Generally OFWs, a few days before their flight, go through a POEA-sponsored seminar known as PDOS (Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar). In it, I recall, we were briefed of the dos and don’ts of the countries we were going to. Mine then was Doha, Qatar, a Gulf country. One of the advise given us was that, though Qatar is not that strict as most Arab counties like Saudi Arabia or Kuwait are, there are still some prohibitions that need to be observed on account of their religion. Among those is eating or cooking pork, public display of affection between partners, illicit relationships, women wearing skimpy clothes, and noisy celebrations like birthdays, Christmas, etc. All of those that I mentioned were also the ones I noticed that are frequently violated by some Filipinos.
Everybody knows that Arab countries prohibit the consumption of pork. Even an open country like the United Arab Emirates specifically in Dubai, though I saw one store there that openly sells pork products, Arabs are still not ready to eat or even just smell pork. Question is why do Filipinos still stubbornly violate this? I am talking about cooking pork not minding if its aroma will be smelled by other people.
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2. Illicit affairs
All foreign couples in an Arab country needs to have proof of marriage ready every time they are walking out in the street. Arab police are quite sensitive seeing a male and female walking together.
I know a few Filipinos who bring their lovers in their accommodation. The trouble with that is there are other Filipinos (and other nationalities) living in the same building. I heard it only takes one complaint and, without verifying further, the police will immediately raid the building and arrest the subject couple. I also heard that the other occupants of the building will be treated as accomplices for a time.
Just imagine the trouble one Filipino will be causing other people simply because they can’t hold their libido.
3. Women wearing skimpy clothes
All OFWs are aware that the Gulf area is a conservative region when it comes to women. They even require their own women to wear Abaya, a long black traditional clothe for Arab women where the only part of their bodies that is visible is their eyes, at times the whole face, hands and their shoes. I know wearing the Abaya is not a Filipino tradition in the same way that we do not practice Seppuku when we’re defeated or humiliated but then shouldn’t Filipino women at least dress appropriately to conform to some extent with the ways of the Arab women? To be as conservative as they are? Perhaps it may be true that Filipino women’s preferred attire is seen to be a means to attract foreign suitors. If that is the case then I guess that is a cheap way to do that.
4. Noisy celebrations
Most Filipinos still celebrate holidays associated with Christianity even in a Gulf country. Though Arab countries tolerate it, as long as it is done indoors, I can’t help but be disappointed whenever some Filipinos do this loudly even in the middle of the night. When I was in Doha, I went out of our accommodation during a Christmas celebration when I saw an Arab lady coming out of her house trying to check where the noise is coming from. I can tell she and her family were already sleeping. She looked at me but all I could do is look back at her and try telling her through my stare that “Yeah it’s us. You want to call the police? Go ahead. I don’t care.”
I have one question I want to ask fellow OFWs: “Kung may nakikitira ba sa bahay ninyo, ‘di ba’t hinihingi (o inaasahan) n’yo din na makisama sila sa kung anong nadatnan nila?”
One OFW friend of mine told me that they grilled pork in a park in Dubai despite the sign there that says pork is not allowed. If caught, park guards will only throw the pork in the garbage bin. But let me ask this, what if a Filipino takes an Indian as a house servant in the Philippines and that Indian cooks his meal in his Filipino master’s kitchen. I know, no offense meant, how Filipinos hate the smell of a heavily-curried Indian dish. How would the master feel? Isn’t it insulting? How would Arab authorities feel whenever they see pork openly consumed in their country by… foreigners? The penalty may not be that severe but I think any person who is in the right frame of mind will feel guilty and regret what he did. Wait! I think a Filipino who is in the right frame of mind will not even think about doing that out of respect for the authorities of the country he is in.
As visitors in another land, aren’t we supposed to submit ourselves to the laws of the country we’re in? It may be absurd or weird to us but it’s their rules. We don’t live there. They imposed it for a reason and even if that reason does not fit what we are used to, we still need to abide to it because we’re not citizens of their.
A common excuse that I hear is that it’s an outlet against homesickness. I’m sorry I can’t help but compare Filipinos again to other nationalities. I’ve seen Americans, Australians and other nationalities that can be compared to OFWs but you know what, they don’t seem to be bothered so much by their distance from home. They miss their families of course, they’re human beings too and long for their loved ones every now and then, but they’re just too prepared for it or too busy to acknowledge the sadness. And when they want an outlet, they’ll just go out for a drink in a bar. A few sips of liquor (in a place where it can be legally bought) and life goes on after. If homesickness is the excuse, then what is it about our attachment to our families we left behind that when we feel we miss them we tend to do outrageous things? I thought we’re supposed to set our minds for this as OFWs the very day that we accepted the job offer (not even the day we left the Philippines).
This is just an expression of frustration from what I saw now that I’m back in a Gulf country. In the short time that I’ve been here, I’ve seen Filipino women wearing “perfect” shorts, sleeveless shirts and other clothes that are quite revealing. In a grocery, I saw one Filipina wearing short shorts standing beside an Arab lady wearing the traditional Abaya. I’m sorry if I will sound too judgmental but I think I was given a quick comparison of who has a better outlook in life between those ladies. It’s not even education; it’s just outlook. I can only shake my head and sigh. I know I can also see other nationalities doing the same but I don’t care about them. I only care about Filipinos.
These OFWs I am talking about just validated GRP writer Ilda when she said in her article “Filipinos cannot progress if they cannot follow even simple guidelines“:
What is with Filipinos and following the rule of law?
There is very little evidence that Filipinos are capable of living by the “rule of law”. The society is quite extraordinary in the sense that simple rules and regulations whether on the road or in the work place are for the most part ignored. This is because each individual has this baseless sense of being more important than everybody else. […] In other words, Filipinos in general tend to put their own interest first before other people.
“In other words, Filipinos in general tend to put their own interest first before other people.” – “Homesick ako e so I want to get a taste and feel of home that’s why I’ll cook pork even if it’s outdoors and not allowed or if the Arab police smells it.” – Am I right with this?
I guess the belief that Filipinos transform into law-abiding people upon leaving the Philippines is not really accurate. On the contrary, it seems that the attitude of believing we could get away with anything is still carried by some Filipinos wherever they go and ready to invoke the John Apacible in them.
Enough said. My keyboard is already hurting.
I use to be a future Supreme Court justice.