It did not take long for me to realize that the Philippines is better in all aspects as compared to Saudi Arabia except for the salary. But before you object, let me just remind you that this is an opinion from an expatriate longing for his mother country. The basis of comparison is from a multitude of factors that affect my life as an OFW. Surroundings, culture, freedom, and people, are just a few of those that I am particular with. Definitely it is more fun in the Philippines; the environment, the weather, the parks, the malls, the houses, the markets, the hospitality, the entertainment scene, the freedom, nature, etcetera. Pardon me for being biased, but truly, there is nothing like home.
Almost every week, we (with workmates) get to know some colleague who comes back to the Philippines for his/her vacation. As usual things and activities that we have been missing a lot become the all time favorite topic of conversation. Here are a number of those.
Pork. “Hindi ako kakain ng chicken sa Pilipinas!” This is what you’ll hear from those craving for pork. Obviously, Saudi Arabia does not eat pork because of its religious beliefs and that saddens a great number of its expatriates. Filipino delicacies such as Litson, Adobong baboy, and anything that pertains to pork are then a must for a balik-bayan from Saudi. The innards are also what I am craving for, so I just have to say hello to calories when eating Chilak, Chibab, and Isaw ng baboy.
Seafood. Although we also have great seafood here, my gustatory cells are always picky. The hamour here is a favorite, plus the tuna and salmon, but they don’t have plenty of tahong here. Unlike in the wet markets of the Philippines that I could easily find huge tahong and talaba, the tahong that they have here is imported from New Zealand and it costs a fortune. One thing is for sure, tahong, talaba, kuhol, salmon belly, will always be digested in my gastrointestinal system in the coming weeks. I’m now counting the days!
Malls. Well, the malls here are the same to those that are in the Philippines. We also see the same stalls except for some that I am not familiar with. For example, when I try to look for clothing and drop by Mall of Arabia I usually see Guess, Lacoste, Adidas, Nike, Giordano, Celio, Mango, Gap, etc., however, the sight of those does not even call my attention. I am not a brand conscious individual and I always go for comfortable and decent looking clothing, regardless of the brand. Also, I don’t like malls here because they don’t have my size. Hahaha. Sa Pinas, kapag men’s small ang hinanap ko sakto na yun sa akin, dito, it’s either I go to children’s wear or look for extra small sizes for men which are very rare. One of my objectives in my vacation is to buy enough t-shirts, polo shirts, and maong pants for me!
Nature. While Saudi Arabia has limited natural wonders, the Philippines is teeming with life! I don’t know what came into my mind but I am dying to see, feel, and experience nature. Yung tipong makakakita ako ng falls, ng bundok na maraming puno, ng bulaklak, ng farm animals, I guess it is only in this country (Saudi) that I discovered my desire to be with nature. Urgh.. I can’t wait to take photos of those with my DSLR!
Clean the Car. If you have spent a considerable amount of time here in Saudi and you own a car in the Philippines, you'll have that intense desire to make your car squeeky-clean once again. Whenever I see a sweet high-end car that looks unmaintained, I just proclaim, "If that's mine, it would look brand new all the time!" OC tendencies must be put into test!
Tropical Fruits. Rambutan, manga, buko, lanzones, kaymito, at iba pa!
Others in my list are: visit churches and attend the Sunday Catholic mass, watch films in a movie house, commute using the bus, tricycle, and jeep and say ‘estudyante po’, meet my UPOU classmates, finish my practicum at Philippine General Hospital, and go places.
Fast forward to last week of March and I’ll be singing Gary V’s lyrics, “Kaytagal mo ng nawala, babalik ka rin!” Excited much!
P.S. I’d like to see Singapore or Hong Kong too, if money is enough (I doubt).
P.P.S. The photos are not mine. By clicking on the picture, you'll be directed to the photo source.