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Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

Modern day heroes I was only eight years old. I remember my mother and her sisters wearing yellow shirts and praying the rosary while the song “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” was being played on the radio. I remember walking along EDSA and wondering why there were so many people, including armed military. I wasn’t scared of them– I remember being lifted by a soldier and my auntie taking a photo of me, smiling and thrilled to be sitting on an army tank. My memory of The People Power Revolution of 1986 was about a child who was safe, secured and happy to be around her family. It is this sense and wanting to be free that fueled the hearts of many Filipinos to take to the streets their dream of democracy. To Ninoy Aquino, this dream means giving up his life. To his wife, Cory Aquino, this dream Fusce mollis means continuing the journey.

tempus felis.

And to all of us, who remember Ninoy’s death anniversary this month, and mourn the death of Tita Cory last August 1, may we continue to believe in their dream of peace, freedom and democracy.

Editor

Fusce tellus enim, semper vitae, malesuada vitae, condimentum vel, ligula.

Issue 10| August 09


Issue 10| Aug 09

Face to face with true leadership Witnessing ‘Cory magic’ up close and from a distance BY DIVINA PAREDES Photo by Lilen Uy Sourced from www.pcij.org

Nearly three years ago, I was working on CIO magazine’s annual leadership issue. I told the art director I wanted the cover to be simple but striking. We settled for a glossy backdrop in black with headlines in gold. As a final touch, I decided to print on the right side of the page the names of leaders from across all sectors and persuasions. And that is how Cory Aquino appeared on the cover of a magazine for information technology executives in New Zealand. Her picture ran in the feature story on “making every leadership moment matter” alongside those of Sir Edmund Hillary, Fidel Castro, Bono and Nelson Mandela. I do not know how many of our kababayans have read or come across that particular issue of CIO, but for me, putting those little details in the magazine was significant. I wanted a Filipino leader to be included in that list, and I deliberately chose someone who would be familiar to a Kiwi audience. After all, New Zealand was one of the first to recognise the government of President Aquino after the People Power Revolt in 1986.

Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

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Issue 10| Aug 09

The
author
with
President
Aquino


President
Aquino
with
the
members
of
the
Malacanang
Press
Corps














It was also my humble way of honouring Cory Aquino who at that time was actively speaking out - when other members of her socioeconomic class were reticent to do so - against the excesses of the Arroyo administration, particularly the barely-concealed plan to extend Arroyo’s term. That must have been anathema to Cory Aquino, who had stepped down after her sixyear term in accordance with the Constitution. Later on, I would read about how Cory Aquino lent moral support to Edith Burgos, wife of freedom fighter and journalist Jose Burgos, whose son Jonas went missing, believed to have been abducted by military agents. Deadlines and coup attempts There was a time when I saw President Aquino nearly every day, or rather, six days a week. In 1986 to early 1989, I was a member of the Malacanang Press Corps. Covering the Office of the President is actually what reporters call a ‘hardship post’. A typical Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

day would require writing up to seven stories ranging from politics, to business and even lifestyle features like the time when superstar moppet Aiza Seguerra visited Malacanang. I did not fully appreciate it then that I was witnessing and chronicling critical periods in the country’s history, and seeing first hand, one of the world’s revered leaders in action. I also had the wonderful experience of seeing how the newly installed President Aquino wowed her audience in the United States. I was one of 10 journalists invited by the US government to visit media outlets across the United States in 1986. The study grant included covering President Aquino’s nine-day visit to the US. So I witnessed her meeting with then US President Reagan and delivering her speeches at the United Nations, the joint Session of the US Congresss (some of the congressmen who greeted her after her speech – which was interrupted several times by loud applause - had yellow roses on their lapels), Harvard University and New York University 3


Issue 10| Aug 09

Photo
by
Divina
Paredes


(where she spoke at the Time Distinguished Speakers series, having been named Woman of the Year, which according to the magazine was the first time a female held the honour since Queen Elizabeth in 1952). Riding a cab with fellow journalists in Washington DC, the driver smiled widely when we told him we were there to cover President Aquino. Everywhere we went, people were raving about our new president, and shaking their head over the fate of Ferdinand Marcos who was then in exile in Hawaii. The tail end of the study grant was held at the East West Center in Hawaii. My journalist colleagues and I decided to interview

Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda. It was a surreal experience as we were ushered into a room where a seal of the President of the Republic of the Philippines was hanging. Occasionally, the air would be punctuated by the tooting of car horns, a noise barrage of sorts, courtesy of motorists who were indicating their displeasure at having a deposed dictator in the vicinity. Back at Malacanang, I covered the succession of dignitaries from across the globe who personally greeted the new President. One of them was then New Zealand Prime Minister David Lange, who cracked jokes with the reporters, and posed in front of the mural of Ferdinand Marcos flexing his muscles.

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Issue 10| Aug 09

Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

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Issue 10| Aug 09

Waiting
for
Tita
Cory:
The
author
with
her
sister
Dulce
and
friend
Lovely
 Lecaros
at
the
College
of
Mount
Saint
Vincent
in
New
York,
where
 President
Aquino
was
awarded
an
honourary
doctorate
in
1986.


Post‐Malacanang:
The
author
with
citizen
Cory
in
 1993
in
Quezon
City.


“People Power shouldn’t be a mere political tool. It can be used to create jobs, deliver social services, improve the lives of all our people…” But the early years of President Aquino’s term were also marked by violence and danger, perpetrated mainly by people who did not share her passion for democracy. The president’s son Noynoy Aquino survived an assassination attempt, and echoing his mother’s bravery, faced the press right after the incident. My close friend and street parliamentarian Leandro Alejandro was gunned down by rightwing forces. Labour leader Rolando Olalia of the Kilusang Mayo Uno was kidnapped and killed presumably by members of the same right-wing forces. Successive coup attempts by groups with the same anti-democratic mindset derailed the country’s economic development. The coup attempts were mounted at the critical times when the Aquino government received pledges of aid and investment to the country. The attacks were not solely at President Aquino, but to the Filipino people as well, and to this day, no amount of posturing or public relations can sway my negative opinion of these coup plotters, even if they have been elected to public office. Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

The mark of a true leader In early 1989, I had to leave daily news coverage as I had just given birth and family took precedence over chasing daily deadlines. I continued, however, to keep track of President Aquino’s activities, and noted how she comfortably settled onto being a private citizen after her term was over. In contrast, her successor Fidel Ramos and the current person who occupies Malacanang had flirted, or are still flirting, with the idea of extending their terms. I have also been reading about how she relished her time as ‘Citizen Cory’, helping nongovernment organisations. As she had written in a 2001 essay for Time, her goal was to expand the concept, and to be always associated with the concept of people power. “People Power shouldn’t be a mere political tool. It can be used to create jobs, deliver social services, improve the lives of all our people,” she wrote.

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Issue 10| Aug 09 Photo
by
Joel
Paredes


I also read about her pursuit of her interest in art (a cousin gifted me with a stack of cards featuring her paintings), being a doting grandmother, and a supportive mother to her feisty youngest daughter Kris. In 1993, a year after she stepped down as President, I met Cory Aquino at an art exhibit in Quezon City, and she looked so relaxed and happy. I asked my photographer friend to take our picture. I treasure that black and white photo, more than the pictures taken with her at Malacanang. A few months ago, when I learned that Cory Aquino had cancer of the colon, I felt very sad. My mother had died of the same ailment four

Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

years ago and her last days were very painful. President Aquino went to my mum’s wake. I know that she came not as a political figure, but someone in solidarity with those who were, in one way or another, part of the protest movement that led to the dismantling of martial law. My brother Joel had been writing about the political opposition way back when he was chief reporter of Malaya, even before President Aquino ran for the presidency. On the day President Aquino was buried, I was attending a leadership conference in Singapore. As I was listening to CEOs discuss how they led their enterprises to survive and thrive in an economic slowdown, I was multitasking. In my mind, I was covering the slow 7


Issue 10| Aug 09 Photo
by
Dada
Docot


march for a great leader being led to her final resting place. That was my way of saying goodbye to Cory Aquino, who rallied hundreds of thousands to throw out a dictator through People Power; the icon for citizens across the globe on deploying peaceful means to crush totalitarian regimes; and who, even in death, continues to inspire and give hope.

Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

True, you may not be able to do everything you take on, but you’ll undoubtedly accomplish some of it. That may not sound very heroic. But believe me, from such a humble notion true heroism is born. Cory Aquino, in her essay ‘The Power of People’ for Time magazine, 2001

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Issue 10| Aug 09

Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

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Issue 10| Aug 09

Dr
Tony
Fernando
(right)
accepts
The
Filipino
Achievement
 Award
from
Ambassador
Bienvenido
Tejano.


O’neal
Mendoza
sings
Filipino
Kundiman
at
The
 Philippine
Independence
Day
celebration
weekend.


Pinoys in NZ’s best choirs

If he were a musical composition, Tony Fernando would be a fugue. “Simple at first, then becomes multidimensional. It can sound confusing because of the different melodies that go on at the same time, but they all make one coherent musical whole.”

BY SILVIA ALZONA

Granted: choral music just isn’t for everyone. But Viva Voce’s recent Humble Henry at the Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber might have you taking a closer look and giving a keener listen, really. The delightful evening pushed the boundaries of the traditional choral recital with each piece introduced by conductor John Rosser with lighthearted commentary, which - gauging from audience response - was very well received and appreciated. The repertoire included a selection of Henry Purcell’s anthems, odes, part songs and catches, and a semi-staged version of his opera Dido and Aeneas, where the protagonists are all garbed in modern day clothes.

“Profound di ba?” he teases, then lets out a peal of laughter and continues, “Spontaneous yan and hindi contrived.” (Isn’t that profound? It’s spontaneous and not at all contrived.) For him, a Bach Fugue is one of the highest forms of music. “Listen to Toccata and Fugue in D Minor to give you a sampling… I am sure you can find a performance in youtube”, he urges.

Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

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Issue 10| Aug 09

a song, there is sight reading (where one reads and produces both instrumental and vocal music AT FIRST SIGHT) and a variety of aural tests”, he says. As it turned out, he was accepted into, and now sings with, one of the best chamber choirs in NZ, the Viva Voce. Around the same time, O’neal Mendoza also auditioned for, and got into, a local choir – local to the Philippines, that is – the UP Concert Chorus. It fulfilled a pre-university dream come true for him: To see the world, East to West of the United States and many parts of Europe.

Promotional brochure from the Viva Voce website www.vivavoce.org.nz

And if you look a little closer still (stage right), you will note that one of the “homeless blokes” in one scene is playing the part a tad too convincingly. That’s because that bloke, Tony, has had a chance to study them well. As Senior Lecturer in Psychological Medicine at the University of Auckland, Dr Tony Fernando teaches three afternoons a week. Most mornings he devotes to clinic work either at Practice 92 in Epsom for Insomnia and Psychopharmacology, or as Consultant Psychiatrist for the Auckland District Health Board East West Community Early Intervention for Psychosis team. Tony runs the sole insomnia-focused clinic in New Zealand, and develops diagnostic instruments for sleep disorders and treatments for insomnia in a cooperative effort with the Department of General Practice. Sometime in 1999 Tony saw an advertisement for a local choir. Assuming that it was your average everyday garden-variety choir, he went for it and got the shock of his life with the tough audition process. “In addition to the usual sing

Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

Then in 2007, O’neal got a scholarship at the University of Auckland for his Masters in Development Studies focusing on Intellectual Property Rights and its impact on the affordability of medicines in developing countries. As fate would have it, Tony opened the doors of Viva Voce for O’neal, who later joined the NZ Opera Company upon John Rosser’s invitation. Both Tony and O’neal enjoy being in the choir because of the many friends that they meet and keep, most of them with very interesting backgrounds in music, law, the sciences, and medicine. O’neal had originally found it difficult to blend in culturally but later found out that his being the only Asian in NZ Opera has made him quite a curiosity for the other nationalities. At first, he had doubted whether the rest of the members would accept him. After a while, he learnt what topics they normally talked about and joined in the conversations. So what’s it like to be a member of a New Zealand choir? “There is an emphasis on going for the best that can be achieved”, says Tony. “Very different from other groups in that so many of the members are excellent musicians individually. I think I am one of the least skilled in the group.”

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Issue 10| Aug 09

Photo from the choir’s website www.vivavoce.org.nz

That’s hard to believe since Tony took extension courses in voice at the UP College of Music. He also started playing the piano while in grade school. Seven years ago, he started formal training in cello and is currently preparing for his Grade 7 Trinity College Exams. He has always been interested in music. He recalls that around the age of five, he would listen to his sisters having piano lessons. When their teacher had left, he would play some of their music by ear. Much later, he learnt that he was playing them in a different key. “My mother is a keen piano player – quite excellent really, even if she only had less than a year of lessons. She is a very good sight reader.” His father used to play the violin,

Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

his grandmother played the piano well and his siblings were all very much into singing. Asked whether he played any musical instrument, O’neal says, “Ang alam ko lang laruin, eh yung tenga ko” (I only know how to play with my ear). Then, he says, “Ay, meron. Yung nilalagay ang kamay sa kilikili...” (Oh, yes, I put my hand in my armpit and …) And he proceeds to give a sample of this sound. You can replicate the sound by nestling your right hand in your left armpit, and make like you are dancing the Itik-Itik. This could be another claim to fame - the only man with musical armpits. Music was not really part of O’neal’s life until he started singing when he was 18. Nowadays, he listens mostly to Christian music with a sprinkling of R&B, Luther Vandross. And he specially likes Jason Mraz’ “I’m Yours”. 12


Issue 10| Aug 09

out the prescribed attire was a tuxedo. “Kahit maitim ako, namula pa rin.” (Even with my natural dark complexion, I still turned beet red.), he chuckles.

Photo from the choir’s website www.vivavoce.org.nz

Tony likes all sorts of music – Drum and Bass, Hip Hop, music from the Romantic (Ludwig van Beethoven) and the post-Romantic (Dmitri Shostakovich) periods. He also likes the cellist Yo-Yo Ma (Mǎ Yǒuyǒu), the King Singers and the NZSO. And in preparation for Humble Henry, he listened to a lot of Purcell so that he could feel the style of his period. Of course, he listens to Baroque music Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Suites and cello sonatas. He says that Bach’s music changed the circuitry of his brain and opened it to the whole world of Baroque music. But it wasn’t until he accidentally listened to a particular oratorio played on Manila’s classical radio station that there was an instant click in his brain. All of a sudden, he knew that was the type of music he wants! Handel’s bass aria “The Trumpet Shall Sound” from the Messiah got Tony hooked on Baroque music since then. It still is his favourite. But being part of the best choirs is not all glitz and glamour. O’neal spends most of his evenings (5:00-10:30 pm) at rehearsals. And very recently, he has been rehearsing for an engagement to sing some jazzy blues at a Parnell dinner event. When the director announced what they were to wear for the event, O’neal exclaimed rather loudly, “What the...! I don’t want to wear a penguin suit!” to everyone’s surprise. He was perplexed that his reaction surprised the other choir members at all until... he found Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

