Going Home, Part 2

After two weeks rendezvous in the RP and HongKong, we went back to Abu Dhabi. I submitted my resignation letter on November 2007. My boss had asked me to stay until the end of March when the Dubai Boat Show was over. John wanted us to go home in December, just in time for Christmas. It was not easy to break this news to my then fiancé, and he felt very bad. When I say having a foreigner for a boyfriend or husband, it’s no beating around the bush. Take it or leave it sometimes. He has his moments, although he understands my situation as a breadwinner. A little extra savings will help me put up a small scale business back home. I just could not tell him that. Trying to convince him was no easy task, but he relented and asked me to tell my employer up to 31st March and no more.

With my brother during the Dubai Boat Show 2007 (we worked in the same company)
With my brother during the Dubai Boat Show 2007 (we worked in the same company)
Dubai Boat show
Dubai Boat show

Having said that we are going to move to RP for good, there was so much to think about… I spent sleepless nights trying to figure out what to do.  Am I making the right move? Is it worth it to hang my high heels and head home? Will I be able to pull through and find an alternative source of income? I know I can never earn 80,000 pesos a month if have to go home for good. Although John promised to help (he kept his words) it is not really easy.  It’s not even because he can’t provide for me nor I can’t have a life better than my counterparts, but you see I have been managing my own finances for a long time. I worked   hard to get to where I am now, and what’s more, I just can’t bear the fact that I’d be totally dependent. I also have to deal with the fact that I will not be receiving my monthly pay cheque anymore. It’s so hard to absorb these drastic changes. I have to admit, my first few months here were not easy. I really cried.  I’m just lucky that he is there and he understands what I am going through. We are both struggling to adjust. He maybe is well travelled, but of course he lived in hotel rooms most of the time and he never had the chance to be really domesticated.

There’s also the so called cultural difference. The mere fact that I spent half of my life living abroad, I encountered and met a lot of people. Got lots of acquaintances, especially when I worked in a recruitment office.  I even picked up a few languages  to be able to communicate. There was a time I could converse in ‘farsi’, know a few words of ‘hindi’, learned a few words of ‘sinhalese’ and I can speak the ‘arabic’ language as my second tongue.  I have a Sudanese friend named  Manal, bless her… I hope she will find happiness wherever she is. Moroccans are a happy lot also. They thought me how to belly dance. Some of them really are very pretty, I mean they are like us ‘Pinays’, the most loving creatures here on earth. Then comes the Ethiopians I happened to have as flatmates at one time, who smoked ‘shisha’, roaste peanuts and coffee beans inside their room whenever they did their coffee ceremony. It’s a miracle they did not burn the building down.  My European friends would invite me to bar hopping and discos, or barbecuing along Liwa beach or on the Corniche. But these were just friends. You will meet them and bond from  time to time, but you are not destined to be with them for the rest of your life. Would you believe that some arguments that we have as husband and wife are just about petty things? His ‘point of view-my point of view’ thing.  If you know about ISO issues, you know what I am talking about.  It’s silly really.

One incident is about a trip to a Metrobank branch in Quezon Avenue to open a bank account. I told him that I need a holding account to be able to receive monthly remittance from my brother. He manages my 4 bedroom flat in Abu Dhabi which I sublet some of the rooms for extra income.  The taxi meter fare read P150. John pulled out 300pesos and gave it to the driver. To him 5-10 dollars meant nothing. I’d say ‘yeah because he is calculating based on his dollar earning. He receives his salary in dollars not pesos. He can even deduce it to currency difference ‘. But for me, I consider that it is too much. It’s not wrong to share, nor to give extra, but to pay double!!!!! Makes my eyes roll. Sometimes   he will go out of his own to buy a few things…. he will come back saying ‘ they charged me the Kano price’, that’s when I pointed to him that sometimes he is encouraging some people to take advantage of him. Told him try not to do this or that next  time. He will pout for the next couple of days. Mind you, if you are in my position, what do you guys have to do? As Ms. August is saying from a foreigner’s wife perspective. I’m losing a battle here. I am struggling to adjust because I felt as if half of my being is still left in Abu Dhabi. Believe me adjusting is the hardest next to understanding. I know I’m in this with open eyes and I love my husband, but sorry to say, transition really did not happen overnight. I’m not sure if some of you guys felt the same.

