Book launch for ‘Filipinos in Brunei’

THE untold stories of aspirations, doubts, difficulties and achievements of working overseas can be found in the new fascinating book “Filipinos in Brunei” which features stories of 20 Filipinos working in Brunei Darussalam.

The “Filipinos in Brunei” was officially launched yesterday by Nestor Z Ochoa, the Philippine Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam; Loan Forgeron, the French Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam; Cecile Castilla, author of the book and Anyati binti Abdullah Orcullo, publisher of the book under Ads Allure Advertising Sdn Bhd.

In an interview, Nestor Z Ochoa said, “I am really happy that a book which tells the struggles and achievements of Filipinos has been published.

“I was browsing through the short stories… they represent Filipinos in different job sectors across Brunei. About 10 million Filipinos are working overseas around the world and these are the people who are really helping their families and their country.”

He hoped that the book can be a source of inspiration for other Filipinos in the Philippines as well as overseas.

There are around 21,000 Filipinos who are currently working and residing in Brunei Darussalam.

Nestor Z Ochoa officiating the launching ceremony along with Loan Forgeron, French Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam, Cecile Castilla and Anyati binti Abdullah Orcullo

Nestor Z Ochoa, the Philippine Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam, in a group photo with some of the peo-ple featured in the book

The newly-launched “Filipinos in Brunei” book

Staff of Brunei Press with the author of the book. - PHOTOS: JAMES KON

Meanwhile, in her address, Loan Forgeron said, “The book symbolises the friendship between three countries – France, the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam.”

She also commended the commitment and discipline of the Filipinos in carrying their duties in countries all over the world.

Author Cecile Castilla, who is also a French journalist, explained where the idea of writing the book came from. “My father was a Spanish immigrant who went to France in the early sixties in search for a better living. In Brunei, more than 25,000 Filipinos are doing exactly the same. I wanted to speak with 20 of them and listen to their stories. I needed to understand the reasons that brought them to Brunei. What were their aspirations and doubts? What was the hardest part of their journey and their biggest achievement?” Cecile said.

The book takes the reader into the lives of a nurse, a doctor, an oil and gas engineer, a fashion designer, a journalist, a maid, a CEO, a business manager, a fitness instructor and a few more in other fields.

An extract from one of the Filipinos featured in the book, Antonio Alabastro, former journalist of Borneo Bulletin, reads, “I heard that Brunei Press were recruiting foreign journalists to edit and turn a weekly newspaper for expatriates working with Brunei Shell into a mainstream private daily newspaper. It was very attractive as the remunerations were almost five times my salary at that time. I talked with my wife and managed to get a job for her as a proofreader and off we went to Bandar.”

Tony was a city boy who landed in the wild heart of Borneo where the main office of Borneo Bulletin was based in Kuala Belait. “I was expecting something more modern but there were only jungles,” he says in the book.

An extract from Anyati binti Abdullah Orcullo, a fashion designer, reads: “With a devoted grandmother who forced her to learn Ave Maria in Latin, a mother who is dedicated to her family, three supportive siblings and a multi-tasking father who is involved in politics, Anyati had a good start in life. The family had been living comfortably until in 1972 when war suddenly changed the whole picture. The Martial Law was imposed and they all had to leave, fearing for their lives. We were in the middle of the battle ground and the only way to survive was to escape!”

The newly-released “Filipinos in Brunei” is available for purchase at Ads Allure Advertising Sdn Bhd.

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