Sunday, December 18, 2011

Nine (9) Evenings of Thanksgiving

I should have started this piece exactly 4 days ago. Unfortunately I am constantly bogged down with life's little coffee breaks. As part of the Filipino tradition, the simbang gabi or the early morning mass is being practiced by most in order for a wish to be granted. It was believed that if you complete these 9 morning mass, your wish will be granted. You can wish for whatever you want - money for more financial freedom, a dream house, a dream car and the most common, a wish for a love life. No wonder more teenagers attend this mass not for the celebration itself but to people watch. *sigh*

As I grow older, I no longer pray for trivial stuff, although I slipped into the selfish mode once in a while, but my perspective is no longer the same when I was 20 (sorry I'm a late bloomer).

This year, instead of asking something for every night that I hear mass, I send God little notes of thanksgiving ( I hope He reads this).

First Night:

For your constant hand in my life, thank you Lord for giving me the opportunity to experience love every waking hour. I am blessed to sleep and wake up next to my best friend whom I share the gift of laughter and tolerance with, even during the time when our faith is shaken. I am forever grateful for giving me the most generous husband who always put me in the pedestal - whatever shape I'll be in.

Second Night:

Although I'm not a big fan of technology - still I am grateful because despite the miles that separates me from my family, we are still connected. Thank you Lord for the gift of science and technology. It made it possible for our family to stay in touch. To hear a chorus of hello's and to see a cacophony of waves and flying kisses - it makes staying apart bearable.

Third Night:

Thank you God that chivalry is not yet dead and friendship is still worthy of gold. I guess there are still golds among these sand here in Abu Dhabi. I'm glad that there are still a few people who are still willing to give up their seat for girls. And I am thankful that I stumbled upon a few people whom I consider gemstones in the world of friendship. Friends who are willing to stay up late as long as you have coffee and listen to you babble about nonsense stuff. These people who will tell you straight in your face if you stink. Honesty, sometimes may be brutal, but it is always refreshing.

Fourth Night:

We have been so blessed as the year opened. Thank you Lord for giving us the opportunity to work and live comfortably here in Abu Dhabi. As what the priest said in his homily last night, You always provide for our needs. You continue to help us attain financial stability that we are also able to help our family who are in need of such support. Thank you for your generous heart.

Fifth Night:

It has been a year since our journey in trying to have a family started. Although each month was a constant challenge for me and my husband emotionally, still we are thankful. After one major surgery and bucketful of medicine we are still thankful for little signs of hope. There is still a promise that it is still possible. It is just a matter of timing - God's timing. Thank you Lord for keeping our faith strong.

Sixth Night:

Thank you that the art of giving never runs out of style. A lot of people still practice it. I am a recipeint of generous hearts. I am thankful that you You have taught me to widen my generosity. As Fr. Troy said, the more you give the more you receive. Just keep in mind that when you give don't expect something in return. The fact that you shared with open heart is enough.

Seventh Night:

Thank you Lord that we have freedom. Freedom to do whatever we want while living here in Abu Dhabi. Being an OFW, this freedom is luxury. Freedom to go wherever we want, freedom to eat whatever we want and freedom to enjoy whatever there is. We pray for those who have stumbled on the wrong side of the law here in Abu Dhabi, we pray for that they may have the strength for this challenge they are facing. God has mercy.

Eight Night:

Thank you Lord for the gift of time, chance and opportunities. Time that we are able to do the things we need to do. Extended time for everything rushed. Slowed time for those moments we can't rewind. Chance to grow as better person. Chance to be a good daughter, sister and wife. Opportunity to improve our lives. Opportunity to be a good advicer, friend and believer.

Ninth Night:

For the last nine (9) nights, it only boils down to one big thank you for the gift of prayer. I'm thankful that a lot of people still believes in the power of prayer. Prayer heals. Prayer gives hope. Prayer gives light. Prayer shares love.

Merry Christmas everyone. For those who are spending their Christmas with their family - enjoy it. Laugh in every opporuntiy, share a hug in every opportunity and give a kiss on every misteltoe you see. You are lucky you get to be with your loved ones on this special occasion. Cherish it. For those who are celebrating away from their family - that's ok. we will always have another chance next year. To my family, we'll just move Christmas on another time - I will miss tearing gifts while shrieking with delight after seeing the content of the box. I will be missing gobbling up pastries and calorific goodies with my brother and sister (tatay is not invited in this activity). I will be missing cleaning up the mess after all the gifts are opened and all the plates are licked. For now, Skype will do, I may not be able to kiss all of you on Christmas day, but know this, I will be doing that a thousand times in my head by the time the clock strikes 12.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Simbang Gabi in Abu Dhabi

The nine (9) days before Christmas has officially started last Thursday, 15 December 2011.

