BalikBayani République | Tony Alabastro
After a long pandemic separation, stranded tourists, balikbayans and over-seas workers return home to a week-long, holiday quarantine welcome.
In Brunei, OFWs among15,000 foreign workers with finished contracts have to exit this year.
During Covid19’s first wave, Brunei government allowed them to extend contracts without repatriation. Over 14,000 foreign workers returned home last year.
Balikan ang Pilipinas tourism campaign welcomes balikbayans with a 50 percent hotel and resort rate discounts and worry-free, value-for-money vacation packages.
Luxe Duty Free lights up 20-foot Christmas Tree of Hope. DF Philippines holds 12-17 biggest one-day holiday sale following 12-12, up to 70% flagship Fiesta Mall sale in 34 years.
Health protocols assure customers enjoy safe and convenient pass along shopping. Missing are blind cumbachero carollers and masseurs, noche buena ham, quezo de bola, red apples and black grapes.
Archie Crisologo Chua sings at PGH wards at night and visits the hospice upstairs where patients repose on departure area beds.
Since 2009, he buys trays of pan Americano at Gardenia’s Laguna plant and hires a jeepney to bring bread loaves to annual children’s Christmas party at PGH Nurses Activity Hall.
Archie invites singer-actor Inigo Pascual, who sings Dahil Sa Iyo, his 2016 hit single and Billboard Philippines first #1 song.
A blind student’s fingers touches her Braille speech. She finds in Christ the brightest star this Christmas.
She sings on centerstage with four wheel chairs and stuffed toys for sharing. The most number of sticks picker among 4-7 year olds gets to pick up plush toy as game prize.
Kids wearing red styrofoam headbands and pink blinking lights crown watch a magical show where Amazing Magician Arnold admits he’s playing tricks.
For over two decades, Arnold Allaniqui,missionary disguised as magi-cian, shares the gospel and entertains as event host, actor, director, ventroloquist, evangelist and pulpit minister.
His deck of cards tells the Bible story and glorifies God.
What Allanique does for people is a common trait: We can love people we don’t know.
He opens a pickpocket-proof wallet that bursts into flames when the stealer opens it. He juggles, then cuts open, clay balls and a dove flies out. A baby python he puts in a cage turns gold. He turns a red balloon into a sword. He eats a blue hot dog balloon and pulls out from his mouth multicolored strings.
No one has ever become poor by giving. Team Cabawatan distributes Quaker Oats Plus on-the-go cups, creamy and floppy pancake and waf-fle mix with 3D Disney plate, soya milk, Oreo choco sandwich, bundled fresh apples, candies.
Volunteers give hope to PGH children and wish them to get well.
Everyone eats and gets merry and on the way out gets gifts, including three janitors, three social workers, five massage therapists and two not rented tables-and-chairs carrying drivers.
Then, amid Delta and Omicron variants, mandatory quarantine, vac-cines and booster shots ease world’s longest lockdown during new normal’s second Christmas.