BalikBayani République | Tony Alabastro
After 15 days, eight in ICU, COVID19 survivor Father Zani Pacanza, 41, says:
“Without a doubt, 2020 tested our courage, patience and fighting spirit.
Personally I was tested to my limits. But here I am, still standing. Let us leave all the pains and sadness of the past. Let’s hope for a rapid end to the pandemic. Here’s to all of us who never give up!”
New York-based concert pianist Adolovni Acosta observes:
“From 2020, we learned to be resilient; we learned to care for each other; we learned how to enjoy staying home for days; we learned how to protect each other from infectious germs and viruses; we think and worry about friends when we do not hear from them; we learned to use Zoom and Skype to advantage. For many people, online friendships have become meaningful.”
On Noche Buena, World QuaranTinig champion Nolito Gregorio leads16 Filipino Carolers from Brunei, “looking for Santa Claus this Christmas; wishing everyone a Merry Christmas; saying we won’t go unless we get some” funds, from expats and an envoy, for typhoons Rolly and Ulysses victims in Isabela and Bicol.
Following health protocol, Philippine Embassy holds online/virtual celebration, “Paskong Pinoy sa Pasuguan 2020: Sama-sama Tayo Mag-Karoling!”
Under acacia leaves-decorated, hula hoop-ringed star lantern International Family Organization creates from plastic water bottles, straws, cellophane wrappers, and cloth, Brunei Music Society, UST Alumni Association Chorale, Filipino Carolers, and Embassy choir sing Christmas songs.
“The Sentro Rizal Brunei Rondalla Ensemble performance heralds the beginning of the Embassy’s goal of creating greater awareness of ron-dalla instruments in Brunei, in the hope that we will be able to form groups that will perform Filipino music not only for activities organized by the Philippine Embassy but also in mainstream cultural events,” Ambassador Christopher Montero says.
11-to-17-year-old Kuala Belait students Abraham Leotivo trains play 15-minute classic carols on 12 Embassy-acquired string instruments.
Amid COVID-19 pandemic, Embassy brings 2020 Filipino Language and Cultural Enrichment Program (FLCEP) to Kuala Belait, giving 34 children with sense of “familiarity” during challenging times, and strengthening sense of Filipino identity and pride for their Filipino heritage, Montero says.
Through blended learning in Bandar Seri Begawan, 44 6-to-17-years children complete FLCEP in partnership with Brunei Filipino Educators Club, its President Lovelle Depala, and National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
Not even COVID19 deters 125 OFWs from learning Gunting at Suklay skills from salon operator Richard Caysao and Filipino Association led by President Malou Ramos-Wong, and OWWA’s computer and baking lessons.
Baker Abegael Vinluan gives hands-on lecture on baking red velvet cake, carrot cake, pandesal, chocolate chunk cookies and chocolate chip cookies to household service and skilled workers.
During December’s “2020 Pasasalamat at Pagbibigay Pugay sa mga OFWs” Philippine Overseas Labor Office and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s (OWWA) initiative, Labor Attaché Melissa Mendizabal says Reintegration Preparedness Program aims to provide livelihood skills useful when workers come home for good.