Thursday, October 28, 2010

reuniting with my baby

I'll be leaving tomorrow morning for the Philippines (29 October) and coming back to Dubai with Caila and her yaya on Wednesday (3 November).

I'm soooo looking forward to hugging and kissing my baby after soooo long. I'm sure she's changed a lot since I last saw her almost 5 months ago. Just by looking at her during the times when we chat and the pictures that Guchi's sister posts on FB shows that she's grown so much already.

The only thing I'm worried about is if she won't recognize or go near me when we see each other tomorrow. That would be too painful.

Anyway, what's important is that we'll be together very, very soon (approximately 1day and a few more hours). Hurray!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

the day i became a licenced driver

That morning, instead of dropping me off at the driving school like he used to do when I took my first 2 road tests, hubby dropped me off at St. Mary’s. I had planned on spending a few minutes in prayer before going to the school, but when I entered the church, a mass was ongoing. Since it was already the Consecration part, I decided to leave after the mass. While everyone was taking Communion, something in me wanted to ask the priest to pray over me. So after the mass, I rushed out and waited for him to come out. Usually, the priests come out right away, but this time, I had to wait for some time. There was another priest that passed by in front of me, and I was hesitating on whether to ask him instead...but I really wanted the other one to pray over me, so I kept waiting. Finally, I saw him approaching, so I walked towards him, said good morning, and asked if he could pray over me because I would be having my road test that morning. Immediately, he placed his hands above me and prayed. I don’t know if it was because I was anxious and nervous, or because I could feel the Holy Spirit, but as soon as he began, I started to cry (not the uncontrollable crying that needed gasps of air; just the silent, tears-running-down-my- face kind of crying)...and I didn’t stop until he made the Sign of the Cross. I felt at peace. After thanking the priest, I headed outside the church compound, walked up the footbridge to other side of the road, took a cab, and headed towards the driving school.

When I arrived at 7:20am, there were already so many ladies in the waiting area. Like before, I submitted my driving permit to the lady examiner in the other room. Unlike before, the examiner who was usually there first (the one I took both my past tests with), was not there. I immediately thought that I had a big chance of passing. Anyway, because of the thick fog that enveloped Dubai that morning, the ladies’ road test began at 8:40am (more than 1 hour late). Since there were only 2 examiners and 3 ladies per car, there were about 5 batches of us. I was included in the last batch. So, approximately 10 minutes per student, 3 students in a car, total of 30 minutes per batch. That meant I would have to wait approximately 2 hours. Oh, the agony and anxiety in waiting! I was the only Filipina taking the test, so you could guess that all the others (Pakistanis, Indians, Arabs, etc) were talking to each other while I just kept quiet and silently prayed begged God to help me pass the road test.

Finally, at 9:55am, the examiner called us and I was the first one to take the test. On the way to the car, I pulled out the throw pillow I had in my backpack, showed it to the examiner and said “I’ll be using a cushion.” I know she wanted to laugh (hey, even I would have if I were in her place!), but she just smiled and said it was “No problem.” You see, even though it’s embarrassing, I really need a cushion when I drive coz I can’t see the front of the car properly without one. I would have to strain my neck all the time. Even when I was taking my lessons, my instructor would always have a pillow ready for me; and when I took the road test last week, I also used a cushion. So anyway, I got in the car, checked the mirrors, put the seatbelt on, and waited for the examiner’s signal to start. She was nice. Once she had written whatever details she needed to put on the paper, she wished me luck and told me to begin. Out of the school we went, towards Al Wasl Hospital, along Oud Metha, up the bridge, then to Healthcare City where she told me to slow down and park the car at the side. Since she didn’t use her brakes nor did she turn the steering wheel at any time, I felt that I had a chance. The Indian lady was next, and after her, the Pakistani lady.

