Wednesday, July 22, 2009

July 21 Birthdays & Muhammad Saeed Kinedri's Wedding Day

21-Jul-2009, I saw this 'halawa' (Arabic for sweets) at my office table after I got from my daily 8-9am meeting at the Processing Plant. Who could have given me this sweet thing this early? Does he know that it was my Nanay's 84th birthday and probably wanted me to celebrate the occasion at the desert?

Looking at the sweets on my table made my gastronomic pangs drool over those small slices of sweets. But I can't just open it and voraciously nibble the halawa. I should know where it came from as it could have been mistakenly placed on my table.

My Nanay's Birthday

Having a tight schedule that day because of all the SGS audits we're having at the Processing Plant - ISO 9001:2000(QMS), HACCP and ISO 14001:2004 (EMS), I wasted no time dialing my Nanay's number in the Philippines. I was losing my patience because my call cannot get through. The mountains in the hinterlands of Upi (Cotabato) could have contributed to the poor phone signal.

How I wish my communication with my Nanay was not limited to phone calls alone. I began to imagine that if and only if she knows how to access the borderless cyberspace, our communication would have been much easier and better. I could probably just chat with her in Facebook, YM, MSN, or GTalk. And she can probably be contacted through Twitter, Hi-5, WayN, LinkedIn or maybe even in her blog.

Well, that wishful thinking made me realize that I finally got to talk to her past lunchtime already. I was the last of the 4 siblings to greet her. My youngest sister who's with her was of course the first one followed by my sister in Wales and my brother in LA.

I may be the last one to greet her but of course it was not the least greeting from her children. She was so emotional and sentimental when I called her... Her soft voice bespeaks of the frailty of her physical body but I could sense the strong will and spirit when she talked to me. While I listened to her, emotions just welled up my heart knowing that even at my 'young' age, her motherly concern over me here at the desert is still so intense.

3 Other Birthdays

Because of my Nanay's birthday, I wouldn't forget that it's one of my best-friends' birthday as well. From our UP Diliman dorm days till today, now a famous and well-known pulmonologist, Dr. Vinci L Urgel's birthday is always remembered!

Aside from Vinci, two better-halves of our college friends (both are sisters... what a coincidence) celebrated theirs birthdays on the same day. Julius Gacutan, hubby of Dally Diamante (Toyota-Australia Executive) and Dennis Leoncio, the husband of Daisy Diamante (United Nations - New York Executive).

Happy happy birthday to Vinci, Julius and Dennis. May God continue to bless you and prosper your ways!

Muhammad Saeed Mubarak Kinedri's Wedding

One of my favorite Saudi staff gave me this wedding invitation several weeks ago. He has become one of my favorite Saudi staffs because he's harworking, industrious and a very conscientious and committed supervisor. How does one become my favorite? Well all my 150 staffs and workers know how one can earn his way to become my favorite.

Very often, when my other Saudi staff gets married, they apply for vacation several weeks and days in advance but not this groom, Kinedri. He still worked three days before his wedding day and would probably have made it only a day or two if we did not succeed in convincing him to rest so he can muster all the strength and energy needed by a groom. How I wish I had all my 50 Saudi staff as committed to work as Kinedri.

I need not look at the unblocked spaces in my calendar to be able to attend Kinedri's wedding because I was sure that all have been blocked for the night. Nevertheless, I had to forego some of my appointments to be able to attend his wedding. It was my obligation as a mudir (boss) of this fine young man to be there to support him during this momentous day in his life. So right after the Al Isha prayer that night, Ahmed, my Logistics Support Manager and I traveled around 50 km to reach the grand banquet hall in Al Wasgah. We arrived there at almost 10pm but as we learned later, it was too early because dinner was served past midnight.

We were welcomed by the groom and the male members of his family upon our entrance at the banquet hall and were led to the reception hall where we had our tsai (tea), qawa (Arabic coffee) and tamur (dates). It was non-stop serving of drinks that I had to finally beg off or else I'll be crossing the hall many times to go to the hammam (toilet) to relieve myself of too much liquid intake.

My presence at the banquet hall was very conspicuous because I was the only one who was not wearing a thob (Saudi men's robe) and crossing the hall very often to go to the toilet will draw the other guests's attention. Earlier that night, I called several times Sani, my Malaysian friend to come along but my calls were left unattended. Had he come along, there would have been two of us not in thob and he would come handy as he's a good cameraman as well. In fact, I didn't use my Nikon cam which I brought with me because the flashes will draw the attention of the crowd even if the two Ahmeds with me, Ahmed Shogeifi and Ahmed Kinedri assured me to just go ahead with my photo ops but since there were a lot of old people around who are not used to being photographed, I decided to just take the shots from the camera of my mobile phone.

