By Celso Roger Baldo
KATIKATI, Bay of Plenty – The first ever reunion of Filipino beekeepers in New Zealand – most of whom originate from the Cordillera region, plus some from other parts of the Philippines – was held from 21-22 April in Katikati, Bay of Plenty.
Over 200 Filipino beekeepers, who work mainly in the North Island, their families and friends swarmed in to enjoy the Easter break and inaugurate this momentous celebration.
The reunion allowed guests the chance to catch up with old mates and make new friends – after a long and busy beekeeping season.
The event was hosted by Steve and Camila Harvey of the Honey Shed Company and their three Filipino staff.
The beekeepers joining the event worked with leading honey farms like Pure Manuka Honey Ltd, Oha Honey, Comvita, Silson Honey, Manuka Health, Coast to Coast Bees, Settlers Honey, Hill Country Honey, Braguta Queens and Marcel & Sons Honey Ltd.
“It is good to know that some of the Filipino beekeepers who now work here are either citizens, residents or work permit visa holders,” noted an elder at the event. “Some are managers, head beekeepers, queen breeders and team leaders of some of the big beekeeping outfits that were mentioned.”
The 2-day event was facilitated by Mrs Jonah Peg-ed who said that “as the celebration fell on Easter day, we will remember that Jesus is alive. But this gathering should not be taken as a religious event, but moreso as something deep in our hearts”.
She added that the Lenten period is seen as a celebration of new beginnings and a renewal of faith, love and the hope that the dreams and aspirations of each family for a greener pasture will come true – despite facing many challenges living here in this land of the long white cloud Aotearoa.
The attendees from the different provinces in the Cordillera performed their distinctive dances accompanied by their famous gangsa, fusioned with lively songs presented by the Side Bee Band and guest singers.
The participation of the host Kiwi families and friends was absolutely brilliant as they gamely joined the almost neverending community dance.
Other activities were the presence of a bouncy castle and the Easter-egg hunt and games to delight the Fil-Kiwi children.
Early birds had the chance to go fishing or to participate in the sports fest – basketball, billiards, darts, table tennis and a taekwondo demo were popular activities.
As part of Cordilleran culture wherever they congregate around the world, it is traditional to offer deliciously cooked pork and goat dishes for everyone to enjoy.
The Easter date for this event was perfectly timed – just before most of the beekeepers start heading home to the Philippines for a vacation. They will be returning to start the new beekeeping season as early as the end of July.
“It is good to know that some of the Filipino beekeepers who now work here are either citizens, residents or work permit visa holders,” noted an elder at the event.
“Some are managers, head beekeepers, queen breeders and team leaders of some of the big beekeeping outfits that were mentioned.”