Celebrating hope in ‘new normal’


BalikBayani République | Tony Alabastro

Advent wreath’s four candles symbolize hope, love, joy and peace in time of prayer, penance and sacrifice.

During this century’s longest partial eclipse, red moon’s left bottom corner partially lights up.

Brunei reopens its economy after fighting its most serious Delta-fueled Covid19 outbreak in three months.

For the first time since August, the Sultanate reports no Covid-related deaths last week. Average 54 cases recorded daily are down 13 percent from the week before. National tally: Over 14,600 cases.

Immigration counters open after 15 weeks closure, Philippine Embassy Assistance to National Head Mark Arinquin and officer Dato Hataman Paraman help stranded tourists get exit passes.

“Brunei needs healthcare and domestic help workers. 70 nurses have arrived in batches. There are no job orders yet. Maybe, by January 2022. Employers are in no rush because of quarantine costs,” says Labor Attache Melissa Mendizabal.

Amid pandemic, Philippine Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Pete Raymond Delfin lauds Filipino community’s collective efforts to assist kababayans with food packs and financial support.

“Since (August 2021) second wave, Embassy has received 3,153 requests for food package assistance. It has delivered 2,810 food packages in three of four districts,” Delfin says.

“Moral upliftment with encouraging words raises the spirit through musi-cal talents during a celebration of hope to overcome Covid, and for the future generation to be safe and healthy in the new normal,” Delfin adds.

Virtual musical Woven Hymns and Lyrics, by Sir Abraham Group of Artists (SAGA), features Brunei- and Philippine-based Filipinos who extend helping hands in times of need.

An OFW for 23 years, SAGA Director Abraham “Butch” Leotivo is mu-sic teacher, Senator Rizal Brunei rondalla trainer, and Brunei Filipino Educators Club (BFEC) vice president.

BFEC teachers for the 13th year continue Filipino Language and Cultural Enrichment Program (FLCEP) for 144 students for three weeks, announces Culture and Information Officer Rose Cornejo.

Offered free, the Embassy, in cooperation with National Conference for Culture and the Arts, prepares children of OFWs for their return to Philippines for future studies, says Eugene Vicuna Mendoza, former BFEC president.

The quincentennial of history in the Philippines is this year’s FLCEP theme, says Lovelle Depala, coordinator and BFEC president.

“Warrior Lapu Lapu was our hero 500 years ago. Today’s real life heroes are ordinary people with no superpowers. Their sacrifices during Covid19 bring us where we are now – doctors, nurses, shopkeepers, cleaners, volunteers, teachers and parents. You are the future leaders to leave your legacy in Brunei and elsewhere as proud Filipinos,” Depala tells students.

Some Philippine colleges and universities recognize the Embassy’s cer-tificate of Filipino language studies, signed by the ambassador. It exempts the bearer from taking Filipino language as back subject, Mendoza says.
Students are taught Filipino as first language, not English or Malay.

Learners adapt to Philippine situation, help communication with relatives, avoid accent bullying, and be safe from muggers in public trans-portation, Mendoza adds.

Teaching virtually, Sentro Rizal of the Philippine Embassy program reaches children in oil town Kuala Belait 120 kilometres from the Diplomatic Enclave.

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