Friday, December 31, 2010

the possibilities are endless! welcome 2011!!!

If I were to fully and wholeheartedly believe in astrology - then 2011 will be a very good year for me!!! lookee what the stars have in store for me!!!

Year 2011 Overview

Don't stop believing, Pisces! This year is nothing short of miraculous, filled with all-things sublime. Take advantage of lucky Jupiter's final hurrah in your sign at the start of the year. If you've been procrastinating on turning your visions into a goldmine, January is your time to bust a serious move and catch the amazing non-stop momentum of 2011. There's no spacing out, hiding home or escaping from reality. Things are just too good to miss! Speaking of missing, don't miss the boat Pisces; Jupiter only enters your sign once every 12 years.
That said, you do have the auspicious advent of another awesome planetary boon when your planetary ruler, Neptune enters Pisces in April. For the next 14 years, your super-sensitivity and matchless compassion serve you well. You'll feel like you're in your own element rather than your usual fish out of water feeling. The world will join with you in feeling the suffering of the world. Your dreams and imaginative powers are nothing to be taken lightly. Divine messages, synchronicity and channeling the gods become a daily experience between April and August, and then again in 2012 to stay.
Despite your consistent protesting over the ills of materialism and that money is the root of all evil -- you may be seriously changing your tune as money seems to be falling from the sky this spring. With six planets lining up in your money sector on May 1, it's time to make some serious bank -- ready or not.

it is fun to think of the many possibilities and opportunities 2011 will bring - but of course I know the stars won't do it all for me - I have to put my self out there and embrace 2011 - make the most out of it, seize what life has to offer and truly have an amazing year!!!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

happy christmas everyone!!!!

... its has been 5 years - count em! 5! since I celebrated Christmas with the whole of my family, relatives and friends back home in the Philippines and I sure wish the Christmas frenzy!!! I miss the crazy madness to shop for gifts, the menu planning for the Noche Buena feast, the early dawn simbang gabi, the office christmas parties and the fun fun family reunions.

*sigh* I sure miss Philippine Christmas!!! I hope next year I'd be home for Christmas!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

I got published online!!!

... remember the blog entry I posted a few days ago? the one about having post-vacation depression? well I tried to make it a better essay and submitted it to a Philippine online news spreadsheet and whoopeedoo they decided it was good enough to be published online!!! so cool!!!

here is the link in case you want to read it again!!!

 -------- >           Reminiscing and Anticipating

 article screen shot

Thursday, November 18, 2010

the Ferrari World experience

... with two days of Eid Holidays left, me and my brother decided to go to Ferrari World and sad to say, the experience fell short of our expectations. We both thought that it being the first Ferrari themed amusement park it could do better.

... we weren't that much 'wow-ed' when we went inside, I don't know, but we didn't feel overwhelmingly amazed or awed while walking inside which I think is the way you should feel when entering a theme park. Sure the cars on display were nice and shiny but the park interiors lacked some 'oomph' factor.

... they could have better queue management. We waited five hours to ride the Formula Rossa because people shamelessly queue jumped. We saw people complain and shout, one even asked to call security but I didn't see any action done. Three hours into the wait my brother called the place PILA-ri world (means queue world in english, Pila being the tagalog word for queue).

... they took back our tickets when we left. The cards are electronically swiped at the barriers so I guess it can be used again, but you won't have any souvenir ticket.

... Formula Rossa boasts to be the fastest and fifth longest roaller coaster in the world, too bad I don't have proof to show that I had been in it. There were no cameras to snap a picture of you during the ride. You know the one they have built-in at the point of the ride where your face contorts in every which angle? they don't have that which sucks because apart from the ride itself the best part is seeing your facial expression on screen, ready to be printed and purchased. Heck they don't even have that fake coaster seat with the fake backdrop where you can take a souvenir shot!!!

... I would have enjoyed better if I had not waited in the queue for one ride for five hours, with that amount of time I would have been to the other attractions, maybe enjoyed walking and checking out the displays better. Maybe being a dufus when it come to cars I just didn't know how to appreciate it. Oh well, I guess the five hour wait was worth it, if only to have bragging rights to have been on the fastest roaller coaster in the world!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

back to the routine

... we have all heard about post-partum depression which is pervalent in women who had just given birth and now I wonder if there is something called 'post-vacation depression' for expats?

... I just come back to Abu Dhabi from the Philippines where I spent my month long annual vacation. It was the best vacation I have had. I was once again with my family and relatives to celebrate quite a few birthdays. I was there to welcome our balikbayan relatives from the States. I've gotten re-acquainted with friends from grade school which I have not seen since we graduated from the sixth grade. I had a fun girls-night-out with my high school barkada one of which had just been engaged. Had a cozy dinner with my college best friend, and had spent a 5 day bonding trip to Bangkok with my family. 

