people,” says Ambassador Benavidez.
Wherever Ambassador Benavidez and the Embassy team provided services throughout NZ and some cities in the Pacific, the Filipino community unfailingly and profusely communicated deep gratitude to the Philippine Government through the Philippine Embassy for the crucial and sought after consular services at their doorstep as it saved them a considerable amount of money, time, day off and resources, considering that it is often costly, inconvenient and difficult for them to travel to the Embassy’s physical site in Wellington.
Mixing business with pleasure, Ambassador Benavidez was also able to touch base with kabayan and thank them for their invaluable support and continuing cooperation, updated them on the positive economic and other developments back home, focusing on the reform agenda and good governance programs of Pres. Benigno S. Aquino III.
Ambassador Benavidez likewise enjoined them to participate in the overseas absentee voting process (OAV) and dual citizenship acquisition, briefed them on the urgency of setting up a disaster preparedness and emergency response plan in coordination with local authorities and agencies and conveyed the deep appreciation and recognition of New Zealand’s government and people for their skills, talents, work ethic and ability to integrate themselves well with our communities New Zealand-wide.
Our Ambassador also took advantage of the missions and the Embassy team’s presence in each city by calling on Mayors, Members of Parliament, officers of the Migrant Centres, Multicultural Councils and Ethnic Affairs Offices to broaden networking, exchange insights and information about the Philippines and personally receive Pinoy feedback and views about the situation as well as contributions of the Filipino communities. Whenever possible, she also met with local chambers of commerce, businessmen, companies and relevant agencies and institutions to promote greater trade, investment, business, tourism and people to people ties between the Philippines, New Zealand and the Pacific Island countries under our Embassy’s jurisdiction.
But our Ambassador and her loyal team are not complacent. To ensure that thousands more of our countrymen are reached by the mobile consular services, the Philippine Embassy is set to revisit Taupo, Queenstown, Auckland, Rotorua and other parts of the North and South Islands in 2013.
Announcements on the dates, venue and other relevant details about the mobile consular services are posted at the Embassy’s website at wwww.philembassy.org.nz and facebook. Inquiries can also be made through the Philippine Embassy at telephone numbers (+644) 8903741/3742/3744 or email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Programs like these, unlikely as they are, shift previous paradigms of a distant, unreachable and indifferent government, and ultimately as the record shows we have the new generation of officials like Ambassador Benavidez to thank. More power to you Ma’m, and mabuhay ang lahing Pinoy!
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