The summer heat is making me sick and I am not feeling well. I was sleeping soundly when my phone rang at 7:45 in the morning. Ahmad, the purchasing officer, told me to be ready in an hour because we are leaving for Morocco. I immediately dressed up and headed to the nearest Abu Dhabi Cooperative Society to purchase a new luggage. At half past nine, we left the palace grounds. We boarded the Etihad flight going to Casablanca in Morocco at two in the afternoon.

On the flight, I discovered the films available for entertainment. I miss going to the theater to catch the films I like especially Pinoy films. I then decided to watch Joey Reyes’ Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo. Spiderman 3 immediately followed KKK. I took a quick nap and then watched Shrek 3. I was about to play Disturbia when I heard the voice that in thirty minutes, we will be landing. Disappointed, I started reading Jonathan Raban’s Waxwings instead. From Casablanca, we travel by land going to Rabat. I had no idea how long the trip took place because I slept along the way.

I visited Rabat Centreville the following day. I went to the souq (marketplace), had a haircut, had lunch at the café owned by my Moroccan friend, and immediately went back to the villa because my employer will be arriving at two in the afternoon. At four in the afternoon, my employer called me. We had petty talks and an hour later, I was resting in my room.

My days in Rabat were just like the previous days. The only difference was my employer regularly called me in the afternoon and at night. Maybe he missed my “hagod” after their trips in Europe or maybe he loved the massage techniques Duday and Richie taught me. Though physically exhausted at least I was not getting bored as I was before. The regular massage session also established my importance as my employer’s servant to some of the inggiteros who are raising brows whenever I join the group every time we go out of UAE.

Three days after our stay in Rabat, we went to Gava, the hunting ground. I was not so excited for I went there already. During the days in Gava, I indulged myself reading Jonathan Raban’s Waxwings and talking to my roommates. On our 2nd day, surprise news spread on all the corners of the villa. My employer will be going to New Zealand after the trip here. Everybody wants to go but the list only revealed thirty-two members of the staff. I was not sure if I was going but Noel told me I am included. I really wanted to go that I prayed day and night. Mr. Pierre did not reveal who will join the trip to New Zealand until our last day in Rabat. The confirmation on who will join the trip took place when all of us arrived at Abu Dhabi International Airport. The PRO of my employer’s office asked seventeen individuals to sign the visa application for the trip to New Zealand. And I was lucky to be included on the list.

For some reasons, this trip is one of my favorites so far. I got the chance to enjoy the solitary times I had and took the pleasure of getting to know my other co-employees more. Little by little, I am starting to adjust with my job, with the people around me and with all the hustle and bustle of joining this gang.
Posted by rehabman Labels: , ,
7
THEN

· I worked overtime but underpaid. My salary was two months delayed when I used to work for a government hospital.
· I used to treat and deal clients who belong to the lower class of society if the basis is net worth of the person annually.
· There was a continous learning process. My professional and personal development was taking place each day.
· I was perspiring to death especially during the summer months because the Rehab facility was not yet fully-airconditioned room.
· I was dealing with people who suffered from different neurologic and musculoskeletal injuries.
· I was sure then that I was doing the things that I really love. Treating the patients and trying my best to make them feel good and functional despite the limits of their disability after neurologic or musculoskeletal injuries.
· I never had difficulty dealing with my co-employees. I valued and still do the people from Valenzuela General Hospital Physical Therapy Department and the staff of Rizal Medical Center, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Unit. I enjoyed the times taking and just being with them.
· I was well-appreciated. From the simple acts of greeting them “Good Morning” and smiling to the noble work that I did for my clients and patients.

NOW

· I am well compensated and has no particular duty schedule. On-call duty kase ako.
· My employer is one of the richest man in UAE. He is also one of Abu Dhabi and UAE’s VIP.
· Professionally, I know I will never grow here. I have to read or check the internet if there are seminars for Physiothepist where I can attend, that is if my manager and schedule permit.
· I am dealing with people who are healthy or even healthier than I am.
· My sweat glands do not work at all everytime I work. The average room temperature in my employer’s villa range between 15-23 degC.
· I do not like to give massage and I am not really sure if I will love what I do here.
· I am having hard time dealing with people from other Asian nations. Most of them lack good manners and some are uncivilized. Others are stupid and most of them are really annoying.
· I am not sure if my employer likes the way I give massage. I am also do not have the slighest idea whether or not he appreciates the way I do my work.

