Circumstances have changed as the world’s ceaseless battle with the pandemic continues to ensue, countries and economies have grappled for stability for the sake of its own people. The light at the end of the tunnel may still be nowhere in sight, but that does not mean the world’s inner light has also flickered out – especially not in the case of our fellow alumni in Brunei who recently still managed to commemorate milestones and achievement in the true spirit of a Tomasino.

With the help of OAR’s recently launched virtual celebration series, Online TALK (Thomasian Alumni Libangan at Kwentuhan), the UST Alumni Association in Brunei Darussalam (USTAAB) was still able to hold such a momentous event that was open for all to watch last October 17, 2020 at the UST Office of Alumni Relations Facebook page. The program was lead by USTAAB outgoing president, Ms. Teresa Cordova. Present also in the event is the OAR Director Asst. Prof. Fredeswindo R. Medina, MACHs, UST Alumni Association, Inc. (USTAAI) President Prof. Evelyn A. Songco, Ph.D., and the outgoing and incoming officers of USTAAB.

Asst. Prof. Medina sincerely congratulated the association’s anniversary and induction ceremony and gave a report of OAR’s incoming activities which USTAAB is very welcome to join. Then, Dr. Songco was also given the floor to introduce USTAAI’s activities before the pandemic happened and their current projects. She announced that they never stopped creating more opportunities to allow alumni interaction.

There are still a lot of things to be done in the new normal which I characterize as Virtual, Virtuous, and Victorious,” said Dr. Songco. She believed that it is virtual because people need to be virtually connected. It is also virtuous because the people need strong faith in God and one another. She mentioned that it is victorious too because people will overcome the difficulty brought about by the pandemic. With this, she expressed her hopes that USTAAB and USTAAI will conquer the struggles together by serving zealously the university and their fellow alumni.

After the heartfelt messages, Cordova introduced the USTAAB Incoming Officers for the year 2020-2021.

President – Maria Dolores Joji Languido-Castillo (BFA Interior Design, Class of 1991)

Vice President – Renz Victor Generales (BS Mechanical Engineering, Class of 2011)

Secretary – Jesusa Estrella (BS Tourism, Class of 1995)

Treasurer – Dominic Cordova (BS Architecture, Class of 1997)

Public Relations: Deogracias Garcia (BFA Advertising, Class of 1991)

Asst. Prof. Medina as the inducting officer led the Oath of Office for the inductees. It was then followed by a ceremonial turnover of the USTAAB flag that bore a symbolic emblem that has been the association’s tradition for every induction of new officers. The said emblem is a stylized face of the UST Tiger with a crown representing the popular cross of the Main Building. It was designed by Gerry Medina, a fellow Thomasian who used to work in Brunei. The acceptance of the flag marks the beginning of the officers’ mission to make their group become a vibrant and active community imbued with God’s unending grace.

As the end of her term was finalized, Cordova presented USTAAB’s accomplishment report for the fiscal year 2019-2020. The association has organized internal events such as music camps, family days, year-end dinner, online surveying on OFWs about the PRC licensure examinations in Brunei, courtesy calls with the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary H.E. Christopher B. Montero at the Philippine Embassy in Brunei, and the celebration of the Feast Day of St. Thomas Aquinas. They have also been active in participating with the Filipino Association in Brunei in its programs such as bowling tournaments, family days, holiday celebrations, talent festivals, meetings, parades, blood donation drives, and COVID-19 food aid campaigns for OFWs. Cordova lauded her officers and members for their unwavering support and participation in spite of the challenges in 2020. She wished the new officers’ all the luck in their term as they take over the helm of USTAAB.

Before the program ends, the floor was given to the newly-inducted president of USTAAB, Ms. Castillo, for her acceptance speech. Castillo thanked everyone, especially the Filipino Association in Brunei and the Philippine Embassy for their continuous support in their projects. She promised her association’s commitment to remain a role model to other Filipinos in Brunei. For her, being president is a big shoe to fill in since USTAAB has been consistent with its presence and programs. She assured everyone they will do their best to continue what they have started, and shared the association’s blueprints for the incoming fiscal year.

Castillo plans of organizing a themed year-end gathering since a lot of Thomasian alumni in Brunei won’t be able to go home to the Philippines due to border restrictions. She also expresses her intention to bring back the popular music camp where a lot of youngsters attended and enjoyed the workshop. Also bringing in to the table were her plans of organizing a computer literacy program and a fundraising fitness program for their other outreach activities. 

“We may be a young organization, only 4 years old and taking baby steps. But we are a group of strong professionals. We could definitely contribute,” said Castillo as she closed her speech and the program with a very empowering call-to-action to her fellow Thomasians. 

Check out the livestream of the event here: