This blog contains opinions, experiences, thoughts and observations of the author from his day to day living.
It is subject to comments, criticisms and corrections, and all will be dealt with constructively and do leave your comments I would love to hear from you.
There is no intention to offend, discriminate nor degrade anybody or anything for that matter, only shared feelings, emotions and angsts at the moment.
Welcome to my world.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eid Holiday - Abha, Asir Getaway!

Alas, it is the Eid, when all our Muslim brothers and sister break their month long fasts and celebrate like we do at Christmas. The next coming days will be filled with celebrations, public presentations, firework displays and people going out all night filling the restaurants, malls and hotels.
It's is like our Christmas, it is also a time for gift giving not only with love ones but to charity which is one of the foundations of their faith.
Eid is also a much anticipated hoildays of all the Filipino Expats here in Saudi and the rest of the Middle East, as we are fiven a fews off to rest or whatever we can do to let ourselves enjoy, replenish and refresh ourselves from working our butts off! Like most Saudis who likes to go out of town, we also take our part. Just when I thought that I would be spending the next four days in Riyadh, I was invited to tag along by an office mate as they head to Abha, the capital of Asir Province for a couple of days. It is situated at 2,200 metres (7,200 ft) above sea level in the fertile mountains of south-western Saudi Arabia. Its mild to cold  climate makes it a popular tourist destination for Saudis and expats alike The only setback is that it takes 10 hours give or take, to get there by car and an hour and a half by plane. But the travel by land is far much better despite your aching butt as you can see a lot of beautiful landscapes along the way.
So much for that as my next posts will be from there and hopefully with catchy pictures with it. Til then!

Monday, August 29, 2011

When In Rome Do What The Romans Do

Alas, I found an interesting article in the Arab News, the local English newspaper, although it was a month old issue, but I can't help but react to it. It is universal that when you are in another place, not even in another country, we have to be observant of the norms and habits of the people and its immediate surroundings. This is so in order to "blend" or "get along" with other's way of life. So much so when we are in another country, the very first thing we usually do is to learn the language and know the laws. Yes, the laws, what's allowed and not allowed, the do's and don'ts and what have you.
The article says about the how Saudis love to travel to another country during summer vacations and how difficult for them "to respect the rules of the country they are visiting." - Arab News 7 Jul 2011.
Those who are studying abroad too find out the hard way that living in another country and thinking that they can go away with who they usually are calls others to learn to respect and follow the rules.
"Many Saudis travelling for vacation claimed it had been difficult for them to respect the laws of the countries they visit because they do not respect their own laws in the Kingdom."- Arab News 7 Jul 2011.
Now that is something to ponder about, in my experience living in this country I have observed how the locals behaved and act as if they rule the world, I am not bad mouthing these people, I only share what I see everyday. Where in the world can you see a pre-teen kid driving a 2011 model Chrysler? Or hanging out the window of a BMW while another pre-teen friend of his drives the car as they sped a busy traffic, dodging other cars? Where in the world would you see people would cut you in a long que and claim that they are locals and they should be first? Where in the world would you see non-smoking sign room filled with smokers and when reprimanded will make all the effort to argue with you? How about the lack of etiquettes from the simple throwing of garbages to saying excuse me at any given situation? I see a lot of rules being broken left and right in all abandon and I really hated it when the only excuse they have is that they are citizens of these country and whether we find it offending and distasteful or not, we cannot do anything and just have to suck it in.
How lame and how sad, stories of locals abroad getting into trouble by breaking the host's country's laws thingking that they can get away with it literally can fill a newspaper. I won't even go far when right in my own workplace there is a big story that went around and was publicized in the net, but as much as I would like to say, I'd rather keep silent, but really it is humiliating.
An interview with a Saudi, who is student in UK claimed that "I was not taught how to behave in public places and how to respect traffic signs when driving."- Arab News 7 Jul 2011
I find this true, for instance, my neighbor's kids who were locals, which I think were from 6 to 10 years of age behave like wild animals on the loose. They shout, throw rocks at people, harass, break things (I saw one time how they break a car's front glass shield out of fun!) and where are  the parents? We expats have no right to intervene nor to reprimand as doing so will only get us into a more serious situation, or worst jail. So we just let them and pretend we don't see.
We are also expected to strictly follow their law right down to the last letter or an array of consequences awaits, which is really an irony when we see them break their own.
A married couple, a Lebanese woman and a Saudi interviewed vacationing relates, "My husband used to eat in Saudi restaurants and cafes using his hands. He never used a fork or spoon. This embarrased me especially when we sat in open areas. Being a Saudi was an excuse for him to ignore all senses of etiquette." - Arab News 7 Jul 2011
Being well-to-do has nothing to do with not following the rules but rather it should show how well-mannered a person can be. Education is the basic foundation for being well-rounded, respectful and obedient. Being observant is the key. A feeling of Superiority really just shows the lack of  feeling strong enough to compete with others on the useful side of life. He is not in harmony with society.
It seems to be a trait of human nature that when individuals - both children and adults - feel weak, they want to solve the problems of life in such a way as to obtain personal superiority without any admixture of social interest. - Wikipedia
The Romans did not coined the term when in Rome what the Romans do for nothing, people who travel to Rome hundreds of years ago are expected to follow the rules the city implements, and for those who breaks them will find themselves either a slave or in the middle of the arena and being fed to the lions.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

What Is Happening?

I have been buying newspapers since last week so I would know what's going on around the world and not just around the place I am living, but no matter how many times I flipped the pages I cannot find any suitable information nor any good story to be my inspiration for my posts. Here and there, war, uprising, famine, freak weather, politics, death, poverty and sickness, crimes and economic crisis. I skipped the sports section as I am not a fan of football, nor cricket events and went straight to the entertainment section, even then it is about divorce, remarriage, settlements, suing this person and that person, movie flops and so on and so forth.
Makes me think, again, what is happening? 
There's an insert of a Filipino tabloid, Pinoy Extra, and that even has nothing good to say, there's this reminder for overstaying Filipinos in the kingdom that they have until the 14th of next month to leave the country or they will be facing huge fines and an accommodation inside the jail cell. An OFW who is into melancholy because she misses her family too much and a feature about depression.
What is happening? The world is in need of a make over, but how? Until people start to learn that a change of heart is the main key, we will never see the light of another day, and for those who do try, being a minority will make it a tremendous task just to affect others of their positivity. It's like another war, but war againsts the negativities engulfing the entire planet.
I sleep everynight still praying that tomorrow would be better than the day before. But it is up to me to do that and not with anyone else. If I would wake up with a good mental and overall feeling, positive and welcoming, then the day would indeed be better. But if I wake up with all those horrors I read on the paper still clinging in my mind and affects my day, then I will be a part of how the world is turning up everyday.

