Three decades with UP Circle Brunei


BalikBayani République | Tony Alabastro

Covid19-free and 2021 Asean Summit host Brunei has an Asean Square at Damuan Recreational Park displaying sculptures from six Asian member countries Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Philippines.

At Damuan Park on July 16, 1991, after the Sultan’s 45th birthday, 13 members founded University of the Philippines Circle Brunei (UPCB) as an academic and professional organization of Philippines state university graduates working in Brunei.

As Brunei Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah turned 75 on July 15, UPCB celebrated its Pearl anniversary.

First chairman (1991-1993) Ramon Santiago, agriculturist, who served Brunei government for 23 years, challenged new members “to persevere and follow the UPCB motto of Excellence, Service and Commitment, and continue to reinvent themselves to meet new challenges and opportunities.”

Said founding member Teresita Crisostomo-Santiago: “Filipino professionals have been contributing to Brunei’s socio-economic development, and through the decades, the number of professionals work-ing here has multiplied.

“The most valuable contribution of the UPCB has always been the person-al conviction of each member to give his or her best professional effort for the needs of the community. Through his or her day-to-day work, every member is expected to excel in his or her chosen field of endeavor, always ready to give that extra personal attention that will improve productivity and teamwork across cultures and races. They strive to excel because they care.”

UPCB has joined world-class presentations of Philippine culture through its Philippine Madrigal’s Friends through Music Excellence concert.

When Philippine Madrigal Singers wove music from syllables (la la la), laughter (Ha! Ha! Ha!), even cat meows, “My hair is still standing,” said a guy who heard them in August 1992 in Kuala Belair.

Their vocal chords sometimes accompanied by clapping hands, lap-tapping and feet-stomping, while seated, the singing goodwill ambassa-dors’ unique singing style captivated the audience.

UP Filipiniana Dance Troupe swayed to Aduk Aduk Kedayan harvest dance, and Samalindang, ideal Bruneian maiden song, for Brunei Darus-salam’s 10th Independence celebration in 1994.

UPCB organized annual tournaments at Philippine Embassy Chancery, using official J.W. Spear & Sons Scrabble Sets.

Damuan Park’s Asean Plaza’s theme, “Harmony in Diversity,” symbolizes member countries’ solidarity and love, peace, freedom and mutual respect aspirations.

Filipino Eduardo Castrillo, 53, sculptor, painter and art jeweller, created “Brunei Entelechy,” a symbolic interpretation of Brunei’s potentialities in Asian context, according to Mohammad Deli bin Ahmad:

“In the artist-sculptor”s characteristic style of abstract expressionism, this free standing environmental (public art) sculpture faces the sunrise and Royal Palace as in a gesture of tribute. Motif of Muslim crescent moon (is) adapted to signify tradition, structurally extended into a continuum of swirling forms that assume modern development impetus. Overall composition bespeaks harmony of nation among nations.”

Opened 1984, Damuan Park lies on kilometer-long stretch of land sandwiched between Bandar Seri Begawan-Tutong Road and Damuan river.

Further down the river is the Palace of the Light of Faith that Filipinos designed and built, 41/2 kms from Brunei’s capital.

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