The 5th PACES Floral Offering, held at Rathaus Garden in Vienna on June 12, 2023, began with opening remarks by PACES president Marizel Rojas, an invocation by PACES treasurer Nilsa Fischer, and welcome remarks by former PACES president Malou Reininger, setting the stage for an engaging afternoon.

In her speech, esteemed guest City Councilor Mag. Isabelle Jungnikel reflected on the meaning of „Freedom, Future, and History“ and expressed gratitude to the many Philippine nurses for their significant contributions in Austria since the 1970s.

Ernst Woller, the First President of the Vienna State Parliament, shared his recent and first visit to the Philippines, emphasizing his productive meeting with the current mayor of Manila, Ms. Honey Lacuna Pangan. He highlighted the positive role the Philippine community plays in Austrian society and advocated for an open arms policy for Philippine healthcare workers.

Mr. Hermann Kroiher, Secretary General of UNCAV, extended congratulations on the 125th anniversary of Philippine independence. Additionally, Mr. Peter Heider, President of the Universal Peace Federation, praised the Philippine community as a valuable contributor to the peaceful atmosphere in Austria.

Deputy Chief of Mission Consul General Ivan M. Olea delivered an inspirational message emphasizing the longstanding „people-to-people“ relationships between Austrians and Filipinos, tracing back to the consequential friendship between National Hero Jose Rizal and Ferdinand Blumentritt. He highlighted the positive developments regarding labor agreements between Austria and the Philippines, not only for the upcoming set of nurses. Mr. Olea concluded with a reminder that the Philippines was the first republic in Asia.

The talented Elias Koschier was introduced as the PACES Ambassador of Goodwill, and the Sta. Cecilia Choir, led by their conductor, delivered captivating performances of the Philippine National Anthem and an uplifting opening song.

The Lapay Bantigue Dance group showcased the elegance and artistry of traditional Filipino dance through their captivating performance. The dancers, including Robin Roda, Annabelle Roda, Mila Amboy, Anna Gratz, Marga Chou, and Necie Ester, mesmerized the audience with their graceful movements. Angelique, Angelo, and Angelyn Climaco captivated the audience with their angelic voices during their touching rendition of „A Million Dreams.“

The event’s centerpiece was the Floral Offering at the Catalpa trees, honouring the 125th anniversary of Philippine independence.

— By Franz Berner, BA