BalikBayani République | Tony Alabastro
In somber tones, Philippine Ambassador to Brunei Christopher Montero says “the year 2020 is a year I would rather forget.”
He tells the Filipino Association Salo Salo Together 2020:
“My elder brother, a dialysis patient, is a COVID survivor. Travel restrictions prevented Philippine Embassy personnel from seeing parent or siblings who fell to the pandemic.”
This year-end get together projects a video as tribute to Bayaning Front-runners (Pandemic Heroes): Medical professionals who attend to patients, service staff who keep serving the public.
“The ‘Pagkakaisa Laban sa Pamdemya’ is dedicated to those sacrificing to make sure people continue to Iive and survive,” says Filipino Association President Malou Ramos-Wong.
“My tears fall when I see in my patients the faces of our loved ones, whose company we long for,” says Nurse Ibrahim Abd Rahman, founding president, Philippine Nurses Association Brunei Chapter.
Over 200 sing “We Heal as One,” the revised 2019 South East Asian (SEA) Games theme song rearranged as a hope and healing song to reflect the pandemic challenge, and “Heal Our Land”.
Participants raise fisted hands, shout “Sulong! Laban! Huwag uurong”!
They clap and shout: “Posible! “
“Oh! Ho! Ho! Ho!” they sing River Maya’s SEA Games 2005 song.
Vocals come from One Pinoy Music, Filipino Association Executive Committee back up singers, Secretary Dianne Liew, Labor Attache Melissa Mendizabal, and members from16 organizations under FA’s umbrella.
Rex Arvin Villanueva, 14 years IT technician in Brunei, directs and edits the video five videographers and drone operators shoot.
Six days before Christmas in this season of hope, peace and love, Brunei’s Filipino community go carolling, observing health and safety protocols, in a virtual/online celebration of Paskong Pinoy sa Pasuguan 2020.
Seen on Facebook live streaming, Philippine Embassy staircase carollers in red and white sing “Pasko Na Naman!” and “Sana Laging Pasko” in well-lighted Atrium lobby where a white Pasko ng Pinoy lantern with twin red tails hovers over their heads.
Brunei Music Society (BMS) musicians perform classic English carols that bring joy to the world as hark! the angels sing when they go dashing through the snow on a silent night.
Ambassador Christopher Montero requests for “Pasko Na Sinta Ko” BMS players render on piano and three strings.
“Nakakaiyak naman,” comments Imelda Valerio, beside a crying icon.
“Missing my son’s family out there. I will not be there with you this year.” Three red hearts follow.
Filipino Carollers in Brunei reprise Mabuhay Singers’ “Sa Paskong Darating,” Santa Claus bringing apples and grapes, candies and chocolate, pears and chestnuts.
This moves Pinky Mahinay to comment, “nakakaiyak naman iyan”. She feels like crying.
Brunei Filipino Educators Club President Lovelle Depala and other organization officials extend holiday greetings.
Teacher Abraham Lotivio and Sentro Rizal Rondalla from Kuala Belait ser-enade the audience with “Ang Pasok Ay Sumapit,” and Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.”
For UST Alumni Association and friends, “It’s Christmas all over the world” because “All I want for Christmas is You.”
With Jesus Christ’s birth comes hope for a “better normal”.