PEBA entry

Redefining the OFW

October 31, 2010

However Gremlin he is, 
he's our daily de-stresser
“Lupang Hinirang” dominated the Gremlin’s Youtube sessions yesterday. He’s been humming the anthem but couldn’t get the lyrics right. You see, the four-year-old li’l boy attends Kindergarten 2 in a Filipino school here in Dubai. He skipped Kindgergarten 1, hence no preparatory Filipino class and Philippine anthem singing for him before now.

The Gremlin is our son, and he’s our home boss. Quite unknown to him, he drives our actions and decisions.And pushes us to achieve beyond those we first thought we cant.

The Gremlin - the deceiving look 
when he wants some chips

Five years back when my tummy was big with my Gremlin, pregnant Filipinas walking Dubai malls and streets are rare. Filipino kids running around Dubai are rare. But look today. We join thousands of Filipino families surviving the sandpit life. It’s not financially easy though, but it’s our choice.
The view from the world's tallest tower. 
The OFW whose core purpose is his/ her family 
soars above his/her dreams like the buildings here
The drawback is after six years as OFWs, we have yet to put up our physical home back in Baguio, we have yet to say we have hefty monetary investments.  Having our son stay with us costs us at least around AED 7500/ PhP 86,000 a month on top of our normal expenses. His school charges AED 9000 a year, among the cheap ones we could get. Of course he can’t study and play well at home if we remain sharing our room or apartment with others (like most Kabayans here, like how we were six years ago, sharing cramped rooms). That meant bearing AED 3500 additional rent and un-shared utilities. His dad and I leave for work five days a week, spending AED 1500 for somebody to look after him when we’re away. Oh, do you know that seeing our Gremlin devoid of playmates is costly too, driving him around especially on weekends calls at least AED 1500 a month.

Our above budget allows us minimum comfort in line with what we earn as 8am-5pm corporate employees. But do you know that there are fellow Filipinos having around half or less of what we earn yet manage to raise their families here? It’s a case of where there’s a will there’s a way. See our tailor friend. To raise their son here with their low family income, they sub-lease their apartment rooms to save on and earn from rent, and they also receive out-of-work sewing jobs from fellow Filipinos.

I believe OFW-ism is now taking a new definition. It's becoming more of a family act of working and living together abroad, whenever applicable.

I look to the time when the term OFW gets disassociated to disintegration of families. The world is now starting to become local; and soon continental distance is like travelling Baguio- Manila.  For one, there’s the ever evolving communication technology to thank for. Who doesn’t know Facebook and Chikka? Or Yahoo Messenger and Skype?

The majestic Burj Al Arab although standing detached,
keeps a bridge open and connected, so is the OFW

Telecommunication is getting affordable too. Here in the UAE, I'm usually up at 3 a.m. (or 7a.m. Philippine time) on weekends talking with my mom, my dad or my siblings for at least an hour as I take advantage of  Etisalat’s super offpeak plan charging phone calls at AED 0.55 or around PhP 6.30 per minute.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It used to be that degree holders if not a nurse or engineer, end up as domestic helpers. In this age however, the global job market has opened up for Filipinos. (I currently work as a Financial Analyst while my husband is a Software Programmer.) Even yet, Filipinos are now faring higher in the corporate ladder. More income means affording to live with the family in the host country, and even more.

I’d always gladly look back into my humble beginnings six years ago. In that partition (a small room inside a room) the size of our master’s bathroom now, I slept with three other Ate-s. It was so small, that our three pairs of feet inter-lap every night we hit the two beds set perpendicularly (a double deck and a folding bed passing underneath the double deck). In the other flat, Kuya G also experienced the same. In the kitchen, we cued to prepare our food. In the toilet, we held our toiletries and towels as we take our turns standing by the bathroom door. All of us came on visit visas and looked for work when we landed.

But things are different for everyone of us now. Kuya G, five years after bringing his family over, just uprooted them out of Dubai to Doha yesterday to take on as country head of the Swiss multinational company he works for.  Just recently, his family of six toured Europe
for some three weeks. Kuya G continues to inspire me and others. He always says "You can do it!".

