(Wikipedia) ‘An Expatriate (often shortened to Expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of their citizenship. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (“out of”) and patria (“country, fatherland”).
This blog aims to discover people who are adventurers like me, venturing out in a new place to call home and creating memories. I have previously lived with my parents and siblings in the Saudi Arabia when I was in high school. I have enjoyed and cherished my memories in the beautiful Sandbox I once called my home. Now, I am in a new adventure with my husband and son here in Singapore.
I am featuring Expats in different countries every two weeks to share their experiences and adventures with you and me.
Today’s featured expat is a schoolmate from my all-girls high school back in the Philippines. Meet the beautiful and vivacious Vicky who is now living an exciting life in Doha, Qatar ”
- Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and where you are originally from?
I am from Iloilo City, Philippines, and a proud Ilongga. A graduate of Computer Engineering. I have always wanted to work in the media but did not pursue the dream due to the limited opportunities back home. At that time I never thought that I will be living abroad. However, life’s journey has unexpectedly brought me to the Middle East in 2006 and I am now working in the industry where I always wanted to be.
- What made you move to Doha, Qatar? How long have you been there?
The financial crisis began in late 2008 in Dubai. Qatar always had an excellent publicity and the media kept on mentioning that it is the next Dubai.
In December 2, 2008, during the UAE National Day, I booked the cheapest hotel and flight to Qatar. I had a list of companies’ where I wanted to work.
I visited Qatar for about three days. On that very short visit I was so determined to get a job, considering that I cannot afford to go back again in Qatar and the financial situation in Dubai was terrible. Thousands were losing their jobs, especially in advertising.
I walked in my target companies offices. Each office I walked in I insisted on meeting the hiring manager as I only had three days. In three days, I managed three interviews. After two months, in February 2009, I was back in Qatar with a job in the biggest publishing house in the country at that time.
- What do you miss about your home country?
I miss many things – my son most of all, my family and friends, our fantastic house helps, our dogs, etc. We currently live in a beautiful bubble and as an expat in the Middle East nothing is permanent. I miss the feeling of being settled, knowing how you want to be when you get older.
I may not be a big fan of Filipino food; but I do miss our delicacies in Iloilo – Batchoy of course, pancit molo, even the spicy fish balls by Molo Church…
I used to dislike the Filipino-style spaghetti and now that I am away I found myself enjoying my spaghetti Bolognese with sugar and sausages!
- What are the wonderful discoveries and things you like about Doha?
One does not have to like the one he/she loves. It is how I feel about Doha. I love it but I don’t like it. The great comfort and security makes me feel at home; then there will be occasions that it will hit me that it is not my country.
Richard Serra Art installations in the desert
What make Doha a lovable place to live are the community and the friends we meet. People are very helpful. I love how different nationalities integrate. As an expat we meet many friends from different countries. Then they leave after a couple of years. It may be sad but that leaves us to have many friends all over the world which makes the world seemed smaller.
- What are the 3 tips you can give to fellow expats in Doha, Qatar or those you planning to move here?
- Do not look at people based on nationalities, including your own self. I am sad and very disappointed to hear when Filipinos do not try hard to succeed as they think that the higher positions are only for other nationalities. Honestly, when I first moved in Dubai, as a restaurant hostess in a steak house in a mall, I almost found myself with the same thinking. Until I realized that we can do better and opportunities are for everyone. We do need to exert a bit more efforts; but it is something that Filipinos need to do right now to prove that we should not be treated less.
- Learn from, integrate to and respect other cultures… and please socialize with other nationalities!
- Appreciate what the country offers. If you do not like it, just think if you are actually better off back home. If yes, then simply pack and go back.
- I have lived in Middle East before and I realized many misconceptions about living in the Middle East. Can you share with us some misconceptions in living in the Middle East?
Among misconceptions that I realized are not true are…
- Arranged marriages are sad and bizarre.
Guess what? I have friends and colleagues whose marriages were arranged by their families and they live very happily.
- Women need to cover up.
Not really! Simply dress decently and respect the culture.
at the Museum of Islamic Arts in Doha
- The Middle East is a desert and is always boiling hot.
While the beautiful desert is outside the city, for 6 months from November until about May, the weather is perfect.
- There is war and chaos in the Middle East.
It is among the safest place on earth! Theft very rarely happens. Majority of the time anything you forgot or misplaced will always be returned.
- The LITTLE MISS HONEY community gets inspired through travel, food and books. Can you tell us your current FAVORITE TRAVEL SPOT, current FAVORITE FOOD/RESTAURANT DISCOVERIES & current FAVORITE BOOK?
FAVORITE TRAVEL SPOT – Paris! I traveled by myself in Paris a couple of months ago and I am in love with the city. I found my soul-church, Sacre-Coeur.
Current FAVORITE FOOD/RESTAURANT DISCOVERIES – The celebrity hotspot from New York and Rome which has opened in Doha – Antica Pesa; the famous Japanese Restaurant – Nobu; and the Michelin-starred Chinese Restaurant – Hakkasan.
FAVORITE BOOK – I don’t read much anymore. I developed difficulty focusing while reading. But two books have made me glued in reading them. One is ‘The Secret’ – which has become my mantra in life. The other one is ‘Princess by Jean Sasson’ which is about the life of a Saudi princess.
- Where do you get your inspirations? Who or what inspires you?
My family is a great inspiration to me. My Grand Father was a self-less politician and has donated many properties for the common good. My aunt who was also our English teacher took care of me, my sisters and my cousin while our father was ill and our mother was extremely busy. I always hear people compliment my English – big thanks to my Auntie Inday for this! And of course our dear mother who worked and still does works 24/7 to raise us and also to selflessly help other people as a social worker and a politician.
- Can you tell us more about your profession?
I have been working in the media industry in Qatar since 2009. When I first moved in Qatar I realized that many complain about not having much to do. Thus through the previous brand that I worked with I started doing and partnering with many events. I have always been a supporter of people in Qatar who are making things exciting and happen. I have moved with different companies and now I am in the Sales team. While my actual role is to generate revenue, being still in the media kept me on my toes to know what is new, who’s who and what are the upcoming events to look forward to.
with Antica Pesa Restaranteur and TV host, Francesco Panella
with famous model Poppy Delevingne
with boxing champ Amir Khan
with Ed Sheeran
- How is fashion important to you? Can you share with us your regular OOTDs?
Fashion is among many factors that excite me to start my day! I used to work in a fashion magazine. I really miss styling and making fashion shoots happen. Fashion is very important in the media industry. We do not only represent ourselves when we meet clients and contacts, but most importantly we represent a brand.
OOTD will always involve high heels for me due to my height limitation, a beautiful handbag, and a day-to-night stylish dress since my work involves me being in meetings during the day and in events during the night.
OOTD – Furla handbag, LK Bennett shoes, Miss Selfridge dress, and a hand-made embroidered cape
- I believe you love beauty products too. What are your Holy Grail beauty products and skin care products?
A visit to Dr. Tetchie Layson while in Iloilo is a MUST! It is important to have a daily day cream with SPF, a hydrating night cream and do not underestimate the power of an eye cream.
- Lastly, can you share with what is your inspirational mantra?
What we conceive we perceive.
Thank you Vicky for your insightful tips in living in the Middle East and sharing your story. I totally agree with everything that you said. I missed living in the Middle East which surprised me sometimes. More power to you and I hope a lot of people will be inspired by your courage, determination and outlook in life.
If you are an expat or know any expats who are interested to be featured, drop me a line at email@example.com.”