Just Being Happy

Just being happy.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Reel and Real Friends

When you are far away from your loved ones, the next best thing would be having friends around to keep you company. It is not easy being in another land where the first difficulty you'll be having is having problems with communication, (unless of course you're in an English speaking country, but then again when it is slang or somewhat they "eat" the words they say), anyway, so "birds of the same feather, do flock together," and we seek our kind, fellow "kabayans" in order to feel we belong, at least safe, and encouraged.
But having friends here is like playing the darts, it's a hit and miss process. You will aways never know which one is true, just being nice, kind, or only using you. You will always never know at the same time, which one you can depend on, talk to or hang around with, for they can ignore you in an instant, or simply does not want to have anything to do with you. or worst make everyone turn against you.
I am lamenting about my own experiences with the people I met these past 4 years living here in Riyadh, even lamenting is a kind word, if grieving is deeper then I am grieving. I am grieving that most of the "friends" I have here are not my "frienships."
We Filipinos are friendly in general, but we also have this inert talent to shun out whomever we dislike and we are capable of "acting" nicely in a click of a button. and I hate that. There is this reality that among the list of people I have met and described as "friends" only a handful I considered to be true.
Why I am grieving, I have a heavy heart because I think that it is important to have a support system and someone to be with in order to survive the loneliness and the hardships of being in a foreign land. Our families can only do as much with our phone calls, chat and emails, but being a physical person (I need to have a physical or personal contact with people) I am sad knowing most of my so called "friends" are not being true. I love friends, I treasure them a lot, that is why when I found out some of those I consider is fake, that a 1st-Class Louis Vuitton bag imitation is better!
How did I find it out? In reference to my post The Ones Who Never Left a couple of weeks ago, that those who stays with you even in your lowest times are "true friendships." But first it goes with the feeling and what we call instinct, our inert God-given talent to discern. I know when the person I am talking to is just bluffing and/or being honest. One thing also, you know that old lesson we always hear, that untrue persons never gives a direct eye contact when they speak to you, they cannot look at you straight in your face, either they look down, sideways or their eyes is looking in all directions and they usually cut you in the middle of the words you say, just to end it. Then they will always keep you "hanging on" and find it difficult to tell you "honestly" what they really mean and find it through other people the "real" reasons. There are those who are being too friendly and realize they just want something from you in the end, like a favor or a help, then you're ignored after. Once I do cared much to a "friend" and finding out through another that it was all taken negatively, and I hate those who are there during the happy times but leave you alone to fend for yourself. Lastly, there are friends you find only here, but once you come back home, they don't even bother to meet you.
It is true when they say that "friends are like precious stones, hard to find and too precious to loose,"  that's why I treasure the small circle I have here. Friendship is a recurring subject in my blogposts, because I really would like to put emphasis on the value of friends while living far from the family. They care the extensions of the family we love back home.
Another is that, I have learned that those people that I once ignored, where the ones that are really worth taking the time to get to know and hopefully develop real friendships. My world here may be small, but they are filled with great friends. Which ends this posts with a quote, "I have learned today that those whom I thought were nobodies are somebodies and those I knew were somebodies were the nobodies." by me.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I Thought It Will Not Happen Here

I just keep ignoring it, these past few months, because I still am in the notion that despite the world is experiencing a crisis, this land of milk and honey, as written in the Bible, will not be affected at all. Reasons like this country is standing under oceans of oil; taxes are not in their vocabulary; food is plenty; commodities were cheap and one can live in luxury to the extent of one's salary.
But I am wrong, dead wrong! Nowadays, the prices of the basic necessities here went up the least of 20%. Yes, my fanstasy of bringing my whole family here in Saudi to enjoy a good life is starting to crumble right in front of me. Although, in their currency, it is still "cheap" in a way, but to expats who's salary is just a minimum wage,  and at the mercy of the company's business status, we count each Riyal to the last centavo equivalent.
I love fruits, I made my smoothies out of it morning and evening, here I can eat fruits that I only see on our table back home during the holidays, like Christmas, grapes, apples and peaches. Bananas as big as they can get, oranges a plenty, not to mention those seldom heard fruits like pears, cherries (fresh and not preserved),  plums and strawberries, which I only eat when I am in Baguio!
Yesterday it strucked me, hard when I bought my week's supply of smoothie ingredients. When I asked how much were the fruits I bought for 3 kilos total (bananas, apples, peaches and mangoes), I gawked when the seller said SR 39.00! What the hell, I thought he was kidding me, as I am his regular customer and in all smiles and showing his stained and crooked teeth, I read he was not. Here's how the conversation went, hope you follow the drift:

"Esh hada?" I said.
"Sadiq, esh mushkala?" he replied.
"Esha mushkala? Liesh hadi gali?"
"Habibi, kulo gali!"
"Esh hada? Kam kilo hadi mawz (banana)?
"Sita (6), baden hadi tofah (apple) tamantash (8), mango kamustash (15), khokh (peach) ashra (10) riyal!
"La, la, la, la, la (no, no, no, no, no), liesh hadi?"
"Esh sawi? Kulo shil gali, lazem bai kida, malesh, baden saker ana bakala!"
"Mushkala sadiq, kief kida , esh sawi ana? Phulos shuweya, mafi miya miya, ana mumken mot!"
"Hehe, ana gib discount, mafi mushkala, kulo kamsa talatin (35), kalas!

Grumbling, I pull out SR35.00 from my wallet and mumbling to myself as I walk out that fruits and vegetable store.
Imagine, that's almost P400.00 in my money, and what I have brought? 5 pieces of bananas, 5 apples, 4 large peaches and 3 large mangoes! I haven't bought my yoghurt yet which cost SR 1.00 each and that P11.00, thank you very much!
Truly, times do change, even in a rich country like Saudi, but those who are sleeping in their palaces and grand houses, maybe doesn't feel it, orthose who earn much, but we the lowly workers, and those other poor locals, feel the big difference. Other basic goods like rice are now SR 28.00 per 5 kilos, whereas 4 years ago I get it at SR 18.00 only! Nowadays 1 whole chicken costs up to SR 14.00 when I used to have it at SR 9.00
If only those company owners would realize that the pay they give their employees should go with the times, then maybe we wil not complain as much, thank God for my housing allowance as rent costs here are also on the rise and right now there is this extra "insurance bond" that we need to pay which they say is refundable when we decide to leave, you can hardly see apartments here that are below SR 10,000.00 a year, and when you do find, it is so uninhabitable (to my standards, anyway) you will sacrifice your extra money you are saving, probably for a new Iphone 4, just to have a good night sleep and a safe place to live.
And I thought it will never happen here. Sigh.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Normal Working Day

What's a normal working day for me? Well, I've been doing the same work for almost 4 years now, I can say even when I close my eyes I know exactly what I am doing. Normal means receiving paper works interacting with people, rushing through things, throughout the day and me trying to finish everything before I get off in the evening, that is normal. I had posted before here about how much we put value to our work time (How To Raise Your Salary), thus meriting a significant appreciation, however small, from our colleagues and superiors.
So I put value in my work time, yes, when at work, I do my best always, yes, there may be setbacks, there may be some mistakes, errors, something I forgot, but I do make up for it. Yes, there may be times I flare up, get irritated and stubborn, don't want to get bothered and rushed, but I still do my best.
That's normal.
I just received today an enormous task of preparing a hundred purchase orders. I haven't started it yet for I still have some other priorities to attend to, but rest assured, I'll finish it up in a flash, yes I am Speedy Gonzales when it comes to my work, why, because I like the feeling of relief at the end of a finished job. I like the feeling of achievement that I pushed myself to do the extra mile. Yes I do complain, but it's just my way of conditioning myself to the challenge staring at my face. And then while still catching my breath after all is done, I will start all over again. That's normal.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The 5 Essentials Of Happiness