After 30 minutes, we returned to the school, got out of the car, and headed to the Waiting Room. About 5 minutes later, the Indian lady (who sat next to the door of the Examiners Room) said she heard my name being called. So I jumped out of my seat and went inside. As soon as I approached the examiner’s desk, I saw the paper with a FAIL stamp and immediately, my heart sank. She had her back to me because she was searching for something on her desk so she didn’t see me, but she knew someone was in front of her. She then asked me how many classes I had taken and I answered “Around 50 plus.” That’s when she looked at me and said, “You’re Pamela. I was calling Lina.” Right away, I felt my hopes going up again, and went out of the room calling the Pakistani lady. The Indian lady was called next; then finally me. As soon as I was in front of the examiner, she said “Congratulations. You passed.” It took me a few seconds before it finally registered in my mind what she told me, then I shrieked and jumped, said “Thank you so much!” rushed out of the room and jumped and shrieked again in front of the other ladies in the Waiting Room. I was so happy! I called my instructor and he told me to wait for him as he was with another student. Right after that call, I informed hubby of the good news. And then I called my manager who told me to do everything I needed to do since I was already at the school.

As soon as Mateen arrived, he congratulated me, asked me to fill up a feedback form, gave me my card where he wrote PASSED on, and told me to submit my passing papers and pay the fees at the Cashier (which I did). I wanted to get my driving licence that same day (of course!), so I headed to the room where the licences were issued and gave the person there the rest of the required documents. Since I was seated near the photo room, I could see the people getting their pictures taken...and I was a bit worried because all of them (Indians, Pakistanis, Europeans, Filipinos, Chinese) weren’t smiling. They were all serious and had poker faces! Why was I worried? Because I thought they don’t allow the people to smile for the driving licence and I don’t look good in photos if I don’t smile. Just to make sure, when my name was called, I asked the lady if I could smile. She was a bit surprised, and yes, you can guess that she laughed, but she said it was ok. I didn’t care if she thought I had asked a silly question. I was happy and I wanted to make sure I look good in my driving licence (it’s valid for 10 years so I should have a nice picture on it, right?) Anyway, once she was ready, I sat on the chair, and smiled at the camera. I got the driving licence in about 5 minutes. After that, I went to another room, collected my Passing Certificate, and left the school for the last time. Hurray!

I arrived at work by 12:10pm. Within a few minutes, everyone found out that I got my licence and started joking at me for the sweets, or to give a party, or to buy everyone lunch. Even the really big bosses from our Japan and other Middle East offices who were visiting came to me to congratulate me. There was also a time when our Deputy General Manager joked that I should join them that evening for dinner and I would be the one to settle the bill. I felt really giddy that day from all the excitement. My colleagues who didn’t know that I had been taking driving lessons were shocked. They couldn’t believe it because they know that I’m really scared and nervous just at the thought of driving a car. Our receptionist said that since I got a driving licence, she was “inspired“ (wow!) to get one as well; so during our lunch break, she kept asking me questions on what made me decide to take lessons, my experience during the classes, and the times that I took my road tests. I tried to answer her as much as I could, but I didn’t tell her everything (I wanted her to discover the rest on her own).

When hubby came by to pick me up in the afternoon, he asked me if I wanted to drive Piper. I wanted to, but since it was the last day of the week, rush hour, and GITEX was still going on, I decided it would be best to let him take us home. Anyway, there’s lots of time for us to take turns being the passenger and driver now that have a UAE DRIVING LICENCE! Woohoo!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

road test: passed!!!!!!!!!

Finally, at my third attempt, I passed the road test today!

Praise God!

I'll post the details later...for now, I'm just relishing and enjoying the fact that I finally have a UAE driving licence.

I'm sooooo happy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

survivor philippines - celebrity edition


Guchi and I enjoyed watching the second season (I wanted Justine to win, but then when I saw how she acted when the end drew near, I changed my mind), and when we found out that celebrities would be the castaways in the third season, we looked forward to the first episode.

Being a reality show, it’s very interesting to see how celebrities live in extreme conditions where they have to fend for themselves and survive as long as they can without the luxuries they’re used to. Slowly, their complexions become darker, they get rashes or allergies, some even have to be rushed to the hospital. They become like normal people. Whenever a tribe wins a challenge, it’s amusing to see their faces light up, relishing the simple reward they won.