Traditionally, simbang gabi is celebrated during the early morning nine (9) days before christmas eve. The mass starts around 4 or 4:30 in the morning. But since we are here in Abu Dhabi, Simbang Gabi is celebrated on the evenings. The mass starts at 8:00 pm but if you want to grab a good seat you have to be at the church at 7:00 pm. The open ground of the church is full packed and stampede is likely to happen if anything bad happens. The cold weather is perfect with the venue.

More vendors are selling food goodies outside and a lot of kids ran and shout while the mass is going on. But this is what a Filipino community is all about.

I miss simbang Gabi in the Philippines, but I won't trade this opportunity of attending my first Simbang Gabi here either. My first Abu Dhabi simbang gabi is also my first simbang gabi with my husband and first away from my family. A mix of happiness and sadness, I guess we have just have to add another chapter on our life journey - this is how we grow.

Christmas Bazaar 2011

December is one of the most awaited month of the year for the Christian community. For one, it is the birth month of Jesus and Christmas is celebrated. When you say Christmas everything red, green and shiny can be seen everywhere.

To start off the Advent season, St. Joseph Church of Abu Dhabi had their annual Christmas Bazaar. All nationalities who congregate in this community will have their own booths/stalls selling any goodies and games for a good cause and good price.

The bazaar opened at 10 a.m. on December 9, 2011 at the Church open ground. An entrance fee of AED 10 per head can be bought at the stall outside the gated area. Once inside you can have your money change into coupons with the equivalent value. You will be using this coupon to pay for the goodies you'd like to take from each booth.

First stop - the bookvendor. If I remember it correctly the booth's name is Santa's little helpers. Wide array of books lined up on their table. A mixture of used and new books. So you really need to have a good eye and be the first pick up the good ones. I was lucky enough to get two books. One is brand new and the other one used. Both only cost AED 5 each. Good buys? Definitely.

Next stop - food trip. We went straight to the Filipino stalls where the mouth-watering smell of pork bbq brings tears of joy. This grilled goody costs AED 5 a stick. Haven't eaten this stuff for almost a year already. Then we went booth hopping.

The french booth displayed delicate goodies that I can't honestly prounounce without sounding silly. So I did the most basic thing to do in an unfamilair market trading - point to a thing - "how much?" - if the price is good enoug - sign with my fingers for how much I would be buying. The thing I bought was delectable. A soft biscuit similar as that with cream puff but with a hollow middle. But its pretty good. smack! smack!

Then my favorite - Italian booth. What makes this booth really interesting is the people tending the stall they were wearing this vine like head dress. It looks like a vine twined to look like a crown. Plus the other lady has this fiery red hair with a matching piercing green eyes. She looks like a goddess. I bought this bread that looks like calzone. Using the same dough as that of the pizza and folded with mozarella and basil filling. One serving is enough to give my tummy a heavy thud.

We didn't stay long at the bazaar but it was fun romaing around the area. I hope next year this bazaar would be a 3-day event so we could enjoy the food, the games and the moment 3x more.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy 40th UAE!!!

December here in UAE started with a bang. As in an actual bang. At exactly 8:00 pm of November 30, 2011 fireworks lighted up the Abu Dhabi night. Watching the fireworks at corniche is the way to start off the holiday.

First is to celebrate the new Hijri and to celebrate the 40th National day of UAE. Everywhere you go the city is alive even at 11 pm. The city is still buzzing with excitement.

On the first day, 01 December 2011. All malls in the city is doing fabulous discounts on their merchandises. Sad to say, most of the working class (expats particularly) don't have enough moolah to splurge on this amazing sales. Most salaries were not released before the holiday starts. So we make do with window shopping.

As per schedule for December 2, 2011 another fireworks display is to be held at corniche again. We went there to witness the show. And honestly, it was packed. Literally packed wtth so many spectators who also would want to watch the show. The show was supposed to start at 8:40 pm - 8:50 pm. The 10-minute show would be highly anticipated since it was posted on the monthly scheudle of Abu Dhabi.
A good lesson to remember on this day, being it the official national day of celebration for UAE, it is not recommended to roam around the city when 4 pm starts. Every street corner is clogged. Cars beautifully decorated are everywhere. The color of the UAE flag is pasted, painted and decorated into every sizes of car flock the streets.

It was riot in a good way. It was like a street party. Kids running around spraying snow sprays and confetti's to passers by. My husband and I were one of the hundred victims. But we jsut shrugged it off in the spirit of the celebration.

We stayed at the corniche until 10 pm but no fireworks display. Must have been mixed up information on what is the schedule for the holidays.

If you didn't see the air show and firework display. Or if you haven't enjoyed the discounted rates on the store. There will always be next year. It would help if we prepare for it and enjoy it with a bang.