Changes and to change are never easy to accept whether a major or a minor one. But that is the way life is. Life works in very mysterious ways. My life flipped 180deg and this sudden twist of fate is giving me too much physical and emotional pain! I am trying my best to be happy here, to enjoy each moment of my new life and to like what I have because I know I am really blessed to be here and to have this once in a lifetime opportunity.
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Friday, July 20, 2007 at 9:36 PM | 0 comments


As soon as I heard the news that I will not be joining my employer and his family together with a number of staff on their trip to Europe, I made a call to Duday and discussed the plans of visiting Roy in Dubai. The day after employer’s flight, Duday and I were joined by thirteen other individuals as the mini van head to Dubai.


Before the clock hits ten, the mini van left Abu Dhabi Taxi terminal. According to what I learned, the trip will take for nearly two hours and can take even longer during the rush hours of the day. Half past eleven, Duday and I were walking our way to Burjuman where Roy is working as a CSA. Humidity that night was so intense; I was sweating to death and thought would lose my consciousness half way. It was a great relief when we finally reached the shopping complex. Roy was still on duty so Duday and I went on window-shopping. There were lots of good catch and we were not able resist the temptation of buying some stuff. I wish that sale back home would be just like the sale in Dubai. You can get a pair of a new Reebok or Rockport and other sportswear at a very affordable price.


It was like seeing an audition for Pinoy Big Brother when the three of us went to the nearest taxi stand. I thought Dubai cab drivers went on-strike. Roy and Duday told me that there is a scarcity of public transportation specifically taxis in Dubai. Waiting for the taxi was like waiting for a storm in the desert so we decided to walk for another kilometer to increase the chances to get the cab ahead of the hundred others waiting on the line. I protested but the majority won. I had no choice but followed them as they walked away from the line.


While three stunning Pinoys (that’s us) crossed the Mina Road, an unexpected driver stopped as his car approached the signal light and looked towards our direction. The driver (an Arab man, based on his physical features) waved and smiled, and then without any qualms offered the passenger seat to one of us. Disgusted, offended and scared, the three of us ran away from that freaking maniac!


It was another great relief when we finally got a cab twenty minutes later.


Now, who do you think is the cream of the crop? Who’s hot? And who’s not? Take your pick and find out if your taste matches the taste of the maniac Arab man.
Posted by rehabman
Friday, July 13, 2007 at 7:43 PM | 0 comments

It was another hot summer day. I did some massage for my employer and an hour later I was about to take rest. To my surprise, no bed was available for me and for some five other employees. I asked Allan and Edwin - two Pinoy housekeepers in-charge in the villa, for any bed available. They told me the number of beds could not accommodate all the staff. They even lost their respective beds. The sun was brutally hot; Allan and I sat under the orange tree waiting in vain. When the night fell; Allan, Edwin and I shared the storage room on the newly built guest villa. We all tried to sleep soundly on the floor without any pillow or blanket.

The next day was just a copy of the previous one. I told Allan that I will no longer sleep on the floor. I called the manager and asked if I could stay outside the villa. I was willing to pay for my own room because I badly need rest. When Rodjie learned my misfortune, he talked to the manager. Minutes later, the manager called me up and said he will bring me to my room. I soon found out that I would be staying in a junior de luxe suite in Intercontinental Hotel Al Ain.

Natakot ata si Manager na magsumbong ako kay Amo. Hehehe
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Thursday, July 12, 2007 at 6:54 PM | 0 comments

A week after my first trip from Morocco, I asked my Kabayan from the housekeeping office for a cup of hot water. Since the office is just a few meters away from our room, I went there wearing my shorts. Yes, a decent a Tommy Hilfiger shorts from Jay. Without my knowledge, the supervisor was there too. I greeted him and he smiled back. Later that day, I learned that he got mad because he saw me on shorts. I asked my kabayan, "was there something wrong with my long legs? Was it the first time he ever saw a pair of legs as good as mine? I even joked my kabayan if his supervisor wants me see on my briefs, I want him to tell me personally and I would not charge him!