I missed my job. The hustle and bustle of a busy office and the constant ringing of phones. Call it sacrifice… yes it is. In life you have to let go of something in order to have another. I really don’t know if someone  out there is facing the same dilemma as I am.  Although I pre-planned or mapped my moves for when I am here, deviations due to unexpected circumstances occurred. Yeah… develop the ponds, plant some corns or seasonal veggies on the arable areas to sustain expenses, raise some piggies on the side to absorb your loses if everything goes awry. Thinking that my separation pay will suffice and a little help from my husband will be enough ……… when I say I was in for a shock, it really was.

Office in Abu Dhabi
Office in Abu Dhabi

My views in life had changed through the years. I honed my negotiating skills working in an import/export company in the UAE for eleven years. I am just so confident that some of my technical know- how can be applied when setting up a small scale business in Abulug. I faced the hard fact that even my siblings sometimes  does not welcome the changes that I am trying to implement. Either that they view it in a bad light, feeling you are stepping on their toes or some can come back with the thought that because I have a ‘Kano’ husband and I am being a snob. I just bite my tongue not to retaliate.

Finding responsible people to work for you is another problem.  In my town contractual work is not common. People work per day. If you are not there to supervise, they will stretch the days that they can work. The job at hand that can be done for two days will take a week to finish. No problem you are oblige to pay –  a balikbayan and ‘Kano’ wife can afford it, right?  Give and take?  Forget it. The poor fellow must earn for his electricity bill, lotto money for the wife, cell phone load for the older children, cable payment  because his little kids has to watch the ‘toon network’, etc… etc…  but what’s that leave you??? A pain in the neck and deeper dent in your pocket.  Life sucks……

A blessing  or a curse? Or was it??To those who are married to a foreigner, have you ever experienced  standing behind your husband in a fast food queue? The server arms herself with a winsome smile asking for orders and when your hubby turn around and ask for your preference, you could watch the change of expression in faces when they realize you are with that man. I had that experience so many times here and there. In a Kentucky outlet in Abu Dhabi, I had the opportunity to having been served the scrawniest chicken wing I’ve ever seen. John was laughing himself out. Rather than be mad, I asked him to buy me two pieces of corn on the cob. Funny world…… and life goes on…………. Anyway some also are genuinely friendly and accommodating, especially if my little Juan is with us…

These are but a few hang- ups that I had. It’s not about putting your nose up or being a snob.  I think what I had has more depth than shying away from what I had left off before I went overseas. Am still a ‘promdi’ by heart.  My next article will be about setting up a home, today’s menu, finding a maid and etc……

Please stay tune……… ciao for now…….

Dubai Boat Show
Dubai Boat Show
Post Author: RebeccaM (2 Posts)

Rebecca Carrao Miele manages a farm in Abulug, Cagayan province, in Northern Luzon. She lives in Quezon City and spent 23 years as an OFW in Kuwait, Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi. Now she is a full-time mom to Juanito, and has returned to the Philippines for good. She currently divides her time between Abulug and Manila.

Live in the Philippines Consulting


  1. chasdv says

    Hi Rebecca,
    Enjoying your interesting stories.
    I had to laugh about your KFC incident,we have experienced similar when Sheryl and i shop together.Some market stall holders try to add a few pesos on the price when they realize we are together.

    regards Chas.

    • Rebecca Miele says

      Chas, sometimes I ask John to keep out of sight if I know I will have a fair deal without him around. I will not have discounted rate if they see him with me.

  2. PaulK says

    Hi Rebecca – Your story sounds so familiar. Think my wife Emy has told it to me a number of times. 😉 I don’t think we’ll ever stop adjusting.

    Let us know if/when you and John might come through Ilocos Norte – perhaps we can visit for a while.

  3. dave says

    hI Rebecca..My Filipino wife also worked in Exports Shipping in Dubai and now very happy to live in the UK with our baby son.She doesn’t want to return back to Philippines to work, because as you are aware it’s hard to adjust back to the work culture of the philippines.

