October 20, 2008


Eight years back, when me and friend Glo started planning (nay, dreaming was more like it), about working and living abroad, we talked about our ideal place- what kind of people we want to meet, which continent we want to go to, what kind of job we want to be working on, etc.

I have actually attended a seminar-orientation for Canada and have also signed up online for New Zealand. We both agreed on much the same things: peaceful environment, good place for children to grow up in, low crime rate, not so hectic lifestyle, and where there’s already an existing Filipino community who can help and support us in each wee bit of problem every newbie/self-starter would find himself in. I’ve often said, I want to stay in a place where I know I can have people to run to when I have troubles hounding me. I just thought how difficult it would be if you have no support system in place.

Well, I know I can always count on my family to cheer me on and give me that much-needed morale support. But then, that’s really all that they can do (them being so many miles away from me). I also must have enough courage to keep me going. And I must learn to adjust to the new environment, the diversity of cultures around me, the food, the accent, the smell, the prices of commodities, aahh… this I think deserves a separate blogtime. Coz there’s just way too much to talk about when it comes to adjusting, especially in a totally different world.

Well. Anyway, back to what I was saying- community. Yes, that sense of community is much too elusive nowadays. I found out that however high your hopes of finding your own community some place else, there’s just way too much politics, or ruckus, or whatever it is you call it, for community to be truly working as it should be.

Even if you have your own relatives to run to, the real spirit of communion just doesn’t seem to be present. You always get to a point when there’s always bickering or talk behind the back, or minor disagreements that oftentimes lead to bigger arguments. Somehow, I have so gotten used to living on my own for more than half my life that it’s not easy living with family under the same roof once again. Somehow, I just have to go through another adjustment on that aspect once more.

On the first mass that I attended here in Dubai, I heard the priest talk about the illicit affairs that most Filipinos get into, even with the parties involved being both married people. Most times though, it’s the Filipino women (married back home), engaging in adulterous state of affairs when they come here. I don’t understand it. Everyone is telling me to just accept it, that it’s an everyday reality here. I must learn to live with it. I just want to understand it a little better before I can accept it. I know it’s happening in almost every part of the world now, but I just don’t get it. Why can’t these married folks remain faithful to their partners back home? Is the distance and separation really so much to bear that they can’t stay true to the vows they made on their wedding day? Do they not think about their kids back home? Why then did they decide to work so far from home if they’re not strong enough to stay faithful?

I can see the Filipino diaspora in excellent play here. Everyday, thousands and thousands of Filipinos try their luck in this city of gold. Yes, they get duly compensated, but the distance from home has resulted to a lot of Filipino families getting destroyed or disunited – the basic unit of Filipino society crumbling to its very core. And thanks in part to the Arroyo administration for encouraging the flight of so many Filipinos to participate in its call for the Bagong Bayani OFW’s dollar-earning stream in support of the flailing Philippine economy. I for one would like to know just how successful is this OFW dollar remittance program though. Did the dollars really pour into the Philippine treasury or somewhere else? What is the metrics for this kind of program- the $ sign?, the GDP?, the Philippine peso’s stability? What of the upliftment of society? What metrics do we measure this by?

When I first came here, I had such high hopes about fitting in easily because I heard there are so many Filipinos here. But as the days wore on and I got more acquainted with Dubai for all it is, I developed a negative impression of the place. And mainly because of the negative reputation of Filipinas here. I fear I might be classified among them. I fear I will also be treated like second- or third-class citizen.

It took me several weeks getting used to this facet of life here. Having interacted with decent Pinays here at work and elsewhere, and also hanging around other cultures who treat us no differently than they would their own, I somehow felt a little lighthearted by the warmth they showed. But still, it burdens my heart so, knowing that somehow we still need to make more effort to uplift the status of Pinays in this society.

And where to begin?

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