... on my first day back to work, I reveled at the praises my office mates gave me. They welcomed me back with smiling faces, complimented my tan, were 'wow-ed' by my newly colored and highlighted hair and asked about my adventures in Thailand. I exuberantly gave them all the details, talking at full speed and laughing heartily. I went home and back to my usual cooking-cleaning routine. The next day at work I found my self not talking as much and smiling even less. The cheerfulness I felt the day before was gone, I felt as if I am just a zombie moving along the routine, I was not concentrating and thus I made a couple of errors. I was counting the hours till working hours officially end so I can go back home and crouch under the covers.

... when my office friend pointed this change of behavior out, I told her I must be experiencing 'post-vacation depression', I had such a fun time with my family and relatives the past month that I felt kind of let down. I need a pick-me-upper and the two birthday parties and one out of town barbecue picnic on my social calendar just might be it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

pre-vacation frenzy

... by this time next friday I would be enjoying a feast of home cooked meal with my family, packing on the calories, fats and sugars with nay a worry in the world - well maybe in a few days when my pants begin to get tight around the middle!!!

yep people I am going home to the Philippines in a few days to spent my month long annual vacation!!! 

... for most expats this is the biggest highlight of the year specially if you are planning to go back to your home country. Preparation for an annual vacation can start as early as six months before, starting with scouring airline websites and travel agencies with the best airfare deals specially if you are planning to spend Christmas at home where the ticket price can soar up to twice or thrice as much.

... then there is the frantic shopping frenzy for friends and family as a 'coming home' gifts of sorts. Shopping for gifts and souvenirs can really burn a hole in your pocket so the wise thing to do is watch out for mall sales and wait for promotional discounts. Buying  one or two items during sale season in the course of a few months, saves you almost half the price and because you are spending in intervals you won't feel the 'pinch' at all.

... after the spending, comes the saving. I try not to spend too much a month before I go on my leave, saving my salary for other expenses i.e. small family trips, friends/ family get-togethers and shopping (for myself this time!) during my vacation. It's a cycle you see : spend-save-spend-save...

... there is also that small matter of taking care of the bills and rent. Be sure to clear any unpaid bills - you wouldn't want to flash that credit card in some swanky hotel only to get it declined would you? and I am sure you wouldn't like to come back to an eviction notice on your apartment with no electricity and internet service!! so pay-up, pay-up!

... maybe the most challenging task in preparation is getting your luggage ready. The airline I choose allows a limit of 35 kilos a luggage and if you think it is more than enough think again - remember not only will you be packing your own 'vacation' wardrobe, you'd be packing gifts for the family as well. So strategically plan the packing and make sure it doesn't exceed the limit. Its a big bummer to be paying for over baggage fees when you could have used that money to buy more gifts at the duty free.

... In my case a few days before my flight OC behavior kicks in, I frantically try to clean everything making sure I come back to no dirty laundry, no left-overs in the fridge, no mess. I like starting my-back-to-work mode clean, fuss and hassle free...

... this is more or less my routine. Sometimes I make a to-do list to make sure I don't forget anything... everthing seems to be set it seems!

oh and hey! don't forget to get your leave scheduled cleared and approved by your superior!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

what's with teens these days??!!!

... when I was a teenager, my life was centered around school and family. This is not to say I am a goody goody, sure I liked to have fun with friends, hang out, cut class maybe once - well the teacher was late, and by rule we can leave if they were 15 minutes late, so I guess that isn't considered cutting class --- but anyway... WHAT IS WITH TEENS THESE DAYS???!!!!

... seems like they grew up to be nothing but spoiled brats, frankly its none of my business what they do with their time, but when they drag you into their mess what are you to do?

... today while having lunch with my brother at the mall two teenage boys came to our table and 'waved' their hands into my brother's face while he was typing on his phone. It was offensive but we let it pass, we've seen these types around and seems they get a kick from annoying people. Seemingly starved of attention, they weren't pleased with our No Reaction attitude and came back to our table to talk trash.

... my brother isn't in one of his better moods today and it was all I could do to calm him and tell him not to mind these punks, I tried looking for security guards but of course they were nowhere to be found (just like in the movies).

... If we were in the Philippines, my brother would have given these punks what they were looking for but as it is I think all we can do is keep our calm and walk away. If this incident had led to a fight we know we are at the losing end because no matter how you slice it, we are only trancients here...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

manic monday

shortened work periods are over and from tomorrow its back to an eight hour work day... time to adjust your alarm clock settings and back to the frantic morning dash!!!

... I should learn to sleep earlier...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

major major trending!!!!

