Did you have a memorable Mother’s Day? I hope you all did. Perhaps you will agree with me that we should also celebrate Father’s day, do you? I am sure you do. Besides, the role of a Father is not easy too.
You might now be thinking of a personalized gift for your Dad, perhaps a special gift package or a unique gift for him like watching together with his favorite sports game live.
But you might ask how can you celebrate this special occasion if the Father himself is working abroad? How can they enjoy if they are not together? How can you as a Father feel the satisfaction of being honored and being respected by your sons, daughter and by your wife? If you have not been away with your family for quite a long time, I presume you will not imagine how difficult it is.
Well being an Overseas Filipino Worker, OFW as we are commonly called, it is really difficult. But you might be amazed if I tell you the ways how we OFW celebrate Father’s day here in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in particular. As far as I know, though Saudi Nationals does not celebrate Father’s day at all expatriates like us who believes in it somehow celebrate it silently. How? I will tell you how.
In Saudi Arabia, the weekend is on Thursdays and Fridays. Yes, it is not on Saturdays and Sundays as we commonly follow from our countries. Father’s Day is celebrated on the third day of the month of June by most countries in the world. Except for some countries like Australia, which is celebrated on the third Sunday of the month of September. The question now is how and when do we OFWs in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia celebrate Father’s day?
OFWs, particularly in Saudi Arabia, generally can be grouped into two, the first group is those OFWs whose families are staying with them, and the second groups are those workers who do not have any family with them.
Let me discuss the “Family status” first. As I have mentioned earlier we do it “silently”. We celebrate it at home with my kids and my wife. A simple dinner with our favorite chicken “Tinola”, it is one of our favorite dish where the chicken is chopped into smaller pieces, boiled, mixed with salt, garlic, sliced ginger and sliced green papaya. Then each of my children hands over their gifts to me. Each one of them gives me a kiss on the cheek. Of course, I have a special kiss from my wife too. We then watch the “TFC” TV show together. This is done on the actual Father’s day. Some families go to restaurants and invite their best friends to have a dinner with them.
Now, the “Bachelor Status” celebrates it differently. With the new Cell Phone technology, SMS messages, voice mail and video mail play the major role of receiving Father’s day greetings from their love ones. Cell phone business is really booming here in Saudi Arabia. It has surpassed the long distance call popularity and the Greeting Cards from the Mail. Sending Greeting cards via email took it over. To be able to communicate with their loved ones on the actual Father’s Day is enough for them to celebrate Father’s Day. The personal touch that Cell Phone and Internet service is providing somehow eased their loneliness.
There is one more method that we OFW’s do to celebrate Father’s Day, it is a group celebration. There are various Filipino Sports and Community Charity organizations that organize this special event not on the actual third Sunday of the month of June, but hold it on a Friday. It is either the Friday before the actual day or the Friday after actual Father’s day. The reason for this is Friday is a weekend in Saudi Arabia, as I mentioned earlier, so most Filipinos can attend this gathering. Each member gives their share, either money or some food items. This is usually done in the Philippine Embassy Compound, locations where they hold their Sports events, or they hire a For Rent Community Compound, which we call it “Estaraha” in Arabic term. Is this method effective? I believe it does help. It relieves their loneliness for their loved ones. I know because I experienced it before. By just seeing someone from your own country in a different land gives you strange happy feelings.
In conclusion, wherever you are, being with your Father and loved ones and being away from them, does not stop you from conveying your respect, care and love to them. What is important is you try your best to get in touch with him and make sure he gets it and feel it. No other gift can replace the true love and care that you can give to him. As for Fathers like us, let us try our best to fulfill our duties and responsibilities as a Father. If we shower our love to our children and wife, for sure they will give it back to you. Everyday, even if it is not a Father’s day!
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