It has been written before, told and spoken the things we need to do just to be happy. We all know that most the things that makes us happy are not tangible, and the best in life cannot be bought, but rather free.
But somehow the reasons that made some people happy nowadays, or so they thought are more or less seen displayed at their favorite stores. Most people think that happiness is a state of mind brought about by things or circumstances that are outside their well-being. Still, there are those who find the simplest joys in everything that surrounds them 'cause in reality, true happiness comes from within. We cannot feel happiness outside ourselves until we are happy on the inside, bottom line, it is a decision we have to make. I came across this article about a so-called 5 essentials of happiness, and as follows:
  • We must be true to what we say. It is said that being truthful in what we say to others is one major factor in having a happy and healthy disposition, and what is even more important is what we say about ourselves. Lack of self-encouragement hasa huge negative effect on who we are, what we stand for and the amount of happiness that surrounds us. Take this, is it really true that we are not smart enough or we just need to learn a new skill? See the difference, and we can change this self-talk to a positive, loving and happy way.
  • Whatever happens let us not take offense. It is said that "which offends you only weakens you" and if we are always looking for situations to be offended, chances are we'll find them at every corner. Like it is our own choice to get offended when our opinions and decisions are different than ours. We are not offended not there was any intention, we choose to be. The essential thing is to take no offense with the actions of others, simply let it go, good or bad.
  • Never expect anything. One way to bring unhappiness is to live with expectations. Whenever we expect something and it was not the way we wanted it to be, we get disappointed, we let our happiness ride on the result of what it supposed to bring. We have no control over the outcome of every event and action that happen around us, but when we expect nothing and just accept whatever it was, happiness comes because we are not let down.
  • Serving others. Mother Theresa sets the example and says "It is not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving."  Sharing and giving opens the heart and lets happiness come in freely. To serve others without, yes, expectations of any returns.
  • In everything we do, we must always do our best. We always have to put our best foot forward, it feels good doing our utmost just to finish something, or reach our goals. There may be hards days at times but we must not falter at the slightest difficulty.
My good friend Benjie introduced me to Og Mandino, that great motivational speaker and author sums up the essential to happiness "Realize that true happiness lies within you. Waste no time and effort searching for peace, contentment and joy in the world outside. Remember that there is no happiness in having, or in getting, but only in giving. Reach out. Share. Smile. Hug. Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself."

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Single Man

One of the things we OFWs love to do when we had the time, which we do actually, is to watch movies. Back home, I seldom go to the movies, I only go when the movie is really worth watching or my favorite actor is playing. But here in the Saudi, when you cannot go out or doesn't want to, your room is your movie house, the internet is your bestfriend, torrents your buddies and TV is your brother. I recently watched again, which a habit of mine (watching a movie more than once, since the first time you only get to appreciate the cinematography and the next time the acting and the lines, the third time the soundtrack and story), the movie A SINGLE MAN, headed by a great actor and a favorite, COLIN FIRTH.

The story begins in an underwater dream sequence showing a naked body, drifting and floating underwater which is apt for a movie about love and loss which all but drowns in its own beauty. At its heart, is an elegant, and sophisticated acting from Colin Firth, for whose English which the role is convincingly suited. Directed by Tom Ford who is also a fashion and visual designer, provived a vivid and ­indulgent work in 1960s period style, with a hint of modernity, like a "100-minute commercial for men's ­cologne: Bereavement by Dior." - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian.Uk
Based on the 1964 novel by ­Christopher Isherwood, the film ­follows an unhappy single day in the life of an unhappy single man. George Falconer, played by Firth, is an ­expatriate ­Englishman in Los Angeles, a ­college professor teaching English literature. It is 1962, and there is this hype for change in the air: the recently passed Cuban missile ­crisis has left America in a careful mood, relieved but still profoundly nervous. The ­students increasingly affect the style of beatniks, bikers and bohemians, and youth ­culture is breaking through the ­normal conformity. None of this means much to Falconer, a discreet gay man whose partner, Jim, has just died in a car accident.
Shock and bereavement have accentuated George's repressed English habits. He now wears well-pressed suits,shirts, and buff-shined shoes. George goes out everyday from a modernist house whose glass walls promise an openness that George cannot personally show – and is silentl, heart-breakingly nice to ­everyone on campus where he is ­respected and admired, but has formed no close friendships. Colin Firth's George is radiant, almost shining with loneliness, which he may not s show publicly, havubg been rejected from Jim's funeral by the family. His despair has resulted in a painful heart condition, which George has endured as everything else. But he appears to have made a decision – that his loneliness is too much to bear. George will have this one final day at work, bid a kind of ­farewell to everything in his ­life, and then take his own life.

It is slendid performance in my opinion from Colin Firth, because the part is such a perfect match for Firth's great acting ability to be withdrawn, pained, yet sensual, with a dash of wit and fun. Matthew Goode plays Jim, his partner, mostly seen in flashback sequences.
Julianne Moore plays the best friend and confidante Charley, a ­fellow English expat and semi-alcoholic ­divorcee. Their friendship is touching and warm, even when George is furious to realise that Charley, in spite of everything, believes in her heart that heterosexual ­marriage is more real than gay partnership. ­Nicholas Hoult plays Kenny, a student fascinated by his enigmatic professor.
Tom Ford' film always looks cinematographically enticing: especially the scene in which George shares a cigarette with a beautiful Spanish boy, surrounded by an eerie reddish glow of LA dusk. But that black-and-white flashback showing George and Jim sunbathing nude on some rocks – that is mostly ad-like.
This movie which is so visually perfect, is still a good frame for Firth's performance: a man who has had to become his character to carry the weight of loss, and whom ­society will not permit to grieve. Kind of like most of what my "kind" does, we are much like actors playing roles, what people wants to see and accept againts who we really are. Sometimes our sadness is just something we can come home to in order to realize that we are still who we really are. Life in the 1960's where the story happens probably started the revolution about the freedom to express how sexually ambivalent men should be, and until now, we're fighting for that same right.
The story is poignant, deep and powerful, I can only sigh at the end that after all the sadness and pain, there is that moment when everything will be alright.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Zeitgeist

I bought an English newspaper today, which I rarely do, just to catch up with the world, hoping that somewhere along the war between countries, econonic crises, deaths, hungers, sickness and the poor that needs support are good news that is worth reading.
I scanned the pages and read that Egypt and Israel are still under a sour note; Obama asking his contituents to set aside politics and aim for more jobs in America or there will be another major economic downfall coming; women in the Saudi Arabia are vigilant and consistent in fighting for their rights to be experts behind the wheel; continuous war in Syria is killing and harming more innocent people each day; India's use of gold are losing its potential in the the local market due to high price; Oil prices are not going down; Paris Hilton came to the Philippines; etcetera, etcetera...call me sarcastic but I have not read any good news from the paper I just read. It made me wonder how terrible it must be the world we are living right now. All we do is complain, argue, fight and rage war against one another. It is also sad to think that IF the Mayan people's prediction that the world may end in Dec 2012, what legacy will the human race leave about the planet earth? I believe all mankind sleeps at night with only one prayer and hope, and it's for world peace. That we will wake up in the bright morning sun with promise and safety, that the rest of the day would turn out alright. We all like that, but that "like" is not that powerful enough to send strong vibrations around the globe in order to mobilize each one to work for peace.
Alas, my wishful thinking got hold of me, reality check, the zeitgeist (spirit of the times) is about pride, who is the better nation, who is the strongest, the most advanced and the most intelligent. Yeah, right, look what happened to Japan a few months ago!
I believe that even nature fights back over our shortcomings and abuse of it, and we pay hard.
But how can we change the world? A famous person once said that "everybody wants to change the world, but nobody thought of changing oneself first." Its been said and written many times that it has to start from within, we are created with the power to change everything around us if we start from the very source of it, ourselves, and then maybe, world peace.
To end, allow me to apologize for I made a mistake in claiming that I did not find anything good in the newspaper I bought for a cost of two non-fat yoghurt for my smoothie, I did, and it looks good under the gas range I have in my kitchen, to catch drippings from the food I prepare.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Balikbayan Boxes, Hopes, Dreams and Changes