I like how each of them have their own strategies to become the ultimate survivor (or at least make it to the merge). I like the unexpected twists, making the show different from the previous seasons. But most especially, I enjoy watching the castaways do the challenges...everyone doing their best for their tribe to win rewards or immunity.

Unfortunately, GMA Pinoy TV is getting on our nerves. The first episode was aired at 7:30pm. The next night, it was aired at 9pm. Then they began to air it at 9:15pm, then 9:30pm, then 10:05pm. But last night, it aired at 10:35pm!!! All of these changes without any advance announcement at all!

Geez!

Attention GMA or eVision or Orbit...give us a break, will you and get your air times right?!

Monday, October 18, 2010

gitex

Guchi and I didn’t have any plans yesterday evening, so we decided to check out the different GITEX exhibitors at the Airport Expo. Since we knew that the parking spaces would be full at the venue, we decided to take the metro instead; anyway, a free shuttle bus would be at Rashidiya Station (the last metro station) to take the GITEX-goers to the expo, so at least we didn’t have to worry about traffic or difficulty going there. But, if only it were that simple...

Metro to GITEX. We got on the metro at Khalid Bin Al Waleed Station alright, passing through all the stations until GGICO. But then, when the train approached the Airport Terminal 1 Station, we heard an announcement that everyone had to alight the train and transfer to the other platform. So we did. As soon as the train arrived, we boarded it, along with the other passengers. And then, instead of heading towards Airport Terminal 3 Station, it went back to GGICO Station. Everyone was surprised. None of the train attendants (or whatever you call them) were there to answer our questions. As soon as the train stopped as GGICO Station, a number of passengers got off, asking the attendants at the station what was happening (Guchi and I stayed on the train with the others). We could see that even they didn’t know what happened (or they were explaining, but they also seemed unsure). And then, the doors of the train closed and once again, we were heading towards Terminal 3. It stopped somewhere in between GGICO and Terminal 3, and then we were heading back again to GGICO. No one went down anymore when it stopped, but there were a few passengers who boarded. And then, surprisingly, we were heading back to Deira City Centre! By this time, the people (who were most probably going to GITEX) were getting confused and angry. We couldn’t find anyone who could give us a straight answer as to what was happening or where exactly we should go to get a ride to GITEX. Anyway, once we arrived at Deira City Centre Station, hubby and I got down and went to the other platform for Rashidiya. As we did earlier, we boarded the train and rode it with no problems…until we reached Terminal 1 Station where we heard the same recording that it was the last station and everyone had to alight the train. There was an attendant on the train who informed the passengers that upon exiting the station, there would be shuttle buses that would take the people going to Terminal 3, Emirates Station, Rashidiya Station and GITEX for free. We were thinking that finally, someone was giving us a clear idea on what to do. So, we got off the train (again!), and we were almost about to check-out our cards when we heard some station attendants directing the people to the other platform (the one where we got on the train that took us all the way to Deira City Centre). We didn’t know who to believe! Finally, hubby and I decided to follow the station attendants and go to the platform where they were directing us, and if we end up at City Centre again, we would just go back home. Fortunately, there were about 5 attendants at the platform who knew which trains would go to Rashidiya and which would go back towards Jebel Ali. As soon as they announced that the train that arrived would head towards Rashidiya, everyone made a mad dash to get in. It was like the LRT and MRT in Metro Manila! Finally, we were on our way to Rashidiya. And as announced earlier, there were shuttle buses that were waiting to provide free transportation to those going to the exhibition. As expected, the buses were full, but since we were a few of the first ones to get in, Guchi and I were able to get seats.

