… is that it’s hotter here than in the Philippines. Since it’s closer to the equator than the Philippines, they enjoy longer daylight, but endure more scorching sun. At 6PM here in Brunei, it’s as bright as 4PM in Manila, but that means the sun is already up and blazing as early as 9AM, all the way to 4PM.
… is that they’ve got a lot of welfare going on here. In tagalog, andaming libre, that is, for the nationals. Since the Sultan is one of the wealthiest in the world, he seems to find it enjoying to pay for a lot of things for his people. Hospital benefits and education are free. They hardly pay any tax. The only ones paying taxes are the big corporations, not the individuals. If you’ve got no home of your own, the Sultan is willing to pay one for you–at BND 50 per month, payable for 25 years. That’s Php 1500 per month for 25 years for a house that features 2 rooms and air-conditioning. San ka pa?
… is that they pay utilities at a very low price. For each month, a regular home pays only 2 Brunei Dollars–that’s 60 pesos! As for the electricity, they only pay BND 30, or Php 900, for a house that has all appliances available, PLUS THREE AIR CONDITIONERS!
… is that you can tour the ENTIRE COUNTRY in one day. Since traffic is very light, the free ways are really free, and the drivers are ALL disciplined, the trip around Brunei can start at 8AM and end at around 4PM. Try doing that in Manila. Good luck.
… is that their Sultan is perhaps one of the most down-to-earth head of state in the world. You can see him driving his own car on the way to the palace, taking a stroll with his grandkids in the eco-park, or simply walking down the busy city of Bandar Seri Begawan, greeting people like he knew them very well.
(I’m sorry, the uploading of the pics are taking too long and is making the laptop hang. I’ll try to update this post with pix when I get a clearer, stronger wi-fi signal).
…is that it’s clean. Surprisingly, I haven’t heard a single dump truck come around our place to pick the garbage, and it seems like for every one hundred houses, there’s only one big garbage area for everyone. Either they don’t create that much trash, or they’re good at recycling.
…is that they’ve got some commodities here which are cheaper than those in the Philippines. Imagine this: a liter of diesel here is only 30 cents. If I were to convert that to a regular full tank in the Philippines, I can already get a full tank for my Crosswind for only Php 900. In fact, car gasoline here is cheaper than a 1-liter bottle of water. As for the car where that full tank will go, here in Brunei, you can buy a decent second hand car for only BND 900, which is a little over Php 28,000! I even saw an ad where they’re selling a Mercedes Benz E-Class for only BND 2,000, which is almost Php 70,000!
…is that it’s quiet. Believe it or not, I was on the freeway for 1 hour, city streets for half an hour, and walking around two blocks for one hour, and I did not hear one, single car horn blow (according to Kuya Henry, folks here are not used to blowing the car horns, since they’re all patient, yielding and educated drivers, a rare occurrence in the Philippines). There are no night clubs, bar joints, or any areas here where there’s a nightlife. There are no riots, videoke night outs, or inuman sessions in the streets. This is no exaggeration, but from the third floor mezzanine of where I’m staying, at that moment that no car is passing, you can hear two nationals talking…across the highway!
…is that they’ve got a place called Kampung Air, literally “water villages” which are considered the slum areas in Brunei. These houses are built on top of swamps and shallow marshes in Bandar. Here’s how “slum” they are: they have cars on their own, which are parked in a strip of land on the edge of the swamps, and each of the houses here have aircons. That’s right, let me capitalize that for you… AIRCONS!
More coming your way next time.
This is RCandCess, reporting to you live from Brunei Darussalam. I’ll be here for the next 13 days, visiting the MBBC Brunei work of Bro. HJP (for security reasons, I can’t divulge the details.)
This trip is the first among so many other things. It’s my first time to travel by plane all by myself. I thought I wouldn’t be able to manage it by myself, but thank God everything went smoothly. It was relatively faster than my usual inter-island trips in the Philippines. This also is my first ever trip out of the country. It’s a privilege to represent my senior pastor Dr. BMA and the MBBC to our work here in Brunei, and to help the brethren here with their weekly meetings, as well as give them lessons and messages on discipleship, doctrines, and cheerful giving. We will be having a three-night lecture-workshop here for new members, as well as lectures on homiletics.
It’s quite bittersweet, though, since I left my wife at Manila. They still have classes though, and she’s prohibited for trips like this due to her pregnancy. But the 14 days will pass quickly, I’m quite sure, and it won’t be long before I’m back.
That’s it for now, guys. Will see you soon!