Tony also recounts a time that they were about to go on a choir trip somewhere in the south of the North Island. “I checked in my bag with the bus driver. Then I went to Dymocks in Elliot Street and tried to kill time. By the time I came back, the bus was gone!” But the main challenge according to Tony is “learning extremely difficult and challenging music – usually by some nutty Kiwi composer then performing it at a high level. You cannot rely on other singers because we often sing different parts. Also recently memorizing opera music then performing it while doing choreography as well.” What would they advise to an aspiring choir member? Tony says, “Listen to a performance or listen to some of our tracks on our website www.vivavoce.org.nz. If you think it’s the type of music you like and you have the skill level then give our conductor a ring for a possible audition. A prospective singer should have decent sight reading skills and the corresponding vocal and musical technique that suits a choir. But there are all other choirs there that cater to each person’s needs and skills. So one has to find what works for them the best. O’Neal’s advice is, “If you can’t afford to go to voice lessons, join a choir. Even if you want to be a soloist, start by joining a choir because you have to start somewhere. It allows you to gain confidence, learn to read notes, help your ear to listen to the right tune, correct any bad habits in music. But most of all, remember na kung iyo, iyo. (If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.)

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Issue 10| Aug 09

My world of dance BY SHELDENE SETH I started dancing at the age of three. My mum enrolled me into tap dancing lessons. Since then, I have been addicted to dancing. My favourite dance form is definitely tap. I love it because it has given me an awareness of the rhythm in music and coordination. My whole body becomes alive when I dance.

Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

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Issue 10| Aug 09

My favourite performance was the first time I stepped out on the stage to perform my song and dance ‘Can't Do It Alone’ from Chicago. I remember being a little nervous, yet excited at the same time. I started singing and dancing and I had come to the one note that I usually hadn't been able to reach. I opened my mouth and out came the note! I was so pleased with myself. I was amazed that I actually hit that elusive note! It was one of my favourite performances because I was able to combine two of my passions. My dancing has given me confidence to perform on the stage, usually in front of hundreds of people. Back in 2004, I was involved with the NBR Spring Opera of 'Carmen' in the Aotea Centre. I played one of the young gypsy children. I was able to see for myself what it is like being involved in a professional show. Also in that same year, I was selected to be in an American advertisement for the snack food

Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

product 'Lunchables'. I have also had the pleasure of playing the role of Little Red Ridinghood in the musical 'Into the Woods'. I thoroughly enjoyed holding a principal role in that show. Another show that I have been involved in is Cole Porter's 'Anything Goes'. I gained an appreciation of the time and era it was set in and the music. For five years running, I have been involved in Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park. It is such a thrill getting up onstage literally in front of New Zealand. This year, I will get to help the choreographer of Christmas in the Park. This will be a whole new experience for me and I am very much looking forward to it! Last year, I was nominated to go to the PACANZ Tap Dancing Nationals in Tauranga. It was a lot of fun. It was great to see all the other tap dancers in the country. In 2007, I received a scholarship to Sydney for

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Issue 10| Aug 09

+ The idea of becoming a very skilled dancer keeps me going…

a dance workshop. Over there, I learned how to break dance! I brought home some new dance moves. The idea of becoming a very skilled dancer keeps me going. It would be an awesome achievement for me to become even more technically good at dancing. Last year, I was lucky enough to travel to Melbourne to watch the musical 'Wicked'. After watching the show, I had this feeling in the pit of my stomach. I couldn’t stop thinking, "Wow! That is what I want to do". The whole show inspired me to keep going at all my dance training. One day, I would absolutely love to be in a musical just like 'Wicked'. Dancing has made me more disciplined and focused on what I would like to achieve in life. It’s not hard to learn. There are many great

dance schools around. For tap dancing, I go to Raewyn Burgess School of Dance. For ballet and jazz I go to Mt Eden Ballet Academy (MEBA). Both are fantastic schools. My training is coming to end which will enable me to begin teaching too. There are so many things I would love to do in the future. Aside from performing, I also have a strong liking towards science. For many years now, I have wanted to study Medicine. I still do, but I would also love to pursue a career in performing. I can’t imagine myself not dancing. I can’t imagine a world without the sound of my tapping feet.