... Venus Raj of the Philippines might have lost the Miss Universe 2010 crown to Miss Mexico with a final Q&A answer that is subject to much criticism, but what the heck I guess she's enjoying the limelight now that her 'major, major' phrase is popularly trending in facebook and twitter...

... I for one am sure that every kid, teen, oldies - practically everyone in the Philippines is using the phrase every opportunity they have, hell!!! I EVEN USED FOR THIS BLOG TITLE!!! sheesh!!!

...for sure too, comedy shows will exhaust this for as long as they can extract even a slight snicker from the audience...

... so brace yourself - you'd be reading and hearing 'major, major!!' until your eyes and ears bleed!!!

By Natalie Long, Tabloid! Editor Published: 13:27 August 24, 2010  Gulf News
The show was without any major gaffes, except for Miss Philippines' answer when asked what her biggest mistake in life was and how she fixed it. "In my 22 years of existence, I can say there is nothing major," Venus Raj said. Before the pageant, Raj was rated among the top contestants in an online poll on the pageant's website. She finished in fifth place. Image Credit: AFP

Sunday, August 15, 2010

half a decade after

Today marks my fifth year anniversary as an expat… I wouldn't have realized it if my friend Connie did not say something about it! how time flies! seems like yesterday that I boarded the plane with my luggages, hopes and dreams...

I have been blessed I must say, for all I’ve had are great adventures... oh err.. and misadvenures (tee hee!!) these five years. The occassional feeling of loneliness and frustration aside,  these are the things I’ve  learned, realized, proved, gotten used to, done for the first time, come to love…

- … that I can (and actually) enjoy (… even the chores, yes) living on my own when before I was so dependent on my family. I'd like to think being overseas made me a tougher and more mature person.

- … that the biggest responsibility you have being overseas is to rise above (and change) the negative perception other people have of your nationality.

- … calling that wireless telecommunication device “mobile” instead of “cell phone” as I used to back home

- … taking the cab to everywhere when before I was so scared to take the cab alone.

- ... paying just 1 dirham for a bus ride!

- ... doing tourist-y things like going to the grand mosque, dessert safaris, dhow cruises, exhibits etc etc.
- … that planning a weeks’ menu could be very hard!

- … that I could somehow live without a TV... my friends have been cajoling me to buy a TV, but I am quite happy watching movies and series on my laptop via internet streaming and downloading - so my wall still is and will remain flat screen TV free!!!

- … that people are interested to learn about your culture as you are with theirs

- … you (will) miss your home country though you say you hate it and would never go back

- … that you will definitely miss your family! – even the wrestling/ boxing/ shouting and ‘what have you’ bouts with your siblings!

- … that the easiest and usually the first words you learn in a foreign language are the curse words

- … that you can never have too many pictures... even if it’s just taken inside the mall

- … that malling - ergo shopping (here in the UAE at least) is not just done out of a necessity but is a way of life

- … hot showers

- … calling the bosses by their first names

- … writing the date by dd/mm/yyyy instead of mm/dd/yyyy

- ... that salary comes on the 26th of every month and not the 15th and 30th - so I have to budget my expenses if I don't want to be broke two weeks before the next payday

- … having just two meals in a day

- … that ‘weekend’ means Friday and not Saturday and Sunday

- … living in a flat as opposed to a house with its own garage and garden

- … that my room is not just a room but my house and home

- … desert camping

- … sand rolling

- … camel riding

- … watched a belly dancer shake her booty/belly!

- … fishing/ crabbing

- … Arabic/ Indian cuisine - love them arabic flat breads with hummous, curries, shawarma ... and... and...
- … being able to just walk to work

- … being a “ dark brunette”  - I have never colored my hair before but since coming here, my formerly ultra
black hair is now dark brown with light streaks!!!

... I won't ruin the mood by ranting about the things I don't like/ have to live with being an expat here because I know that I have a lot to be thankfull for being able to work here, it is because of this opportunity that I am able to help out my family financially even a little bit, so a big thanks to the big guy up there!!!.

There's no party to celebrate my expat anniversary - I guess I'd have to coordinate with my batchmates about that, in the meantime though, we do have some ice cream cake left from my brother's birthday yesterday so I guess I will celebrate with that!!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ramadan Kareem

Today marks the start of the holy month of Ramadan. This month of fasting and abstinence aims to redirect the heart and soul away from worldly activities and focus more on reflecting and worshipping God.

I am sharing this article to help us understand Ramadan and what it is all about...

An Idiot's Guide to Ramadan

By Adam Yosef, site user

Lots of frequently asked questions answered by Adam, about the most important event in the Islamic calendar.

Ramadan, What does this mean?

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. It's when Muslims all over the world spend 30 days observing fast and bettering themselves in principles of faith.

Observing fast?