  4. says

    Hi, Rebecca-

    Nice story, thanks. Do you want to know how to stop cold those “winsome smiles” coming from pretty counter ladies or sales clerks directed at the hubby, who, I am sure is doing a lot of smiling on the sly himself without your knowledge (you just don’t see it because you’re standing behind him).

    The next time you stand in line at KFC, you stand in front of him and do the ordering yourself. But since he’s taller than you, and he’s standing behind you, he still can play eyes with the pretty sales lady over your head, behind your back so to speak. But let’s see if the pretty sales lady returns his smile with you staring her in the face. Hahaha

  5. Tyleen says

    I admire you SOOOOO much for leaving your family and travelling 1/2 way around the world for work.
    It is something most young Canadian girls would NEVER do.
    I am glad that you have a fab husband and a wonderul baby to make up for all the time you lost away from a family structure.

    Thank you so much for the insight from a OFW female point of view….I will look forward to part 3 and 4 and 5….etc etc

  6. Mark says

    Thank you for telling your story.My Filipina friend is an OFW in Kuwait.She was very excited to go but she is having a difficult time adjusting.How did you manage for 23 years?How were you able to progress to better positions?I know she would like to continue working and earning money to help her family but I don’t think she can see past her immediate situation. Thanks again,very interesting!

    • Rebecca Miele says

      Mark, tell her to persevere and she’ll get there. Always try to be good at what she is doing and take any better opportunities that come along.

  7. imagine says

    Just out of curiousity. How much is a gallon of resin 105 in the Phils? Is it easily bought in Cebu? Imagine is constructed with the West System, so I continue to use it to keep her up…….i2f

    • Rebecca Miele says

      Imagine, there is no distributor in the Philippines. If it is for sale here, boat builders are importing it from Australia.

  8. says

    Great article from a FWPOV (foreigner’s wife point-of-view) and I sympathized with you. After being independent, having a career and making your own way; it’s hard to be a stay-at-home wife/mom and be dependent on your spouse. Also, the family dynamics are very different when you are just visiting or on vacation and living there full time. I can just imagine the difficulties and frustrations you feel when dealing with them.

  9. Dave Keiser says

    Rebecca, I too am married to a Rebecca, and we have been living here for the last year and are still adjusting to life in Dipolog. As a foreigner, I too get lots of “sweety smiles” from salesgirls. having my feet securely on the ground, and realizing that I am married to the greatest wife in the world, I have learned to make sure and either bring my wife into establishments where a particlar girl is trying to get my attention, or mention that the items that I am purchasing are “FOR MY WIFE”. I love to be friendly with people and joke around, but I don’t want any of these young ladies thinking I am flirting with them. A good wife is a great asset, or trophy, so to speak, and I make sure to polish my trophy a lot, and protect my wife from as much as I can. As far as the family demands and expectations, I have allowed my wife to make me the “bad guy” in those situations. Third cousins twice removed seem to have no shame in asking for money from my wife. Some seem to have the money for bus fare to get here, but seem to end up lacking funds to return home. As cruel and heartless as it may sound, I dont pay return bus fare for those kind. Worse case scenario, they can pawn that nice gold bracelet they are wearing, or sell the TV so they can raise money for the ” sick relative” they are telling us is their excuse for needing a “loan”.
    Use your husband, it’s OK I am sure he has broad shoulders and can handle the cultural pressure much better than you can.
    Close relatives who truely need money, I have a unique way of handling……I put them to work! Money given without being labored for is quickly wasted, but when ones own sweat goes into procurring that money, it is handled much more wisely.
    Good luck adjusting, wish you well

  10. Miguk says

    I am forbidden from going to the market with my wife….either that or I have to walk ahead and examine something I want, then she will come after I have gone to ask the price….but as you pointed out the salesgirls are too friendly sometimes which makes going even more verboten hahahaha.

    • Rebecca Miele says

      Miguk, I am not the jealous type, but I am aware of those smiles sometimes. Rather than make public embarrassment for my husband, I’d rather just let him go out sometimes.

      • John Miele says

        Miguk: In my defense, I don’t encourage any attention. I’ve been accused of being a flirt, and even this response is getting increased scrutiny. Hail Mary! Full of Grace!

  11. Rebecca Miele says

    Sorry for the very, very late responses. I have been in the province for over a month, with very limited Internet access.

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