Sunday, December 22, 2013

TRAVEL | Abu Dhabi Itinerary

Day 1 : Wed, 25th Dec. 2014 : Abu Dhabi

02:00               Arrival via British Airways Flight 72 @ 01.30 hours
08:00 - 09:00    Breakfast
10:30 - 11:30    St. Joseph's Cathedral Abu Dhabi
12:00 - 13:00    Lunch at... 

Saturday, December 21, 2013


I found this photo contest over the net and thought it will be interesting to join.

Speed/adrenaline, thrill of excitement, emotion of the moment?

If I'm joining this contest then I would have to make the most out of it. I will have to win this and prove what indeed defines the heart skipping warming photos.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Coming Up

Will be doing some hotel site inspections in the following days. So excited to shoot the hotels and get some nice photos at the end of the event.


Speaking of site inspections, I would probably work on the hotels & camps that we have visited here in Oman. Do a bit of reviews and all.

But that would have too wait until this weekend. 


So what's up in the coming weeks? Well there's the Abu Dhabi/Fujairah backpacking on Dec. 25th. I'm sure there will lots of photos there so I need to tune my camera this week.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

2013 Year Ender Summary

Here's a summary of my Year Ender for 2013:

2013 Year Ender : December

In Progress

2013 Year Ender : November

November is an exceptional month. Several events have happened this month and this would take me some time to complete this article. Nevertheless, I am making an advance post and will probably re-do this in a little bit.

November 2013: Haiyan Typhoon, Night Fishing & Bandar Khayran

November has become significant for the Philippines and the rest of the world. 

A super typhoon named Haiyan devastated Tacloban and left thousands dead, and still thousands homeless.

I never realized how serious the damage was until after I saw the videos on local and international news reports. After all, the Philippines has been hit by many strong typhoons before. But this one was catastrophic in every single way.

November 2013: Dubai & Abu Dhabi, UAE

Albeit the sad news in the Philippines, I chose to continue my earlier plans to come to UAE and visit some of my friends.

It was my only chance to visit them so I decided to not let the negative vibes get in the way.

2013 Year Ender : October

October 2013

Highlight of the month was the salsa class.

Yes, I have finally found the dance class that can keep me diverted from office works. 

I remember that in KSA, I did yoga which was really effective in keeping my sanity amidst the craziness of the universe.

At least now, the Salsa Class can keep me busy and focused. Also, dancing helps to keep me active. Without doing anything, I just feel lethargic and idle. And I don't want to be stuck in my room forever.

Other events that happened this year- German Oktoberfest and night swimming at PDO. The night swimming in particular was rather amusing, as I had to endure two weeks with sore feet. I had gashes and injury from walking on the sharp stones barefoot. Nevertheless, it was a fun night swimming and I enjoyed it. :)

2013 Year Ender : September

September 2013

At this point, I have visited a few hotels and bars. Did a bit of salsa as a social interaction. And had found interest with the infamous 'Tiki Puka Puka' (rhum concoction). 

Ate Claire also dropped by Oman this month so it was certainly fun to show her around. 

I guess that's the only significant event that happened this month.

I also met a few new Filipino friends after Ate Claire introduced me to them. 

But it was probably the encounter at Trader Vic's as highlight of the month. I won't go over the whole details but suffice to say that when you ask some stranger for a photo op, you must have a 'valid reason' to ask for it. :)

2013 Year Ender : August

August 2013

On my second month in Oman, I guess things have been pretty smooth. Working in a travel agency is quite demanding and requires optimum accuracy. But the good part of it is we get to attend events and parties essential to our line of work.

This month I had tried playing golf (t'was my first time).

My photo was recognized and published by a newspaper in Oman. I mean it's not really that much but the fact that my photo has been recognized is what makes it really grand. At least I know that my skills as a photographer is going somewhere.

This was also the month of Ramadan and my french buddies' birthday, where we celebrated in a bar named 'Pavo Real' and had me singing 'Thank You for the Music' & 'YMCA'. I really tried hard not to sing but as one of my colleagues would put it, 'singing is in the Filipino's blood.'

