The Dubai Surprise

Early 2006 and I thought that being a graduate of the Top School for Civil
Engineering in the Philippines, landing a good job will be easy.
But as it goes in the Philippines, it's not WHAT you know, it's WHO you
know.

It was like chasing shooting stars looking for a job in Manila together with
the 5,000 or so Civil Engineering Licensure Exam Passers. Of course, most of the
good positions, for fresh graduates, were already taken by those who
either graduated with honors, had their OJT (On the Job Training) in that company,
a relative of the Manager, a friend of a friend of the person who referred whoever or
someone who's just luckier than I am, perhaps. Haha

So not wanting to waste time and energy in the bustling streets of Manila, I
accepted a job offer (Haha, through a relative's referral) from a small private construction
company in our province and landed a job. They take projects from the Local
Government and construct and repair roads and bridges and public school rooms
and buildings. I was called "Project Engineer" and my job was just to oversee
the progress of the job and make sure our guys are working and following the plans.
But as the days passed, I was also asked to do stuff from bidding documents up to
collection of payment. The salary was extremely low, but hey, it's a job and everyone
needs to start somewhere. Ok, the salary was Php 6,000 per month with some
transport and food allowance, from time to time. At the rates that time
it's around $135 USD per month. Yes, you read it right, it's PER MONTH! :)

Most of it went to my mother. Being the eldest and the first University
Graduate of the family, it's like a thing that I was able to contribute
financially to our family - It's something quite normal in the Philippines,
especially to families who aren't really well-off.

At this time, I still had my dream of travelling the world, but I kind of
accepted that it will take quite a long time to do so. First and foremost, I
am not capable of it financially; even travelling around the 7,107 Islands
of the Philippines was highly improbable. The second reason, the limited
number of countries that my passport can take me, visa-free.

Then one day, after a tiring day at work, I arrived home and got welcomed by
my father's friend. He went to our humble home as he heard from someone in
our town (small talk can travel from end to end in small towns, haha) that I am a
Licensed and Certified Engineer and I haven't been successful yet in looking
for a good job. Well, I told him that I do have a job; it's just not that
flash. Still, I do learn something. Then there came his words that surprised me.
He told me that his brother just went to Dubai to work for a
big project and his boss asked him if he knows young engineers who are keen
to work overseas. I thought I was dreaming. I had no answer but "Yes!" He
gave me his brother's email and asked me to send him my CV. After 2 days, I
got a reply saying that his boss was interested in hiring me and
offered me a salary more than 10 times what I'm earning! I thought I was
still dreaming. With my couple of month's experience, he wanted to hire me
and work for a really big project, in DUBAI! And then the processing of the
work visa and documents took place. It wasn't really that much of a task as
the company did everything for me. All I had to do was provide them with my
personal information and some papers like my birth certificate and
University Diploma and my grades. They even paid for my airfare to Dubai!

At first I thought I was lucky. I was wrong. I am BLESSED! :)
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