Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Wow! I cant' believe I had this long sabbatical from my blog!
For a long time, I felt like my hands went numb to write things on my mind. There were so many things happening, so many issues been raised and discussed that I really felt there weren't just enough for me to say anyway (which is not true, of course!) ...What the heck, I was just plain lazy and all and somehow I felt uncomfortable about it. Somehow, keeping the blog alive was like an on/off crusade for me, depending on who was the reigning King.

Anyhow, I am now awake and looks forward to update this blog. With so many things that happened to me during the past six months, there shouldn't be nothing to tell so please bear with me if I had to refer to the not so distant past.

And to dispel any rumors in the blogosphere in this part of the world, ..No, I did not leave Dubai, not yet. I did not fall ill to some mysterious disease nor become part of those gruesome statistics in Dubai roads these days, Thank God!

Nope! Wrong guess! I was not stranded in Kish. I did not even go to make a visa run to change my visa to that coveted (?) residence visa.

So to all those who wrote me to check me out if I was okay, thank you so much for your concern! It was not even fair to you that I had to subject some people to worrying, knowing how are things here in the Sandlands.

Maybe the past Holy Week had knocked something on my head so I feel refreshed now, like being resurrected again.

So now, my not-so-secret love affair with blogging has now resumed and hopefully, sustain the effort to keep this affair alive and well.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Start Me Up!

Blimey! I wasted about 3 hours in the office today no thanks to XP's foul up.

Opening my Outlook file, I edited my PC's clock to change the date today since Outlook displays Nov 6 as today's date. No problem so far even after I entered my new task.

Four hours later in the afternoon, when I restart my PC I was suddenly locked out by the PC's security system. Error message says my PC's current time is different from the network's.

Yikes! a frantic call to mother IT in Europe is no relief as apparently the whole IT staff at the HQ was on a meeting so I didn't have much choice but to wait for the remote IT help.

In the early evening (after grudgingly staying put one hour past off or otherwise I would have to wait until noon tomorrow for those IT guys in Europe and foresee myself sitting with nothing to do for half day) , one mate volunteered to check my PC and after tweaking the BIOS'current time setting, voila! the PC suddenly cranked up and accepted my password!

Now I never really thought thatmere changing time and date in your PC would really create that mess that would bother IT guys across continents and time zones! Thanks Windows XP!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Eid Mubarak

The Eid-al-Fitr holiday has just passed and now everything is back to normal here in the UAE. Eid -al -Fitr is just one of the Eid holidays coming in the next 70 days after Ramadan and this particular feast reminded me of what I learned back in grade school, the feast of Hari Raya Puasa which means breaking of the fast in Malay.

This holiday is also celebrated in Manila as a one-day holiday (Nov. 4) but here in the UAE, it is somewhat protracted, which also reminds me of the way we celebrate Christmas in the Philippines. If you are working here in one of the government offices, the holiday is a week-long observance (Nov 2 to 6) while the private offices normally had it for three days (including the Friday off).

I was also somehow bemused by the memo released by my previous company in Dhabi. It tells that
" ....The company will observe the first and second day of the Eid al Fitr holiday..." without announcing explicitly which days are those.

Of course, the normal reply was that it depend on the moon sighting which first day in November will it fall (Nov 2 or 3). But for me, without being too insensitive to the cultural connotation, the memo was the most ambiguous memo I've read in years, it was actually my first.

People in the office, and here is the most amusing part, espcially the non-muslims, also prayed hard that the moon should appear by Nov 2 < - and it would be hypocritical of me I say I'm not one of them, ;=) >.

When I got back here in Dubai, my flatmates are also hoping for a start of Nov 2 holiday start. But alas, Eid was declared in Nov 3 dampening the hopes of those in the private sector of a longer work vacation.

Despite this trivialization, I enjoyed Eid in one of its truest sense. I was invited in one Muslim Household in Deira and got to taste the hospitality and tradition of Eid.

But then I never anticipated how painful my tooth could be the next morning. Despite this, Eid al-Fitr has just become one of my favorite holidays!

Back to Dubai

After three weeks toiling in Abu Dhabi, I am nowback again in Dubai. For a moment there, I thought I will be permanently moving to Abu Dhabi. Luckily or unluckily, a wonderful offer came up to work in one of the office cubicles in one of Dubai's technology mini-cities. After living in a solitary confinement in one of the thousand accommodations in the remote Musaffah area, I am now back in the chaotic and noisy environment of Dubai.

Actually dwelling in Abu Dhabi and coming back again to Dubai provide me an opportunity to compare the two cities. Unlike any other busy Asian capitals (Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, Manila Jakarta), apparently Abu Dhabi provides a more laid back and breathable living compared to fast and frenetic mass huddles of Dubai ( imagine Washington DC to New York). What I particularly like in Dhabi is driving on its roads and highways (see previous post). The highway connecting Musaffah and Abu Dhabi is almost empty even during rush hours, that you certainly feel how it is to cruise on a highway. Despite the apparent lack of glittery skyscrapers that Dubai offers, getting lost in the streets and small corners of Abu Dhabi city centre will not fail to surprise one and be amazed in discovering the hidden treasures of the city (one prime example is the Abu Dhabi National Gas Liquefaction HQ - ADGAS, with its breathtaking and opulent interiors).