And finally, the most significant- my very first haircut in Oman. It was done by a Bengali who charged me 1 Riyal. Well, it wasn't so bad but I was just so concerned how things would look like.

Realization : Keep working on what makes you happy. In my case, photography has become an outlet and keep me busy on days when there's nothing to look forward to. 

2013 Year Ender : July

July 2013

New Chapter : Oman

In our lives, we can keep on planning things and create a seemingly structured future. But in reality, things do not necessarily turn out the way we would like them to be. And this is not necessarily bad.

Our roads keep on winding and the only way to get to the other end of the road is to walk the best path we have at the moment. Is it the right path? We'll never know until we try. We sometimes tread the right path, sometimes we don't. But that's perfectly okay. Blunders are inevitable. The most important thing is to continue the journey and learn from the past. There's no point dwelling on what if's. It is better to accept things and move on.

Such is my fate. I found myself in a completely foreign land, in a completely foreign working environment. But I am up to any challenge. Part of the reason why I am who I am today is because I never surrendered to any challenge. I just have to fight back and prove to them what I am made of.

And so this month of JULY, I have begun the 2-year journey which I know will determine the next steps ahead. 

2013 Year Ender : June

June 2013: Cambodia & Thailand

I was browsing through my PC one fine day in June and then I told myself that I had to go somewhere. Out of compulsion, I bought my tickets to Cambodia and Thailand. A few days later, I told my family that I'm leaving and they were like, OK.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Such a beautiful country and hospitable people. I really had a good time in this country, from the hotel to the tourist attractions. It was very quiet and you have that moments where you can just reflect on your life. It was such a good destination choice. And what makes this trip extraordinaire was that I met some UP students in the plane. And as luck would have it, we were seated in the same row. Twist of fate.

For related articles on my backpacking trip to Cambodia, please click- 

And in this trip, I saw the huge disparity from Western and Asian travelers. Westerners tend to see backpacking in Asia either as an escape from their rigid life in their country of origin OR a chance to do business/network. Asian travelers are more after the fun of it.

Bangkok & Pattaya, Thailand

In general, I like Thailand. But I don't feel that I would want to visit this country for leisure. It has a striking resemblance with the Philippines- in all aspects. Sure, Thailand is a notch higher than the Philippines in terms of economy but the culture and people are almost identical. And I can't say that I had fun in this country. Guess what I am trying to say is that I might re-consider coming back to Thailand but it would be on my bottom list.

For related article/photos on Thailand-
The Poipet Encounter : Crossing from Cambodia to Thailand Through Poipet Aranyaprathet
Bangkok, Thailand Photos

Realization : It takes courage and wit to survive backpacking trips. I always feel that I am one of those participants in Amazing Race where I had to compete with all other backpackers. But fact of the matter is, you will be forced to develop you social skills when you're out there on your own. And boy- social skills can spell the difference between failure and success.

June 2013 : Singapore

#Sarah Sarmiento chatted with me one time and asked if I was passing by Singapore during my backpacking period. Out of the blue I said 'yes'! But how, I didn't know. Again, twist of fate, I had the chance to jump to an Asian country because my new job will be in Oman. Second twist of fate. I was sending out my CVs everywhere and finally got a lucrative offer from Oman and though I just came from KSA and enjoying my free days- I said why not accept the offer and see where it goes.

So there I was n Singapore. Adopted by my Kali family. I had the best time in Singapore and thought what an amazing country this is despite of its small geography. 

As what Venus Raj once said, every moment spent is SO WONDERFUL! And I would actually rate SG as one of my best backpacking events this year. Truly worthwhile experience.

For related articles on Singapore-

Realization : That no matter what country you  work in, it's always going to be the same purpose and that is to earn and save money. But it should not be forgotten what is beyond earning and saving. It is our desire to secure a good future. But how one defines a good future is rather relative.

Friday, December 13, 2013

2013 Year Ender : May

May 2013

Alas, am back home. And this month surely was the month of festivities.

