Thursday, January 25

Weekends...

When you're in the Gulf, the experience is both interesting and boring. What I mean is, you know, there are times - weekends especially - when you don't have anything to do and you just tend to roam around (if you have the money) or just stay at home (if mafi fuluz :D) ... anyway, our place is a nice one, I can say... not very cosmopolitan like dubai, but still has the amenities for you to feel like you're in a developed world, at least. One thing I like about the place is the people... very nice and accomodating... and the environment as well... peaceful... provincial I would say, but excellent for me anyway...

On weekends, Alice and I just tend to while away time browsing the net and doing our walking exercises... sometimes, we go to places we haven't visited yet, taking in the sceneries and the unique culture of this equally unique region... it's an interesting experience even to just walk outside, visiting small local shops and souqs... and of course, meeting the people and making friends with them... sometimes, it's really a nice experience working in a foreign land... at least, it expands your horizons and make you understand the world better...

This weekend is one of those weekends when, after our morning walk, we went to the city center and logged to the web... but it is also important because aside from that, we also mailed a letter that will be included in the processing of our kids' documents so that they can be here with us... weekends are also the time to talk and chat with our children... that is, first and foremost, the important thing we do during these two days of respite from work... in the Gulf during weekends, speaking with your loved ones at home really refreshes the body - both physically and emotionally.

Weekends are really very special... especially for us in the Gulf.

Monday, January 22

Sunday, January 21

Festivals...

From where I came from, festivals and fiestas are a part of life and I think there is no place in the Philippines that does not celebrate these festivities. Ever since I was a child, I can remember our family celebrating many festivals throughout the year (I guess the tradition came from the Spanish, who stayed in the country for almost three hundred years)... and that tradition is now transferred to my own family, with us celebrating numerous festivities yearly... the best occasion for fiestas and festivals for me is the celebration of the patron saint, when Filipinos celebrate the day of the patron saint of the locality where they reside... in my family's case, it is the celebration of the day of St. James the Greater on December 30, and the celebration for the fiesta of the Sto. Nino on January 16... during these occasions Batanguenos cook their best dishes and invite everyone in their homes to share with them the sumptous meals... aside from these, I can also recall other festivals that commemorate the unique characteristics of the places where they live... festivals like these, I believe, really make Filipinos' lives more interesting and enjoyable in a certain way...

When I start going abroad (either for work or training), I started missing these occasions... well, in a limited sense maybe... other countries also have their own ways of celebrating important dates through festivities, but not in any way similar in character to the way I have known them (well, I guess that's a little bit bias being a Filipino)... somehow when you're in a foreign land you have to embrace their tradition and understand how they do things...

Me and my friends had recently been to a very good festival... it celebrates the fusion of the culture of the middle east with that of south asia and north africa, and many products, traditions and customs can be seen there... it was a very nice experience seeing Indians, Arabians, Africans and Southeast Asians get together and celebrate the evolution of culture and life itself... it really dawned on me that to understand other peoples we must understand their society and their culture... participating in occasions like this is really the first step in that direction.

I guess I have to find other festivals to go and attend to these coming days...

Saturday, January 13

Kids

I got a very early wake up message from my mother - she sent me a SMS notwithstanding the time difference between her place and mine - telling me that the kids are still in the running for honors in their levels after the release of the third period grades. That was worth being woke up early at the start of the week... well, I believe that being a parent who is away and working overseas, the best news that you can hear from home is the one that your children excel in school. It's kind of making the sacrifice of being away worth it, at least from my perspective. It is really a sacrifice working overseas... and I believe that kids give their share of sacrifices too. They try to cope with us being away... try to grow up alone... try to be more mature and responsible at an earlier time... it's kind of sad thinking of these things, but this is the reality...

My kids remind me somehow of my years as a child... then and now are two entirely different worlds altogether, and growing in these worlds are definitely different experiences, but somehow, growing in a middle class family in the 70s - with both parents working virtuously the whole day - makes me think of similar circumstances for children with overseas parents today... well, one will argue that at least when I was a child I have my mother to teach me the lessons in school at night...

I admire my kids... I remember our eldest son, who is turning ten in April, trying to hide his emotions the first time I told him I have to go abroad again and work... he's like that, always trying to show us he can handle things... the two small ones (6 and 4) are of course, more naive on these things, with our only daughter only showing occasional mood swings during the first few days that we're not there... and I love them... they're the same sweet and loving kids (especially our daughter) when we call them on the phone, and we could hear from them the same active and lively voices that we nurtured and cared all these years...

When you're away from your children, you tend to be more observant with their voices and their signals... I don't know, but I feel that whenever I talk to my kids on the phone, I tend to feel something different... like they're growing up... maybe that was partly because of the longing...

Going back to my mother's message, she told me that my oldest, as well as the second one - the only daughter - are currently in the top three in their respective batches, and the youngest is an achiever which means he is included in the top ten of his batch... not bad at all... there is no better moment for a parent than to go up the stage and pin that medal to your kid every end of the school year... as a parent, that is your proudest moment... to do it three times is, well... what can I say?

Kids are definitely our heroes...

Tuesday, January 9

New Year...

They say that the coming of the new year is the time of retrospect... the time when you examine the past year and past activities of your life... the time of looking intently at the man in the mirror...

The past year had been an overwhelming year for me... in all aspects. It was, one might say, a whirlwind - everything happening so fast you become overwhelmed. Like the years that passed me by, the past year had its up and downs - there maybe more downs, ups only few and in-betweens, but it was really worthwhile and satisfying... Indeed, the past year will be an unforgettable year for me because it taught me very important lessons in life. Lessons that I feel changed me forever and made me appreciate life more.

Most of the last year I spent with my wife working in Sydney. The celebration of the New Year outside looking at the spectacle in front of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House with our Indonesian and Filipino friends was a contrast with how we celebrate it at home lighting our own fireworks and sharing the traditional media noche meal. I missed my children that time, having celebrated New Year without them after several years (the last time I missed celebrating new year with them was in 1998 when I was in Kagoshima). I missed them more this New Year's eve... it did not help that me and my wife celebrated it this year with more Filipino friends doing the traditional activities and meals except for fireworks, of course (I don't think there are those many fireworks in the Gulf) . I think the longing for the kids stem from the fact that everything happened so suddenly, and we just found out one day that we'll be spending a long time here without them. Well, that is the Pinoy phenomenon - the OFW diaspora. I believe that there are interesting individual stories for each Pinoy that decides to go and work abroad... and we have ours too... I might tell that story one day...

Anyway, it is another year for each one of us... they always say that old cliche the new year is the time for new beginnings... new life, new hope, new expectations... I believe that new year is more of a renewal... when you become a better person from the past year's lessons... I do hope we do well here this year...