Pinoy Christmas in the UAE

It’s been a while now since I posted something here.  And since it is Christmas Day I think it’s best that I post something related to this season. 🙂

I’ve been in the UAE for four years now and this is my fifth Christmas in this wonderful country.   UAE is actually a Muslim country, however the best part of living here is that everyone is being respected regardless of our beliefs and religion. This year, even the crown prince of Abu Dhabi wishes us Christians peace and happiness during the Christmas season.

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If you visit the UAE, you might be surprise how people here live in peace and harmony despite the mixture of various nationalities and religion.  We Filipinos as  one of the biggest expats population in the UAE celebrate Christmas like how we celebrate it in the Philippines.  We still attend the “nine mornings” or what we call “Simbang Gabi”.  If you want to get an idea how Filipinos in the UAE attend Simbang Gabi, you mighht want to visit this article by the Filipino Times – https://filipinotimes.net/photo-gallery/2016/12/19/in-photos-filipinos-in-dubai-continue-simbang-gabi-tradition/.

In our flats, we continue to celebrate Christmas by cooking our favorite Filipino dishes.  We also have our Christmas Parties – in the office, group of friends, flatmates, teammates, etc.  Living in the UAE is actually like living in the Philippines. It is like a mini Philippine City where you see Filipinos almost everywhere. 😉

However, since UAE is a Muslim country, Christmas day is till not a holiday which we understand and respect.  Most of us continue to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. It is like a normal working day for most of us.  Earlier today I also worked in the office. However, we had a little celebration in the office.  Since majority of the employees are expats and Christians, we had a Christmas Lunch.  This was sponsored by one of the hotels that our company has partnership with.  They prepared a Turkey-themed Christmas lunch.

We also had our secret Santa in the office and exchanged gifts earlier.  It was fun and we totally enjoyed it.  In that little time of celebration we forgot that we are in a foreign land and away from our families.  Celebrations like this make us feel loved and give us more reason to continue working.  🙂

Let me share a short video of our Christmas Lunch in the office.

There are so many reasons to Celebrate the Christmas Season. I am glad that I am surrounded by good people and working in a good company.  However, I also hope that everyone will not forget the real reason of our celebration – Jesus Christ!

May we find time in our busy schedule to talk to Him and thank Him for the life that He has given us, for the blessings that we continue to enjoy everyday.  I pray for everyone to know Jesus more and follow His way. 🙂

Merry Christmas everyone!

My Photoshop Class

On 16 September I posted something on my facebook wall. I think it also deserve a space here in wordpress.   I’ve been using photoshop since 2003 (as part of our College’ yearbook staff), but didn’t really have a formal … Continue reading

Why Overseas Filipino Workers Cannot Save?

When I was still in the Philippines I always heard people telling stories about lots of OFWs who came back to the Philippines without any savings.  I really wondered and even criticised them. I didn’t understand how can they not save when they were earning way bigger than what I was earning back then.

Then, here comes my turn to work abroad…

Everything has become very clear why…

Let me give you the THREE THINGS why WE  – OFWs cannot save abroad.

1.  Cost of Living – We may be getting 3, 4, 5 times our salary in the Philippines but the daily expenses that we have here is also high.  Let give share with you some of my expenses daily:

  • Breakfast – Egg & Cheese sandwich (7 dirhams) thats 88 PHP or 1.9 USD
  • Train fare – 5 dirhams per trip (10 dirhams roundtrip)  thats 126 PHP or 2.72 USD
  • Lunch – A filipina delivers food to our office everyday – 13 dirhams thats 164 PHP or 3.54 USD (just a cup of rice plus a filipino viand)
  • Dinner – I often go to a  cheap Filipino restaurant to eat – 20 dirhams  thats 253 PHP or 5.45 USD (that’s why sometimes I skip dinner, to save) or just eat salad (5.95 dirhams or 75 PHP or 1.62 USD.  You may think this salad is cheap but this is just from a Grocery store, the cheapest I’ve found here.  Other alternatives for dinner are 2 Shawarma (10 dirhams or 126 PHP or 1.9 USD)

Have you tried summing all that up? That’s around 50 dirhams a day if I want just the normal meal.  13.6 USD or 632 PHP a day.

