WITH an estimated 2.3 million overseas Filipino workers, Philippine embassies must have their hands full servicing their needs not to mention Filipinos who have become citizens of the countries they’ve decided to reside in. In New Zealand, for instance, it takes about two months before you can have a document notarized before the Embassy or Consulate, thus mobile consular services are organized in key areas. Still getting a reservation though is difficult as the slots are filled up quickly.
Another headache for most diplomats is the Filipino communities, which are notorious for infighting among officers and members. There are as many Filipino organizations as there are languages and dialects in the Philippines. And even within a regional grouping there can be division between the old guards and the new blood. In an unprecedented move, Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Jesus Domingo posted a statement on July 14, 2021 that “Of the many Filipino communities (FilComs) in NZ, the Embassy finds that Hamilton/Waikato is one of the ‘best.’” (Note: I am a director of the Waikato Filipino Association.)
At the risk of alienating himself from other groups, Domingo said the recognition is based on the five-pointed Star criteria he formulated, namely: Filcom Unity, Vamba, Youth/Second Generation, Government Synergy, and Faith. He noted that the Waikato Filipino Association serves the lead or umbrella organization duly registered with the Embassy. It has duly elected officers that welcome “new blood” in the leadership team. “There is minimal to no infighting/petty rivalry, good overall cohesion,” he observed, and WFA “organizes great basketball and other sports events.” He acknowledged numerous individuals in Waikato who have undergone the Embassy’s Volunteer Ambassador (Vamba) leadership program and excel. The Vambas in the area strongly support the Embassy/POLO through their respective organizations. He noticed that the Filipino community in Waikato “pro-actively supports and engages its Youth/Second Generation, (through) strong outreach to schools, sports activities etc. and the Youth Volunteer Programme.”
As to Government Synergy, AmbaGary mentioned the close relationship of the organization with the local public officials and Members of Parliament who are visible in most of the activities organized. Finally, he remarked: “Filipino community members are very active in their churches, of various denominations. The Catholic, Iglesia ni Cristo and Arise communities are particularly engaging.” The hyperactive diplomat mentioned other FilComs that excel, namely Ashburton and Dunedin. He closed his posting with a request: “I am asking FilComs to closely study Hamilton’s /Waikato’s success. The Embassy / POLO stands ready to help other FilComs achieve holistic ‘Stardom.’”