Observing fast, or fasting, is when a person abstains (or keeps away) from eating and drinking.
The reason Muslims fast is to discipline their body and mind. The absence of food and drink and other pleasures provides a perfect opportunity to concentrate on prayer and worship. Not having the luxuries of life to hand makes it easier to reflect on life and be grateful for what we do have. Muslims use this month to start afresh and give their life a new direction?
 What kind of direction?

Many Muslims use Ramadan to make resolutions, similar to New Year's resolutions. It is a time when they decide how they want to live their life for the next year and try their very best to adhere to their new commitments.


Yes, like greater commitment to God and faith. Ramadan is a time when Muslims can introduce practices into their life to reflect their religious identity. A lot of Muslims have a desire to pray more and learn more about Islam. Others wish to be better and nicer people while some want to learn Qur'anic Arabic to better their understanding of the Holy Book. For these people, Ramadan is the best opportunity to begin this grand affair with something so personal and spiritually enlightening.

Can't they do it at any other time... why Ramadan?

Ramadan is a blessed month ordained by God. It is the month in which Satanand his minions are said to be locked away in Hell to prevent them from misleading, deceiving and whispering in the ears of believers.

This doesn't mean that sin and bad deeds will completely disappear for a month but it

will mean that if bad deeds are done and sins committed, they will be from the hearts of people alone and the devil cannot be blamed. However, God has promised the people that the reward for good deeds and actions during the holy month will be multiplied greater than usual and this encourages many to increase their level of worship and prayer. Although, this also applies to sins and so any naughty actions only invite greater punishment than usual.

Ramadan does make it easier for Muslims to observe their faith though, largely because all Muslims are following the same pattern and so they are always offering each other moral support and encouraging each other to do better. Ramadan brings people much closer than normal as they forgive each other for any misdemeanours of the past, forge new and positive relationships and treat each other with greater respect.

What else do Muslims do in Ramadan?

Well, aside from fasting, they pray more. Muslims should pray five times a day anyway and go to the mosque but many find this difficult so Ramadan helps them to fulfill these practices and in many cases, stick to them long after Ramadan is over. Muslims also read the Qur'an more and understand and share their religious teachings. They also learn to abstain from bad habits and minor and major sins and hopefully continue with the effort when Ramadan is over too.

When does the fast begin and end?

The fast begins just before dawn when Muslims eat a light meal (suhoor) and confirm their intention to fast for the day. The fast ends at sunset when the call to prayer (Adhan) is announced. Eating a date or some water are the recommended and most popular methods of concluding the fast. The time when the fast ends is known as 'Iftar'.

Why do some people stuff themselves when the fast is over?

Those who are fasting should deprive themselves of the meals they would normally have during the times of fast but they shouldn't really eat all they missed once the fast is over as this defeats the whole objective of the fast. When breaking the fast (of having breakfast, I guess), they should simply have the meal they would on any other day. It is permissible to have a more elaborate feast if one if hosting a 'Iftar' meal for guests as this is considered a good and noble act, in which there is divine reward.

But don't you have to think about the poor?

Yes, Ramadan is also about thinking about the less fortunate and needy although in a lesser degree to improving one's own character over the blessed month. Not eating and drinking does encourage Muslims do recognise how the poverty-stricken and starving people in the world must bear the burden of daily life and this is why, in Ramadan, many Muslims donate more to charities and why mosques collect more so that people right across the world can have better life and those who donate can gain greater regard for well intentioned actions.

Enlightenment is a must during Ramadhan

So who has to fast, is it everyone?

Not everyone. Young children are encouraged to learn about fasting but fasting is only obligatory (a must) for anyone beyond adolescence (or over the age of 10 according to some scholars). Muslims who have medical conditions that prevent or make fasting difficult, those who are not of sound mind or are going through a pregnancy or menstruation cycle as well as those who are too young or too old do not have to fast. In some circumstances, individuals who cannot fast for any number of reasons may make up the fast at a later date

When does the month begin?

Islamic months follow the lunar calendar, in the same tradition as the Jewish community. Therefore, in relation to the solar, or Gregorian, calendar, Islamic and Jewish months will annually differ by around 11 to 12 days. This means Islamic events will always fall roughly around the same time in the Islamic calendar but always on a different date in the mainstream solar calendar. This year, Ramadan begins in August depending on the sighting of the moon, and will end approximately 30 days after, sometime in September when Muslims conclude the month with festivities and celebrate Eid.

ramadan fanous
What's Eid?

Eid, or 'Id, means 'festival' or 'celebration' in Arabic and the festival

following Ramadan is known as 'Eid al-Fitr'.

This article was first published in 2005.

Friday, July 30, 2010

we are all trancients here

... I have been living and working in Abu Dhabi UAE for almost five years now, but I have never felt more 'intergrated' into mainstream society as I did last Tuesday. No, I did not get to hobnob with Abu Dhabi's movers and shakers, nor have I been given the title 'honorary adopted sheikha' - if there ever is such a title...