I do not understand why on earth the supervisor got mad. He even saw me before wearing shorts as I passed their office on my way to the restroom. When did it happen that wearing shorts could be as obscene as what he claimed? We are both men. We have the same thing between our legs. We both have legs; the only difference is mine though flawed, is by far more pleasant than his.
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After spending four days and three nights in Abu Dhabi, my employer told me to prepare my luggage because we were leaving for Morocco. I was excited because going to Morocco will be another milestone in my life. At the same time, I was apprehensive because I have not made any friends here yet and we were moving again for an uncertain period of time.



I joined another seven individuals as we headed to the airport. I had no idea who they were and just sat on the available seat. When we finally arrived at Abu Dhabi International Airport, I saw two other Filipinos - Arturo and Willie. I soon learned that Arturo is the personal chef of my employer. He is working for my employer for about five years now. Continental dishes are his specialty that is according to him. Willie, on the other hand, is a waiter and is working for the past seventeen years here. He started as a kitchen steward and soon promoted as the personal waiter who takes care of the personal things of my employer together with the butler. We waited for more than an hour until my employer showed up and immediately went inside the private plane for the members of UAE royal family.



I was in the middle of my sleep when somebody tapped me gently. I soon realized it was my employer’s butler. He told me my employer called me and wanted a massage. Left without any choice, I hurriedly grabbed the small bag with all kinds of massage oils and pain reliever creams available in UAE. As I entered the room of my employer, I was overwhelmed. The room was unlike any other rooms I saw in real life and in movies. The interior and every detail of the room are so nice that I wanted to resume my interrupted sleep. Then I realized I was there for business, not for anything else. All throughout the massage session, I was feeling dizzy even more because of the turbulence. More an hour later, I was trying to return to my sleep. My second international flight took place for almost eight hours.



Rabat International Airport is not as good as I expected. Although I was not expecting it to be like the Dubai International Airport, I was surprised. The airport is something that looks like a domestic airport in the Philippines, the one in Rabat is just bigger and wider. From the airport, it took us another twenty minutes to the villa owned by my employer’s family. Some other employees and other Kabayans greeted me. The nicest among them is Noel. He immediately took time to get to know me more and offered everything I needed. As we talked, I learned that he is the housekeeper in charge to clean the room of my employer and the bodyguards’. He also prepares the things for the personal care of my employer - from the soap up to his socks. He has to be sure that everything is in its proper place. Another Kabayan I met is Rodjie. He reminds me of Manags. The way he talks and the way he moves are all very Manags. He is a DJ and the one taking care of the stuff that has to do with cable signals, internet connection and radio. The next in line is Rey. Just like me, Rey joined the group just this year. He is the salad man and prepares the fruits for my employer. I also met three other Kabayans who happened to be there because my employer’s younger brother was there too. They were scheduled to leave the next day. Since my employer’s personal staff and his younger brother’s were all there, no more rooms were available. Noel told me to join them in a decent hotel room outside the villa. Rodjie said that I could not stay outside the villa because my employer might need me that night. I should stay there because my employer was there too, he added. Both of them sought help to Ahmad, a Syrian purchasing officer. Ahmad accompanied me to a two-bed room and told me to rest. Angelo, a Sri Lankan waiter, helped me locate my luggage and the shawarma maker of my employer’s brother served two sumptuous sandwiches for me. My luggage was nowhere to be found; I was not able to take shower that night but managed to wash my face and brushed my teeth. As I laid down my bed, I prayed for me to be fine for the coming days.



The next day, two other co-employees joined me - Dereje, an Ethiopian laundry man and Latif, an Indian main kitchen staff. Kabayans stayed on the room next to ours because that is the room where they used to stay. I finally found my own luggage and managed to take the shower I wished I had the other night. I spent most of the time on my second day getting to know my Kabayans more. Rey prepared chicken adobo for our lunch. By four in the afternoon, while everybody was taking their siesta, a Kabayan working for my employer’s younger brother knocked my door and invited me to drink two bottles of beer he brought. They were leaving in less than an hour. After he left, I took a nap and woke up only to realize it was twelve midnight. I was not feeling hungry so I decided to continue my sleep.