Sa letrang B, Pasko na naman. Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

BINGO
NG
 BAYAN
09//
 MALAPIT
NA
 16


Issue 10| Aug 09

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Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand Pacific

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Issue 10| Aug 09 Queen Victoria Building

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Wicked Weekend in Sydney BY
SAM
DIGNADICE

Sydney is an exciting and bustling city. Being only three hours away by plane and with the current competitive airline pricing, Sydney provides an exciting weekend treat for those wanting the adrenalin rush of a big city. We found an accommodation right in the middle of the CBD. Getting to the hotel from the airport is a breeze. The train station is right at the Sydney International Airport. The train took us from the airport to the Town Hall Station. And from there, the hotel is only a five-minute walk. After a short rest, we went up for a walk to the Sydney Opera House. Don’t miss The Opera House’s Essentials Tour (AU$35 per person). It’s an educational hour tour of the building. Danish architect Jorn Utzon designed this magnificent building. The Sydney Opera House took 16 years and AU$100 million (AU$2 billion in today’s money) to build.

Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

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Issue 10| Aug 09 Sydney Opera House

Within the Opera House, there are seven theatres of varying sizes – from a seating capacity of 120 people to 2 500 people, catering to various types of performances – opera, ballet, rock concert, musicals and even circus. When you are inside the Opera House, you feel the creative energy vibrating within its walls. It is truly the heart of Sydney’s creative community. We were able to watch The White Album concert at the Large Concert Hall. The Large Concert Hall packed with over 2 000 people is an amazing sight. The Large Concert Hall is also the home of the world’s largest known mechanical action organ with 10 154 pipes, 200 pipe ranks and 131 speaking stops with electrical stop action. It must produce one of the most beautiful sounds in the world. We didn’t get a chance to hear it as recitals are seasonal. If shopping is your thing, then Sydney is paradise. Shoppers are spoiled for choice – there are massive shopping complexes and specialty boutique shops to suit every shopper’s taste. Unlike Auckland, most international brands have shops in Sydney. Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

Expect to see your famous American and European retail brands alongside local shops. One of my most favourite shopping destinations, and probably Australia’s most beautiful, is The Queen Victoria Building. The historic building was built in 1898 and is now home to hundreds of shops. If you think the façade of the building is impressive, wait till you get inside. Beautiful stained glass windows, interestingly exquisite floorings and detailed wood works will transport you to an era of elegance. A weekend is indeed too short to explore Sydney. But if it is a bolt of energy that you are seeking, Sydney is the perfect quick weekend getaway fix.

Travel Tips • • •

Check out www.wotif.com for hotel specials Surf the net for cheap airline deals Don’t be shy. There’s nothing wrong with discount coupons. Browse airport and hotel lobby magazines for tours and restaurants specials. 19


Issue 10| Aug 09

+Barangay Pinoy @ AEGIS Australian concert The Aegis has given country rock OPM one of its most popular anthems - Halik (Kiss). Filipinos in Sydney, Australia raved about their Aegis experience. We interviewed the Aegis after the show. Juliet and Mercy have great news to share with their fans in New Zealand! Click this link to watch the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3b4bJi7VKg

Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

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Issue 10| Aug 09

I ♼ Tita Cory

Photography by Joel Paredes

The nation stood still. Thousands lined the streets of Manila to farewell President Corazon Aquino. Maya is a free electronic newsletter distributed to the Filipino community in New Zealand. To submit photos, communityrelated announcements, feedback and requests for subscription, email mayaeditor@gmail.com. Maya Magazine would like to thank the following organisations for their support and contribution: AKLnzPINOYS, Council of Auckland Philippine Orgnisations (CAPO), Samu’t Sari Philippine Cultural Society, University of the Philippines Alumni NZ, Living Water Choir and the Pinoy Golf Club.

Celebrating Filipino Life in New Zealand

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Maya Magazine Issue 10