By Azaraimy HH
His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam commended the presence of 20,000 strong Filipino workers in the country who are making important contributions to Brunei's economy and the nation's continuing development efforts.
In a titah during the State Banquet held in honour of the visiting President of the Republic of the Philippines, Benigno S Aquino III, last night at Istana Nurul Iman, His Majesty also reaffirmed Brunei's continued commitment in assisting the Philippines achieve peace and stability in the affected areas.
His Majesty also stated that the presence of President Aquino in the country has reaffirmed the desire of both governments to expand cooperation in various fields of mutual interest covering agriculture, defence, air services, business ventures, education, environment and many aspects as members of Asean and BIMP-EAGA.
Also attending the State Banquet were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister's Office, His Royal Highness Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah, HRH Prince Haji 'Abdul 'Azim, HRH Prince 'Abdul Malik, and Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as well as other members of the royal family.
"Our work together reflects an abiding wish to do whatever we can as neighbours, to help our peoples enjoy better lives and to build confidence in their future," His Majesty stated.
His Majesty recalled the time when the monarch met President Aquino at the Asean Summit in Jakarta, where both leaders joined their Asean partners in renewing their commitment towards building an Asean Community, which would be capable of playing an important role amongst the global community of nations.
His Majesty said Brunei is proud to regard Philippines as a close friend and neighbour and added, "The bonds of friendship and goodwill which link the people of Brunei and the Philippines is, I feel, one that strengthens that commitment."
In a return speech, President Aquino thanked His Majesty and the people of Brunei for their welcome, which provided him a chance to talk to several hundred of his countrymen.
"Their laughter came easily, and in their smiles I saw the same comfort and happiness that I see back home, proof of how kind your country - their second home - has been to them. This, too, is a source of my heartfelt gratitude," he stated.
He said, his indebtedness to Brunei Darussalam, especially to His Majesty, extends even further, when he said, "My mother never benefited from a transition when she came into office after my country's People Power revolution back in 1986. She was left to rebuild my country after decades of tyranny and oppression. During those years, Your Majesty and the rest of Brunei did not only stand as allies - you stood as friends. You gave and asked nothing in return. And still you continue to give."
He said, in Cotabato City in the Philippines, "There is a mosque - a beautiful place of worship, that was built, in large part, through Your Majesty's kindness. We eagerly await the day - hopefully soon - when His Majesty himself will step into this mosque, and see the results of his and his people's kindness".
The president assured that Filipinos are likewise very eager to repay the continuing kindness of Brunei.
"Count on us to respond positively when the opportunity to do so arises. Let me reiterate now that our hearts are as open to you, as your hearts are to us."
He ended his address with an axiom.
"As the mosque in Cotabato stands built with the strongest stone;
As it blazes bright as gold under the sun;
So does the friendship between the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam;
So does our partnership as we move, together;
Toward a future when true friends will be the most important resource."
- Borneo Bulletin
(2nd June 2011)