BalikBayani République | Tony Alabastro
Essential lugaw is replaced with guinatang halo-halo, pritong saging and kakanin at the pandemic-delayed Kapihan sa Pasuguan last held in 2020 at Brunei’s Diplomatic Enclave.
“We are in a fortunate and privileged position compared to other countries,” Philippine Ambassador Christopher Montero on Maundy Thursday tells overseas Filipino workers from 35 organizations registered with the Philippine Embassy.
“Filipinos and other foreign workers are in Phase III vaccine rollout, which will be in August and September, depending on the availability of vaccines,”Ambassador Montero says. “Brunei has ordered Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. SinoPharm and AstraZeneca vaccines are already here.”
Montero reminds Filipino community to observe and respect the coming holy Ramadan month. Brunei will sight the moon tomorrow, April 12, to know the start of month-long sunrise to sunset fasting, prayer and reflection Muslims observe on the ninth month of Islamic calendar.
“Avoid lavish and big celebrations and be attentive of Ministry of Health briefings as Brunei starts the Covid19 vaccine rollout this April,” he says.
“Funds for the construction of multipurpose hall behind the Embassy’s Chancery has been released,” Ambassador Montero says, without disclosing further details.
He says the multipurpose hall will be a separate area for gatherings and events, but no basketball or recreational area.
“Overseas Filipinos who have not been able to travel to the Philippines since the start of the pandemic will be feeling the fiesta mood during the Pistang Pinoy Para sa Kalayaan 2021 and Migrant Workers Day celebration during the 123rd celebration of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence,” says Labor Attache Melissa Mendizabal.
“The celebration will rekindle the love for country and promote unity and camaraderie among Filipinos during everybody’s event on June 6 at Philippine Embassy grounds.”
Brunei’s National Vaccination Program started on Black Saturday following the arrival on Good Friday of the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccine shipped by COVAX (Covid19 Vaccine Allocation Plan).
COVAX Facility is a global effort to provide every country with equitable access to safe Covid19 vaccines as rapidly as possible.
Brunei is holding talks with Asean member states on having a region-wide vaccine certificate, a form of passport that allows people to travel abroad.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah discussed vaccine diplomacy with visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Easter Monday. The monarch received the first Covid19 vaccine injection dose on Maundy Thursday.
“We need to achieve herd immunity where at least 70 percent of the population gets vaccinated to protect the people who will not be inoculated,” says Health Minister Dato Dr. Haji Mohd Isham.
Over a thousand frontliners have been vaccinate since Black Saturday when Phase I of the vaccine rollout started. Seniors’ vaccination will follow.
Travellers are tested for Covid19 before and after their arrival in Brunei and must undergo quarantine. Surveillance testing ensures no widespread community transmission.
Brunei has 214 Covid19 cases. 72 imported cases recorded involved essential travellers, including Filipinos, working in various industries, according to Ministry of Health. No local transmissions for 335 days since May 6, 2020.