Sunday, July 27, 2008

Saudi Based Pinoy Chemical Engineer Launches Search for the 2008 Top 10 Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog

Interview with an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) Series

Finally my plan to feature OFW here had materialize with this interview with Jebee Kenji Solis. He has been blogging since 2005. This is how he describe his blog: "THOUGHTSKOTO is a jargon word for "these are my thoughts". Blog of a Young Filipino LDS Couple, living in Saudi Arabia. Thoughts and Musings about Life and Love, Trials and Challenges, Faith and Hope as we continue in our journey to FOREVER."

I was invited to nominate for the Top 10 Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog. I find the search interesting so I asked him if I can feature him on this blog and promote his initiative. Below is the interview of Kenji.

Check out his blog here:

Saudi Based Pinoy Chemical Engineer Launches Search for the 2008 Top 10 Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog

1) Tell us about yourself?

I am Jebee Kenji Solis, I was born in General Santos City, studied Chemical Engineering in Mindanao State University, and has been a water specialist for more than 10 years now. I am currently the head of the Quality Assurance Department of Al Jazeerah Water Bottling, of AHQ & Sons Group of Companies here in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

I was married a year and a half ago to a new accountant from Quezon City named Shiela Mae Almine who loves to stay at home taking care of our 3 month old baby girl Heavenne Sofia.

2) What made you decide to work in Saudi Arabia?

I didn't really choose Saudi Arabia, I was applying for a job in Dubai but was late in submitting my requirements. Another agent saw my resume and read my qualifications that fit in their requirements so she 'bought' my resume from another agency. It turns out that the remuneration is good, so I consented.

3) What are your unique experiences and observations of the culture and tradition of the country? Did you experience culture shock and how did you deal with it?

Saudi Arabia is a secluded country; the tradition is as old as the Bible, with custom and religion that is so intriguing and mystifying to the world. Culture shock? Yea, 3-6 months was a terrible adjustment period especially I was alone here and that my workmates are all former expats and almost like fathers to me. I immersed myself in computer, playing games, blogging, and learning new concepts. Since the work is also demanding as I am building my laboratory and establishing quality and standards, time passed by without my notice.

4) What are the advantages of living and working there?

There are so many great advantages, especially the absence of taxes. Your salary, the food you eat, the goods you purchase are all free of taxes. Saudi government recognizes the presence of Saudi Aramco's Latter-Day Saints; some of them are experts and professional Americans. They allow us to practice our religion as long as we don't do missionary work, proselytizing or gospel preaching to their people.

5) What are the challenges? How do you deal with homesickness?

After two years of my contract, I requested for family status and additional benefits that allowed me to bring my wife here. She now lives with me here and she recently gave birth to our first baby girl Heavenne. So homesickness is not a problem, except that I miss eating "buko" (young coconut) which is so scarce here.

6) What advice would you give to those who would want to live and work there?

Saudi has strict customs and laws. But we feel safe here. Because of the strictness of the law, we feel secured. You'll only feel bad if you are doing things against the law. Just obey the laws and you'll be fine, and you can save a lot. Opportunity here is everywhere.

7) Tell us about the the search you launched on the Top 10 Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog?

The top 10 Pinoy Expats/OFW Blog is a search contest. We would like to recognize and honor those Pinoy expats/OFW, more than 10 million of them working around the world who toils and work for their loved ones in the Philippines. We would like to highlight their stories and learn from their lessons through their blog. Considered as "Bagong Bayani" (new heroes) we ought to hear their voices and amplify them. So we can show that we care for them for they deserve to be heard and acknowledged. Since this is the first search the rule is very simple. Definitely we have some small prizes in stored for the top 10. We also have an icon or widget for nominees to display this contest to promote it. So for those who are interested to nominate Filipino expat/OFW bloggers please visit this site for more information:

We have already few sponsors and we are looking for more.

8) How is your blogging experience so far?

I blog to unleash my thoughts and emotions so whenever I feel like writing something or posting anything it gets published in my blog. I am happy doing this, and I hope to reach out and inspire people through my blog. We have several readers from our faiths, from the Philippines and the rest is scattered around the globe with USA, SAUDI ARABIA, CANADA, and UK topping the list of countries.

9) Any final and concluding words?

THANK YOU SO MUCH PETE for this wonderful interview!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Overseas Class by Richard C. Paddock

Tatay Pepes Restobar in General Santos City, Philippines » Blog Archive » The Overseas Class by Richard C. Paddock

I saw this article online and I am posting the link here. The article was first published in LA Times on April 20, 2006.