By Louie Encabo
The Filipino community in New Zealand is ever growing, with our numbers surpassing 50,000 this year. It is only fitting that events which celebrate Filipino culture and identity be held.
On the 17th of June hundreds of our kababayans gathered at the Mt. Albert Memorial Hall for the 119th Philippine Independence Day commemorations in Auckland. The event was organized by Filipino Migrant News and showcased Filipino beauty in more ways than one. Aside from the Maginoo and Binibini cultural show, there was also an awards ceremony which highlighted the impressive achievements of Filipino-Kiwis across the country.
The three-hour long event was graced by several top political personalities such as Michael Wood MP and Phil Twyford MP from the Labour Party and Denise Roche from the Green Party. Several of the parties’ upcoming election candidates were also present at the event, including Filipino-Kiwi Romy Udanga, who is contesting the North Shore electorate. He, along with the National Party’s Paulo Garcia, are the Filipino-Kiwis who are going to feature in this year’s general elections.
Filipino culture was also on full display, with several attendees donning traditional costumes and as with any major Filipino community event Filipino food was a major feature, too! Above all, it was an important day to show how active and vibrant the Filipino community of Auckland has become. From once-upon-a-time numbering only a few thousand all over New Zealand, we are now among the most numerous migrant groups in the country.
Our contributions therefore cannot be ignored and the Philippine Independence Day Commemoration 2017 was instrumental in emphasizing that. The presence of political personalities also showed that the rest of New Zealand has taken notice.
Most importantly, events such as this only cement the Filipino community and camaraderie that needs to flourish. They are vital, not only to celebrate milestones, but also for Filipinos all over the country to network with each other and to practice the essence of Bayanihan – which is to lend a hand to one another and help more of our kababayans succeed as Filipino-Kiwis.
We look forward to seeing you, our dear readers, at the next Filipino-Kiwi event.