... my 'integration' came in the form of two small surprises that brought about that feeling - maybe its just me being overly dramatic but it was truly how I felt, it certainly made my day!!!

... remember a few days ago I posted something about being a UAE water hero? well last tuesday the Watersaver people came a knocking and installed that one small gadget that will be a huge help in our water conseravtion pledge. I think the installers are somewhat surprised that I readily let them in (having known about the campaign and anticipation of their arrival) even moreso when I started taking pictures. I chatted with them a bit and learned that the watersaver are made and imported from Italy and nowhere in Abu Dhabi can it be bought. Wow I really salute the UAE goverment for going to great lengths to ensure the success of the campaign.

my first surprise came in the form of this tiny gadget

fitted to a T- tap that is!!!!

the second surprise came via phone call - I had just woken from my nap later the same day when I got a call from an unidentified number. The nice lady turned out to be the picture editor of Gulf News!!! she wanted some facts about a picture I took and submitted online, telling me to watch out for the photo in next weeks' feature!!! YAY!!! - more on this in the next blog!!!

... as you can see - these are not very huge things, but it made me feel the way I did because I felt that I had contributed a (tiny, tiny) part of myself to the UAE society.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

my favorite day of the week

... today would be my last (second) day off in who knows how long - everybody is going on vacation, trainings or worse (better for them, I suppose...) getting transfered and we are left with a skeletal workforce at least until the end of the year.

... I usually start my days off early - it is ironic that I wake up earlier on my days off than when I have to go to work. OC behaviour maybe, but I just don't want to waste the day lying in bed, I want a productive day off!!!. I usually get my chores out of the way and done in the morning so I'd have the afternoons for walks, shopping or movie watching.

... today though is different, while I've done some quick chores, I was not frenetic to do everything I want to and fit it all in one day... today after luch I decided to lounge around in jammies and relax with some healthy snacks and a movie or series marathon...

... i love getting tuesdays off!!! now I only have to wait two days until the weekend!!! makes the waiting seem shorter!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I pledge to become a UAE water hero!!!

... umm no, I don't intent to be the next Aquagirl or a new Marvel superhero donning a spandex costume, I just pledged to do my bit in saving the environment.

I came across a UAE water heroes like page on my facebook account and upon visiting the Heroes of the UAE website, had pledged my support in the campaign and promised to be mindfull of my own daily water consumption.

Kudos to the UAE Government, its partners and sponsors. I admire your dedication to the campaign and not just stoping with posters, banners, the website and other media blitz but actually going about UAE aiming to install the watersaver in each and every household, making it even easier for people to follow through with their pledges. I will be waiting for your coming to my neighborhood with anticipation.

I encourage everyone to visit the site and make the pledge. Let us all do our bit to save mother earth.

Friday, July 9, 2010

the corner shop bakery

What was once a quarter of an old clothes shop is now a bakery - no not your typical bakery with glass display cases and coffee machines but a 'rustic' and simple arabic flat bread bakery, with no sophisticated and shiny electronic appliances, shiny aluminum pans and tins or even a big indrustrial sized oven. The only tool they have is a rolling pin, what looks like a mortar with a head of nails, a pillow like something, long steel poles and a circular open-top stone oven.

It seems to have sprung overnight or maybe I just hadn't noticed the conversion even though I pass by the area everyday on my way to work. I smelled the aroma of freshly made bread even before I saw the bright red signboard around the corner.

Everyday I see the 'bakers' roll the dough and bake it in front of the waiting crowd. I made a mental note to bring my camera with me the day I buy me some bread so I can blog about it and this morning I did!

large flat breads for only 1 dirham each

simple tools

rolling it nice and elongated!!

 toss it a bit...

punch holes in them and lay it on the 'pillow'...

use the pillow to 'stick' the dough to the oven wall...

... and viola!!!

The 'bakers' have ready made dough that they roll out, prick with the mortar like device, toss, lay on the pillow like something - use this pillow to 'stick' the dough to the oven wall, and bake it until its golden.

The result is a chewy bread with a thin crispy outer layer. It kinda reminded us of thin waffles and so we stopped by the grocery to get some ice cream. We usually eat it with hummos but its a whole new level of yummy with ice cream!!!

usually eaten with hummos...

we made a new 'discovery' and paired it with ice cream!! yummy!!

When we got to the bakery, I hesitated a bit in taking pictures, the bearded man looked aloof but he accomodated us, allowed us to come into the shop and nonchalantly went about making a fresh batch for our order while I click away, the younger guy seemed to be enjoying the 'photo shoot' and went about with a flourish. The bearded man thought we were tourists and asked if we were from Chile.