First there was MC Batch 2003 tenth year reunion. I was able to catch up with some of my high school classmates. That was surely fun. Although ten years have passed, we still looked young and jovial. It is as if we never left our alma matter.

Then there was the wedding of Ate Sandy. It's one of those few occasions that you really wonder who's going to be next in line. I mean, in UP Kalilayan there are still a lot of us who are single. And we have agreed that our generation has changed. We no longer subscribe to the traditional idea that at this certain age, we need to get married.

Our generation has become career obsessed and stability oriented.

And finally the unforgettable Graceland 'In-between' and 'paddling' events. I was not feeling very well this night but I knew I had to be with my Kali family. This was something I cannot miss. So after buying some softdrink and toothbrush, I rode the jeepney en route to Tayabas and got off at Graceland. I arrived at the flat with all busy with their cards.

After changing clothes, I joined them. Game after game after game, I started winning. Until at 3am, when all were too tired, the game was stopped. And I was declared the biggest winner, which everyone swore they are going to exact their revenge next time we play. I just love my Kali family, t'was such a fun filled night.

MC Batch 2003 Reunion

UP Kalilayan at Graceland 2013

2013 Year Ender : April

April 2013 is highly significant for me because it marked a transition period. It was the end of my contract in KSA and I knew that I was closing one chapter of my book and flip to the next one. What I didn't know really was the things awaiting ahead of me.

April 2013: Pre Departure

The last few days were truly memorable. At this point, I have made a romantic love affair with Starbucks and has become my sole refuge when nothing made sense at the office. A cup of hot cappuccino was enough to lift my spirit. Sadly I had to say adieu.

I am also honored to be re-united with 'gwajangnim' who came to KSA to attend the university fair. It was back in 2007 when I last saw him so I was truly happy even if it was just a full day of walking at Faisaliyah Mall.

And of course, this was also the time of weddings of some my other colleagues which I covered.

Realizations : At 27, I started to think how some people decide to get married and how some prefer to stay single. Either way, our status in life does not define us. Getting married doesn't guarantee a 'happy ever after' ending, in as much as being single does not mean 'solitude'. Our happiness is relative and whatever makes us happy should be the sole basis and not some pre-defined social codes.

April 2013: Bon Voyage Time

It has been two years and like what I always say, it was a roller coaster ride for me.

I vividly remember that very first day of arrival in KSA. We were stuck in KSA Airport from 10pm to 6am. It was torture. But what made matters almost horrible was when the immigration officer held my passport simply because I was holding a Muslim name albeit my Catholic religion. In the end all I could do was use my wit and charm, and pray to the heavens that it doesn't end up negatively. Luckily, I was released after an hour.

And the office experience was a monumental feat. Certain codes like- you can only enter your American boss's office three times in a day (more than that and you'll get a sizzling holler!), read the queues of your boss if she needs you to come to the closed door office, brace yourself for early morning calls for issues to be resolved within the day, etc. 

When I think about them now, it just amazes me how I was able to survive. All I had in mind was to do my job- as best as I could, finish my contract and go home. Fortunately things came into place.

Realizations : One of the important lessons that my boss taught me was to keep my writing style KISS- Keep It Simple & Stupid. I am a verbose writer up to now. But I try to keep in mind my boss's advice. Less is more & safer.

April 2013: The Balikbayan

Okay, let me just say that I was a bit overexcited returning to the Philippines, that I forgot to completely plan the details of my travel. I ended up spending 10,000 PhP on my first three days. Partly because of my negligence. I should have remembered not to trust anybody when in Manila, especially taxi drivers. Why? 

Let me tell you what happened. Upon arrival at the dingy and tacky NAIA Terminal 1, I hailed an airport taxi which charges twice the normal rate. I asked to be dropped off to the nearest cheap hotel but he brought me to an expensive one and because we had to round the metro looking for a more reasonable one, I had no choice but to stay in this overpriced 3* hotel + taxi fare. I swore I will be smarter the next time I go back home. 