GITEX at the Airport Expo. The entrance ticket was Dhs25 each, with a raffle coupon attached. There was just 1 ticketing counter, but even though the queue was pretty long, it was moving quite swiftly. Upon entering the exhibition hall, there were so many booths and stands with people handing out leaflets and brochures to everyone, but we just ignored them and tried to find one that could give us a pen. Finally, we found the stand (or whatever you call it) where the people can fill up forms, tickets, and raffle coupons. While I was waiting for Guchi to fill-up our coupons, an Emirati man was walking towards where we were and I saw that he had bought so many stuff that it filled an entire trolley. Anyway, all of a sudden, he stopped and gave me 2 Panasonic coupons stating that the bearer won a shirt and a pen. He said that I could have them because he didn’t want them. I was surprised, but, hey! a free gift is a free gift…and he gave me two, so I thanked him and accepted them. When Guchi finished completing the details on the raffle stub, we headed to the drop-off box. There, a lady was offering people to have their photos taken and printed on a shirt for free. Since we’re both suckers for freebies, we filled up the form and got ready for our photos. Once they confirmed that we were satisfied with the shots and they got the sizes of our shirts, they gave us the claim stubs saying that we could collect the shirts after an hour. After that, we just went around the hall, checking out the different gadgets. There were so many stands, so many people pushing and shoving, and so much noise! Going around, we were able to get the 2 prizes from Panasonic, a few pens, 2 computer games, a magazine, the shirts with our photos, a notebook, mousepad, id lace, refrigerator magnet, and a pin button. We also got to have our picture taken in Charged’s giant Nokia photobooth and browse the net for a few minutes at Etisalat. By 9pm, we decided that we had seen enough, so we headed out to the exit for the shuttle bus that would take us back to Rashidiya Station.

On the Way Home.Guchi and I settled in our seats while waiting for the people to keep piling in, until the driver decided the bus was full enough to depart. At the metro station, we were directed to the platform that, on normal days, all the passengers get off. But since the metro was out of whack that day due to some technical problems, this is where the passengers would be boarding. When the train arrived, again, everyone rushed in. There was a family (father, mother, kid and baby) who was riding and the baby was beginning to cry, so the mother tried to pacify her. Anyway, everything was ok, until the train approached Airport Terminal 1 Station where we heard the announcement that everyone had to alight the train and board on the other platform. So we did (again!). Fortunately, there were station attendants there who explained and directed to us which train we should board, so that we wouldn’t have a repeat of what happened earlier. While waiting on the platform, we could hear a Chinese lady on the speakers making some announcements in English, but her accent was so distinct that we could barely understand what she was saying. In the train, we rode with the same passengers, including the family with the crying baby. Yes, she was still crying…and we could hear her going on even when Guchi and I went off the train at Khalid Bin Al Waleed Station. We could see that the mother was already embarrassed with the way her baby kept wailing non-stop, but she was just holding her. She didn’t take out a bottle of milk, or a pacifier, or a toy/rattle, or even speak or sing to the baby to shush her up. All she did was carry her, pat her back, and wipe her nose (I think the baby had a cold). But what really shocked hubby and me was the fact that the father wasn’t helping at all! He was seated beside his wife, but he was just looking at his other kid or at the other passengers. There was one time when he tried to carry his baby, but after just 10 seconds, he gave her back to the mother. My gosh! I don’t know what nationality the family was, but I’m glad they weren’t Filipinos.

So, that’s our GITEX experience. Even though Guchi and I have lived in Dubai for more than 6 years already, this was our first time to actually visit the annual exhibition (kinda embarrassing, huh?). But the thing is, since everyone knows that it’s GITEX Week, all the stores that sell electronic gadgets participate and they also put their items on sale or have some promos. So technically, you don’t really need to go to the exhibition, you can go to Sharaf DG, Jacky’s, Plug-Ins, Jumbo or any other store in Dubai. Most probably, you’ll get the same thing for the same price that it’s offered at the exhibition (with the freebies)...less the pushing, shoving and almost deafening noise. However, if you don’t mind the chaos and you want the other freebies and giveaways, then by all means, head on to GITEX. It’ll be an adventure!


Friday, October 15, 2010

eat pray love

Thanks to popsie and momsie, we got these movie passes...

So last night after work, we went straight to Dubai Mall to watch this...

