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Wellington Meeting with Filipino scholars07 May 2014- As the Philippine Embassy in Wellington continues to enhance closer people-to-people ties and educational linkages between the Philippines and New Zealand, Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez hosted a fellowship dinner for nine Filipino recipients of the New Zealand-ASEAN Scholars Awards for the year 2014 and two scholarship awardees for 2013  at  the “Ang Bahay” (Philippine Ambassador’s Residence) on April 22.


Ms. Gay Marie Francisco of the First Asia Institute of Technology and Humanities and Ms. Christine Jeiselle Guarino from the Mines and Geoscience Bureau.


Ms. Francisco and Ms. Guarino are pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Media Arts (Film, TV and Media Studies) and Postgraduate Diploma in Science (Geology), respectively at the University of Auckland.


The Department of Trade and Industry’s Maricor Banaga, on the other hand, is  studying for a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning at the University of Auckland while Ms. Myla Barbacena of the Land Management Bureau is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Public Management at the Victoria University in Wellington.


The group also included Mr. Jamael Jacob from the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation. He is pursuing a Postgraduate Certificate course in Law at the University of Auckland.


Ms. Maria Karla Espinosa from the Department of Finance, meanwhile, is studying for Master of Laws at the University of Auckland, Mr. Maurice Duka, from the University of the Philippines in Los Baños is pursuing Master of Engineering at the University of Auckland.  Mr. Federico Dela Peña, a research affiliate and consultant for PHILVOCS project on disaster preparedness is taking up a Postgraduate Diploma in Engineering Geology at the University of Canterbury and Mr. Meikko Jay Forones from the Mindanao Polytechnic College studying for a Postgraduate Diploma in Political Science at the University of Canterbury.


Two 2013 scholars, namely, Ms. Arla Fontamillas, from the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office taking up a Master’s Programme in Development Studies at the Victoria University in Wellington and Mr. Norman Zafra, from GMA-7 pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration and Master in Communication Management at the Massey University in Wellington joined the 2014 scholars during their call on and dinner with Ambassador Benavidez. 


Ms. Ma. Lisette Castillo, a 2013 scholar from Procter and Gamble who is pursuing a Masters in Commerce at the University of Auckland called on Ambassador Benavidez on April 27 at the “Ang Bahay.”


They are among the 18 Filipinos who were granted scholarships by the New Zealand Government to pursue post graduate studies in laws, agriculture, governance and public management, development studies, renewable energy and environmental management, engineering, geothermal energy, media arts, social work, urban planning, political science, among others. Each year, the New Zealand Government provides an indicative allocation of 18 post graduate scholarships to Filipinos from the public, private, academic and other sectors. These form part of  the New Zealand Government’s ASEAN Scholarship Awards, one among the four key areas of its Flagship Projects with ASEAN,  aimed at enhancing human resources development and capability upgrading and equipping recipients with skills and knowledge to contribute to their respective countries’ national development and the region’s progress.


The Filipino scholars thanked the Government of New Zealand for the valuable opportunity to enhance their knowledge and upgrade their skills in their respective fields of study and the agencies and institutions in the Philippines for allowing them to avail of the scholarship grants. They also shared with Ambassador Benavidez their meaningful experiences from the time they arrived in New Zealand and during their continuing educational journey in the various universities where they are pursuing their respective postgraduate diplomas and master’s degrees. The Filipino scholars continue to maximize their learning experiences, do well in their research and studies, foster closer interaction with their fellow students, professors and members of the academe in the university and value the friendships they made with New Zealanders, Filipinos and other communities. Ambassador Benavidez said that the Filipino scholars who come from different agencies and institutions from the Philippines and possess impressive credentials continue to bring pride and honour to the Philippines and the Filipino people. The annual intake of Filipino scholars and completion of their studies have elicited positive feedback and favourable impression from their professors and university officials who recognize their outstanding academic performance and commitment and capability to excel in their chosen fields of study.


Ms. Giulia Soria, a scholar of the Asian Development Bank from Operation Blessing pursuing a Master’s programme in Development Studies joined Ms. Castillo during the luncheon hosted by Ambassador Benavidez at “Ang Bahay” on April 27.


Ms. Mayette Maling-Cope, host of “Tinig Pinoy” 999 AM Access Manuwatu, also interviewed Mr. Norman Zafra who will be featured in her radio programmes was also present.


After the highly interactive fellowship dinner and luncheon, the guests thanked Ambassador Benavidez for a memorable time at “Ang Bahay” where they all felt at home amidst the Filipiniana ambience and enjoyed the especially prepared cuisine and animated conversation around the dining table. END