*I will be using pseudo-names for the privacy of the people I met in Brunei*
Midnight in Brunei during February is windy making it really cold. I waited outside the airport for my host while hugging my backpack to manage the cold air. A couple of taxis were parked there. Some drivers are asleep, forgetting about the crowd approaching. The other is reading yesterday’s paper while drinking a cup of coffee.
After a couple of minutes, a black car arrived. It was Angel, my host in Brunei. She stepped out of the car and I got starstruck because she has this sweet and charming personality which is really fantastic.
“Hello Darby, I am Angel”, she said enthusiastically.
“Hi Angel. Nice to meet you.”
“So lets get inside the car and go to our flat, Ok?”
I opened the right door and saw that the driving seat was there.
“Oops. Sorry. I’m not used to right-hand cars. It’s different in the Philippines.”
“Oh, really? I didn’t know that. That’s funny to know.”
So I sat next to Angel while she drove the car.
“Welcome to Brunei, Darby.” Aside from her charm, Angel’s voice is really sweet, with a flawless American accent. I assumed that this girl is really special. You know how it is when you travel to a foreign land. You have no idea what to expect. You have no idea about how locals deal with foreigners. But Angel is different. I never felt that I was a foreigner and she never really cared about the fact that we just met each other. I felt comfortable right away.
“Hey Darby. Is it ok if my team is still there? We are actually making a short-film.”
“Of course! That’s so awesome. I didn’t know you make films.”
“Yes we do. It’s actually a school project. We survived the preliminaries and eliminations,so next month, we will be joining the film festival.”
“So what is the story all about?”, I asked.
“It’s about Tanya… a researcher……………” She told me about the whole story which I think I cannot write here YET.
“That’s a pretty cool story, with all the twists and turns.”
“You think so?”, she asked.
“Of course it is. I am actually happy that you are into these kind of things. It feels more like home. Back in the Philippines I have friends who are actually hungry for these kind of projects. They are theatre actors, singers, dancers and painters who are thirsty for expression.We are starving artists”, I explained.
“Starving artists! I like the term. In this country, the entertainment industry is controlled by the government. But we artists just need to express ourselves”, she said.
“What you resist will persist, huh?”
“You are right”, she confirmed.
“Angel, by the way, your accent is perfect for a person in Asia..”, I asked.
Angel smiled and looked at me. “Well thank you. I studied in a private school and I grew up watching American TV shows.”
“Of course, the TV shows. I have learned my English from TV shows as well”, I said.
We both laughed until we arrived at the building where her flat is located. Her flat is near the beach so you will see palm trees swaying because of the strong Brunei winds. She parked the car and we both walked in the building. I closed my eyes, smelled the air and sighed “The Bruneian air”
Angel laughed at me and said, “You look like you are a happy person, Darby”
“You look like one too,” I returned the compliment.
“I’m sure we will get along”, she said. I smiled and said to myself, “This person really is special”
At the door of her flat, there’s this sign that says “Shooting in progress” written in blue marker. Angel asked me to take a picture of it. My heart is beating because I am excited.
“So are you ready to meet the team?”, she asked while touching the door knob.
I took a deep a breath and said yes. Angel opened the door and asked me to enter the flat. Then I saw Angel’s film making team. She introduced me to each one of them and told me about their roles in the film. Unfortunately, its already 3am when we arrived the flat so they have decided to call it a day since everybody is tired. I am tired as well but not yet sleepy. I am still overwhelmed and still can’t believe that I am actually in Brunei with some “starving artists”.
After everyone has left, Angel prepared the couch where I will take my rest. It is a comfortable black couch. In fact, everything in the flat is comfortable and posh. Flats in the Philippines doesn’t usually look like 5-star hotels. Well, Brunei is a rich country so no wonder that student flats look like a Presidential Suite. She also told me about her flat-mates which are all asleep during that hour. She mentioned that most of her flatmates are Couchsurfers so I just need to relax and feel at home.
“So let us sleep now Darby. I hope you are ok with the couch. I am sharing my room with another flat-mate”, she said after I finished settling down.
“Oh, I am ok with this. In fact, I can sleep anywhere. Thank you Angel. Thank you for picking me up in the airport and introducing me to your team.”
“Awwww. That’s nothing sweetie. Goodnight!”
And then Angel hugged me before she went to her room.