Here’s a thing, I promised myself not to write a blog post about my journey to the middle east. But here I am staring to my laptop and about to start breaking that promise.
I was full of myself. I was the king of my own world. Life is not what it seems to be for me, it hit me hard and I took a heavy fall.
In the first week of 2016, after I successfully resigned from my work in Makati, I spend my time working on my documents to go abroad and meeting with friends, going out for a drink, attending a mini high school reunion and watching my favorite band before I fly to Dubai. Time flies so fast when you’re having fun, it is proven so many times before, and before I knew it, the day of departure arrives. Only a handful of people know that I’m going out of the country. I keep it that way, no despedida parties, no tears to shed because I know to myself that I’ll be back… Early.
The promise of a much greener pasture. That is what keeps on running in my head as I board the plane. I said to myself that I need to grit my teeth on whatever comes my way when I get there. But life is much tougher than I expected. The shit is going to hit the fan.
My first month is more like a tourist month. Getting familiar with the land, learning the culture, the laws, and going to beautiful places around Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Experiencing what is like to be in a foreign land and what is like to live there.
Burj Khalifa is a work of art, near or far.
Malls bigger than the biggest mall in the Philippines, making Mall of Asia look like a common supermarket there. A mall with a big aquarium inside and a mall with an indoor ski resort. Every modern piece of architectural art is there. The perks of being a first world country.
Sports cars are everywhere. Ferrari, Camaro, Dodge, Corvette, Lamborghini, Rolce Royce, Audi, McLaren, Bugatti, any sports car you can probably think of is there and they are not parked in some grand showroom, but instead, they are parked in the streets.
Laws are strictly observed and followed. The public transportation is so good even the royalty rides the metro.
First Lesson : Never compare other country to your home country, because it will get you frustrated overtime.
From the moment I got there, everything is different: the landscape, the people, infrastructure, government, everything is different. In every turn of the head there is something good to see and something to compare to my home country. For every comparison I made, the more I get frustrated. So I stopped comparing, instead I learn to appreciate the differences.
Before the month ends I travel to Oman because I need to exit from Dubai in order to process new visa. My short stay in Oman proved a lot of things about being an Overseas Filipino Worker.
Second Lesson: You never know what is like, unless you experience it first hand.
The struggle is very real, even this very moment, my body still remembers the feeling of travelling for almost 12 hours by land.
This the first time I’m traveling alone and in a foreign land. Without someone to rely on but myself. The fear is there, but I told myself “You need this. It’s part of your life journey.”
Indeed my 5 day stay there is very worthwhile.
A lot of Filipinos are exiting to Dubai in order to process their new visa. I met a lot of kababayans from all walks of life during that trip. Kish Island is closed for exiting due to some problems occurred during that time, so all of the people who are trying to go out from Dubai are diverted to Oman. Luckily, our group belong to the early batch of people who entered Oman during that time.
Third Lesson : You gotta be smart to survive and make do with what you have.
It is important to be street smart during the trip. My budget is very limited and I need to maximize it in order to survive. I carefully pick the person I go with during the trip, so during the bus ride. I talked to a lot of people inside the bus in order for me to familiarize with them and analyze their behavior so that I’ll know who to go with in case something wrong happen. Survivor Reality TV.
When we got out of the bus, a lot of people started to form their own group. I had a hard time choosing who to go with, and where to stay. Because of that I ended up banding with a group of rowdy looking men. Eric, Kuya Jon, Mark, Kuya Aldin, Stephen and Kuya Fidel. I thought that I made a big mistake during that time, but I can proudly say that it was the best decision I made during that trip. They were my best buds during that the trip and even today.
We are the wolf pack, we are the rowdy guys from row 4 of the class. The A-Team of that trip. The best team.
We are having a hard time finding a good room to stay because all of the room are occupied and some of the rooms are filthy and bedbug-infested. Stephen muscled the caretaker and he ordered him to give us a good room to stay in. The caretaker knew what we want and immediately lead us to a unoccupied room. A freshly cleaned room.Eureka! after a long ride we can finally settle down and rest. The battle is not yet over.
Internet is very vital. We need to be always updated about our visa application status or else we’ll be stuck there for a long time and that is not an option for us.
The problem? The internet router is only allowed 6 gadgets to connected to the internet. I know I have to do something about it, I need to access the router and change its configuration. I accessed the router page to my laptop and luckily the administrator username and password is set to its default settings and I changed the configuration so that the whole place can access the internet without any problem. I distributed the bandwidth and make a dedicated wifi hotspot for our room. For 5 days straight, we have internet without problem. talking about being resourceful eh?
Fourth Lesson: Pinoys will always be Pinoy everywhere you go.
There, I’ve said it like everybody else. Pinoys are always Pinoy. Some of it might be on a positive light but just like the brighter the light, the darker the shadow. Every Filipino knows and some foreigners too. We are always smiling and positive about almost everything while other people is pessimistic, we like to share everything, even our own misery. Some Filipinos are too boastful to the point you want to put your knee to their face. Pinoy Pride is a double edge sword especially when you are outside of your country. I won’t explain this further, some people might know what I’m talking about Pinoys and other nationalities.
Fast forward to 2017. A lot of things happened, I finally landed a new job here in Makati after a year of being bum. I can say that my adventure in the land of sand, oil and gold didn’t go well, but I am happy for the lessons I learned there.
It took me a year to finally publish this post because I don’t feel like finishing this entry for sometime. Also I forgot some of the things I want to write back then but maybe I’ll remember it and update this entry.