While the night was growing deeper and my stomach started to growl and protest the late serving of dinner. Because of my hungry stomach, I frequently yawned. I made sure that I had my hand over my gaping mouth because yawning in public is unacceptable to Saudi culture especially if you don't cover your mouth. I whispered to Ahmed that we better go back to NPC and eat at one of the restaurants along the highway . But later we decided to hold on a little to our hunger by just shutting our eyes and by imagining that we were already feasting the food. Ahhh… If it was not Kinedri's wedding, I would have walked out of the place...The food wasn't served until after 1am. But it was a feast well worth the wait! There was the timeless mandee (lamb, goat or camel especially cooked in charcoal- I like it much better than our lechon) served in several big carpets laid out in a large dining room.

While my mouth was gaping with the more frequent yawning and my stomach protesting, I remembered the halawa at my office table that day. I learned that afternoon that it was from one of my Saudi staff who wanted my approval for a free day off. Well, he did not get a free day off as he applied for a leave the next day.
This is the fourth Saudi Wedding that I've attended here in Saudi Arabia. All four have different ways of celebration but the only common thing in all these weddings, is that I haven't seen a single lady in attendance. Saudi culture dictates that men and women celebrate weddings separately. In fact, the men's event can be scheduled on a totally different evening than the women's.

(Left picture) Kinedri with a friend and his dad. (Middle picture) With Kinedri and his cousin Ahmed who also works at NPC. (Right picture) With the groom and his friend.

(From left to right)Ahmed Shogeifi seated with the groom and his friend; Ahmed Shogeifi upon our arrival at the banquet hall; Ahmed Kinedri, groom's cousin.


  1. It is great that your mom is healthy and strong. Happy birthday to her. may the Lord always give her a best of health.
    Have a nice day bro!

  2. hala wala modir kef fel hal?

    happy birthday to nanay!!!

    wow naexperience mo na ang saudi weding ang kakaibang wedding na hwalay pa rin ang babae at lalaki sana maexperience ko rin yan.

  3. Your post made me recall this tv commercial of an old woman conversing with his son on the internet (napanood ko sa Pinas during my vacn).

    Dialogue nya: 'why are you no longer checking my profile at Friendster?! I've uploaded a video on Youtube but you didn't even check it. Do you want me to delete you from my Facebook?!' Funny.

    Happy birthday to your mom, to Dr Urgel and Messrs Gacutan and Leoncio (I actually typed Diamante sisters until I re-read your paragraph. Haha!)

    You've been to four Saudi weddings?! I've been invited only once and I even declined because of a prior commitment. Nalumbay nga ako dahil hindi ak nakadalo. Pero hamo, next time na may mangumbida, I will surely attend.

    Ehem, kasali ka sa after-dinner dance video?...maabangan nga...

  4. Belated happy birthday to your Nanay...

    I am hoping the broadband will be available in Cotobato soon so you can chat with your mom. And so your mom could make a blogsite of her own. I'm pretty sure she's intelligent (at sa kanya ka mana!)

    Belly Dancing? iba pa ba un sa after-dinner dance? sana pareho lang... aabangan ko ang video kuya!

  5. Belly dancing ba?! Aba'y ipakita na yang video na yan at nang magka-alaman na!!!! Hehehehe.

  6. hahaha, happy birthday PEBA Nanay, pwede ba mag-arbor ng nanay mo at gawing PEBA mother, hahaha. ano ba yan. Puro na lang PEBA.

    Ano yung belly dancing?

    Oi, NJ, chat tayo maya. hehehe, Magjujudge ka daw sa awarding ng KABLOGS...

    Tsk Tsk... busy na nga ang mama sa sponsorship, kinukulit pa, hahaha.

  7. Kung nakakapag-internet lang po ang inyong ina, sigurado siya ang may pinakamaraming comment dito sa Desert Aquaforce! U You're so blessed to have your mother until now.

    The Wedding. Galing! I like the way you documented it. I've learned some of their culture and tradition because of this post. U

    Ang tagal niyong nawala. Bumalik, then nawala ulit! ?!?!?!

  8. Saw the film and I realized one thing. You're more acclimatized in Saudi than most Pinoys I know. Sana pala magkasama tayo palagi para marami akong matutunan.

    And yes the dance is exactly how I thought it is. Medyo nga modernized na ung dance steps nung dalawang kabataan.

    Medyo lang bitin ako. I thought I'm finally going to see you belly dance. Hehehe.

  9. hi bong, same wishes here for my mom, sana to be online. kaya pa text2 na lang & phone call! ay si dally you have her contact info?

  10. Musta na NJ! You're mother must be so Happy na may anak siyang tulad mo. Belated to her.

    NJ salamat sa lahat ng supporta mo kahit matagal akong nawala. MOre power to you!