I've always wanted to work in another country, for a lot of reasons, and like everyone else the main reason is to provide a better life for my family. Who doesn't dream of giving our loved ones everything they need?
There's this thought I always have that working abroad would be the only solution. The dreams of plenty pushes me to look for a better future in another land. Hope sparks in my soul and together with my Dreams, I hopped on the first opportunity I got, and flew to Saudi Arabia.
I could still remember the desert heat that welcomed me when I alighted from the airplane after a grueling 15 hour flight. But I just closed my eyes, say a little prayer, thought about my family and breathe deeply. This is it, I whispered silently, dreams will start to come true.
After a week of excitement and discovery, suddenly it hit me, missing home; my mother, my brothers and sisters, the naughtiness of my nephews and nieces, the noise, friends, food, even the "smell" of my neighborhood. I had sleepless nights and sometimes found myself crying out of melancholy. New found friends would always say I'll get by and I did try.
Hours turn into days, to weeks, to months and after four years of working, I did get by. But nothing beats going home, to see them once again, nothing can replace that feeling of great joy, so much that my heart would seem to leap out of my chest upon seeing my loved ones waving at me at the airport lounge, me drenched in sweat and sticky already which is a welcome home treat from my beloved country.
Coming home, there's a song like sound in it, I remember Gary V.'s "Babalik Ka Rin" song that become our OFW theme for a while which really emcompasses the true feeling that we have, us, working far from our family, with the sacrifices and hardships amidst everything else.
Returning home, bringing with us not only "Balikbayan" boxes of suprises but that "Hopes and Dreams"  we brought with us the first time and "Changes," that each time we return home, we are a different person, stronger, wiser and proud; each time our family's life is a little better; friends will hear our stories of successes and failures, and they get inspired and maybe they themselves change; that society will look at us, "new heroes" and say wish these heroes would come home and stay. We bring home Change that somehow our country's leaders would look upon us and provide a better opportunity and reason in staying home. We, OFWs are also delegates of good example to those who suffered the stigma of being lower than others by changing our host country's view of us and that we are at par and as skilled and hardworking as them.
Me, I will always come home, for there is no place like it, sounds a cliche' but as Paulo Coehlo wrote in his book The Alchemist, "Your treasure is where your heart is," and changes occur each time I see the people I care about smiling, my friends being inspired, my neighbors in a festive mood, and watching television and hearing news about how my country's leaders are working for the betterment of my homeland.
In retrospective, no matter where in the world we are, from Alaska to Zimbabwe, my fellow Filipino expats will always come home, for we are sentimental, strong and resilient people who welcome changes each time.

Friday, August 19, 2011

My Name In Arabic

Have you had your name translated in another language and were done beautifully and artistically that you would want to blow it up, have it printed and framed? I was just surfing the net for something to do and I thought of how my name would look like in arabic calligraphy and text and here's what I have made of it:



I have saved these pictures and one day I will have two large frames in my own house living room and these might be the center pieces on the wall.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Promise Me You'll Wait For Me

It is always a good feeling knowing that someone will be waiting for you when you come home. Being and expat working and living very far from your love ones can be hard and the only consolation is that after all the hardships and sacrifices, we will be greeted with warm smiles, kisses and tight hugs.
My last relationship was five years ago and since then it was a hit and miss search.

I was told to look and I did, but the ones I found were not "the one," and then I was told to wait, and wait I did, then five years went by.
I was told to pray, and I did pray, but not yet answered. Maybe in time, maybe not.
But I long for someone to love and to hold. Someone to look forward to say goodmorning, goodnight, how are you and missing you. Someone to sleep with at night and wake up to the next day. To argue and to make up with, to know that someone will always be there.
I almost told someone a promise, to wait for me "cause I'll be saving all my love for you," I almost sang, and deep down inside, I know I like the person much, but promising someone to wait is a selfish thing. One needs the freedom to express themselves and interact with another person, regardless. To constraint a person's feelings and freedom is to kill that fire burning inside. If you were meant to be, then no matter how long the years will go by, fate will make your paths cross again and then maybe that's the time love can begin. Eventually, I let the person go and wished happiness.
But what am I talking about really? Maybe time is starting to catch up with me and no person should be alone. That feeling of longing is slowly creeping inside, and living in this arid place, very far, very, very far can indeed makes you feel lonesome, once inside your room, lights closed, and the night is silent.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How To Raise Your Salary

I have read an article about a significant issue most of us working our ass off face every end of the month. The moment we receive our pay check, most often than not, we get a sigh instead of excitement. We automatically think about the bills we need to pay, the money to send home and the budget we have to keep to ourselves (as we do have a life too, thank you very much!) Most often too, that what's left are just enough to get us by until the next paycheck comes, another month away.
We ask ourselves is this all we're going to get? Don't I deserve something better? Then we think of another job, we search, sometimes in vain and rarely get lucky. Imagine the hustles of starting over gain, new responsibilities, new people, new enemies, and so on and so forth.
Enough said, this article written by Will Edwards, a motivational speaker and writer, as inspired by another great motivational speaker Jim Rohn, created a spark of interest and a new outlook in me. Last month I received a "little" surprise in my paycheck, "some amount" was added and it was indeed a surprise. I never expected it, nor look forward to it, it just appeared, I even thought there must be a miscalculation but there it was and all I can do was to be thankful and smile at myself.
You see, Will Edwards said that in order to have a raise in our paycheck we have to know our worth, the value of time we put into our work, although "people teach that in a job, you do get paid for time i.e. you are simply trading time for money," it is not the question of time, but the worth or value, what we do in that paid time. He said that if we can think of a way to make our market value worthy of a good paycheck, they we must know the value we put in our time. To do that, Jim Rohn has the perfect solution, "to get yourself paid more money, you need to increase your market worth and he goes on to give a real key as to how to do it: you need to work harder on yourself than you do at your job."
If we follow this then we can find a specific job, learn all the knowledge and skills it requires in order to perform it well and work ourselves until we make ourselves into the person who really fits the job description. That way we would increase our market value because we can be one of those few people who can do the job well.
So, I must have done something good, I must have made myself worthy of that, though small, but significant figure in my paycheck. I must have made myself worthy of the job, and I must have put value in my work time. I was praying for something to inspire me to work harder, this will do, for now.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tinkering With My Cam

I missed a day of post yesterday and I feel a bit sad, I told myself that I will do the "30-day Blog Challenge" of 1 post at least a day. Anyway, what can I do, I cannot turn back the time. Speaking of time,I've been spending some time lately tinkering with my camera, trying to learn and understand its intricacies and functions while also trying to take pictures of the things around my room, hoping that I would get some good shots, sort of practicing the skill. I really do wanted to be a good photographer oneday, and like everything else, practice makes perfect.
I do am proud of some of the pictures I got, to my opinion it was well done. I did two panoramic pictures and got it blown up to a 1 1/2 X 1/2 Meter in size and it looked very good on my bedside wall. One, entitled Nightime taken from the apartment building I am living in...

