Monday, April 23, 2012


...but I'm sorry to tell you that I messed up this blog. The links to most of the posts are broken when I switched back to my blogspot address. As much as I want to fix them, I can't anymore. I tried to republish my posts to no avail. Sigh.

I really love this blog but I have to set it aside for the meantime. I would still update this once in a while, I promise. And out of disappointment, I started another blog. Please drop by there when you have the time. I would appreciate it so much. And please let me know when you do by dropping a line or two. I would certainly return the favor.

Thanks so much!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

My First Intense Sandstorm Experience

One of my main concerns when we went here in Saudi Arabia is the asthma attacks my son Gabby might have when there are sandstorms. So far, in our less than a year here, he only had one attack. And thank God, it was just a mild one.

I always pray that sandstorms in Riyadh will be less in number and intensity. Comparing the sandstorms with that of the typhoons in the Philippines, I can say I've only experienced Signal #1. Until last February 25.

I just got home from work at 1pm when I noticed that the sky was a bit darker than usual. After an hour or so, the wind started blowing hard. I started worrying about my children who were still in school. I knew it was Sandstorm Signal #3 (on my gauge meter) when I went up the rooftop of our house and didn't see the skyscrapers clearly. That included Kingdom Tower and Faisaliah Tower.

When I opened the gate for Gabby and Sunday at 4pm, I barely saw them! The surroundings turned dark and blurry in no time. Below are the videos that tell the tale more clearly:

I checked  for videos on that sandstorm in YouTube and found these two videos.
This is almost what happened when I opened the gate for my kids.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Romance, Movies and a Strawberry Cake

The Love Month ushered in with me watching romantic movies. I don't know what gets into me but I seem to be always watching movies when February comes. I realized I still have great faith in love, even after more than ten years of marriage. It surely helps that God is at the center of my partnership with my husband.

I get good insights while watching movies about love. Among these three, my favorite is P.S. I Love You. This movie made me cry a bucket and appreciate my husband's love for me.

On times I am exhausted from daily work, watching this stuff kinda relaxes me.

I must have been overdosed with love notions that the actual Hearts' Day almost passed by without me remembering it. Maybe because nothing unusual or special happened yesterday. Fred didn't give me anything or didn't ask me out.  He reasoned that our anniversary falls three days after so we might as well celebrate on that day. You may not believe me but that has always been fine with me. We are used to doing that since we got married.

Gabby, on the other hand, showed his love for me demonstratively. I wasn't expecting anything because I thought schools here in Riyadh don't celebrate Hearts' Day. But Gabby and Sunday told me that they had a Valentine Classroom Party and Valentine stuff were sold on booths in the school's quadrangle. Gabby bought me a bear. How I loved him for remembering!

Gabby gave me this little pink bear. He never fails to give me gifts on occasions. Such a thoughtful child.

In my workplace, I thought Arabs don't celebrate Valentine's Day. But they do, especially those who are exposed to Western culture and those who studied abroad. They greeted each other and our Syrian marketing officer received pastries and a cake from her fiancé.

Strawberry cake given with love and shared with almost all the staff.
The only regret that I have is not being able to watch movies in theaters. There are no movie houses or theaters in Saudi Arabia. I miss watching a good movie and dining out with my hubby on Hearts' Day. Maybe, we'll do that when we come home to the Philippines. :)
Have a love-filled life!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gowns and Winter on the Desert

I wasn't prepared for the winter here in Riyadh. I thought Fred was just exaggerating when he told me before that he used two Korean blankets on winter nights. Now, I realized how true it is and how lonely it was not to have someone to hug on a cold weather like this.

The other night, the temperature fell to -1°C. I usually go home from work at 10 pm and that night, I had to walk briskly from the building to Fred's car because it was shiveringly cold. Brrrrr...I have to endure this cold weather until maybe first week of March.

I think I badly need knitted gloves. I browsed through the fashion magazines for winter fashion collections to check how Arab women here in Saudi dress during this time. Of course, they have their abayas over their clothes but I think that underneath those abayas are fashionable and signature dresses. Having met some Arab women here, I can say that the portrayal of them wearing Dior collections in the Sex and the City 2 movie has some truth in it. I was surprised to see these pages from Layalina Magazine issued on April last year. (April is neither hot or cold here, they say.) The models are donning fashion designers' bridal collection. There is something common with these pics. All models/celebrities seemed to be wearing inner clothes under their gowns and dresses. But they do not. The magazine's layout artist purposely put those inner wear because conservative dress codes of some Arab countries require that women don't expose too much skin, even if it's on print. 

These are bridal collection from known fashion designers.

Gowns as overalls. Despite the inner wear effect,
these Hollywood celebrities still look stunning wearing these.