It was the best trip to the bakery I ever had!!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

milk it!!

I just love food adventures!!!

last friday I finally got to taste Camel milk! yes you read me right! camel milk!!

a few years back, I read somewhere that camel milk will be finally available commercially, and wanting to 'delve' deeper into middle eastern culture I wanted to go and try it. I scoured milk and dairy sections of supermarkets everytime I go shopping and was constantly disappointed to find them out of stock. I finally got lucky last friday! I excitedly put it in my basket and made a beeline for the cash counter, thinking it would be the perfect before bedtime snack along with my freshly made brownies and cookies.

camel milk fast facts. Researchers say camel milk is:

- lower in fat and cholesterol and richer in potassium, iron and minerals such as sodium and magnesium that cows milk.

- has longer shelf life that any other types of milk

- has higher Niacin and Vitamin C content

- a rich source of proteins with potential anti-microbial and protective activity for the human digestive system.

- has a stronger flavor than cows milk

Camel-icious!!! choco flavored of course!!

milk and brownies and cookies!!
perfect before bedtime snack!!!

... camel milk does have a stronger flavor than cow's milk - it taste a little bit salty and isn't as 'creamy' but it still is yummy!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Photography Fridays

... a few weeks ago I blogged about acquiring a new toy - a Sony Alpha 330 DLSR

... and now that I have it - I have to use and practice taking pictures with it right??? right!

... and so begins 'Photography Fridays' - every friday (schedule, weather and social calendar permiting!!) my brother and I (because he is the one who urged me to buy the DLSR) made an agreement to go and visit the most noteworthy places in Abu Dhabi like the Zayed Grand Mosque, Emirates Palace, Heritage Village etc etc.

... I have always wanted to visit these places but it is difficult to find someone who shares my passion for going places to appreciate art and architecture, scenery and history and now I have the perfect excuse!! I won't feel like a nuisance for the person tagging along - my brother has to put up with this particular quirk of mine with no qualms because "if not for his urging I won't be buying" so I tell him "no complaining while I go a-shooting!!!" ...

... so heres hoping we DO get to visit all these places on my list and I sincerely hope my brother enjoys Photography Fridays too!!!

clikety click!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

too much skin is in... NOT!!

lately I have observed that expat Abu Dhabi women are fearlessly flaunting their skins - and well their gams, and cleavage and and and....

... one morning a few years ago my friend and I decided to have breakfast at a cafe across the street from the hotel we were staying. We had a  bit of time to spare and as it is we weren't fully dressed for work yet. As we sat down to read the breakfast menu, my friend commented on how 'brave' I was for walking the streets in a skirt with out any stockings on. I was dumbfounded at my friends' observation because it didn't occur to me that I might have been being indecent (my skirt fell below the knees) in this conservative country. Since then I have been mindful of what I wear - drawing the line at sleeveless blouses...

... but nowadays I might as well be called 'manang' (tagalog for old lady) for always wearing pants and long skirts if at all. I really get surprised when I go out and see the expat women of today's Abu Dhabi??!! WHERE IS THE CONSERVATIVE ABU DHABI OF YESTERYEARS!!! women today go out wearing hot shorts and thin strapped tops with cuts down to here.

... fashion they say is a form of expression - no argument about that but when you belong to a nationality which are most often than not stereotyped into - something I don't even want to mention here we have to watch what we say and do and yes wear. While I have no authority or right to tell women - specially our kabayans what to wear, I wish they'd tame it a little bit. Just a few hours ago while walking to the grocery I saw one lady in a super hot pants and a very low scooped necline tank top - I mean too much skin is too much. I just hope they'd think about what they are representing even a little bit. By working abroad we - expats, represent our country. Its sad to think that we can not rise above the stereotype and are not getting the respect we deserve because we fall victims of fashion.  Call me a prude, call me old fashioned, call me uptight but I think a few wolf whistles and horn honking isn't the kind of admiration I want.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

I fancy myself a photographer

I fancy myself a photographer...

If my memory serves me right, I believe that the every first big purchase I made with my very own money (my school allowance that I had saved) was a film camera. all I wanted to do back then was to somehow 'document' what they say would be the best years of my academic life - high school.

The pictures that I took were nothing special really, just random shots of people, events and places but sometimes a gem of a picture would come up and when it does I do feel proud.

When digital cameras and blogging became popular, I invested in the 'best value for money' digicam I could find and started online journals by posting entries and pictures of family holidays, travel trips, D-I-Y projects, food etc etc.

I upgraded cameras but I can't say if my 'photographing skills' went up a notch too. I just continued to 'point and shoot' with the hopes that the pictures would come out as what I had in mind.

