Environmentalist Balbir Singh Seechewal has decided to open a academy to preach Sikhism and Gurumat in The Philippines for the welfare of Punjabis settled there, he told HT on his return from a 16-day visit to the country.
"Children of families settled in The Philippines are finding it very tough to learn Punjabi. We had noticed the same in our previous visits to the country. The Nirmal Kutiya at Paniqui city, which is being patronised by us, will run the academy initially. Over time, more such academies will be opened.
"We expect a good response. We will emphasise reconnecting the youth in The Phillipines with their spiritual and religious roots. During my previous visits to country, I had interacted with the in-charges of different guruduwaras and everyone had siad that such an academy was needed. Conceptually, we have finalised the modalities of academy and ground work will begin soon."
During his stay at Philippines, Seechewal also interacted with the secretary to Indian ambassador to The Philippines Parkash Chand and other members of Indian Embassy at Nirmal Kutiya Paniqui and discussed various problems being faced by Punjabis over there.
"Most Punjabis in Phillipines are into the financial services. Embassy officials told us that Punjabis must diversify into other occupations to boost their economy, like medicines and dairy farming," Seechewal said.
He added that he was also told to spread the message that Indians must not try and settle illegally in the Phillipines. Embassy officials also planted trees at Nirmal Kutiya in Paniqui.