Anyway, the next few days were catching up time with family and friends. I still consider myself lucky to be home safe but more importantly, I thank God for keeping my family and friends safe and healthy. These small blessing are more important to me than what Bill Gates could ever own in his bank account. 

Realizations : Two things- when going home, remember to send stuff through package and do not bring too many bags. It is so uncomfortable to travel with much luggage. Second, remember to plan the arrival and look up for the cheapest rates online for hotel.

Opening Video at Farewell Party

The Final Farewell Video

2013 Year Ender : March

March 2013

I decided to go back to the gym this month, in preparation for my return to the Philippines in April.

Saudi Arabia has begun to experience frequent rains, which easily results to flooding. Added to that is the cold weather.

And since I had to walk to the gym, I feared for my life whenever I walk the streets because of the water. You must understand that there is no proper drainage system in KSA that's why it becomes perilous when the road is flooded.

But I was determined to get in shape. No grim thoughts is ever gonna stop me from burning those fats.

Realization : Saudi Arabia, although considered as a rich country, is a classic example of poor urban development planning. It is so baffling why it has hired thousands of engineers to build useless skycrapers and not prioritize drainage system. 

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that when a city is saturated by people, water ways should be in shape. But NO they never thought about that. And now that I think about it, I figure that all KSA wanted to do was show off to the rest of the world about its wealth. But I can't wait to see once oil has run out of this country. 

2013 Year Ender : February

February 2013

It's my birthday month and I'm the son of Pisces- creative and artistic. This month has been very productive for me. I have covered three wedding events of my colleagues (see videos below). I was surely inspired by the wedding videos I saw in YouTube and thought I could produce something like that. And that's when the idea of 'Abdula Productions' was born. 

And since I have the new DSLR, I decided that it is high time to pursue my craft and use it into something worthwhile.

Realization: If life doesn't give you opportunity then you just have to create your own. It's easier to say to whine and say that 'it's so difficult to achieve what I want because... (insert millions of excuses)' than to say 'it will happen because there's a way... if there's no way, then you just have to find one.'

This 2013 taught me that whatever happens to our life is not a matter of coincidence. There's a bit caused by luck but 90% is achieved through hardwork and determination. 

When I was young, I dreamed to travel the world- meet foreign people and experience different cultures. Now that I am old, I have achieved all these. Partly because I am lucky but also I learned how to play my cards well.

Martin Flores & Kathleen Banas

Raymond & Joy Delena

Ira Jhon & Kristel Sumagaysay

2013 Year Ender : January

It's almost the middle of December and we're about to say goodbye to 2013. I'm not sure why I'm giving too much attention to this annual parting but I guess it comes with age. The older you get, the more value you give to time. You know you're getting old when you realize that all of us are living on borrowed time. And that one day, we'll all be figments of memories. That people we've crossed path with in this life will only remember us through photos. Funny how life can be. 

Anyhow, I am writing a series of articles which will cover the whole 12 months of 2013. Each article will feature my personal take on social issues and general topics. 

January 2013

Celebrated my second new year in Saudi Arabia with my Seder APD family. This was my first ever job abroad and I learned so much about the lives of Pinoy OFWs. I look at this experience as a participatory research getting myself involved with all fellow Filipino expats from all walks of life.

Realization: Education system in the Philippines should be changed and cater to the global needs of the Filipinos especially in terms of oral English communication skills and project management skills. English should be reinforced and given priority- more of speaking than grammar. Computer skills must also be enhanced- excel in particular.

And personality development- business manners, power dressing and social skills. These are the things that matter when working overseas. I have never encountered anything mathematically complex in OFWs line of work (unless in the field of engineering). So I think students need not be burdened by too much math subjects.

I mean in the future, I will make sure that my kids will be able to speak English very well and know at least five major languages, travel the world and participate in international events. This is what makes people globally competitive.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Year Ender for 2013

Gosh, this is it guys- 2013's almost gone. Just like that. And I'm now working on the important events that happened this year. It certainly is a fun filled (or should I say 'was') year. Anyhow, I'm almost done with the photos and will be posting them soon. 

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