Just like the models and celebrities above, layering clothes is a must for me now. It is kinda inconvenient but I need to do it to make myself warm. A combination of blouse and pants, an abaya and a coat or jacket is my dress code these days. Better warm than sorry (for the cold), right?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Ikea on New Year's Eve

We almost spent the New Year in Ikea! We went there past 8pm of December 31 and since it was our first time, we got lost on our way. It turned out to be a New Year's Eve adventure because the road we traversed is dark and ours was the only car passing that way. When we looked behind us, it was total darkness! That dark road led us to the highway going to Ikea and we promised ourselves to ask for directions before going to a place next time.

We went there to buy for our exchange gift activity with our friends here. We also bought some things for the house. I really like it there. There were so many designs for housewares, utensils or pieces of furniture. It was alright to take pictures but I wasn't able to take many out of courtesy to the shoppers.

Green bowls and plastic whatchamacallits ( are these plastic spatulas?) :P

multicolored shower curtains!

cute kitchen stuff!

A simulation of a kid's bedroom. I noticed I like green things for the house!

Fred and the kids outside Ikea
After shopping for gifts, we went to buy ice cream in a cone worth SR1 (Php12)! The food and drinks on the snack area are unbelievably cheap! The drinks are also refillable. What a treat for their shoppers.

For more pics and home design inspirations, visit their website or view their catalogue here. Warning though, you might get addicted to browsing. :P

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Camel Arabic and Carabao English

It's been a while since my last post here. I work on a broken shift so it's kinda difficult for me to still find time to blog. But since it's Hajj next week here, I hope I can post an article or two.

Hajj, by the way, is the largest pilgrimage in the world. It is a religious duty by Muslims who can afford to go to Makkah or Mecca. But for us non-Muslims here, Hajj means vacation from work and school.

It is also my short break from learning Arabic. Yes, I'm trying to learn a bit of this country's language. I learned to read Arabic numbers on my third week here. I had to learn because I need to layout a charge slip with code numbers written in Arabic. Though most of the materials here are also translated in English, I think knowing how to read numbers in Arabic will still benefit me someday.

My second week in Saudi Arabia, in one of the parks
in Dammam. I don't know a single Arabic word that time!
I mentioned break from learning Arabic because the two company drivers teach us Arabic whenever they have the time. Most often, when they're having tea in the afternoon, they would translate in Arabic whatever word we ask them. I only want to learn Arabic words that people use here everyday. Like "How are you?" or "Where are you going?" But as days go by, as I get to talk with other Arabic-speaking nationalities, I am learning the language more than I wanted to.

In return, those Sudanese drivers learn English from us. They speak Carabao English and sometimes, I find myself speaking that way, too! That's because they understand us more if we only use the important words. Instead of saying, "Don't pick me up today. I'm not feeling well, I won't go to work." I just say, "Don't pick up, ana ma iji. (I'm not coming.)" (No need to say you're not feeling well.)

I learned from Fred those ana ma iji words. Ana is I, ma is not, and iji is coming. But Fred said that what he teaches me is Camel Arabic. They're not complete sentences or grammatically correct. But I think no one cares. Since we are now in a place where people don't speak fluent English, speaking Camel Arabic doesn't matter. As long as people get the message across, it's enough. :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Job as a Graphic Designer in The Kingdom

It has been a month since we first came here in Saudi Arabia. I didn’t have time to think and rest and before I knew it, I am already working after just two weeks.

This is where I spend my eight hours of work.

I was hired as graphic designer by a well-known medical company. When I was interviewed, one of the things I was asked to do was to design the company’s website. At first I was adamant when I was assigned that task. I am not that adept in designing websites and that includes looking for a reliable web host.

For someone who maintains a blog and owns its domain, I was able to experience looking for best cheap hosting and purchasing one. But it’s another story when you talk about a company website. That’s why I’m glad to know later on that I would only have to coordinate with a website designer regarding the aesthetics and images needed for the company’s site. I was so relieved! Almost all websites here in Saudi Arabia has its Arabic version. So who will translate and upload all those information to the site? Thank God it wouldn’t be me.

Just tonight before I left the office, the Palestinian web designer came. We talked about what he still needs including the company’s website hosting. Although I can’t understand his English well, I think it’s still good to know I only have to worry about the aesthetics of the site, which I think I am knowledgeable at. I just wish I know more about website designing! Ah, you just can't have it all. :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Saudi Arabia waits for us

I wrote so many introductions to this post but I kept changing them. I wrote about being at one of life's crossroads, or taking risks, or choosing which is best for me and my family. A flurry of thoughts after, I decided to just spill what comes to my mind.

I am leaving for Saudi Arabia. I am bringing my kids with me so we can join my husband who went to work there more than a year ago. It wasn't an easy decision. I had to consider the culture. Especially its treatment to women. I had to ask my husband several times if the education system there is okay. I searched the net for blogs and articles that tell of the life of an expat family in that tradition-embracing Arab country. Can we make it there? Will we be able to adjust? Will the kids like it there?