...it may not be "that" good, but it's worth displaying, I believe.
You may find once in a while posts of pictures I had taken and worked on and I hope you appreciate it. I am open to criticisms and suggestions and will be taken constructively.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My New Fragrance - RL Big Pony #2

They say perfumes and fragrances creates emotions, set up moods and an overall feeling of euphoria and wellness. It is also a known fact that scents trigger memories and feelings.
I am fond of perfumes, as I love smelling and feeling good. I already have a bit of a collection of favorite fragrances inside my cabinet and I never leave home without wearing what suits my feelings or moods at the moment, I even spray some on me during sleep time at night, which I would like to recommend as it makes me sleep better and wake up refreshed, do try.
I recently have added a new scent in my collection, the new Ralph Lauren Big Pony #2, it is part of a series of fragrances, four to be exact, aptly numbered 1 to 4 each bottle a collectible colored vials, Blue, Green, Red and Orange that really captures one's attention. So what draws me to this one? Like what I said, I like perfumes that spark a nice feeling or emotion, the moment I sprayed it on my skin and the scent reached my nose, I got this sensual feeling like I am the sexiest man alive! No kidding, sounds like too much, even crazy, but honestly, that's how I felt! It was exactly how the scent is described:

Big Pony Collection #2
This sexy mix brings together dark chocolate and musk—a bold combination for the ladies' man who can't help it if he attracts a crowd. As this spicy and seductive fragrance unfolds, the challenge of love is transformed into undeniable attraction.
Dark Chocolate. Musk. Spicy.
Seductive. Sexy. Magnetic.

So who wouldn't like that? Not that I want to attract the opposite sex really, but I will always love that feeling the scent gives me everytime I wear it.

My Past and My Future

I wish I am a fortune teller so I could find out what my future holds for me, but I am not, nor I would really like to be one. Though I would want to find out how much success I will enjoy this year, however, I have read that "next year would, for most people, be pretty much the same as this year.

That sounds like uninspiring, but in many ways, it is. The reality is that unless I change something, next year is all set in giving me more of the same. There is nothing wrong with that of course, especially if I am enjoying my life and I have in it all the things I want at the moment.

But, on the other hand, I am trying to really improve a lot in life, and the thought that next year will just be more of the same is not such an attractive proposition at all. But I need to understand that this situation is simply the law of cause and effect at work and that law is reliable, continuing and predictable. That is why I can make such a strong statement and know that it will be true. If I want to change my results, I have to change my methods.

When I think back over the last five years. What have I been doing with my time? Have I been learning and improving myself or have I been treading water? Have I been just turning up at that job of mine or have I got another project on the go at the same time? If I have not changed my methods substantially in that time, then I am very likely to have failed to improve my successes. Everything is the same, and it is.

I think it is time to say stop to all that has happened before, because what I will achieve in the future has only vaguely and remotely has anyting to do with the past. That is a very important life lesson to learn. My future can be completely different to my past if I want it to be and the way to make that happen is to start right now, in the present, by examining my ways.

First, decide what you want to change: your salary, your relationships? Whatever it is, you can do it if you are prepared to change your approach – your methods – the causes that are responsible for producing those effects that you wish to change. - Will Edwards, Inspirational Guru

He said, the principle is always the same, if we want something better, then we need to change something because we are the reason of the results that are happening in our lives. We are attracting people around whether we like them or not, we attracted the job we are currently employed in and we attracted the salary that pays for the things we have we need in our lives.

With that said, my future does not need to be the same as my past. If I am ready to change by dealing with myself, in long-term, my future will never be anything like my past.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Emphaty and Authenticity

Now, when I ask my friendships if I will do drag and parade myself in a party, they might say, "oh that would be fabulous and sounds like fun," and when I ask my friends the same question, "oh, that's a no, no, are you crazy, what are you thinking?"
From these two reactions, we may find that one group is being emphatic and the other authentic. So what's the difference between the two words, let's start by defining each:

1. Showing or giving emphasis; expressing something forcibly and clearly.
authenticity (plural authenticities)
1.The quality of being genuine or not corrupted from the original.

So, from the definition we can reason that authenticity can be honesty and empathy is simply being nice. We are surrounded by people whom we owe a lot of ourselves, our self esteem and how we view life in general. In the continuum balance life serves us we both encounter these two types of people, everyday.
We probably wouldn’t expect everyone to tell the truth in every situation. In fact, it is also worth thinking about whether or not we would have told about the truth had we been asked. So what do you think the number of people who'd been honest and nice to you?
It turns out that the great majority of people, me included, in most situation, prefer to avoid the truth. Why? Because, of course, we are sensitive to the feelings of the other person. We don’t want to cause any unnecessary hurt, so we prefer to lie. Often we would have called such an untruth a ‘white lie’. It is our ability to empathise with the situation of the other person.
It is this same ability (empathy) that causes us to cry, or indeed experience other emotions, when watching touchy movies. Why do we feel emotions when we watch some movies? Because, in reality, we have put ourselves into the shoes of the character in the movie and so we experience exactly the same emotions we would feel if we were actually in the real situation – and that’s empathy.
When we think about this example, it is very easy to see the relationship between empathy and honesty or, the term used, ‘authenticity’. Being authentic involves having the courage to be honest with others. For most people, it is not always an easy thing.
There are people who have developed the authenticity personality within themselves; others have developed the empathy personality. Surely it is worth doing a bit of inner self-searching, asking ourselves the question: which two characteristic is the most dominant in our behaviour? When we know, we will be able to watch out for occasions when our habitual behaviour starts to takes over.
With practice, we can develop a truly balanced approach to dealing with others. We can have the courage to be honest in our relationships while at the same time staying sensitive to feelings. The secret is doing it the right way which is out of love. Don’t answer out of spite, or in judgement of another, or to get the upper hand in a conversation. Just let that sincere, kind and loving person that is part of our soul – our higher self – to guide our actions, and we will never go wrong.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Ode To A Housemate

I decided to try to live with a another nationality, I chose to share a two-room apartment with a Sri Lankan nurse. It was like at first sight, he was nice, accommodating and funny at that. He likes to talk about his day to day activity in full facial expression, voice modulation, action and laughter. He always make me laugh out loud.
We've been together more than a month now, and I've learned that he was a bit OC when it comes to cleanliness. Our bathroom is sparklingly clean and heavenly disinfected, you can sleep on it even! He loves to cook and most of the time I will find myself just sitting down and eating with him. One thing though as a Sri Lankan I noticed they are fond of coconut milk, spicy chilis and mustard seeds. All his concoctions are never without these three ingredients, from vegetables to meat meals, it was always spicy and creamy. I am not a "hot" meal person, I am very sensitive to spicy foods, and I've already ate while sniffing and teary eyed from the food he prepares everyday. After that he would wash every pot and pan, plates and glasses, wipe the cooking range, wipe the table and the wash basin and leave the kitchen as it nothing had ever happened in it.
He doesn't like me washing as he told me that my hands would get rough, he always ask me for permission to anything he does at home, even when using the washing machine. He calls me "princess" because he said I am like one which made me laugh again.
He spoils me everytime by bringing home four tetra packs of juice everyday, as in everyday! My personal refrigerator are almost full of it, as I cannot cope with drinking and the supply I get from him everyday. One of the things we have in common too is our love of smoothies. I would wake up everyday with a freshly made smoothie in my large mug ready for drinking, although we have different tastes as I like mine creamy and his juicy. So he will reserve half of the creamy mixture for me and mix again his with an additional water.
He was all these maybe because through our conversations, as he laid out on me his life, his family and experiences, his being a Buddhist made all the difference. These people of Buddha are known to be kind, honest, service-oriented, down-to-earth and peaceful. He is all these also, coming from a lowly life in Sri Lanka, his father a farmer who tried hard to send them all (5 of them) to school, finish college and give then as much comfort he can afford, his mother from a wealthy family who were disowned when she ran away with the man she loved. They live happy and simple lives, his father would till the soil everyday without complain with only the love of his wife and future of their children as his inspiration. His mother turned her back to her rich background and lovingly built a home with love, kindness and happiness abound. I can see and feel that with my housemate, he would often quote either his father or mother whenever we talk about good things, like how his father told them that "it is always better to ask than to take what is not yours," or his mother would tell them, "when you don't have you ask, but whenever you have you always share."
He dreamt of entering the monastery after Saudi (which I think is soon), it was his childhood wish, to be a Buddhist monk. He enthusiastically tells me how he already had a teacher who will guide him when he decided to really come. He even invited me to join him, which come to think of it is not a bad idea.
I once browsed in the net about Buddhism and its doctrines and I found it interesting and personally engaging. They say Buddism is either a religion or a way of life, for they are much into self enlightenment, meditation, social work, peace and love of humanity.
I am learning from him a lot, from my past experiences, there are limitations when it comes to living with people you don't know really who they are but eventually find out and then things get a little complicated. There are times when you saw it coming but you still engage in it cause you always "thought" it would be ok but it won't. Whilst with Dissa, his name, I don't feel that tension, limitation and pretention. He is what he is, and I can be me when I am with him. I don't feel I need to adjust with him, but rather let loose myself and just be me and there is this respect and treatment that he shows me everyday that is so precious, I feel humbled and ashamed at times when my behavior is not apt to his philosophies in life.
Like what I said before it's just more than a month, but I feel we I already known him all my life. Don't get me wrong, this is not a romantic issue, rather something deeper. They say there is always a reason for everything, and they believe in reincarnation and karma, maybe this connection has something to do with that. Maybe.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Driving Like There's No Tomorrow

