The people rejoice in marking Brunei's 26th National Day
"MY COUNTRY, Brunei Darussalam" yesterday awoke to the steps of more than 17,000 of her proud inhabitants, marching in sync and in patriotic spirit, as the nation celebrated 26 years of independence at the Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar 'Ali Saifuddien in the capital.
At the very site where Brunei's independence was declared on January 1, 1984 were tens of thousands of Bruneians, filling up the field's three grandstands as well as every nook and cranny from which they could witness the spectacle of the National Day parade.
It started to drizzle at about 8am but people, some with unfurled umbrellas in hand, patiently waited along the streets leading to the venue for the arrival of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, as well as members of the Royal Family on board a black Rolls Royce and Bentley, and a red Porsche.
The much-anticipated event was graced and witnessed by the country's monarch himself.
Among those present to accompany His Majesty at the royal dais 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 Mohamed Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince Jefri Bolkiah, His Royal Highness Prince Hj 'Abdul 'Azim, His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Malik and His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Mateen.
Ministers, senior ranking government officials and prominent figures in Brunei also took their seats in the grandstands.
Foreign envoys, expatriates and tourists did not miss the festivities as they joined in to watch the National Day celebrations, which drew visitors from countries such as the United Kingdom, Japan, Indonesia and New Zealand, many of whom have come to Brunei just to witness the colourful celebrations.
With traffic police closing down major roads leading to the Taman by 7.15am to make way for the procession, many among the public descended on the capital during the early hours of the morning to get nearby parking before going on foot to the field, while others made use of the shuttle buses made available for the public.
True to the forecast of the Brunei Meteorological Service the previous day, dark rain clouds had gathered over the capital skyline prior to the start of the celebrations, threatening to drench the marchers and the crowd. However, only a slight drizzle developed, providing the gift of shade from the sun for the participants and revellers.
It was Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Pehin Orang Kaya Setia Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Ahmad Hj Jumat, along with the other cabinet ministers, who welcomed His Majesty and the Royal Family upon arriving at the royal dais.
The guard of honour, which had already assembled onto the field prior to His Majesty's arrival stood fast as the national anthem, Allah Peliharakan Sultan (God Bless His Majesty) was sang led by the 34-member choir.
His Majesty, dressed in a white military outfit and a maroon beret, saluted as the national anthem was played, before headed down to the field to inspect the guard of honour.
Following another round of the national anthem, the parade began with flag-bearers dressed in light-blue baju cara melayu (Malay national attire for men) leading the way, marching past the monarch who stood throughout the entire procession at the royal dais.
A total of 17,300 participants were involved in the march pass, comprising uniformed personnel, government ministries, special needs individuals, district offices, higher learning institutions, public schools, missionary schools, non-profit organisations as well as expatriate communities in Brunei.
Each contingent donned apparel representative of the group that they belonged to, while most contingents waved miniature flags and did their best to keep in step.
All the while, the choir and the bands kept the atmosphere lively with several patriotic songs as a backdrop to the march past.
Among those taking part in the parade was Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah, who was one of the many Universiti Brunei Darussalam army cadets.
Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Anak Khairul Khalil Pengiran Syed Hj Jaafari, husband of Her Royal Highness Princess Majeedah Nuurul Bulqiah, also took part, marching along with other members of the Prime Minister's Office.
Groups of marchers from Indonesia, Malaysia, India and the Philippines also joined the parade donning their traditional costumes.
The nearly two-hour long parade summed up with the participants lining up in formation on the field.
Some 26 men and women including Polar Girl Dk Najibah Eradah PAM Al-Sufri, and led by 26-year-old Hj Mohd Khairul Bahrin Hj Abdurahman recited the National Day pledge, where they took the oath to remain loyal to the sovereignty, to uphold the national philosophy and work diligently and honestly in their every endeavour for the Sultanate.
By raising coloured red, green, silver and gold pom-poms, the mass assembly formed the number "26" in alphanumerics and jawi script alongside each other, while rejoicing in the country's independence.
"My Country, Brunei Darussalam" is the theme of the 26th National Day 2010 celebrations and the people of Brunei yesterday seized the day to rejoice for being a part of Brunei.
The Brunei Times