The following days were so hard for me. I cried every night. I used to spend the whole day alone in my room while Kabayans and my roommates worked the whole day. I occasionally visited the kitchen to eat and to speak to some Kabayans to at least lessen the homesickness I was feeling. Whenever I was there, the other kitchen staff offered cigarettes and exchanged conversations with me. For some reasons, I cannot stay the whole day in the kitchen because not only I do not belong there but also because I did not like to interfere, in any ways, with the whole kitchen staff as they performed their respective jobs. So most time of the day, I was there inside my room, trying to figure out what the hell I was doing there! I sent SMS to my older brother Kiko and to Nanay telling them how lonely I was during those fucking days. I told them I want to go home and I cannot take the situation any more. I indulge myself reading Rene Calliet’s Low Back Pain Syndrome and praying the Holy Rosary three times a day. Both Kiko and Nanay told me not to be discouraged; things are going to be better soon etc. Lorraine sent an SMS telling me that what I was feeling was a normal syndrome happening to all the overseas Filipino workers. Even Ketty sent jokes and messages to help me feel good. I prayed hard for me to be better and to learn more to look at the brighter side of the story. However, things were never easy. I was so bored. I was battling with homesickness and discrimination. The issue of professional and personal growth started to bother me. Each day, my major concern was getting bigger and stronger and I was getting so much stress. Without exerting so much effort and without any diet regimen, I lost some weight.



On the 10th of June, I turned twenty-six. Nobody greeted me personally because nobody knew it was my big day. The text messages sending greetings to me made me want to go home even more. I cried after I had the phone conversation with Kiko. I had my usual day, went to the kitchen for lunch, dinner, and some petty talk. On that afternoon, my employer asked for a massage. I took the chance to ask his permission to go to the city. He agreed and even told me to look for somebody. I was so excited that I failed to remember the name of the person I was supposed to meet the next day. After the relaxation massage, I went straight to my room but could even understand the simplest sentence on Calliet’s. Loneliness was killing me that time. I was just staring outside as the blue sky turned into gray. Then, I soon realized tears were running down my cheeks again. I missed everybody home, I missed my old life and lifestyle but what I missed most was the freedom I used to have. I missed the time when I can just stay home enjoying a worry-free time. It is very different here. My employer calls me whenever he wants a massage so I have to be ready anytime of the day. I must bring my mobile anywhere I go and should place the phone directly on my ear whenever I sleep. It was so hard to adjust from the life I used to have. Everything was extremely different. I cried so hard that night, on the day I was supposed to be celebrating the past two and a half decades of my life and getting ready to enjoy the coming years to come. It was by far the worst birthday I had and worst day of my life.



Two days after my big day, Noel came to my room and told me to get up. I thought that somebody would be asking for a massage again. I soon found out that the accountant was there giving the envelopes for the employees. The white envelope contained cash - an incentive from my employer. I received a big amount of money but the boredom and homesickness I was feeling was far bigger.



The day after I received the bonus, I finally got the chance to check the city of Rabat. The available car brought me to Mega Mall. I soon found out they do not have foreign exchange services there. I needed to walk some blocks away to the nearest bank and exchange the dollars Nanay gave me. The first bank refused to exchange dollars I had because I cannot provide my passport. I told them, that my employer holds my passport and all I can give them is the photocopy of my passport and UAE visa. I visited and tried my luck on the next bank where I finally held Moroccan dirhams. On my way back to Mega Mall, I asked the police officer on the street if smoking is allowed on the street. He told me that I could do whatever I want to do (except of course the things like stealing, killing and other crimes) because Morocco is a free country. I lit my cigarette as I walked freely on the streets of Rabat. I went back to the villa at around three in the afternoon. On that same night, I felt slightly better for I regained a part of a freedom I used to have.



Two weeks in Morocco and still feeling down, Noel told me to prepare my luggage because everybody was already moving. Dejere informed me that cars were already on cue to leave the villa. I was so excited because I thought we were heading to the airport. I later found out that we were on our way to the hunting ground of my employer in Gava. Gava is a long drive from the city of Rabat. I joined three of my co-workers along with a bodyguard of my employer. The trip took a little over an hour. I joined the rest of my Kabayans in the room reserved for Filipinos only. Actually, Noel was one of the first to arrive there so he immediately took the key so that no other people will join us. Different sounds from my newfound friends made it hard for me to sleep. As usual, I spent most of the days inside my room reading Calliet’s, sleeping, playing the Snake on my mobile, praying, thinking and staring either the wall or the ceiling.



