749 Filipino Pilgrims Arrive

Rodolfo C. Estimo Jr.

RIYADH: A total of 749 Filipino pilgrims, out of the expected 6,841, have arrived in the Kingdom to perform Haj this year, according to Consul General Imelda Panolong.

“I personally welcomed 389 of them last night, mostly from Lanao, with some consulate officials with me at the airport on Monday. The pilgrims flew in on board a Saudia flight,” Panolong said.

Earlier on Monday morning, 360 pilgrims also arrived on board a Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight, Panolong told Arab News from the airport. “Nineteen flights are expected from the Philippines ferrying Filipino pilgrims for this year’s Haj performance,” the consul general said. She also said that the Philippine quota remained at 8,000 but only 6,841 pilgrims could make it to this year’s Haj pilgrimage.

The number would reach 7,000, Panolong added, because of the accompanying medical staff and delegation from the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF). The number of Filipino pilgrims this year fell short of the quota, “simply because some could not afford the cost of coming to the Kingdom for Haj.”

Bashir Sumilang, NCMF representative, told Arab News from Madinah that all of the pilgrims are safe and have gone to their respective accommodations which he had earlier arranged.

“They have been booked in 10 hotels. I have also coordinated with other service providers for their food and transportation,” said Sumilang, who used to work at the consulate as an interpreter and translator.

He added that he also personally arranged the “mission stickers” for their visas at the Ministry of Haj and Umrah.

He expressed his thanks to various authorities in the Kingdom as well as the service providers for their cooperation in helping the Filipino pilgrims in fulfill their religious obligations and dreams.


(Source: ArabNews.com)

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