Wednesday, March 15, 2017

One Year in Kuwait!

Happy Anniversary to me and Kuwait! That was on February 18, 2017.

Working in Kuwait was not included in my plans on 2016 but some circumstances brought me here.

Do I have any regrets?
None, so far. I tried my best not to look into the worse side of this Muslim, male-dominated country. As much as I could, I look into the brighter side everyday and remind myself of my reasons for working here and of my goals and plans when I get back to the Philippines, with God's grace.

Let me look back to my 2016, the life before Kuwait and my preparations to come to one of the world's most-feared countries to work for as a housemaid.
New Year's Eve 2016
January 01, 2016
I still have my straight hair then.
My hair, my crowning glory... ah, it has always been my pride for being long, smooth, shiny and managable.
Now? Duh!
First Week of January
I was a busy bee getting all my papers done. Couldn't remember how many times I bit my tongue during the processing.
Patience? I have very little.
A very special lunchdate with my beloved little sisters at Greenwich.
These two topped my list of "will definitely miss" people. 
My sisters, my best friends!
My agency's advise: curl your hair.
I didn't get the reason why but I was like "okay, i miss curly hair anyway".
I paid a visit to our local parlor in town and had my curls done.
I wanted it to be done by my favorite salon in the city, David's, but I reminded myself, I was to become a housemaid, why splurge on hairstyle? 
 A little night-out with my neighbor/co-applicant/close friend Jeziel at a favourite local bar in town - Marlit's.
My last crazy, semi-wild night-out in the city, hopping from bars to bars. I knew I wouldn't be able to drink for two years so it was kind of like a revenge in advance.
 That was it! All packed for Zambo. City then from Zambo. to Manila where the real challenges awaited.
Manila: Basic Arabic Lessons
I lost all photos taken in the Agency's accommodation in Manila.
The training and the experiences at the accommodation were far more challenging than our work here in Kuwait. So since I passed all that, I sure had enough endurance needed here. And well, one year here now, I am nearing the finish line!

Spending all my Philippine money while waiting for my flight to Kuwait.
February 17, 2016.
There was no turning back! 

The line of work, is it bearable? 
At first it was really hard, especially when you are dealing not only the household chores but also the kids. The household works never bothered me, not at all. Dusting, mopping, organizing, scrubbing; it was just like doing chores in my own house.

Dealing with the kids was the challenging part for me because I am hot-tempered, and have very little patience. As early as the first month, I already felt like giving up. Yes, in that short period of time I thought of quitting because the kids here are crazy, hard-headed, spoiled and arrogant. Honestly, I even asked my employer to take me back to my agency because I couldn't handle the kids. But the lady refused saying every house has babies. Speaking of babies, they lied on the contract. Stated there were only two instead of three babies.

How do I handle the long hours of work?
When I get a chance to sit down even for just a minute, I would take it. During my first few days, my employer kept telling me not to do any work after lunch (2~5pm). I should just rest, they said but there never happened a "rest" between those hours. Why? Because there are kids.

Sixteen to seventeen hours of active work is the norm here. You can ask any household worker if you think I am exaggerating. Every Filipina I met whined about the long hours of work, if not how messy, crazy and lazy their employers were. I shared the same dilemma.

Despite the long hours of work, I still managed to sing while scrubbing toilet bowls and washing dishes and in the shower at night when I take my one-hour bath time. Oh yes, I always indulge myself with a warm bath every night,an old habit from the Philippines. It is actually what Pinays are known here for; we smell good and we smell clean.

How is my standing with the kids and employers?
I don't have a child but I believe I can raise children way better that Kuwaiti parents. I do understand how kids are based on my baby-sitting experiences with my little sisters. Kids can be real pain in the ass, that's for sure. And the kids here are far more challenging. You would need more than one billion of patience or you can punch them straight to their stupid, spoiled, stubborn, and arrogant face.

Even the parents here couldn't do anything to the children's tantrums because they as well throw tantrums from time to time. Parents here are big kids and tend to be more problematic. Their only tactic to calm their children down is, instead of conducting disciplinary actions, they would, as I have always noticed, offer money and later give in to the children's wish. Nah! Offering money to children, even a centavo won't do in the Philippines!

