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.
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.
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…….
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.