I am not quite sure why I am writing about driving when I am not fond of it. Yeah, I was taught by my late father how to drive and so were my brothers but I never got the hang of it, nor the excitement of having the wheel in my hands. They say driving is a necessity, and I agree, I am not sure why I am not enthusiastic about it really, I don't even have a trauma about driving, nevertheless, I am sure I can drive one, maybe after a few "dead engine" stops or in cases of emergencies.
But living in Riyadh provided a different backdrop in the things I would like to say about driving, safely at that. I just read a reader's comment in the local newspaper about "reckless, lack of awareness in driving that causes the rise in road accidents," and it is already a fact that Saudi had been one of the "worst places to drive, and has the highest road accident statistic in the world."
Back home, drivers make the concious effort of doing their thing right, by following most rules and safety precautions or else a well hidden traffic patrol policeman will be waiting for them at the next corner or stop.
We Filipinos are still afraid of our traffic laws, not to mention having a car accident that either kills or disables. In Riyadh, maybe because the roads are so wide it would fit 5 cars the most side by side going one direction, that "locals" and those expats who already followed the Saudi way of driving, does not care much about road rules and safety. They probably thought they are masters of car racing video games that they thought they are in a real one. They rush through traffic like they are playing; swerving, dodging, racing sometimes at full speed like there's no tomorrow! It is a scary sound to hear a racing car pass by you on the road, seeing them disappear in front of you in a second! Specially when the locals were driving fancy sports car that I can only see on TV and on magazines like Lamborghinis and Ferraris and those whose names I am not familiar event (but my sister Ivy who is a talented driver and knows much about these things would say that those whose names are not familiar are the very expensive and special ones), yes, a display of luxury cars driven like crazy will entice, entertain and amaze you.
The sad part is that sometimes you will see police cars along the street and just watch them pass by, or maybe I am wrong in that account, I would assume they just did their job, saw the plate number and reported it back to their office through the hi-tech tracking system they have in the car laptops, checked the plate registration, sent an SMS message to the owner about the violation and voila, the "majnun" have to pay immediately otherwise the violation penalty would double the following week, and triple and so on. However, I rarely see speeding cars being chased or cars being heralded to stop for a violation. Yes, there are visible patrol cars, are they really there?
I do hope also that they would implement a stricter driving rules by preventing minors, yes minors between 12 to 17, who drove without any supervision and risks their lives and others' once they are on the road. I have heard about some parents allowing their minor children to drive, especially the mothers, who needed to go out and the husbands are at work. They would tell their young kids to drive them to the mall or supermarket, and then there are rumors that policemen does not apprehend these young drivers for fear that the mothers would make a scene, and here in Riyadh when a woman makes a scene, you better watch out! As it is "haram" or forbidden for men to interact with women besides their own mothers, sisters or wives.
Once I was walking home and I passed by a large parking lot and I saw a car moving, I did not immediately see the driver as it was a bit far from me, then as it approaches I saw a little man driving, or so I thought, and when it passed by me, it was not a man, he was a kid, probably a little older than 10, all smiling as if telling me "look, how cool I am driving this big car."
Bursting tempers and easily irritated drivers also abound the streets of Riyadh, for as small issue as not giving way would send their blood pressures to breaking points! Yet they themselves are guilty of such petty actions, I would like to blame the hot weather, but I am thinking this is their "way" that it is an inert trait that they should always have their way at every cost.
Again, these views are mere observations and I am sure there are resposible, well-mannered, cool and careful drivers in this country and I also think driving is a responsibility one should take seriously, for once on the road, if you are alone, you owe it to yourself to arrive safely to where you are heading, and if you have passengers, just think of the lives that may be lost if you drive like you owe the devil your soul.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

That I Would Be Good

There will always be songs that when you hear will move you, that will touch the inner part of you and send your emotions into a roller coaster ride. Most of these songs would define who you really are or how you are feeling at the moment. I call it sometimes as an answer to a whispered prayer. An immediate booster to a lowly heart, a comfort to a lonely soul.
I viewed a friend's profile in Facebook because to greet him as it was his birthday, and he had this short video of pictures of himself all these years and in the background was a song playing, the picture show and the song go together perfectly that it tugs my heartrings and made me teary eyed. It was sang by a great artist of the 90's Alanis Morrisette, who never fails to awe her fans with her "real life" songs, songs that comes from everyday experience and deep emotions, which made it more endearing. It was called "That I Would Be Good" and the moment I hear the words, it made me look back also into my life, where I had been and what I have become. Good thing I have a copy of the song in my IPod and I set it to play over and over as every time it makes me want to cry.
...That I would be good
Even if I did nothing
That I would be good
Even if I got a thumbs-down
That I would be good
If I got and stayed sick
That I would be good
Even if I gained ten pounds...

My life is full of let downs, disappointments and heartaches, from the people I care about to the people I meet each day. From my workplace, to the streets, even in my home. I struggle to find that happiness, for the feeling of being alright.
And I do, I only need to let go and look forward to a new start. Everyday is a new opportunity to become happy, to be ok, to be fine, to be good and I do try.
No matter what happens as long as I am strong at heart, I would be good, like the song goes, even when I feel like I am alone, I will be alright.
...That I would be loved
Even when I numb myself
That I would be good
Even when I'm overwhelmed
That I would be loved
Even when I was fuming
That I would be good
Even if I was clingy...

I feel that I am loved, even when sometimes I think I am not. There will always be somebody who cares. Even the baddest person is loved, even the most hated is loved. There will always be someone who looks up to you and in their eyes, a hero.
...That I would be good
Even if I lost sanity
That I would be good
Whether with or without you...

And when at times when I am alone, I could still be good, cause the most important thing is that I can always stand up every time I fall down. I have the power and wisdom to pull myself together, pick up the pieces and rebuild my life again; that loving myself is the best thing I can do to me, as Rupaul would always say "If you can't love yourself, how the hell you're gonna love somebody else?" Can I get an amen up in here?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

An Expat's Lament

There is an ongoing ordinance that a company should have a certain percentage of locals working with them in a call to "give a chance to the sons and daughters of this land" as one local newspaper headlined a few weeks ago. A good intention, even I, in my own country would agree on this "...ization" or giving priorities to a country's citizens instead of foreign assistance.

