Pinoys in Dubai build a ‘bayanihan’ community

Community News & Features Mar 16, 2004 at 10:47 am

The Philippine participation at the Global village during the Dubai Shopping Festival held last February had showcased the best of the Philippines ranging from its homemade products, musical talents and cultural presentations.

The Pinoy cultural dancers composed mostly of students and Overseas Filipino Workerss left the audience in awe. Moreover, the fabled bayanihan virtue of the Filipinos got a meaningful sheen in this Middle Eastern country when other expatriates witnessed how the volunteers competently organized the pavilion with no financial reward. In fact, the Filipinos’ concerted efforts in helping one another have already brought tremendous praise to this cosmopolitan country where 95 per cent are foreigners.

This unique and prominent value of “bayanihan” or “pakikisama” spirit inherent in every Filipino will always prevail no matter where the Filipino lives. “I feel that I have an obligation to help my countrymen, especially those who can ill afford to go to a hospital for treatment”, says Dra Rosario Tigno. She is one of the noted Filipino physicians in the United ArabEmirates and the president of the Filipino healthcare providers group that offers free medical services to the Filipino community.

Cherry Pye Zablan Torres, president of the Filipino computer club, feels the same way. “When I saw that there are quite a number of Filipinos in UAE who are not computer literate, I felt the need to help them be competitive in the job market and to augment their income. I know that by sharing my knowledge with them, they too will do the same to others. As you will observe, our students have also become trainers”.

Apparently, Filipinos in the UAE stand apart as a community by their ability to empathize with the needs of their people as well as having an innate gift to enjoy life to the fullest. There’s more to life than just making money is a philosophy most Filipinos in Dubai adhere to.

The first group of Filipinos who arrived in UAE during the 70′s came just to earn money. Living there was not an option: there was no entertainment, except in pricey hotels. Filipinos just gathered in their houses and held small parties.

As UAE became progressive, so was the lifestyle of the Filipinos. The increasing number of the Filipino population (approximately more than 150,000) also paved the way for entertainment ventures. Popular movie artists were brought to Dubai and beauty contest among ladies and even children were also organized.One of the sought-after entertainment organizers is Mahlon Estrada who provided live entertainment to a homesick audience through his series of beauty pageants and cultural dance presentations. As the stage director during the shopping festival, Estrada explained, “I really feel happy to see my fellowmen being entertained. I always make sure that I have an entertainment activity for the Filipinos. We Filipinos love fun and excitement. Since we cannot have fiestas here, I managed to create an entertainment similar to a fiesta”.

Now, entertainment among Filipinos in Dubai has become more sophisticated and highly organized. They had been treated to a host of prominent entertainers and events such as the highly popular “Battle of the Bands,” “Martin Neviera and Pops Fernandez concert” and “Basketball with the Stars” among others.While Filipinos always love a good time, Filipino professionals in UAE have also organized training programs through the auspices of the Philippineembassy and OWWA. Seminars and workshops are held for beauty and photography enthusiasts, web designers, accountants and civil engineers.

Dante Delizo who spearheads the CADD (Computer Aided and Drafting Design) training program has already helped many engineers augment their income. He said, “Through our workshops, our students are able to improve their skills which eventually paved the way for better job prospects.”
Myrna Rebulanan, president of the Lightform Filipino Photographers Guild also has abided by the motto, “earning while having fun”. Graduates of this photography class have claimed to earn extra income after learning the techniques of photography. Plans are underway to start other courses and to conduct other training programs. Meanwhile, Pinoys in Dubai are cherishing every minute of their stay in a country where freedom and prosperity prevail.