"Do not look at the world through your head; look at it through your heart" (Ketut)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

road test: failed (again)

I thought for sure I would pass, but apparently the examiner thought otherwise.
I’m upset because I don’t believe I made any major mistakes. I was behind the steering wheel longer than the two ladies I was taking the road test with. The examiner kept telling me to turn left, then right, left, right over and over. I think she was trying to confuse me so that I would make a mistake. When I parked the car in the school, I glanced at the paper and saw that the examiner didn’t write anything on it, plus the other ladies in the car told me that I drove well and they said that they saw her nodding a few times. I felt pretty positive.
Unfortunately, when the examiner called me in the room, she said that I made lots of mistakes due to my lack of judgement when changing lanes. WHATEVER!!! I think she just wanted to fail me again because it was only my second take.

Monday, October 11, 2010

good news, good news, bad news

Good news: Yesterday, I went to the typing center at the bottom of the our apartment building to tell him that our visa application was rejected. Fortunately, he said it can be refunded (although not 100%). Once we received the refund application papers from him, we went to Immigration to submit the documents. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait very long, and after some time, the man at the counter told me that the refund of Dhs640 would be transferred to my bank account after a month. Hurray!

Good news #2: I received a call from the travel agency last night saying that Yaya’s visa was ready. I was expecting to receive it this coming Tuesday, but fortunately I didn’t have to wait that long. Of course, Guchi and I immediately went to collect the visa. Hurray again!

Bad news: I woke up early to go to the Philippine Consulate this morning for the visa authentication. As expected, when I arrived, there were already so many people in different queues, waiting outside the gates. I arrived at 6:45am, and finished everything by 9:20am. Unfortunately, there was no “rush” option for the authentication. It takes 10 working days, so the visa will be released on the 24th of October. This means that my trip to the Philippines is definitely, absolutely, positively negatively(!), postponed. Augh!!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

don moen in dubai


I sooooo want to watch the concert...and dining with him the next night at Atlantis would be great too!

Unfortunately it doesn't fit in our budget nor does it fit in our schedule (I might be in the Philippines that weekend).

Oh well.

what happened during the weekend

Thursday night. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to apply for yaya’s visit visa because she is not my relative. I was really upset when the lady at Immigration immediately rejected our application without giving me the chance to explain. That’s our hard-earned Dhs720 down the drain! We were left with no other choice so hubby and I headed to the agency in Deira right away. We filled up the papers, gave the lady the documents and paid Dhs850. She told us that the visa would take approximately 3 to 5 working days to process, beginning Sunday. Once we get the visa, I’ll have to go to the Philippine Consulate for the darn authentication which will take up to 10 days (5 if I’m lucky, 20 if I’m not).

On our way to St. Mary’s Church, I kept fighting back my tears while thinking about my trip to the Philippines that has to be postponed. If only they hadn’t implemented this authentication rule, Caila would be with us on her 20th month-birthday (yes, we still celebrate it...coz it coincides with our wedding and boyfriend-girlfriend monthsary). Augh!

Trying to lift up my mood, Guchi said that there was a reason for what was happening. He recalled that when we had problems before with Yaya Cha-Cha, Our Lady of Guadalupe had visited us for a week, and then he received a good job offer. And now, we’re having problems again, and the Filipino Mission is all about Mama Mary. So definitely, things will work out in the end.

Anyway, once we arrived at the church, things started to perk up. We weren’t late (which was what I was worried about earlier) and we were able to sit at our regular pew. Then, Momsie, Popsie and his mom sat beside us, and they gave me and hubby two Dubai Mall movie passes as their thanks to us for hosting their daughter’s birthday last month. Before the final blessing, the congregation prayed the rosary which ended with the final blessing while everyone was holding candles around Mama Mary’s grotto. It was beautiful, and I remembered what hubby had told me earlier, so I just let everything go and lifted up all my worries and concerns to God and Mama Mary.

