A couple from Cebu City has received the Queen’s Service Medal in the New Year’s Honours List for their services to the Filipino community in New Zealand.
Oscar Poquinto Batucan and Miriam Alvez Batucan are noted as the first Filipino couple to ever have been awarded the honour.
The couple, living in Auckland said: “We are so humbled and blessed to each receive the Queen Service Medal Award for our services to the Filipino Community. We are even more inspired to continue to make a difference in the life of our Co-Filipinos and are encouraged to open our doors to non-Filipinos thru our continued church outreach and social services. The community is very happy to see the fruit of working hard for others.”
Philippine Ambassador Virginia H Benavidez congratulated Oscar and Miriam, saying they are good examples of “bayanihan” and an inspiration for Filipinos in the country.
“Together with the other Filipino achievers whose works and talents have been recognized in New Zealand, you continue to do our country and people proud! You are among our valued links in enhancing Philippines-New Zealand people based relationship,” she said.
Despite their busy schedules, Oscar and Miriam carried out voluntary services and support to the Filipino community for the past 26 years.
They remain very active in Church services, and assist other Filipino migrants adjust to life in New Zealand.
Miriam has been the chairperson of the NZ-Filipino Devotees of Señor Sto. Niño Trust, since it was established in 1994. Together with her husband, they hold annual activities and a ten-day Sinulog festival attended by more than 10,000 devotees.
For the past 15 years, Oscar and Miriam have been anchoring a radio program, “Pilipinas Mabuhay” every Saturday from 5.55-6.40pm every Saturday on 104.6 Planet FM. They provide counselling and updates on Philippine news and local Auckland Filipino community news, activities, work vacancies and employment opportunities
In 2009, Oscar and Miriam were given the Benemerenti Papal Award by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI in recognition of their outstanding service to the Filipino Catholic community and the Church in Auckland.
In addition to his awards from the Auckland City Council and Auckland City Hospital for outstanding voluntary services, Oscar was among the first Filipinos appointed as Justice of the Peace and continues to serve the public for the past 20 years.