I have also come to know the common names of the prominent streets in AUH such as Passport Road, Electra, Muroor, Najda, TCA (that is the Tourist Club Area for the uninitiated) and Airport Road -- they are hidden by the formal names such as Al Falah St., Zayed 1St street, Zayed 4th st, Zayed 6th st, etc that you usually find in the street signs. (Try telling that to the Patan cab drivers who will give you blank stares if he hears you mouthing Zayed 1st st.)

People at work have been very interesting too. I gained a number of Indian friends who taught me how to distinguish Indians from among themselves (the Keralites and the Malayalam language, those who come from Delhi, Punjab and Mumbai and of course knowing some Hindi - it is very embarrasing to admit that I know only three words, Nei, Kalas and Malum). But I guess distinguishing them would be a difficult subject in a very short time from a foreign perspective because of their high multiculturalism.

Despite this, I still long for the round-the-clock on the go of Dubai (during that 3-weeks, I find myself coming back at least twice in a week aside from the weekend).

Friday, October 21, 2005

Dubai the Movie

A recent Filipino film was shown here in UAE about Filipino expats in Dubai.

But before Filipinos start rushing in Dubai, there are some scenes in the film that need a lot of explaining:

1. The lead actor was shown to be living in a quite spacious flat, with one room reserved to his newly-arrived brother:

Fact: Rent in Dubai is at sky-high and still rising. If one person is to rent a flat with two bedrooms, boy, oh boy. you need more than 4,000 dirhams per month to get a decent flat in the downtown areas of Bur Dubai and Deira (forget about Jumeirah and the Al Barsha) unless our favorite lead character is living in Sharjah which is the emirate next to Dubai (ten minutes travel time plus at least 30 minutes for traffic and if you take the bus or take, add another at leastt 30 minutes).

Let us hear from the film's production outfit representative of courtesy of 7 Days):

".....the "delivery boy" is really supervisor of a courier service company who earns at least dhs3,500.
He lives in an old villa which he shares with other people who were no longer shown in the movie. As you know rents of old villa are much lower than rents of flats.
The lead character has been living in Dubai for nine years, therefore, he has bought some good things which are not very expensive considering that there are at least three seasons when sales discounts are the norm -- Shopping Festival, Summer Surprises, and Ramadan."

- Art Los Banos, ABS-CBN Middle East

If he is sharing it with other people, I think it was a mistake not showing it because it becomes misleading.

2. If one is taking a day-job and a car-lift sideline in the evening, one year is not enough to save money in immigrating to Canada. The car that is used is probably one that is rented (for 45 to 60 dirhams a day depending on the duration) and even if you earn 100 dirhams a night, waht about spending for your petrol-- 50 dirhams for about 39 -40 liters). You cannot even immediately drive on the streets of UAE unless you are from the US, Europe, Australia and the rest of the first world countries and the GCC. You have to apply for a UAE driving license after you get a Resident's visa.

3. The lead female character is working in Wonderland as a staff and yet can afford to live in a spacious flat with another? I don't think so, maybe more establishing scenes are again missed out for the sake of editing.

4. The lead character lived and slept under Maktoum bridge during his hardship-filled initial years(?)/months(?) in Dubai. Under the noses of the patrolling Dubai police around the creek?

I can go on with some more issues like absconding, the recent posts I written (How to lose a guy in 10 days and Dangerous Liaisons), visa change in Kish, the frigid care of the embassy, the warmth of Saint Mary's Church, inflation, taxis, harassment, etc. etc.

I'm quite disappointed with this film because I liked Milan last year, and it was made by the same director and outfit as it tackled head-on most of the issues of the expats and illegals in Italy.

Don't get me wrong again, Dubai (or Abu Dhabi) is a nice place to live in for the right people and professionals. I do pride in a fact that Filipinos have built quite a good reputation in the emirates, despite stereotypes.

Maybe this film can be saved and I just hope that the filmmakers clear up the misrepresentations especially for the audience back in the Philippines. They owe it most to the Filipinos, especially those contemplating of working abroad, in a place like Dubai.

Dangerous Liaisons

A recent post by Secret Dubai, described an unusual report from Gulf News involving a Filipina maid, her kabayan lover and the spurned Canadian boss:
"A Dubai court sentenced a barber to one year in prison for having an illicit love affair with a housemaid who also alleged that she was sleeping with her sponsor.

The 23-year-old barber, identified as D.O., and the 21-year-old housemaid, both from the Philippines, will be deported.