But my four years of stay in this country who had given me the opportunity to have a wider perspective when it comes to work and the bread and butter for my family, I have observed, witnessed and actually experience how "some" of this so-called "sons and daughters" behave and take advantage of this current issue. I am not generalizing, I am merely expressing my own opinion and first hand accounts, it is not my intention to degrade but rather to tell the other side of the story.

- They usually come to work late, on the time they "feel" like and most probably the first they will do when they arrive is to drink tea, chat with their colleagues, read a newspaper or just go from department to department looking for their kind and have another tete-a-tete session.
- They leave work earlier than everybody else. Once they felt like they have "worked" they confidently just disappear from their work area.
- They will often say we are "locals" and we have all the rights to do what we want, whenever we want and anytime we want.
- They don't care at all at other people's situation other than their own. It is always "their situation," "their problems," "their issues," that should be given priorities.
- They want higher salaries, just because they are "locals" and then bribe others to do their work for them
- They are given positions at which they have NO IDEA WHATSOEVER on what to do, most often HIGHER posts, which is so absurd.
- They complain too much.
- They think they know everything, when in truth they rely on someone else too much and then take all the credit.

However, this ordinance is a great way to bring back a country's local's confidence and belief back to their leaders and promote patriotism, which will then urge its citizens to pursue good education and discover their capabilities. Many countries around the world is also implementing such a law. The locals I believe are a very talented bunch, however, misguided by their own self belief and pride. There are employers too that rely on their foreign workers much to their advantage, for these hard working people provide the means to make the company more stable and productive.I can only imagine if a company would use 100% of their locals who tends to do the things I just mentioned above, all working as managers and bosses, each one pointing at another to do each other's responsibilities. But, with all these lament, there are some who takes their responsibilities seriously, maybe because they are educated (abroad and already experienced and learned the value of work ethics and time), or simply know what it means to be a worthy "local" who has been given a chance to prove his worth, and that I admire.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Love Coming A Little Late

Days, Months that turned into Years
I must admit sometimes I hide behind the tears
Praying and hoping for another adventure
Where my heart would find comfort and pleasure.

Another chapter in my so called life.
Another chance for love that cuts life a knife.
Love is coming a little late this time.
For that someone I can call mine.

10 Steps To A Better You - Will Edwards

I am posting this as it is quite easy to follow:

1. Exercise regularly, ideally every day.
2. You must have a vision or a dream if you like.
3. Always be prepared to adopt a new approach.
4. Start to see every demand on your time in terms of your vision.
5. De-clutter your home, office and l...ife.
6. Brainstorm ideas regularly with yourself or with others.
7. In all you dealings with other people, commit yourself to really listening to what they have to say.
8. Start performing Random Acts of Kindness.
9. If you are negotiating anything with anyone, try to find a solution that both parties like and not one that both parties will reluctantly accept.
10. Stay committed to the process of continual improvement.

The Ones Who Never Left

It already sounds like a cliche to once again define what friends are. Who are they and what are their roles in one's life.
Too many definitions and descriptions people already laid out when asked what is a friend, and if we gather all those definitions, maybe a few volumes could be published just defining a friend. I guess it's to each his own when it comes to friendship. It would always depend on who and what kind of experiences you have with certain people that will constitute your own personal definition of what are friends.
But if you're going to ask me, I got my own definition which I recently made up, and probably will be my only one, simply, "they are the those people who never left," I didn't mean literally, but those special human beings who were with you through your ups and downs, through your worst and best times, they may be far or near, but you always feel them around you. They stayed with you no matter who you are or what you may have become and will be afterwards. They simply love and accept you even when others may have judged you, because they understand you.
Too many people come and go in our lives, our journey is filled with people who may just be passing by; passing and sitting by; passing, sitting and waiting by; passing, sitting, waiting and staying by , and those who will stay are the friends who'll be there for you.
I have hundred of friends, but only a handful of friendships, and I would rather have friendships than friends, the ones who will never leave.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Power of Words

Often, it is the right words that really convey the exact meaning of what we say, or write, or read. Most often we interpret words literally and the lack of emotion in them suggests a strong and an uncomfortable feeling.

There is a truth in the power of words, people listen, and they act on the words, the signifance of a leader's speech can move a mass of people either to peace or to war.

Written words in the form of books and manuscripts can change one's life or the world, like our Bible, the way the words were expressed touches deep enough that many people would die for it.

This short video sampled the power words can convey and how it affect people. Watch and maybe learn something from it. I did.

“Autobiography in Five Short Chapters” by Portia Nelson

I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am lost ... I am helpless. It isn't my fault. It takes me forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don't see it. I fall in again. I can't believe I am in the same place. But, it isn't my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in ... it's a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
I walk down another street.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Amateur Photos

The Lamp Post
The Stroller

My First Hubbly Bubbly (Shisha) Experience

I've always been curious about this fad originated in India about 400 years ago and had become one of the favorite pastimes of the Arab world. Last night, I got to have the taste of it for the first time, courtesy of a new found friend.

You see I never smoked, though during my college days, I did try but never liked it, so this would be a challenge for me. We often say that we try anything at least once, and having that in mind, I mustered enough courage to dive in.

We went to this place near Shifa, called Aldana, which was a huge tent-covered area with low-walled cubicles, lined with carpets and low foam-sitting mattreses with arm rests. The whole area is teeming with men of I think, all Arab nationalities and I haven't sighted any Asians (besides me) there. Outside were almost a hundred cars and trucks parked in whichever direction and I asked my friend if all these were the customers of this place, he said yes.

When we went, in my friend, who is a frequenter in the place tried to find his "guy", his favorite steward as he calls him which becomes his friend who finds place for him and serves him. We roam around the alleys that were in between cubicles and the area is foggy and the air is aroma filled with a concoction of different scents,from fruity to spicy, yet soothing but intoxicating. Soon we located the guy and after the pleasantries and introductions, we were ushered to a cozy cubicle with a huge TV, well each cubicle has a TV, and what a way to smoke your lungs dry, is to watch TV while doing it!

Then we were served with two shisha glass bottles decorated with colorful designs and two pipes with, wonder of wonders disposable plastic sippers! Yes, still wrap in small plastic, these were a surprise! There I thought I will sip the smoke out of the wooden pipes directly! Our steward prepared the pipes and shisha, by placing live coals over an aluminum wrapped vials atop the bottles. Then my friend urged me to sip, by trying to imitate him. As you might have guessed, I was coughing like crazy, the steward who were watching me, laughed and asked if it was my first time, I said yes and he said I will get used to it and eventually enjoy it. Well, I did, after more than 15 minutes, I finally got the hang of it and sipping and exhaling the sweet flavoured smoke of whatever flavor I was given while conversing with my friend and drinking sweet, minty tea. We stayed there for a couple of hours and at the end I felt a bit high, sort of dizzy but feeling good. It was not expensive and the experience was unforgettable. I am not sure if I am going to really like it, but nevertheless an invitation next time to enjoy this as Wikipedia describes as "lower risk smoking than cigarette," activity would be nice.

Friday, August 5, 2011

To Charlie, At 13

Dear Charlemagne,

Hi, I am yourself, 25 years later, and I am writing to you tell you what's came to pass and what may happen still in your future.

You are now at the start of something wonderful and exciting, you're in between that phase that you are no longer a baby, yet, to your parents still naive to most things outside their care and protection. But they cannot stop you from taking that step towards a world of self discovery and learning and I tell you, there will be a lot of that ahead of you.

One thing though, you are a fragile little boy who will try to overcome all the adversities life will throw at you, but you'll survive, you are a survivor, I am where I am right now because of you, because of what you have gone through.