After one year, I managed to impart to the kids some good manners and right conduct like politeness to the elders, saying "thank you and please" and thoughtfulness. I kept telling them that when their parents are asleep or when there are visitors, they shouldn't make a noise and just behave. The elder ones were kinda hard. They won't listen because they think they are always right. So, I focused on the youngest one and I think I totally own her now! She is the nicest, kindest, most thoughtful, although with a little flaw since she is still a citizen in this country, she is the most well-mannered, less-cluttered person in this house besides me.

Kids' arrogance are only implanted in their minds through their parents. It is what they see from them. I paid attention. Sometimes their arrogance is just for a show to make themselves look and feel better when family and friends are around. Slowly, I will try to scratch such behavior in the kids' minds through giving them the love, affection and attention they need most, which are the things they didn't get from their parents.

One year, I never thought I would be able to endure it but wow, I made it! One more year and I will be back in my home country, in my home with my family. I can't wait!!!!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Kdrama: Six Flying Dragons

I still haven't gotten over this 50-episode Korean historical drama yet. Six Flying Dragons, this drama left quite a deep mark in both my mind and my heart. It was the most realistic historical drama I have ever seen so far in terms of the portrayal of the real historical characters, particularly Yi Bang Won (Others subbed it Lee Bang Won), which is the main figure.

The effort exerted on the drama by the people working on it sure had paid off for it was truly remarkable, making the drama one of the highest rated, most viewed dramas.

Fifty episodes would likely bore the viewers but this drama left no space of boredom in your brain. Instead, it let your brain work along with the story. Taking an an hour off my sleeping time watching an episode of this drama every night was all worth it! 50 days, it was! 

Now you must have been wondering who the Six Flying Dragons are and why the drama is called as such. It is called Six Flying Dragons because the story evolves around the lives of these six powerful characters and the unity and conflict between them.

The Six Flying Dragons

First Dragon:
(Real Historical Character - Portrayed by Chin Ho-jin)
Yi Seong Gye / King Taejo
First King of Joseon

√ One of the most respected Generals during the Goryeo period. 
√ An undefeated, most-feared general who never lost a battle against Japanese invaders.
√ A bow and arrow master.
√ Yi Bang Won's father and his first strongest man.
√ The commoners' hero.
√ Sambong's one and only choice to rule the country he was to create - Joseon. 
√ The founder and the First King of Joseon Dynasty.

Second Dragon
(Real Historical Character - Portrayed by Kim Myung-min)
Jeong Do Jeon 
Pen Name: Sambong
Head of revolution against Goryeo
Creator of Joseon 

√ One of the most unforgettable person in Korean history.
√ Sungkyunkwan's most respected teacher.
√ Known for his penname:  Sambong.
√ The head of revolution against Goryeo.
√ The creator of Joseon country.
√ The advisor/schemer of Joseon's first king.
√ The brain behind the Parliamentary form of Government.
√ Yi Bang Won's strongest man.

Third Dragon
(Real Historical Character - Portrayed by Yoo Ah-in)
Yi Bang Won/ King Taejong
3rd King of Joseon

√ Yi Seong Gye's 5th son. As a kid, he looked upon his father and thought of him as the strongest man. 
√ An energetic Sungkyunkwan scholar, a very smart student to his mentor, Teacher Sambong.
√ He was the big help in establishing the Joseon dynasty through his excellent judgement and reckless acts.
√ Reckless, impatient, childlike and one who couldn't stand the sight of injustice and inequality were his colorful sides as a youth.
√ Fell in-loved with a commoner Bon Yi but married another noble to support his father's political status.
√ Rose to power and ascended the throne as the Third King of Joseon.
√An idealist who wanted nothing but absolute power for the royals.
√ Known as the most ruthless king in the Korean history who slaughtered everyone that opposed him in achieving absolute power.
√ Sambong's final enemy and his killer.
√ The main cast in this drama

Fourth Dragon
(Fictional Character - Portrayed by Byun Yo-han)
Ddang-sae / Yi Bang Ji
The Viper/The Best Swordman of The 3 Kingdoms (referred to as the entire Korean Peninsula)

√ A weak, scardy boy who lived a tragic childhood: lost a father, deserted by their mother and watched his childhood love dishonored before his very eyes. 
√ Motivated by revenge and desire to protect the people he loved, he decided to learn how to be strong from a Chinese Martial arts guru.
√ Disguised as the leader of Goryeo's carnimal team.
√ Became the deadliest assassin known as The Viper, but also the most reliable protector.
√ Defeated Goryeo's best Swordman and earned the title for himself.
√ He is like the wind; he belongs nowhere and to no one.
√ Most feared warrior who believed that the real power lies at the tip of his sword.
√ Given a new name Yi Bang Ji by General Yi Seong Gyi in thought of him as his new son.
√  Sambong's bodyguard.
√ Bon Yi's brother.

Fifth Dragon
(Fictional Characters - Portrayed by Shin Se-kyung)
Yi Bang Won's Lover
Represents the People/Commoner 

√ Ddang-sae's sister. Like her brother, she shared the same tragic childhood. She grew up bearing the guilt for losing her brother, as she thought of him dead. √ Grew up among the commoners and lived through cultivating lands.
√ Leader of a commoner's group that helped Sambong's cause, which is to create a new nation.
√ Strong-willed, dignified and brave despite her low social status.
√ Yi Bang Won's Lover.

Sixth Dragon 
(Fictional Character - Portrayed by Yoon Kyun-sang)
The best Swordman of Joseon
√ Dork, it was my first impression of Moo-hyul. Born a warrior, he was big and strong for his age. His strength was unknockable despite his innocence and ignorance.
√ The eldest of the 9 children brought up by his widowed grandmother in a remote area of Goryeo. 
√ A complete illiterate who dreamed to be the best swordman of the Three Kingdoms in order to secure and support his poor family.
√ Learned martial arts under Hong Dae Hong who was a former famous martial arts expert, whom later he easily surpassed.
√ Left home to search and defeat the mysterious warrior, The Viper, to earn a name for himself.
√ Got into an accident meeting with Yi Bang Won (The future prince and King of Joseon), which was his ticket to become a warrior of the great general Yi Seong Gye and Yi Bang Won's body guard.
√ Achieved a lot of great works in Joseon together with Yi Bang Won.
√ Became Joseon's Top Swordman and Sejong's (King Yi Bang Won's son) bodyguard.

I loved all these six characters. They are powerful in their own way. They are governed by their own beliefs, empowered by their own goals, stuck to their own rules and strengthened by their own weaknesses. They were united by the idea of building a new nation with the people and for the people but clashed on the idea of leaving all the political power to the ministers, which was too modern during their time and keeping the royals powerless and merely a display. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

First Set of Challenges - Kuwait Application

Before my flight to Manila,  I still needed to stay for a couple of days or nights in the agency's accommodation in Zamboanga City. I needed to wait two more recruits that were under the same agency with mine and have the same schedule as mine for departure. Sort of, they were my batch mates.

The accommodation was at the third floor of the DXN building. I forgot the exact location, street, road, and etc. I sucked at remembering places during that time. All I could ever recall was my lightheadedness. Everything felt like inception. "Am I really here already? Am I really going for it? Is this for real?" Those were only few questions in my head.

The accommodation was a very old building and only had one room available to use for the applicants. (Sucks all my photos were deleted when I got here in Kuwait. My male boss had my old phone checked for Kuwaiti simcard to work in it. The repairman rebooted my phone but to no avail. One reason why the male boss got me a new phone to the female's disgust. I didn't say no for I needed the means to communicate.)

Anyway, there were actually two rooms in that accommodation but the other one was occupied by the manager,  sort of, and his niece. The room can fit up to six people only and wouldn't accommodate the growing numbers of recruits taken there everyday.

