BalikBayani République | Tony Alabastro
From June to September before Covid19, the Filipino community usually celebrates the longest Philippine independence Day with separate fiestas in Brunei’s four districts.
Pistang Pinoy 2021 on the 123rd Anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence within our very own 11-year-old Philippine Embassy Chancery in the Diplomatic Enclave is the largest and most attended in the Embassy’s 37-year history.
Ambassador Christopher Montero and Labor Attache Melissa Mendizabal host the Filipino community fiesta as prelude to the diplomatic dinner and Philippine music night at Brunei’s biggest hotel ballroom.
“Facing global pandemic difficulties, Brunei is world’s second safest country today, second to none, under His Majesty the Sultan’s leadership and wisdom, that allows us to go on with our lives under ‘new normal’ lives,” says Montero.
“My Embassy is one of the few, if not the only Philippine Embassy in the world organizing a physical mass gathering for over 300 guests to commemorate our Independence Day.
“Manila headquarters couldn’t believe I will be hosting a diplomatic reception this year,” says Montero.
Filipino organizations serve local food from adobo to balut to pinakbet that sell out before lunch in regional fiesta booths.
World-class OFW awardees showcase dances and songs during Migrants Workers Day and Araw ng Kalayaan joint celebration.
2021 Bagong Bayani Culture & Arts Awardee Regina Malabayabas-Vallejos dance with her ballet students the devotional Subli folk dance, and wear T’nalak woven red and black, handmade cos-tumes and bells on combs for the Cotabato T’boli tribal dance.
Sentro Rizal’s 2020 QuaranTinig world champion Nolito Gregorio sings and strums Visayan love medleys “Usahay,” (Sometimes), “Pelimon,” “Pobreng Alindahaw”; moans “Ayayay! Aruy! Aruy! Aruy!”
Monita Kurian croons Sarung Banggi” (One Night), as Lovelle De-pala and dancers sway to the Bicol love song.
Prize-winning photographer Rudolf Purtillo scoops ice cream from colorful two-wheel cart. Raul Paternal snaps photo booth souvenirs with free sago or coned sorbetes.
OFW “kids” stretch at hanging “pabitin” trellis to grab prizes, and and win chocolate bar or a chocolate hamper in sack race and Bring Me (expired Philippine Driver’s License; five-year passport) games.
After Pinoy fiesta at Brunei’s Diplomatic Enclave, Ambassador Montero and spouse Attorney Maria Lourdes host 350 government officials, including Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Dato (Dr) Haji Awang Abu Bakar and spouse, Asean mission heads, diplomats, and business leaders in a separate hotel diplomatic reception.
“The Abode of Peace: Through the Eyes of Filipinos in Brunei” exhibit 42 photographs from Pinoy Shutters Club professionals and hobbyists.
Marvin Santos sings “Handog” (Tribute) which Manila Strings accompany to open a cultural video presentation honoring world Filipino frontliners.
Bruneians clap upon hearing the Malay version of Freddie Aguilar’s “Anak” (Child) song with 55 versions in 27 languages.
Guests feast on chicken adobo, beef caldereta, pancit palabok, and leche flan.They bring home Philippine products and a Bucket List, a Department of Tourism popular tourism destinations coffee table book.
Brunei hosts 20,000 Filipinos, highly regarded by employers, for their contributions to Sultanate’s development.