After fours days and three nights in Gava, we moved back to Rabat. When I came to my room, I was surprised to find out that the door was already locked. I asked everybody I knew for any help but nobody cared or I supposed everybody was too busy to give me hand. At two in the afternoon, I was still sitting on a couch near the door of my room with any luggage. Noel came and found out that I was still there. When he accidentally saw one of my employer’s bodyguards, he told the bodyguard somebody else took my bed. The bodyguard authoritatively ordered to vacate the bed reserved for me who ever took it. Minutes after the conversation with the bodyguard, the manager, Mr. Pierre came towards our direction like a raging bull. He told Noel that it was my business to look for my own room. We soon found out that the bodyguard was so angry and complained to the manager because I was not being taken care of. Later that day, two main kitchen staff showed up and I shared the room with them. The day after the battle for my bed, the rest of the family of my employer came and joined him us in Rabat. We spent another five days there. I was getting more bored than ever. The homesickness was terrible. I longed for the freedom I did not have. I decided to wake up early in the morning and take some walk within the vicinity of the villa. I also tried working out and went on biking every morning. My body must have reacted as happy hormones serotonin increased because of physical exertion and I got a little better. My employer asked for the massage on the afternoon the day after another. Sometimes, my employer‘s business partners would also asked for a massage session. I managed to visit Rabat again and checked my mails. I also visited a small café where I had my quick lunch. The Moroccan owner and the staff were so nice that I decided to visit them whenever I got the chance to.



On the third week on June, we moved back to Gava along with the whole family of my employer and the whole gang. We spent our three days and two nights else where in the hundred-hectare hunting ground of my employer. Since the whole family of my employer was there, the private villa was off limits for the male staff. What I hate most about our second trip to Gava is the battle for a piece of bed. It was like a battle for a million dollar. My Kabayans managed to take the key of the laundry room, since Dereje did not join us; we were the ones who used the room for the laundry staff. Another problem there was the public restroom I had to share to some ninety other individuals with different shapes, sizes, colors and odors. Everybody was using it but not everybody took care of it. Empty bottles of mineral water, soapboxes, disposable shavers and stained tissue papers were all over the place. The public restroom was polluted. I felt like the germs all over the public restroom started to infest me the moment I stepped in. I also had hard time defecating because the toilet bowl was on the same level as the ground. My face showed how bored I was. Some friends I made gave me magazines and other reading materials to ease my boredom. Though it helped, nothing really changed. Days and nights passed by but loneliness, homesickness, boredom and feeling of being a prisoner were getting more intense. I could no longer handle the situation that time. I maybe not be working for the whole day but I cannot have a peace of mind because I must be available any time of the day. I did not want go out and then be bothered as I tried to enjoy the solitary trip to the city of Rabat. The emotional torture was not and will never be worth the salary I have here.



Finally, as time approached the end of June, some members of the staff were scheduled to go back to Abu Dhabi. I thought I was one of those staff but I wasn’t. I was still crying nightly and battling with homesickness, boredom, discrimination and anxiety daily. I do not know whether you can understand me. Having all the free time does not mean you can be happy! Yes, I am earning without having to work eight hours per day but working for me is not all about money! What will you do with the money if you cannot have a peace of mind? Yes, I go with my employer to different places whenever he asks me to go, but what about a worry-free day and doing life’s simplest pleasures? I earn money and visit places, but do I get the chance to enjoy it the way it is supposed to be enjoyed? The answer is a big NO! Because a large portion of the freedom and peace of mind I have were all taken away from me.



One day, Lorraine sent a forwarded SMS, which says: Just for today, decide to be happy blah blah blah…. Following her advice, I asked permission for me to visit Rabat for the third time. I went straight to an internet café and surfed the net until it was half past two in the afternoon. I took a quick lunch in the café I used to visit and gave the owner a twenty-peso bill (Philippine money) as a sign of gratitude for the hospitality they showed. Then I immediately went straight back to the villa, a place I considered a rehab facility.



Nothing really happened during the remaining days of my life in Morocco. As I waited for the trip back to Abu Dhabi, the boredom and stress were so intense. On the last morning in Rabat, I was ecstatic and feeling I was on the cloud nine. It was like finishing a 20-year sentence and I was about to get back the freedom I used to have. As the private plane took off the airport of Rabat, I looked back the thirty three fucking days I spent in this North African country. Then I told myself, if I have to do it again, I would rather go back home in Manila because life is too short or maybe too long for me to experience another emotional torture like that!
Posted by rehabman
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