Almost the entire weekend was spent with friends. Thursday evening was our regular ET gathering. After the Filipino Mass on Friday, Lhen dropped by with Mike and Tesha, and we headed to Joel's apartment in International City. In the evening, Archie and Jenny arrived at our apartment with loads of food for his birthday dinner with the ET gang. As usual, our apartment was filled with laughter, conversations, and downloaded movies and tv shows, with a fun and hilarious game of Charades. Our friends stayed at the apartment until Saturday afternoon, when everyone had to leave because of their household chores or personal errands to run. I had my driving class at 4:30pm. After my 1-hour class, hubby and I rushed to Mirdif City Centre because it was my friend’s daughters’ joint birthday celebration. Fortunately, we arrived just in time (to eat!) because it was almost about to end. The good thing about it was I was able to see my SFC household sisters (Jhan, Ivy, Sheila, Jazz and of course ‘Nay Rose) with their families. It was good to be with them again after a long time and seeing how all of us have grown in our personal lives. Hopefully we’ll see each other again soon...most probably in December when Sheila’s baby boy celebrates his 1st birthday.

When we got home, Ann and Dhenzio were there. They had just arrived from her OB appointment and found out that they will be having a baby girl! Hurray...Caila will be having a playmate!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

frustrating thursday

Failed my road test.

Our receptionist is not cooperating (she just wants to do things her way).

The new visa authentication rules from the Philippine Consulate (they are just sucking our hard-earned money!).

Right after work, hubby and I need to rush to the apartment to get my attested labour contract and my passport, then rush to HSBC to withdraw money, then rush to Immigration to apply for a visit visa (if we apply through an agency, it’ll take 2-3 days).

We might not be able to attend tonight’s Mission (because we have to apply for the visa).

It's highly probable that I will have to reschedule my leave again if we don’t get the authenticated visa on time (waaahhh!!! missing Caila more and more!!!)

ET @ the beach will not push through tonight.

AAAUUUGGGHHH!!!!

burp!

Sunday (26 September): Pinoy Mafia dinner at our Project Manager’s villa
- adobo, KFC chicken, chili con carne, fries, grilled mushrooms, assorted crisps
Monday (27 September): farewell luncheon at the office for our Engineering Deputy General Manager
- Subway sandwiches, Dajen Grill bbq chicken, grilled lamb chops, chicken kofta, meat arayes, hummus, Arabic bread, cakes
Monday (27 September): monthsary dinner date with hubby at Gourmet Burger Kitchen, DFC
- I forgot the names of what we ordered but we had chicken satay, 2 different steaks, and an Oreo cookie bash
Thursday (30 September): weekly CFC household at Lot and Che’s residence
- grilled pusit, dinuguan, maja blanca, fresh fruits
Friday (1 October): farewell dinner for Kuya Omer at his residence in Nahda
- grilled pusit, pancit, kaldereta, sisig, kilawin, fruit salad, maja blanca

Thank you, Lord, for a week filled with delicious food and fun times with great people.

road test: failed

I flunked my road test this morning...along with the two other ladies who were in the same car. The Indian lady was first. It was her second take. Then the other Pinay (her first take), then me.
When it was my turn, in the beginning I was driving alright. But once we went on the highway, I became all nervous because there were so many cars speeding by. It didn’t help that the examiner kept barking instructions or warnings all of a sudden. When she suddenly turned the steering wheel, I knew I was doomed. My test lasted about 10 minutes before she told me to return the car to the school. I parked and we all went out of the car.
When she called me into the room, she pointed out my mistakes (they were a lot, but at least they were less than the other 2 ladies). After she gave me the paper, I called my instructor to inform him of the bad news. He met me after a few minutes at the lobby. Upon checking my paper, he said that it was unfortunate that I had my road test with that lady examiner. Apparently she is very strict (one mistake, and she immediately fails). She had been gone for two months and today was her first day back (talk about bad timing!).
Oh well. I need to take another 6 classes before my next road test. That’s another bulk of money out of my wallet. Augh!!!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

nicene creed

I remember that this was usually recited during the masses in Papua New Guinea. Since I was a kid then, I didn’t really pay attention to what I was saying. Then, we moved to the Philippines and it was the Apostles Creed that was recited.
I had forgotten all about the Nicene Creed until last night during the Filipino Mission by Fr. Rolly Briones. Only then did I realize how beautiful it really is.

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
Amen.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

d-day

I just received an SMS with the schedule of my road test.
I am so nervous and excited!
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