Filipinos run schools in Brunei


LANDMARK Istana Nurul Iman Palace was designed by Filipino architect Leandro V. Locsen. It was constructed by Ayala International, a Filipino firm. photo credit:

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN—Among some 20,000 Filipino professionals and service workers in Brunei, school owners Edel Bartholomew and couple Eden and Edgardo Jusay run thriving businesses built on Filipino talent.

Bartholomew runs a pre-school while the Jusays opened a music school in this kingdom just two hours away from Manila.

For the Brunei-based entrepreneurs, success lies not only in doing well for themselves but in bringing the “bayanihan” spirit to life in the Sultanate.

“Anywhere I go, people really look for Filipino talent. We are really known for that,” said Bacolod-born Bartholomew, who has also spent time in her husband’s native Australia.

In Bartholomew’s Tinkerbell preschool and daycare center, 13 Filipinos, among them teachers and administrative staff, look after some 300 students that include Bruneians, Malaysians, Indonesians, Thais, Indians and some Filipinos.

“I feel like I’m successful in helping other Filipinos. Just imagine, they were working as private teachers in the Philippines, earning P4,500 a month.  When they came to Brunei, I paid them $700 (almost P25,000), with free housing and free medical checkups,” she said.

An agronomist, Bartholomew started her school in 2002, inspired by her love for children and the desire to help her compatriots.

“It’s like a tree you plant and let grow. So the two-month old babies before are now sitting in the classroom.  There’s that feeling of satisfaction,” said the 50-year-old mother of one.

“And maybe it’s also instinct.  I really want to help Filipinos.  My teachers are Filipinos. That’s what Bruneians look for,” claimed Bartholomew, also president of the Filipino Association in Brunei (FAB).

The Jusays meanwhile started the Neoclassic Music School in 2005, with daughter Sharon, a music graduate from the University of the Philippines, as principal.  The school offers one-on-one short music courses to clients of all ages.

Manned by five teachers, the school now has 200 mostly foreign students, including expatriates from Britain, New Zealand, Australia And India.

“All my teachers are Filipinos,” said Eden Jusay, also a teacher.

BRUNEI EDUCATORS Edel Bartholomew (left), owner of the Tinkerbell preschool; Eden Jusay (center) and husband Edgardo Jusay, owners of Neoclassic Music School. Photo courtesy of Adrian Arias

Asked to what she attributes her family’s success in a foreign land, Jusay replied: “Hardwork and discipline. And of course we are also able to help our fellow Filipinos.”

Filipinos have a big presence in this sultanate (pop. 400,000), working in the fields of engineering, education, media and the service industry, among others.  Most every shop or restaurant has a Filipino staffer.  The Sultan’s Palace, Istana Nurul Iman, is serviced by a housekeeping staff also dominated by Filipinos.

Speaking of his encounter with the Filipino community here during his recent state visit, President Aquino noted in awe how some 34 Filipino organizations in the Sultanate “never get into fights or get envious of each other.”

Recently, FAB helped bring home a group of Filipino grasscutters who complained of unfair treatment at work.  Bartholomew said the workers were forced to labor beyond supposed hours, deprived meals and were not paid on time.

“We work like one family here so were all have a good relationship,” said Bartholomew.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Shaina Twight

    agree ako sa mga comments. kilala ko yan si gng. edel/iidil. marami nga nagsasabi na kakaiba cya. masama daw ugali at hindi makatao sa mga staff nya. kaibigan ko mga dati nyang staff at grabe pala ginawa nya sa mga staff nya. di bale may karma naman. babalik din yan sa kanya.

  • Dorothy Lu

    Ang dami kong niluha sa kanya. Sobrang sakit ng loob binigay nya yan sa akin. Totoo lahat ng sinabi ng kaibigan mo Shaina. Pinadiyos ko na ang lahat. The karma is always there. I believe that. Sinungaling pa yan at magaling mag-drama. Papaniwalain nya lahat ng tao na siyang lang ang pinakamabait na amo diyan sa Brunei. Pero nagpapasalamat na din ako at naka alis na ako sa kanya pero ang sakit ng loob na idinulot nya sa akin, nandito pa rin. Balang araw magkikita din tayo. Sisingilin kita sa lahat ng ginawa mo.

  • Shaina Twight

    ganun ba dorothy? totoo pala? dati ka ba kay gng. iidil? 

  • Anonymous

    i must say that all the comments are TRUE..di lang isa napaiyak niyan..lahat kami na filipino teachers  na wala na sa kanya matindi ang sama ng loob..magaling yan umembento ng story para paniwalaan ng mga drama actress yan..iiyakan ka pa niyan para kapanipaniwala xa… pero as time passes by nkikilala din ang tunay niyang ugali..tingin nya sa sarili nya mataas xa.siya lang lahat magaling.di niya alam na kung di dahil sa mga staff di rin lalago ang schhol nya.dami niyang pangako na di natupad…may mga binlacklist pa yan na mga staff nya…di ba madam edell?

  • nhomie llena

    hi to all, there is always the other side of the coin..parang kayo lang ang nag sasagutan sa comments niyo? puro negative.. ano ba ginawa nio at napauwi kayo at napa blacklist name nu?? kung di maganda ang ugali at school policies ni ma’am edel.. mag tatagal kay ang mga teachers nia?? since 2002 nandiyan pa rin ang mga staff nia? ahhahhahah.. slander ang ginagawa nio?? bakit di ka magpakilala at para mag usap na lang kayo sa court? yan kc ang mahirap sa ating mga pinoys.. pag nakarating na sa brunei at gumanda na ang situation.. iba na ang ugali.. pina pairal “crab mentality” instead na tulungan ang kapwa..sisiraan pa.. kailan pa kaya matutu ang mga pinoys?!!

  • Dorothy Lu

    nhomie llena, kilala mo ba cya?? gaano mo na siya kilala? 2 months? 3 months? 1 year? the other side ng self nya kilala mo? sabi nga nila mas makikilala mo ng lubusan ang isang tao pag sa iang bubungan lang kayo. well, ask mo mga remaining staff nya? isa lang masasabi ko sa kanya, hindi cya makatao at ang kapal ng mukha? karmahin ka iidil rahmah bte abdullah. wag mo gamitin ang religion sa mga kawalang hiyaanmo.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94

editors' picks