When I started living abroad that is when I realized how much I miss being away from home. My everyday life in the Middle East is different to what I were accustomed back home. Culture, tradition, weather, food, transportation… everything is completely different. My being away from home has made me appreciate a lot of things in my country even more. For sure many things have changed but that’s what makes me eager to be back and experience everything that home has to offer. I can’t wait to see the Philippines again!
It is hard not to miss the food. I do cook Filipino dishes while living abroad but some ingredients are just hard to find. Most of the time, I make alterations. I grew up in the province of Albay in the Philippines that uses a lot of coconut milk to local dishes. Coconuts are abundant in the Philippines but limited to the country of Oman. Instead of using fresh coconut milk, I buy coconut powder or make use of ready-made coconut milk in can. Taste is okay, but there is something different about how food are made back home.
Pinangat is on my top list of food that I want to eat. I’m drooling for it. Pinangat is a local dish from my hometown, which is made up of taro leaves, meat, chili and coconut milk. It is wrapped in gabi leaves, tied securely and simmered in coconut milk. Other local cuisines that I miss a lot are – Bicol express (spicy dish made up of pork, shrimp paste, chili and coconut milk), kare-kare (ox tail with fresh greens stew), lechon (roasted pig) and Bicol version of Adobo. It is hard to enumerate all but I can’t wait to try it all again. Nothing beats eating these home-cooked food back home having the authentic taste with your family and friends.
I miss all the tropical fruits too! Bananas, mangoes, avocados, coconuts, pineapples, santol (wild mangosteen), langka (jackfruit), lanzones and a lot more. These fruits can be found fresh in the local market for cheap prices. In the province, mango trees are everywhere and some fruits can be eaten right away without a need to pay for it. It is just around the neighborhood.
Street food are spotted everywhere in the Philippines. All are cheap and will not go beyond 20php/ .50 USD/ .200 OMR. Banana and kamote (sweet potato) cues are my favorite. It is a banana or a sweet potato coated with caramelized sugar on the sticks.
Fish balls, squid balls, kwek kwek (quail boiled egg), kikiam and siomai are street food that are usually on a push cart and can be found near schools or crowded places. Trying all these food, brings back the memories of my teenage life in the province.
Family, relatives & friends
I miss hanging out with my family, relatives and friends back in the Philippines. Surely there are a lot of catching up to be done when i get back home. While modern technology keeps me connected to them via social media, actual personal interaction is still much more favorable.
I have lived my whole life in the province of Albay. Mayon Volcano, the world’s most perfect cone volcano is the main landmark of the province. I used to get up seeing this amazing view every day. It is our pride. It brought substantial value to my growing years. Seeing Mayon Volcano will always remind me of the beauty and simplicity of life in the province.
Malls and bazaars
Malls in the Philippines are huge and equipped with almost everything. From groceries to department stores, boutiques, bookstores, spas, medical clinics, beauty salons, internet shops, restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters and a lot more. A place where you can find everything to entertain yourself for a whole day. I miss being in a place where I can see a lot of Filipinos walking around.
I even miss all kind of food bazaars and tiangge (Filipino version of flea markets) over the weekend in some of part of Manila like Salcedo market. I love seeing and trying local food and products. To add more, I miss my bargaining skills in buying items to get big discounts.
Mountains, beaches and all the natural wonders
When you are living and working in a place where it is mostly desert, it makes you miss the feeling of being in a tropical country. With over 7107 islands, Philippines is endowed with mountains, waterfalls, caves, beaches and an array of natural wonders. Philippines is blessed to have a rich environment.
Beaches in the Philippines is unparalleled in beauty. It is everywhere. White, black, pink sand beaches with turquoise crystal clear waters are all can be found in the Philippines. I missed the times our family will go to the beach on the weekend to swim until sunset. The mountains, waterfalls and the caves are spectacular too. I love to hike so definitely I will never allow not to experience it by myself. I can’t wait to see the overlooking views from the mountains. There are so many places in the Philippines I haven’t seen yet but definitely I will check on them soon.
The vast majority of the Filipinos are Roman Catholics. As a Roman Catholic I’m looking forward to attend a mass with my family. Philippines as a former Spanish colony, have churches built during Spanish period that still exist up to now. These churches have been an integral part of the Philippine culture.
In the Philippines, even shopping malls have chapels and conduct masses. This shows how religious the Filipinos are. Churches are available in Oman but access is limited to certain place like Muscat.
Jeepneys, tricycles and pedicabs
The public transportation here is limited to cabs and buses. Mostly have their own cars. In the Philippines, the most common form of public transport are the jeepneys. Jeepneys are considered the king of the road. It is numerous. Jeepneys have open windows and are colorful in designs. It offers cheapest way of getting around. Aside from the jeepneys, tricycles and pedicabs are also abundant. Jeepneys have been the cultural sign of the country. Only in the Philippines!
There is nothing more relaxing than enjoying the cheap services available in the Philippines. Haircut, hair treatment, massage and other spa services are affordable. No doubt, it is one of the first things most of the Filipinos from abroad do.
Christmas and New Year
I have never experienced Christmas and New Year in the Philippines for the last 4 years. Though we celebrate Christmas together with other Filipino colleagues and friends, it is still different to celebrate with the whole family and relatives.
To my fellow Filipinos living and working abroad, what have you missed back home?