Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Things We Miss

“Labing-isang buwan kang naghihirap dito tapos ang katapat mo lang ay maliit na hiwa….”

This topic has been a constant source of laughter in our service van on the way home. Men dealing with the difficulties of separation from their womenfolk 11 months out of each year – this is the burden so many of us have to go through just to get by in Saudi Arabia. During the mornings, the mood is often somber, as each man is lost to keep his own thoughts (or go back to sleep), traveling to another day of work which is no better than a prison.

At least prisoners can get the usual visit . . .

It is not unusual then, that living in Saudi Arabia breeds unusual variants of normal relationships you would find back home. The men here are more vocal of their emotions, are more in touch with themselves, and calling somebody a “friend” carries with it a deeper meaning. Finding a friend, though still a test of hit-and-miss, can be somewhat of a risk, too, but can have its own rewards.

By this criterion, there is no real stigma for a man to be homosexual here in Saudi Arabia, where he is less bound by convention, and maintain a family back home in the Philippines. It is even more usual that a man and a woman can have two separate family lives – one back home and another here, and with as many partners as possible.

(I can consider some guys to have all the luck. Some dickhead managed to get “married” to two women at separate times, only for both of them to find out the nasty truth when they were assigned to the same shift in just one hospital. And oh, he still maintained his own family back in the Philippines. The girls were deceived, but somewhat naïve, but I can only admire the guy’s “man-gina.” Such cojones on that asshole!)

And so on and so forth…women may have an easier time of keeping their legs crossed, but sometimes only with Filipinos --- if it comes to Arabs (Saudi or otherwise) or Westerners, it’s business as usual. Sometimes Filipinas can really go slumming and go out with Pakistanis, Indians, or (gulp!) Bangladeshis. That I had hoped Filipinas would be more virtuous was a given. That such a hope was so easily dashed to pieces is semi-tragic.

It’s not all about sex, mind. There is so much more than the communion of two bodies in finding a sense of belonging. For some, too, the idea of being desired by someone else is so addictive. Even the prospect of 24/7 porn television (captured free to air, just buy the kit for about SR700) is not enough to quench that kind of desire.

And… the prospect of an eternal boner saps your brain power and deludes you to a twisted sense of reality. Don’t ask me how and why. I know.

I once said in another forum it would be interesting to derive the metrics of the status of OFW families – how they handle the separation on the one hand and what values do the children develop as a result of it. Several years ago, our organization administered retreats to high school students in Lipa. An interesting statistic was that many of these kids were sent back to live with their relatives or with one parent (mostly the dad, since the mothers were mostly domestics in Italy). Imagine the adjustments they had to make.

Money flowing into their hands, and money does not solve the need in their hearts…

And so back to the “things” we miss. Do I miss sex? (Ummm… dumb question. Let’s pretend that never came up. Move on…). Mostly, it’s the idea of being with someone. The benefits that come with it, of course, are just, I hope, as pleasurable as they can be. As a bachelor, I am what you call “deprived.” Time will only tell if I become “depraved.”

All the same, I am proud to say: I confess to being repressed! Thank God for Filipinas and the Internet!

With many thanks to Jay’s Greatest Compilation, one site that is pushing the envelope to tantalize the viewer without getting blocked by the Saudi internet police! You rock, buddy!

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