Filipinos in demand in Brunei

BRUNEI DARUSSALAM - The Filipino talent is in demand in this oil-rich country.

This was stressed by Philippine Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Nestor Ochoa in an interview at the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.

"Dito sa Brunei, ay gustong-gusto nila ang Pilipino. Binibiro nga namin minsan. There are foreigners coming here looking for Filipino workers. Ang biro namin sa kanila: Why don't you try other nationalities? 'No, no. We prefer Filipinos,"' Ochoa said. (Here in Brunei, they really like Filipinos. Even foreigners here are looking for Filipinos and we tell them in jest to try other nationalities but they would say that they prefer Filipinos.)

"Filipinos are really dependable, skilled, very professional kaya naka-ngiti parati and they are always smiling. They keep on recruiting nurses here, they prefer Filipino nurses. They could easily adapt to the language and, of course, our tender loving care image is always there," he added.

Brunei employers also look up to the Filipino talent in terms of the oil and gas industry, which is a boom in the oil-rich country.

"The percentage of locals in the oil and gas industry is too small so there are a lot of foreign workers applying in the industry and slowly, Filipino professionals are slowly coming in but they are trained first before entering the oil and gas industry," Ochoa said.

There are more than 21,000 Filipinos here, about 19,000 of whom are working while the rest are their dependents. Ambassador Ochoa said there are less than 200 undocumented Filipinos in Brunei.

He said that of the 19,000 Filipino workers, 12 percent are professionals, most of whom are nurses, doctors, and engineers. About 13 percent, meanwhile, are skilled workers while about 24 percent are domestic helpers.

Ochoa said Filipinos working in Brunei are lucky because they live a simple life here and most of the employers are very kind.

He said that Filipinos are lucky as some of the basic necessities like rice, for example, are subsidized by the government. Gasoline is also inexpensive at 51 cents per liter or about P17.

Josephine Jasa, manager of Brunei Branch Aluminium Technologies, said she has worked with integrity the day she started to work in Brunei. She has been working in Brunei for 17 years.

"You just have to maintain that trust that the employers are giving you so that they will continue to trust every Filipino that is working in their company and to work with excellence," Jasa said.

"You have to be always an extra miler, you have to work more than what is expected of you, so that they can see how good you are, how dedicated you are, and they will continue to trust you and continue to employ you," she said.

Limuel Delloro, control/automation engineer of Petrokon Utama Berhad here in Brunei, said, "One of the traits that foreign employers look up to among Filipinos is their diligence. When they are given a task, they would finish their work even before the deadline."

Delloro said he started working in Brunei in 1991. His children, who were young when they came to Brunei, had already finished college here.

Meanwhile, the Philippine embassy here is urging Filipinos to exercise their right to vote through the overseas absentee voting (OAV).

Ambassador Ochoa said some Filipinos were just too busy to cast their vote. The OAV started last April 13.

"You know, most of them use their free time to just rest because at the end of the day, they feel so tired from work," Ochoa said.

Some, he said, prefer to go back to the Philippines to cast their votes while some only have a working contract of two years and have to go back to the country even before the elections.

Ochoa said that out of 9,000 registered voters here, more than 300 have already cast their votes this week.

He said they still have until May 13 to exercise their right of suffrage. The Philippine embassy is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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