I heard so much about Saudi Arabia. Almost all advices came from children and relatives of expats who worked there. And majority of them say negative things about it. They didn't like the idea that Fred and I will be bringing the kids. But I believe Fred knows better. He worked there for more than two years before going there again last year. He is confident that we will adapt easily. He said that bringing us there is best for us. Being together outweighs all the negative things I heard, which he told me are baseless, anyway.

While we were processing the papers, I told my kids about our decision. I didn't expect that they will like the idea but they did. Though my daughter got sad when she realized that she will be leaving her friends in school, she later remembered that it was his daddy she will be with again. I'm glad they understood. They are so excited about this whole thing already.

In a few days, we will be on our way to The Kingdom, which Saudi Arabia is also known as. I am nervous, honestly. But with constant prayers and God's guidance, I believe we can make it there. Besides, there's always our country to welcome us back. :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Forest in the City

I love parks! I like strolling along tree-lined pathways, bringing homemade snacks, and just letting my kids run and play while I read a good book. It helps me relax after a busy work week. But because of the weather, we cannot do that these days.

I just wish it was still summer. It was in April when me and my kids went to La Mesa Ecopark in Quezon City. I heard so much about it and our stroll there was my first time. The entrance fee is P40 for Quezon City residents and P50 for those who are not.

You will be greeted by these wooden signages. I am surprised that the Butterfly Farm signage is not there anymore. I found out later that La Mesa Ecopark management closed it.
We went there on a weekend so expectedly, there were many visitors.
Going up and down the stairs of Shell Flower Terraces helped me flex some muscles!
La Mesa Ecopark is a haven for photography enthusiasts, especially those interested in flower macro. I lost count of how many kinds of flowers there were!
With these beautiful flowers and lots of trees, La Mesa Ecopark is indeed a forest in the city. :)
That was Gabby and Sunday's first time to ride a horse! And they weren't afraid!
I was the one who was nervous for them!  Fee: P50.00
There were other park facilities which we weren't able to try and visit like the Petron Fitness and Mountain Bike Trail. Also, boating at the Lagoon was stopped, said the vendors when I asked them where the boats were. So better call La Mesa Ecopark's office first for inquiries on ride availability and fees. If you're planning to go there, I suggest you visit the park as early as you can. If it's your first time, you won't enjoy the park and its facilities enough if you visit after lunch.
I wish there were more play areas there. The playgrounds of Quezon Memorial Circle were more in number and better in quality.
At first I was hesitant on letting them lie on the picnic ground. But seeing that there were wash areas and remembering that I brought hand sanitizer and extra clothes, I let them enjoy nature!
La Mesa Ecopark is a joint project of ABS-CBN Bantay Kalikasan, MWSS, the Quezon City Government, and ABS-CBN Foundation. Seeing this collected plastic wastes, I cannot help but admire ABS-CBN's ecological advocacy.
As said in its website, just by visiting the La Mesa Ecopark, you are already actively participating in saving the La Mesa Watershed. Go and visit it now! :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Model No More

I didn't imagine myself being a model for a photoshoot of any company. Never. But last June, I was chosen by the Marketing Department of our company to be one! I was flattered. Who wouldn't be?

The Project Head of one of the company's projects was cutting costs and instead of getting professional models who charge exorbitant fees, he resorted to check out if there were model wannabes in our office! Our Creative Head took pics of the employees, sorted them and choose those that pass the qualifications: mom-looking and presentable, I guess. They presented the pics to the Project Head and other managers for approval. To make the story short, I was chosen. I was one of the three moms handpicked for the shoot. We were to act as mom on family activities like picnic, walking in the park, having breakfast or just jogging in the neighborhood.

Fred was happy for me. Even though it was small time, for him, it was BIG TIME. He was so proud of me. It was something that only happens once in a lifetime, I guess.

But sadly, I let it pass. I declined. My inferiority complex got the better of me. I felt I was fat, though most of my officemates said it was alright. They told me they can Photoshop it. Hehe. But I still said no. I wasn't confident. And I know it will show in the pictures.

Gabby and props during the photoshoot

But despite that, I have good news. Gabby was chosen to model, too! He was supposed to be my son. (Reel and real.) But since I declined, he had to play son to another mom, and he did it very well. Almost everyone commended him, even the photographer. I believe Gabby has the makings of a model. He even got up early (3:30am!) so we won't be late for the pick-up service on the way to the shoot location. I was so proud of him.

Yes, I am a model no more. I might regret saying no to it someday. And hate the idea that pictures of me and Gabby should have been on a billboard or brochures. For now, I will just cherish the idea that I was chosen. That alone is already an honor. :)