Sunday Morning, Forever Summer

Sunday morning, rain is falling

Steal some cover, share some skin

5:30 AM. In the Philippines, it will still be slightly dark. But in this side of the world, dawn has already come. No visible splash of sunrise colors, no interplay of violet and peach and gold. Just a muted blue going from dark to light. On clear days. But this is just the start of summer here in Dubai and sand storms from afar have already spewn beige sandy particles into the stratosphere. Today, the morning sky is a strangely whitish gray hue with some powder blue. The wind blowing is a cool, refreshing one. A stark contrast to what it will become in a couple of hours.

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Good thing about my brother’s residence is that the Metro is of walking distance. A good exercise to and from the office., I’d say. The schedule of the trains’ arrival and departure are precise so one can schedule his or her commute / travel better. Unfortunately the bus (F20) I had to ride to from Business Bay (Al Qouz) to our Al Safa office leaves at exactly 7:30am and the next bus to arrive will leave exactly 30 minutes later. I had to leave our place in Karama 10 minutes to 7 and walk briskly so as to catch the train at 7 or 7:05am.

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A foggy morning with Business Bay towers on the background. The Metro I ride in the morning (M-Red Line) runs the course from the airport areas beside Dubai Creek and Rashidiya to the large port area at Jebel Ali, along the length of Jumeirah coastline. The Dubai (Jumeirah) coastline faces the Persian Gulf, but the Metro rail is too far from it to be able to catch a glimpse of the mint-colored sea. The only reminder that the land is near the coast is the outline of the Burj al Arab from the Mall of the Emirates station.

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From HR back office associate in a well known company in the Philippines I become a receptionist / secretary / office assistant in a relatively unknown, start-up firm along Sheik Zayed Road Al Safa Interchange (2) in Dubai. In the Philippines, I have had the slight advantage of being a graduate of a well-known school, and thus was able to get good entry-level jobs inside good companies. But in Dubai, I have to reluctantly, begrudgingly accept that I have to start small and earn small.

As a first time OFW – wannabe in a visit visa, the most important thing to do is to secure any job that can pay the minimum costs for bed space, allowance and transport, within the allowed duration of your visa, and that will definitely provide you the much coveted residence visa, labor card and Emirates ID ( It’s not work visa, it’s residence visa. It’s not the work permit, but it is already something like that.) You should have heard various instances when employers would promise those important documentations but will just use up your visit visa them bye-bye to you, sucker worker! Go back in Philippine shores if you have the money. Or people doing the so-called exit procedures to some island (Hello Kish) or other nearby country’s airport (Hi, Oman) and you get stuck there. Because the damned employer “forgot” to provide you the residence visa in order for you to come back. Filipinos are said to be stuck there and the Philippine Embassy has to rescue them. No wonder the Philippine immigration and consulate nowadays conspire to ensure that Filipinos trying their luck  in Dubai should have a valid sponsor (either the employer who alone can provide the residence visa or a working relative who has the means of providing financial support especially in the above-mentioned cases).

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I have been working here in Dubai for a monthly today. And as the temperature soars high, sandstorms colors the skies a pale red, and summer breezes are scorching, fleeting moments of my employment in the Philippines and of its tropical summers came by. In the Philippines I have been an egomanic idealist: changed jobs too often and abused my contract-based employment,  just because I don’t fit into the company or the people are not on my level, the job is boring, or the job is so stressful. But running a third of a mile from office to the nearest bus stop so as not to be left behind and wait for another 30 min., I can say employment is not a plaything, or something to be ignored. Especially when employment is overseas. You’re not only tolerating with hassles of commute or increasing market prices, you’re battling homesickness. You’re not only mingling with fellow Filipinos with crab mentality, you’re dealing with the “not-United Nation” workforce, and with the language differences, you can never tell what the other side is planning until it’s too late and your boss views you in a bad light or worse, your things are already at the office door. and then Filipinos trying to leech your hard-earned blood money in their subtle, manipulative ways.

After the dazzle of world-class infrastructure, jaw-dropping sales, and ginormous malls, hotels and towers, you’ll see expatriates are a lonely bunch. A lonely bunch decked with Dubai gold and electronics, of shishas and late-night parties junkies, of Filipino inuman and stuff. For nationalities whose weather is either summer or winter, we love summers. The heat, the beach, the sales, the free time! But in Dubai, summer is time for Ramadan (no eating or drinking in public),  a time when the wind is like from an unseen giant hair blower, when the glare is blinding, when the smell of the un-bathed is unbearable, and when the clouds are nowhere to provide respite from the heat. It’s just that feeling ,you know. We love summer to come, but when summer gets too long we are starting to wonder when will rain drop on our heads or when the leaves turn brown and fall down. We might be worried about running out of sunblock or skin protection, and the mall-party-beach-hopping robbed us of our money. Dubai is exciting, yes, many opportunities are waiting to be explored. But with a one-day weekend, sometimes, you just wish you could stay in your bed and sleep. With the Filipinos stuck in Kish Island waiting for visas that will never be delivered, or for others who tries various (illegal ways) to find work in Dubai, this summer is just extra heat wave, extra factor for desperation, for stress, for loneliness. and to think summer seems like  forever here.

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