I met one of the key members of the Filipino community here in Karachi tonight. Aamna Adhel Khan – CEO of Mabuhay Associates, which runs a Training Institute, a Filipino deli, and a beauty salon. I also met her sister, Laura. And of course, I called them both Ate; out here, far from home, and just then surrounded by bottles of Datu Puti, packs and packs of instant noodles, and little bottles of Efficasent Oil – all the things that scream “Pinoy ako,” it just seemed natural.

(R-L) My nephew, Ate Laura, and Ate Adhel

Apart from wanting to connect with other Filipinos here, I also wanted to show Ate Adhel, and her companions at Mabuhay Associates, appreciation for all the invaluable service they render to the community as virtual extensions of the Embassy, particularly during overseas voting. Ate Adhel and her crew inform Filipinos about overseas voting, they help facilitate actual voting, and in so doing, contribute to the grand exercise that is Philippine democracy.

Funny tho. As it turned out, it felt like I was the one being thanked for dropping by! Filipino hospitality at its finest folks: someone comes to thank you, and they come away feeling like they’re the ones that have been thanked. In this particular case, Ate Adhel and Laura took the trouble to whip up arroz caldo and a batch of tokwa (toque!) for me and my companions – my nephew and brother-in-law. Now, I feel doubly indebted and sheepish.

Hats off to Mabuhay Associates and Ate Adhel! May your tribe increase, and may you never tire of caring for our countrymen in this beautiful city, halfway around the world.

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