There will be lots of confusion and failures, heartaches and disappointments, yes, that I promise you also, you will cry, you will lose heart, there will come a time also that you will wish to give up, but there is something inside your heart that will always tell you that you must go on and take all these in a stride, you just have to laugh it off and move on.

You will be tough in the end, yet, when you are alone, you will internalize all that is happening around you and then take it all in, it may affect you for a while but soon you'll bounce back again.

At my age, you are at the prime your life, you have cultivated a handful of friends who'll stand by you, you're family will be closer than ever and you live your life right now on your own terms. Life will be good for you, there are set backs still, and it does not bother you or rather me much anymore 'cause we have your standards and beliefs that we go by, wisdom acquired and learned through the years which we use and practice daily.

Though are some things I cannot learn still to let go, there were some lessons I never learn, we never learned, 'til now, maybe soon, I don't know still how also, maybe in time.

Right now our future still is not clear, but who cares? I still dream like you, we are dreamers, we live in our dreams at times, I take each day as it comes, having faith that where ever and what ever we end up with, important thing is we will be alright.

We are loved, do not forget that and you are not alone even at times you may feel so.
So be brave and never regret, you will go through so much, but like what I told you, I am where I am right now because of you and I am fine.

Pray always and I love you.


Charlie, At 38

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Old Shemaissy, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Old Shemaissy, my home for the last 4 years of my stay in Saudi Arabia, it's an area teeming with life and culture from various ethnicity. Here you may find living together Filipinos, Pakistanis, Indians, Bengalis, Sri Lankans, Saudis, Badus (Black Local Saudis), Yemenis, Syrians, Jordanians, Turkish, and some Chinese. One can just wonder the mingling of these people, it's like a mini world within a world.

I have had my own fair share of life's experiences here, one fact is that for the last four years I have move six times around this small area, yes six times! But I think I am settling with the last, otherwise I told myself no more for moving out and in a new place is not for the faint hearted, it is not easy!

Here, I find everything I need without going far (unless I want a more uptown atmosphere, I'll go to the malls), grocery stores or "bakalas", bakeries, barbers, tailoring shops, mosques, fish, chicken, vegetables and fruits stores, banks, atm machines, restaurants with choices of Indian, Arabic and Filipino foods, or if you want the commercial fast foods, you'll find KFC, Kudo, Pizza Company, Pizza Hut, Seattle's Best, Cinnabon and Krispy Kreme, what is unbelievable is that ALL of these are just a few walks from each other!

I also have a lot of experiences meeting all these ethnicities here in Shemaissy, and you get to know their lives and cultures in one way or the other, some were nice people, others were too proud of theirs, some are only nice because they need something from you, others doesn't even care, there were those who thinks their the best people, whence others I feel sad because they do the lowliest work just to survive.

But regardless of that, I found real friends here, a handful, one-handful that is. I found life here, find new experiences everyday and I am not sure how long will I stay more, but I am sure I will be missing this place when I leave, and when I look back, I could say that in one small town far, far, away from where I was born, along the winding streets, mud houses and twisting corners, in a busy town called Shemaissy in Riyadh Saudi Arabia, I was there, and the memories will linger on.

At 38, Not Bad At All

...woke up feeling good and refreshed, like I always do, after saying my morning thanks, immediately I would drink two glasses of water and start my morning activity, working out...

...after 45 minutes of continuous lifting to the beat of Madonna's Give It To Me, I looked my self on my lifesize room mirror and I was happy, at 38, less than 10% body fat and 32 inch waistline...not bad, not bad at all...thank you very much!

Taking Chances

"...what do you say to taking chances, what do you say to jumping off the edge,
never knowing if there's solid ground below, or hand to hold, or help to pay...
..what do you say?...what do you say?..."

So the song goes as Celine belted it out...Taking Chances, eversince I heard this song, it has been sort of a mantra to me, just to keep me going everytime I am feeling a little on the low side and looking for inspiration. Sometimes opportunities present themselves and we are too afraid to take it, we almost always look at the bad side of the opportunity even before we understand the good it will do.
Then we miss it, a new job, a new love, a new experience, we let it slip away, just because our confidence and faith is not that strong enough to take that step.
Faith, that only comes from having a relationship with the Maker, putting our trust in Him and going by blind faith that He will not let us down, I remember a something like, "The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you.". God always presents a path for us to follow, but it is up to us to choose if we want to follow that path or not. So faith and trust has a lot to do with us taking chances in life.
So what do you say? Let's take a chance in life, remember it's not what's at the end, but how we got there, it's the journey that makes it all worthwhile, but that journey will not start unless we take that step, that chance, even though we don't know where it will lead us..."never knowing if there's solid ground below, or hand to hold, or help to pay...what do you say?...what do you say?..."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hope - When Life Seemed At Its End

My Idea Of A Perfect First Date

I am a hopeless romantic, and what makes me so is that I find first dates very special. But honestly, I seldom go on first dates, and if I did, it usually not what I expected it to be, no, I am not saying they were bad dates, or not so special dates, like what I just said, it was just not wha I imagined them to be.
So what makes my first date perfectly special? Let me count the ways...

...actually, for me, there are no perfect first dates, as each one is unique and different in it's own way. Every moment is special, regardless the situation is, why, because you are with someone you like, someone you are fond of. So, be it under the rain, by the bus stop, in a coffee shop, a park, along the beach, on a rooftop, under a tree, where ever you set it up, what matters are the moments you will be sharing together that will linger on...

Ok, ok, you may ask, how do I picture my perfect date, really, fine. I would like my perfect date to be by the beach, walking along the sands, watching sunset, and the birds flying overhead, talking about anything we could think of, some laughters, holding hands, watching each other, trying to read each other's thoughts, watching the smiles and the twinkling of the eyes, head on a shoulder, feeling someone alive beside you, hear the breathing, some awkward silence...that's how I imagine mine. Sounds like a cliche, but, people do silly things when they're in love right? Or when I you like someone that much?

...so there it goes, a perfect date would depend upon how you really like the person, and how each moment count.

A New Look

Sometimes a little courage and a little self-confidence can do it, you see I never have had a semi-skinhead cut, ever! I am always scared as to how it would turn out or how will I look. Being slim and all, I am scared to look like Mac in the "Mac and Me" movie I saw years ago.
One summer night, I am feeling itchy and sweaty due to heat, uncomfortable and all, I went out of the apartment and went straight to the barber. Along the way I was thinking of what kind of haircut to have, and I noticed most of the men I met along the way are skinheaded or semi-skinheaded, we call it the No.2 cut. (Maybe because of the upcoming Ramadan, those who went to Umra, has to have their hair on their head razored clean (all the hair on their body for that matter, too). So a thought began to play in my head.
When I reached the barbershop, the Pakistani barber was busy with another customer having his head shaved, then, my heart started to beat faster, and something in my mind tells me to have the same, but somewhere a voice also tells me no. Outside the barber shop I was pacing here and there, deciding on going through it or not. Then, a father and son, I think they're Syrian, passed me by and both had the same cut, and the little boy is so cute, and I took it as a sign to have the same.
Thirty minutes later and after a heart pumping moment; seeing myself in the mirror slowly losing my locks; catching them fall on my lap; playing them in my hands; how thick and black they were; I went out of that shop light-headed, literally.
The wind blowing on my head feels like a breath of fresh air, I thought to myself, this wasn't too bad, I am guessing. The verdict would be when I come to the office the next day, but who cares, I think I look fine. So there, maybe a new look would bring fresh inspiration and new beginnings, I am praying it would.