Moonlight in Saudi Arabia which literally means in Bikol dialect as "Bulanon sa Saudi", ay mga kuwento ng buhay pakikipagsapalaran ng isang Bulanon (a native of Bulan, Sorsogon, Philippines) sa Kaharian ng Saudi Arabia.

The author would like to share to you what it's like for a Filipino to work as an Overseas Filipino Worker in the Middle East - it's fortunes and misfortunes. It is not, in any way, his intention to denigrate the country or its people.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Imagine a World without Filipinos

by Abdullah Al-Maghlooth | Al-Watan,
Arab News, Monday 16 June 2008 (11 Jumada al-Thani 1429)

Muhammad Al-Maghrabi became handicapped and shut down his flower and gifts shop business in Jeddah after his Filipino workers insisted on leaving and returning home. He says: “When they left, I felt as if I had lost my arms. I was so sad that I lost my appetite.”

Al-Maghrabi then flew to Manila to look for two other Filipino workers to replace the ones who had left. Previously, he had tried workers of different nationalities but they did not impress him. “There is no comparison between Filipinos and others,” he says. Whenever I see Filipinos working in the Kingdom, I wonder what our life would be without them.

Saudi Arabia has the largest number of Filipino workers — 1,019,577 — outside the Philippines. In 2006 alone, the Kingdom recruited more than 223,000 workers from the Philippines and their numbers are still increasing. Filipinos not only play an important and effective role in the Kingdom, they also perform different jobs in countries across the world, including working as sailors. They are known for their professionalism and the quality of their work.

Nobody here can think of a life without Filipinos, who make up around 20 percent of the world’s seafarers. There are 1.2 million Filipino sailors.

So if Filipinos decided one day to stop working or go on strike for any reason, who would transport oil, food and heavy equipment across the world? We can only imagine the disaster that would happen.

What makes Filipinos unique is their ability to speak very good English and the technical training they receive in the early stages of their education. There are several specialized training institutes in the Philippines, including those specializing in engineering and road maintenance. This training background makes them highly competent in these vital areas.

When speaking about the Philippines, we should not forget Filipino nurses. They are some 23 percent of the world’s total number of nurses. The Philippines is home to over 190 accredited nursing colleges and institutes, from which some 9,000 nurses graduate each year. Many of them work abroad in countries such as the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Singapore.

Cathy Ann, a 35-year-old Filipino nurse who has been working in the Kingdom for the last five years and before that in Singapore, said she does not feel homesick abroad because “I am surrounded by my compatriots everywhere.” Ann thinks that early training allows Filipinos to excel in nursing and other vocations. She started learning this profession at the age of four as her aunt, a nurse, used to take her to hospital and ask her to watch the work. “She used to kiss me whenever I learned a new thing. At the age of 11, I could do a lot. I began doing things like measuring my grandfather’s blood pressure and giving my mother her insulin injections,” she said.

This type of early education system is lacking in the Kingdom. Many of our children reach the university stage without learning anything except boredom.

The Philippines, which you can barely see on the map, is a very effective country thanks to its people. It has the ability to influence the entire world economy.

We should pay respect to Filipino workers, not only by employing them but also by learning from their valuable experiences.

We should learn and educate our children on how to operate and maintain ships and oil tankers, as well as planning and nursing and how to achieve perfection in our work. This is a must so that we do not become like Muhammad Al-Maghrabi who lost his interest and appetite when Filipino workers left his flower shop.

We have to remember that we are very much dependent on the Filipinos around us. We could die a slow death if they chose to leave us.

Driving a la Saudi

Driving in Saudi Arabia is very dangerous, at least in my point of view. The kingdom has registered more than 1.36m accidents in the last five years causing the deaths of 21,900 people and injuring 122,600 others. Sabi nga, kahit anong ingat mo sa pagmamaneho kung hindi naman maingat ang makakabangga mo ay wala rin. Thanks God, defensive driving is the reason why I am not included in that data. At ayokong mangyari sa akin yun!

Where can you find a driver that his left leg on the dashboard while driving? Where in the world that you may think the traffic light (the green one) is attached to the car's horn? You'll be sat in a huge traffic jam about 40 cars back from the lights but as soon as the light goes green someone next to you will beep their horn. I find it hugely entertaining and I can't wait to give it a go.

Where in the world can you find a driver drifting like in a computer game in the middle a busy road? And, hold your breath, where in the world can you find a 6 or 7-year old driving with his younger siblings? At nakalabas pa ang ulo sa bintana ng mga kapatid na tuwang-tuwa naman!

Mas maganda pa pala ang lugar na may trisikel at padyak at may jeepney o may accesible na public transportation. At least, hindi ka mapipilitan mag drive kung may pupuntahan ka.

The good news is this: kung masiraan ka naman dito sa gitna ng kalsada, tutulungan ka kaagad ng pulis sa pagtulak o tatawag ng tutulong para sayo. Walang traffic fines, di tulad sa atin na yan ang hinihintay ng mga tiwaling pulis para maka dilehensya - "obstruction of traffic" daw samantalang di mo naman kagustuhan na masiraan ka. Tiket lang ang i-issue sayo dito para bayaran mo sa bangko. At di ka rin makaka renew ng resident permit o iqama hangga't di mo ito nababayaran. Walang kotong.

Just recently, the Saudi Arabia's Council of Ministers has approved a new traffic law that stiffens penalties for drivers who cause accidents and denies a driving license to those convicted of taking or dealing in drugs.

Under the new system, each traffic violation is assigned a point value. If a driver accumulates more than 96 points worth of violations within a lunar (Hijri) year, he would lose his license for at least two years and be required to enroll and pass driving school before petitioning for license reinstatement. Furthermore, drivers who reach a certain number of points will receive temporary suspensions. For example, when a driver incurs 24 points his license will be suspended for three months.

Attached is the list of violations and its corresponding penalties for the information of our kababayans driving in Saudi Arabia. Take note the last one:)







Running on Red Light

900SR / 3 DAYS

1,800SR / 6 DAYS

Wrong way on a One-Way

900SR / 3 DAYS

1,800SR / 6 DAYS


900SR / 3 DAYS

1,500SR / 6 DAYS

Parking in a NO PARKING area

500SR / 3 DAYS

Same as 1st Offense.

Parking on Side-Walk

Same as 1st Offense.

Failure to carry Driver's License


Same as 1st Offense.

Driving with Expired Driver's License


Same as 1st Offense.

Driving without Valid Driver's License


Same as 1st Offense.

Expired Vehicle Registration

500SR / 3 DAYS

Same as 1st Offense.


900sr / 3 DAYS

Same as 1st Offense.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident

900SR / 3 DAYS

Same as 1st Offense.

Failure to stop for Police

300SR / 3 DAYS

Same as 1st Offense.

Reckless Driving

1,500SR / 20 DAYS


3,000SR / 20 DAYS / 20 Lashes & Vehicle Confiscation.

Accompanying a Reckless Driver

1,500SR / 20 LASHES

3,000SR / 20 DAYS / 20 LASHES

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Salah Time

Cleanliness is a must to muslims before their salah (prayer). These pictures were taken from my mobile phone while some people were washing their faces and feet at nagmumumog pa in a fountain located inside a mall in Balad, Jeddah... Ewww!