I guess one trick to getting the most of being an OFW is to be among people in a better standing and be inspired by and learn from them. But there is quite greater fulfillment when we look back at those struggling behind us and help them get better.

Above slides you down 33 meters at 80 kph. 
The OFW with the family in his/ her heart, 
says "I can do it" to later "I did it!" to dares 
not everyone is willing to take.
 Other friends, while they may not inspire, do have their experiences/ struggles/ challenges to share – getting jailed for inability to pay loans and credit cards; getting jailed for drunk driving;  getting bankrupt in the personal business;  getting fined AED 50,000 for subleasing a rented villa; getting duped by illegal recruiters; getting an employment ban; surviving without work and hunting for one after being made redundant during the recession. More than anything, it’s not how they failed, but how they picked their selves up, earned wisdom from the experience, and share their lessons to others so they will avoid going through the same hardships.

These do drive the OFW down, but I've seen that the fastest way back on track is keep the family in focus.

My husband and I do have our own struggles and challenges, and we would start getting over it with a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee and a Baskin Robbins ice cream =) And when coffee and ice cream cannot seem to solve it, a glance to our Gremlin is already enough to tell us there's more than deciding to give up. And most often, we emerge thanking the wisdom, knowledge and experience earned for conquering the challenge.

The OFW ride has twists and turns but 
when journey-ed as a family, it gives more fun 
and meaning to celebrate for

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

There's something good in being an OFW that's why we opt to be. 

The line I heard six years ago applying to every OFW could be a cliche' but it will never become outdated -- "Just always keep in mind what you left the country for, and everything will be fine"

Most OFWs would say "I'm here for my family", which is an unconscious answer that the OFW contributes to a better Philippines when he/ she works for the best interest of his/ her family.

Mabuhay ang OFW!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Oh, I've got to go, my Gremlin is to say his bed time prayer:
“Dear Jesus, please bless and guide my Lolo Pogi, my Lola Cute, my Lola Mommy, my Lolo Daddy, my uncles, my aunties, my cousins, Mama, Papa and me Kalel so that we are always safe and healthy, I love you Jesus, goodnight. Amen.”
And I pray : Dear Jesus, please bless every overseas Filipino worker's family. Amen.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

P.S. - I thank PEBA for accepting me as Nominee # 28 in its blog awards with the theme "Strengthening the OFW Families: Stronger Homes for a Stronger Nation"

If you have liked my entry, I'd be happy if you please vote for it by clicking HERE or clicking the badge below that links to PEBA's site. Gremliness is # 28 under OFW Blog Finalist. 

Maraming salamat po =)

Road Trips

Road Trip : Jebel Hafeet and Al Ain Wildlife Zoo

October 26, 2010

Our road trip last Friday took us to Al Ain. It's first roundabout is an hour drive from Dubai (at 100-120kph). But being the "city of roundabouts", it takes another hour for newbies to find the way through the roads. A map or yet a GPS would greatly help.

Lower part was my sketch asking for directions, that's all roundabouts. The upper is the Gremlin's sketch.
Our destinations: Jebel Hafeet and Al Ain Wildlife Zoo.
  The thrill of driving through Jebel Hafeet's ascending 1240 meters' zigzag road makes it an attraction.
Unlike our first nightfalldrive up Jebel Hafeet, we did it on daylight this time, giving a better view of the rock formations which are amazing. 

I was told those ranges forms part of the Oman border
See the duo in red and orange. They're sitting on the tip!
 Weather is still warm hence the horizon is still hazy, we could have taken better photos. 
At the foot of the mountain is Green Mubazzarah, a park with hot water springs gushing little streams

By 4pm , we were at  the wildlife zoo. Already tired (exacerbated by the heat), we tried to cover as much so we could leave by 6pm. Two hours wasn't enough though. I think that a visit on winter is better (it seems they put out more animals and that the cool temperature is less energy-draining).

By the way, tiring a li'l boy around animals could make him grouchy, you might end up scolding him and he acts up as:
  But overall, a road trip pleases him like this:

UAE - Dubai

Foggy in the Desert

October 21, 2010

Waking up to foggy mornings (except during rainy season) is one among I miss of home in Baguio (Philppines).