The Challenges:

Bedtime D5 este Dilemma. It is funny that this had to be my first challenge. I am a type of a person who can easily adapt to any situation but at that time, I truly was challenged. πŸ˜„
Truth is, I can't sleep when pressed between strangers (I have no problem when it is any of my sisters) but I knew I was not in a position to be choosy. I knew I needed to get used to it, which I eventually did, although I had to endure during the first few days. I held my self in. I managed to insert my then biggie self in the room on my first night. It felt like sleeping inside a box. I felt so deprived of a much-needed relaxation and a good-night sleep. Of course, I didn't fall into a deep slumber but in a shallow nightmare.

The Solution:

On the second night,  I decided to lay a mat in the living room along with the few applicants. I liked the wider space! I was able to stretch into whichever sleeping position I so desired without feeling awkward but I needed to endure being in the open, with no electric fan to counter mosquito bites. It was all good. I didn't even miss my soft, cozy bed back home. That thin mat, that sarong that I used as blanket and a folded towel as a pillow was already a set of luxury.

The Bathroom Competition. 
Falling into a line to use the bathroom for taking a bath and taking a shit is one of the major challenges in the accommodation. There was one toilet and one plain bathroom designed only for taking a bath, which means no toilet bowl. So, imagine having the urge to "poo" and you have to fall in line first. You can either hold your shit as much as you can or pray for a considerate mate to let you go first. Well, it never happened. Taking a bath was a bit easier to deal with. You just need to wake up early...and waking up early was quite a challenge on my part.

Back home, my usual wake up time is 11 in the morning. I usually skip breakfast, unintentionally. You can't eat breakfast when your butt is snoring. Waking up late was normal for me because I  often slept late like 3 to 5 in the morning. With my application abroad, my sleeping schedule had to change and it was never easy.

The Solution:

Get your butt up as early in the morning as possible. Self - discipline! You are not a princess to sleep in anytime you want.  Your co-applicants will not wait for your ass to wake up so you can use the bathroom. The bathroom is not yours in the first place. Wake up at 3 in the morning so you can use the bathroom or toilet at 4.

Fitting In to the Strange World, Opening Myself Up, Getting ALONG with Everyone and Enduring the Hardship. 

Fitting in to any situation used to be my specialty. Family and friends call me back home "walay libog". I can easily fit in to any situation and with any kind of people. But at the accommodation, I had to think again. Those simple people whose dreams were to only fly safely, work peacefully and come back home to reunite with their family made me feel so little. And for the first time I realized I did lose myself. You see, before my marriage and the statuesque turned Me into a complicated person, I was once like them; a simple-minded person with simple dreams but a huge heart that love and appreciate simple things in life.

Fitting myself in to that strange world never happened right away because I needed to open myself up first.

Opening My "self" Up. I thought I was the most open person in the whole world but again, those poeple made me doubt. I used to easily open myself up to anyone, telling about my life including my crazy little secrets, which is one reason why people often take advantage on me. I became cautious on things I shared. I let my guard on, and kept my life as private as it can be. One big secret I hid from my co-applicants and a few friends was the fact that I am married to an American man. I kept it to avoid questions and in order to get along with everyone. I then made quite a number of friends.

Enduring the Hardship.It's not that I am a precious princess who haven't experienced hardship in life. Darn, I experienced almost everything, beyond hard! I experienced having only a handful of grated stolen coconut for lunch. What's harder and heartbreaking was that I experienced it with my siblings. It was when we were left alone in our almost broken home. But that was all in the past now and it had already served its lesson. The Hardship I mentioned here are (1) Budgeting allowance or financial management - Work application abroad cost a freaking lot than what I expected. (2) Early stage of homesickness - I felt it lots of time even before flying. To some, this caused them to back-out. (3) Laziness and Loss of Determination - There was a time that I felt extremely lazy to the extent of losing the drive to go on but at the end of the day I got to realize also that I was already there. Many had wish they were in my position so why give in to laziness? Go on, fight!

My Zamboanga experience was hard for a first-timer. It was a "survival of the fittest" thing and unfortunately, it was only the beginning.  There were far more challenges awaiting us applicants in Manila such as medical examination, interview, training and work demonstration. And I thought it was easy to work ABROAD? LMAO! Hell not!!!😭😭😭
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