I haven’t even added my monthly rent, electricity, internet, mobile charges, etc.

I am staying in a room divided into 4 partitions for 8 people.  I share my partition with an Indian guy.  He owns the partition and I pay him 700 dirhams a month (8,850 PHP or 191 USD). Our electricity and internet bill last month was 142 dirhams (38.67 USD or 1,795 PHP) Take note that bill has already been divided into 16 people staying in one flat.  We are sacrificing convenience and comfort just to be able to save money here.

2.  Stress – Working abroad is so different from working in the Philippines (UAE for me).  In the Philippines if we felt tired, unhappy, unsatisfied with the current employer we can immediately resign and look for another job.  Here, it’s a BIG NO! Once you have a job, you will be bound to a contract.  The only way for you to stay in the U.A.E. is for a company to sponsor your VISA.  Yes, your employers are the one paying for our VISA. If we get terminated or if we resigned, then we need look for another job and ensure that we have new visa to stay in the U.A.E.  If not, we need to get a tourist VISA and pay for it.

If you also quit, you will have to pay the company for the expenses they incurred when they hired you.  Like VISA processing, medical exams, etc… So, people need to stay for 2 or 3 years with the company before they can have the option to look for another job.

No one can actually stop you from resigning, but it is not a good option considering that looking for a job in the UAE is not easy anymore.  There is so much competition going on between different nationalities.

Here, work is work.  You are expected to give your best because they pay you.  That’s why STRESS is part of our DAILY DIET here.. Which is not good.

We resort to spending more with Food, Shopping, travel, etc and thus using the money we could have saved. 😦

3.  Our FAMILY back home –  The main reason why most of us Filipinos work abroad is our FAMILY.  We want to provide them everything they need.  We want them to experience a good life.  A life we only used to dream about.

Living abroad means seeing things that we didn’t have the chance to see back home.  And we want our family to see them.  Some of us always try to bring our family members to where we are.  And this is not easy and cheap.  A lot of Filipinos tried loaning money just so that they could support a family member to come here.  Again, savings gone… Going abroad is not a guarantee that you will have a good life. A lot of Filipinos here in the UAE are struggling with low salary because they don’t have options of a  better job. They just have to accept what’s available because if they won’t they would have to go back home.  Like I said earlier, you cannot stay in the UAE without a VISA. The best option to get it is to be employed.

Living abroad also exposes us to different brands, things that we only once dreamt.  We tend to buy stuff for ourselves. To make us feel better.  Like I said, STRESS is a way of life here and shopping is a good way to make ourselves feel better.  But… when we go shopping the first thing that comes to our mind is our FAMILY.  We don’t just buy stuff for ourselves, we buy for our loved ones back home.

Everytime I go to malls and see stuff, I buy them and they are not for myself.  Most of the time I buy for my Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Niece, Sisters, Brothers, very close friends, Gradma.  Again, that money should have been added to our savings, but gone… However, we are HAPPY.  I am HAPPY.

I am happy to keep buying stuff for all the people I love.  I don’t care if I can’t save as long as my family back home can experience the things that I wanted to experience when i was still there.  I want them to wear branded clothes, play nice toys, taste good food, experience a touch of the Middle East and other stuff.

I have already sent two balikbayan boxes and currently working on my third box.  I have been here in the UAE for just more than a year and still no savings.  No regrets though, the satisfaction and happiness I feel cannot be bought everytime I see my family so happy when they received the packages. A simple thank you from all of them is more than enough for me to go on with my life and fight the daily struggles here.

I am trying to save, most of us are… But we choose to share what we have and it makes us very happy.

So please.. don’t ever judge a Filipino going back to the Philippines without bringing anything or doesn’t have any huge savings because life here is very hard and we are doing it for love.

If your friend or a family member returns home, kindly give him / her a hug and say THANK YOU!

That’s all what we want to hear.

 

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There are a lot of Filipinos who struggle with their daily lives and wish to have a better life.  It is a Filipino dream to be able to fly out of the country and work abroad.  Most Filipinos think that … Continue reading