The Dubai public prosecution charged the barber with trespassing into a private property and having an illegitimate love affair with the housemaid.

The Dubai police heard that the Canadian sponsor, who works as an engineer, returned to his villa in Al Safa Area and saw the barber, whom he had not seen before, sitting with the 21-year-old woman.

The engineer became angry and started shouting at the two accused. Then he quarrelled with the barber before the police came and arrested the two Filipinos.

In his statement to the police, the 23-year-old denied having an illicit affair. Meanwhile, the Filipina confessed that she was having a love affair with the barber.

She alleged that she was having a similar affair with her sponsor.

The Canadian sponsor denied her claims but his wife said she had suspected that something was going on between her housemaid and her husband.

The Dubai Court of First Instance did not consider the Filipina's claims of an affair with her sponsor because she could not prove this."
Reading further on the series of exhanges provide a curious commentary that despite the cosmopolitan atmosphere in Dubai, still not a few schmucks carry wrong general perception of other people / races.

Filipinos as romantics and horny toads? I would have to agree with SD, notwithstanding the strict Islamic rule against premarital sex or adulterous affair, it was hypocritical for that Canadian guy to prejudge and throw these lovers in jail (and deport them).

And about generalizing Filipina maids (or the Filipino men) as sex-crazed lonely worker? I always hear this crap pinning easily the blame on them after complaints of rape cases with their employers, be it in the suburbs of Manila, Singapore or Dubai. The truth of the matter is that these women are most often vulnerable, with some having less education and just wanted to follow their dreams of escaping poverty back home.

Don't get me wrong, I'll have to admit that Filipino men have their own share of perverted sense of machismo, oftentimes underscored by the stark contrast of strict family code in Philippine laws and the hush-hush mistresses on the side and the absence of divorce. And I myself frown upon this kind of chauvinism (- no thanks to TV soaps in the local scene! and the strong influence of the Catholic Church) that abuses the vulnerability of Filipino wives and the For-the-sake of children argument. But that is not something of a monopoly to the Filipinos. And Secret is right in pointing that out in responding to some comments in her blog.

Curiously, some said maybe the Canadian is probably is a recent Canadian by immigration, and implied his actual race/religion of origin. The debate that ensued again opened a mini-Pandora's box of the silent divergence on how Dubai expats see one another (Arab, Asian or Caucasian).

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Ramadan 2

It's been a while since I made my last post. I'm now posted in Abu Dhabi, and maybe, SD has been right all along, I will really have to change my nick in time.

Anyway, this blog will remain all about UAE life so blogging about Abu dhabi will not change the character a bit.

Speaking of character, Abu Dhabi is one capital city that curiously has much laid back pace of life compared to Dubai. For one, traffic is almost (!) non-existent. Taxicab is so cheap that it is usual to pay a 3AED fare for a 3-block distance within the city. Although the streets and roads are still well'lighted, they are still no match to the bright lights of Dubai and the complementing vulgarity of opulent neon lights coming form the shops and glitzy buildings.

One noticeable aspect as far as cit y landscape is concerned is the wonderful green sceneries that dot the airport and corniche road leading you to the heart of the city. Unlike Dubai with all its bermuda grass and dates, Abu Dhabi has more trees to offer that somehow makes you feel that the city is breathing, and not choking on its smoke.

But because it still Ramadan season, street life is more subdued especially in the daylight. You can't eat nor drink in public and sometimes, I even have to go to W.C. just to catch a quick drink. But in the evening, it is an enjoyable sight to see fasting Muslims take their iftar and share it with their fellows specially in some road corners and mosque grounds.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Start of Ramadan

Today is the start of Islam's Holy Month, Ramadan. After the partial solar eclipse yesterday (- which I failed to witness here in Dubai), the first sighting of the new moon signalled the start of the ninth lunar month of the Islamic calendar.i All physically fit muslims are required to fast, abstain from smoking, and avoid getting into quarrel or swearing. For us, non-muslims here in UAE, we are not supposed to eat, drink nor smoke in public, especially during the daylight, lest we'd be accosted by the police (- I can deal with that.) However, my flatmates told me that night time can be a different story. All malls and commerciall establishements which were closed partially in daylight, would open until the wee hours of the morning. Night bars, however, would be somewhat restrained (drinking but no dancing?, I have to verify yet.)

I look forward to experience Ramadan as this is my first time. For non-muslims like us, it could offer us opportunity to reflect (I cannot find any equivalent celebration in the Christian world but the practice is somewhat similar to the Christian's observance of Lent) and pay respect to one of the most influential faiths in the world today which is Islam.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


Feeling like a fool when your tech savvy / geeky friends are talking in a jargon you feel uneasy about?

According to BBC, you're not alone. In their UK survey, one out of 10 people understand about podcasting, and worse, blogging, which you, my friend, and me are happily playing around for ages.

Fear no more.

Read the BBC article and be enlightened, chav!