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02 December 2013. Paris, France. The spirit of compassion and generosity was alive and vibrant in the City of Lights this weekend. Several events for the benefit of those affected by Typhoon Haiyan were held in Paris and its surrounding cities organized by both Filipino and French philanthropic individuals and organizations.

On 30 November, Saturday, the Paris for Philippines Association in coordination with Ms. Victoria Aquino-Benoit organized a Brunch for Love benefit brunch at the Loup Brasserie Restaurant in Paris which featured specialty dishes of celebrated Paris-based Filipino chef, Aaron Isip. Her Excellency Ambassador Cristina G. Ortega attended the brunch and expressed gratitude not only for the sumptuous meals prepared but also for the appetite for generosity that the guests have demonstrated through their attendance. Some of the dishes served included Fresh Oysters Fines Claires, Green Mango and Ginger Sauce,Shiso Mushroom/Chicken ArrozCaldo and condiments, Grilled Lamb Chops, South-East Asian Chimichurri Sauce, Potato Purée with Thai Breadcrumbs, and Chestnut Fondant, Coconut-Pandan Espuma. All proceeds collected from the brunch were donated to the GawadKalinga France.

To burn off some of the calories consumed during the brunch, the Ambassador, along with some other guests proceeded to Yolandattack, a benefit aerobics exercise class led by the Embassy’s very own certified group fitness instructor, Third Secretary and Vice Consul André Peter C. Estanislao. The event, held at the Gymnase Henry-de-Motherland at the 16tharrondisement of Paris, organized by the AmihanPhilippines Zumba Club was able to attract over 75 participants who step touched, step curled, jumping jacked, lunged and crunched their way to fitness. Participants not only exercised their bodies but also their hearts as they showed support to the victims of the typhoon by giving donations after the class. Ambassador Ortega, who came right after the brunch, was all game to participate in the class and hailed the event as a testament to the OFWs’ willingness to help the Philippines during difficult times. She also stressed the importance of incorporating physical exercise in the lives of OFWs for their continuous well-being.

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In the evening of the 30th, Post’s Senior Staff Officers, Atty. EunikaLeyva-Tiongco, Legal and Assistance-to-National Officer and Ms. MarcilynTubongbanua, attaché of the Philippine Embassy in Paris attended a Philippine cultural presentation/benefit concert organized by the Alumni Association of IAE in Amiens, and the Las Damas de Rizal and the Knights of Rizal of Paris. The event highlighted the best of Philippine culture by showcasing some songs such asIkawangMahalKo, PitongGatangandIsangMundoIsangAwit, and dances like the Jotabal, Lawiswis, Kawayan, PandangoWasiwas, SingkilandTinikling, among others. A variety of Philippine delicacies were likewise shared with the attendees.

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On 01 December, Sunday, upon the initiative of Mme Brigitte Ayrault, wife of French Prime Minsiter Jean Marc Ayrault, Red Cross volunteers were deployed to several museums in Paris and even in the French provinces to collect voluntary donations from museum patrons that will go towards supporting Red Cross France efforts in the Philippines. It was a timely event as in France, during the first Sunday of the month, entry to almost all museums is free of charge to the public to ensure that the country’s cultural patrimony is accessible to everyone. Ambassador Ortega along with MmeAyrault did a tour of some of the participating museums in Paris and showed support for the Red Cross volunteers. The following museums participated in the initiative: Musée du Louvre, Musée national des arts asiatiquesGuimet, Musée du Quai Branly, Palais de Tokyo, Musée Rodin, Musée d’Orsay, Musée de l’Orangerie, Château de Versailles, Centre Pompidou, Louvre LENS, Centre Pompidou at Metz, Musée des civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée in Marseille, Musée Fabre in Montpelier, musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon.

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In the afternoon, Ambassador Ortega along with the officers and staff of the Philippine Embassy in Paris attended an early Christmas lunch with the leaders and members of the different Filipino communities in Paris at the Gourmet Grill at St. Denis, Paris. During the lunch, the Ambassador thanked the Filipino community for their unwavering efforts and commitment to nation building especially in these times of crisis. The Filipino community core group donated 250,000 PHP (around 4,400 Euros) to the Philippines Red Cross.

At the same time as the Filipino community lunch, two benefit rugby matches were held at the town of Champs surVarne, 40 kilometers north west of Paris, organized by the the Knights of Rizal in Paris headed by Sir Bernard Pot, President of the Champs surVarne Youth Rugby Club. Third Secretary and Vice Consul André Peter C. Estanislao and Mr. FranksonOng, Cultural Attaché attended the matches in behalf of the Ambassador. Before the start of the matches, the teams from Champs surVarnes and the competing town of Méru observed a minute of silence for the victims of the typhoon. All throughout the matches, refreshments and snacks were sold as well raffle tickets, proceeds of which will go towards the rehabilitation of provinces devastated by Haiyan. The town mayor, MmeMaud Tallet, affirmed the town’s support and solidarity with the Philippines. Third Secretary Estanislao in response, said that it is heart warming to know that the Philippines is not alone during these tragic times and that with the help of the international community, the Philippines, with its resilient people, will overcome this natural disaster.

Finally, on Sunday evening, internationally renowned music producer, remix artist and London-based DJ, Jamie xx, enthralled excited club-goers to his eclectic electronic mixes of some of the most recent popular music. Over 400 guests filled the Palais de Tokyo’s event space Yoyo that lasted until midnight. Messieurs Estanislao and Ong attended the event and commented that it was a resounding success. All proceeds from the evening will go to the Red Cross France.