The first Filipino-Kiwi to become be a member of the parliament of New Zealand made his maiden speech in three languages in late May.
Paulo Garcia, a New Zealander of Filipino descent, now represents the Filipino community at the House of Parliament of the Oceanian state.
Garcia first greeted other members in Te Reo Maori, an Eastern Polynesian language, and then proceeded with a prayer in Filipino.
“Thank you, Mr Speaker. Te mihi nui ki ngā mana whenua katoa o Aotearoa. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa,” he started his speech at Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand.
Garcia then thanked God for the opportunity to serve the Filipino people there.
“Nagmamahal na Panginoon, kami’y buong pusong nagpapasalamat na minarapat mong mabigyan ng pagkakataon ang inyong mga anak na makapaglingkod sa bayang New Zealand. Hindi lamang sa mga nursing homes at ospital, sa mga dairy farms at construction sites, sa IT, engineering at hospitality. At ngayon pati na rin sa larangan ng pambabatas. Pagkalooban ninyo po kami ng puso, isip at katawan na matatag upang maisatupad namin ang inyong layunin para sa amin sa bansang New Zealand.”
He made the rest of the speech in English and got a standing ovation from the members.
He cited the attacks at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, the Al Noor mosque and the Linwood Islamic Center that killed 51 people last March as a “test” to the diversity of New Zealanders.
Such acts of terrorism will fail, Garcia said, given that he’s living proof that there is “strength in diversity” at the Parliament.
“I am here tonight as the first member of the New Zealand Parliament of Filipino descent is a tribute to the National Party’s recognition of strength in diversity and the value that ethnic communities bring to New Zealand,” he said.
The main suspect in these killings Brenton Tarrant pleaded not guilty of murder charges. Tarrant will be in police custody until August while his trial is scheduled to May 4 of next year.
Garcia pronounced his pro-life stance and his belief in freedom of expression and of religion.
“While we need to stay vigilant and investigate people who post offensive material online, we need to be equally concerned about any move in this House to restrict freedom of speech, a move which has all too often been used by those in power to silence those with differing opinions or ideas,” he said.
Moreover, he also mentioned detained Sen. Leila de Lima as among the politicians he looks up to in the Philippines.
Who is Paulo Garcia?
Garcia once served as the Philippine Honorary Consul General in Auckland, New Zealand and is ranked number 50 in the National Party List there.
Prior to this, he has 10 years of legal experience back in the Philippines.
Moreover, he graduated from the University of the Philippines and Academy of American and International Law in Dallas, Texas.
The House of Parliament in New Zealand is the counterpart of the House of Representatives in the Philippines.
Its members also represent certain groups of people and make new laws or update old ones.