A few months ago while malling, me and my brother saw a bunch of people with large cameras, with long lenses hanging from their necks - the DLSR camera craze had begun! - I never really saw myself buying such camera, I was quite happy with my point and shoot digicam, although sometimes taking night mode pictures can be frustrating.

My brother - the gadget lover, urged me to buy one 'just so'. I was reluctant because for one, those cameras costs a lot and besides I argued 'is there any difference in the photos taken?'  I spend a couple of hours per day for weeks online, checking out these camera's features, reviews and sample shots, everytime we go malling I would stop by the electronics store and stare and hold and test various DLSR to my bothers' annoyance.  In the end I was cajoled into finally deciding to buy by my brother with the argument that I wouldnt enjoy the money I have been saving if I died tomorrow - morbid I know

Deciding to buy was one thing - choosing what model to get was another. And so I again browsed and joined photographer forums asking the pro's for the best entry level DLSR. In the end I settled for a Sony alpha 330. Its less expensive than a Canon or Nikon, and more practical too if I want to build a good lens system over the years as the Sony takes Minolta and Sigma lenses.

And so one day we finally finally decidedly (and hurriedly - lest I back out hahahaha! cheapskate!!) headed out to the elctronics store and purchased a Sony Alpha 330. What a beauty!! :D

Me and my Sony self portrait!!!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

after a day's work

I picked up a copy of Abu Dhabi Week Magazine today as I power walked my way to the office and was quickly browsing the pages when I saw a familiar photo published on page 22 (Through Your Lens section).

It was a picture I took and sent three days ago. It was an unexpected surprise because never had I thought (though I wished ) it would be published and so soon at that. I almost lost footing as I stepped up the curb with my eyes stuck to the magazine - and did I mention I was power walking??? leathal combination that is: power walking while reading LOL!!!

                                After A Day's Work - a still life photo

The picture is a simple still life of a pair of work boots left unattended. I saw these boots one day on my way home from work and felt compelled to take a picture because it evoked in me a feeling of satisfaction and relief for completing another hard day's work - I imagine the owner sighing in relief as he took the boots off, relax his tired feet and cool off with a cold beverage with a smile on his face.

There was nothing fancy about the set-up. No vivid colors, no cool lighting effects, no awesone landscape or architecture - just a pair of work boots...

... what do you see and feel when you look at the picture??

Friday, June 4, 2010

... hoo-hum, humdrum..

... it's been a while since my last post...

... I told a new friend once that I am not a very interesting person. I lead  pretty ordinary life - nothing 'big' ever happens to me - and by 'big' I mean great, unbelievably exciting stuff like winning something in a raffle - heck I have never even won a mug or something less valuable which for sure I will treasure because, well have I ever told you I am a hoarder?? I have a tendency to be but anyways....

... the point is I haven't been updating because I haven't been out and about Abu Dhabi these past few weeks thus the lack of anything interesting to post...

... but I surely will make an effort from today onwards to post at least something once a week. I want to revive my blogging activities and be the frustrated writer that I am - harhar!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

World of Music, Art and Dance - WOMAD Abu Dhabi 2010

when WOMAD first came to Abu Dhabi last year - I was too ignorant to care. Having never heard of WOMAD before and not recognising any names on the performer list leaflet (no Robbie Williams? no Beyonce?) I just waved it off thinking I wouldn't enjoy it anyways - and boy did I miss something.

This year I am a little bit more aware, having done some little research on the net, unlike last year I know now that:

- WOMAD is an organization founded in 1980 by Peter Gabriel, Thomas Brooman and Bob Hooton

- WOMAD was founded on the basis that enthusiasm over global sounds would be created if there is awareness

- the financial realities of the organization brought about the idea of having a festival instead of a one off event

- two years later in 1982, the first Womad festival took place in Shepton Mallet, England

- the organizations central aim is to celebrate the worlds culturally diverse forms of music, arts and dance by bringing together artists from all over the globe

- currently WOMAD holds festival in over 20 countries, presenting more that a thousand artists from all parts of the globe to a million audience, creating awareness and promoting appreciation for the worlds' Music, Art and Dance.

the WOMAD Abu Dhabi 2010 logo

fireworks display kick starting the event

the CHEMIRANI's onstage.
the Chemirani's are a renowed Persian family ensemble with music using traditional Persian beats

the master percussionist DJAMCHID and daughter MARYAM on the tombak

speacially designed by ANGUS WATT, these flags has been an integral part of the WOMAD festivals.