So when Dubai gets engulf ed on foggy mornings, I feel like a lost kid so happy to be back home =)

Although unlike Baguio which gets foggy anytime of the day, Dubai's fog lasts by around 8am.Visibility could reach somewhere 10 meters.

I wonder how others could get excited too of fog to even take pictures like I did Thursday morning =) :

Arriving to work with this window
And then the fog clears

In this side of Silicon Oasis. Notice at far end is Sheikh Zayed Road with Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower.

Have a great clear day everyone =)

UAE - Dubai

Dubai's Beach Parks

October 20, 2010

We were at Jumeirah Beach Park last weekend. It seemed  like ages since I last stepped on it's sand. While the Gremlin  excitedly carried his bucket and sand castle things, I was ecstatic for nice pictures I would capture with the camera tucked in my bag. But have I forgotten! This is Dubai and strictly -- NO CAMERAs on beaches, whether on beach parks or at the open beach!

But shhhh, as with the others, I used my mobile phone for below photos:

More than anything, the thought of these blue skies relaxed me. It meant, cooler weather  is around the corner =)

Dubai's beaches are well regulated. Police cars/ beach patrols are always visible. Rules abound - no cameras, no alcohol, no animals, no "horniness" (have you came across the jailed Brit couple for allegedly doing s_x on the beach?). Look for the full list on the boards in case you need a guide which to avoid =)

By open beaches, it simply meant for me no green landscapes, no entrance fees, no barbeque/ grilling.

Beach parks (Jumeirah and Al Mamzar) meanwhile charge some AED 5 per person on entrance fees. And that's for access to among others -- kids playground; picnic areas, barbeque sites, volleyball or even basketball courts.

Dubai's weather at this time makes the best for beaches since it's not too hot to burn the skin, nor cold to make one sick =)

I wonder how is the beach season on other places now?

All about our Superman

Gremly Notes

October 15, 2010

Gremly Mom thing: 
I've been reaching home late for some days now and been missing on my conviction to lose the nine kgs I gained in a year (!) through daily gym visits.  It's my first time last week to use the treadmill and twice did a 30 minute 2.85km for 135 kcal each.

Gaining weight may still be acceptable at some level (my body mass index is normal), however if the weight is accumulating at the wrong place, it is all but good =( . How about a bulging belly?

Gremly Son acts:
This blog is supposed to be my Gremlin's diary, and again, I hadn't been writing enough. Anyways --

1) "Mama, I broke your laptop because I opened many tabs" my Gremlin said last week. He switches our machines on his own and opens youtube (we're on vista, and the youtube icon is on the IE homepage). I havent really tracked how he bookmarked his favorite fountain shows.

He'd say "Can we go watch the fountain shows in the USA?", referring to Vegas, and I'd say "But we need many money to go there!"

Messing with our open windows
Apart from fountain shows, the Gremlin added Atlantis at The Palm opening fireworks to his video browsing. He copied below text from youtube and said another "Can we go here mama and papa?"

The smaller texts say: PALM JUMEIRAH DUBAI

2) If the Gremlin is to fail his subjects, it'd be Filipino! Making it worse is we cannot tell him all the Filipino names of the drawings in his book, kaya nakakahiya :( . He's got an Arabic class but I guess it's new to almost all in their class =)

Btw, this is how my four-year-old-on-his-first-year-of-school copy his assignments:

And this is where he completes them. Messy =)

At dinner, we force our Gremlin to eat. Last week, he said: "Enough mama, the food will go up my head and down my feet because I'm full!" as he slides his hands from tummy to his head and down to his feet.
4) My Gremlin is known to play by himself, that it cheers me seeing him  getting along well with Kuya G's kids. 


Gremly Weekends:
My Gremlin's Lola Mommy is here since a month now, hence weekends are spent driving around. Here's some we passed by:

A cultural/ historical structure in Al Khan, Sharjah

A desert tree in Um Al Quwain

Outside Sharjah Aquarium

 Have a great weekend!

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