WASEL SAFWAN an Emirati artist and architect

WOMAD bazaar


The ZAWOSE FAMILY spreading the music of the Wagogo people of TANZANIA

the Chemirani's coming to prepare, cook and share a traditional dish from their country of origin along with an audience Q & A in participation of TASTE OF THE WORLD

WOMAD graffiti wall

it all happened here, at the Abu Dhabi corniche

the only picture of me enjoying this wonderful event

I am glad I decided to go and watch this wonderful event! I got to see, hear and enjoy even a little bit of the worlds diverse culture thru music, arts and dance. I didn't get to see all 35 and more performing artists but my favorite would have to be the CHEMRANI's.  Meeting with WASEL SAFWAN and asking him if I could take his picture was embarrassing in a nice sort of way :D. Too bad DAMIEN MARLEY was too sick to perform that night!!!

I salute the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) for bringing WOMAD to Abu Dhabi, their dedication and passion to make Abu Dhabi the cultural center of the region has brought art awareness and appreciation of the UAE's and the worlds diverse culture and heritage.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

for love of chocolate

I absolutely adore chocolates!!! I love them dark, milk, bitter, white or semi sweet.  I love them in ice cream, cakes, brownies, cookies, beverages, dips and syrups, I love them in plain bars or with fillings, fuits or nuts or both- and the list can go on and on!!

I can live on chocolate if only it doesn't go straight to my belly, thighs and butt!

Here in the UAE or should I say in the Middle East (soon the world?) the most famous brand in chocolate is Patchi - borne from an 11-year old boy's passion for chocolate, the brand has grown globally.

When I first came here I was thrilled to see those chocolates arranged in a variety of designs for a variety of occassions, back then I remember thinking that I should maybe get a franchise and bring the brand and concept to the Philippines. There wasn't any shop that offers chocolate arrangements in my home country as far as I know, and I thought the concept was charming and definitely would be a hit.

Fast forward to the present - well I haven't enough money to buy the franchise but that didn't stop me from enjoying these Lebanese made chocolates. Maybe one day, insha allah, my passion for chocolate would bring me my very own Patchi franchise :D

Sunday, April 18, 2010

changing demographics

My story of moving from one demographic to another can be considered epic - well maybe not, am just being overly dramatic.

Depending on what you believe in it can be a story of luck and coincidences or of destiny and fate.

Consider this:

- one sunday morning in January a few years back, I lay in bed contemplating my (then) current work environment which is turning for the worse. I remember having a tingling feeling in my legs. I felt uneasy, like I had the butterflies but puzzled as to "why?", could it be because I decided to try and look for a new job? having worked for the company for close to four years since I got out of college maybe I am getting jittery because this is another big transition. My thoughts were disrupted when I heard my mom take our regular newspaper subscription and after a split second I jumped out of bed to get the other paper noted for its thick classified ads section.

- lo and behold! I saw one add by a manpower agency that deploys people to the middle east looking for a banker with three to five years experience, not over age 27, etc etc. I was reading it with my mom and she said "that is you!!"

- it was the ONE time the agency placed an add in the papers, I almost missed that window of opportunity had we taken on our normal sunday paper.

- so I went thru the process of application but it wasn't until after almost 6 months that I finally recieved a call saying I am one of the shortlisted candidates.

- during the interview day, I went to the wrong venue - it was a good thing we left early and the normal heavy traffic was non existent which gave us just enough time to make it!

- in the interview room, my nervousness vanished when one of the three interviewers smiled at me and said I looked like his daughter. The ice was broken and I was able to answer the questions with renewed confidence! a lot of people say I look like someone they know - this is the one time I actually appreciated hearing that! haha!

After signing the offer letter comes the hardest part - documentation. We were given approx a month to have all our documents attested and authenticated by various government agencies, and since I was still employed that means a lot of absences. It was not an easy month but to cut the story short everything worked out fine in the end...

... and so I bid adeiu to my family, friends and former officemates carrying with me my authenticated and attested documents, luggage, pocket money, sense of adventure, hopes, dreams and goals as I boarded the plane to the land of sand and oil, jumping from being 'regular filipino employee' to an 'expat'.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

what's in a name??!!

While I've created generic user names - that is a combination of my name and random numbers - for all my other online accounts, I decided AND wanted a unique user name for this blog account - this after all would be some sort of an online attempt to document my life here in Abu Dhabi.

I choose to use 'the middle class abu dhabi expat' because it is who I am. I am lucky to have a job in line with my vocation but I am far from being a high flying, five digit salary earning foreigner. I am your average employee, with an average salary and an average if not boring expatriate lifestyle - haha!!

And so, running out of words to end this little entry, here is 'the middle class abu dhabi expat' blog for you!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

signing up!!

 ... I have had this account for quite sometime now - but haven't the inspiration to begin posting anything... that is until I decided to dedicate one specific blogging account (among others that I have!) to document - well sort of anyway! my life here in Abu Dhabi...

... so here: my piece of internet blogging space to write about and post pictures of food, places, events and people that make the life of a middle class Abu Dhabi expat!