My name is Christopher Pamotongan, an overseas Filipino worker based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia since July 2009. I work as a plant mechanic at Riyadh Cement Company (RCC).
At my workplace, there are 115 Filipino workers employed in different departments at RCC.
Just like most Filipinos working abroad, my aim in going overseas for a job is to ensure the well-being of my family and send my children to good schools. I go on vacation once a year to spend quality time with my family.
In such a challenging environment, I am happy to find my current set of friends because their presence eased my homesickness and they welcomed me warmly when I was new here.
I remember when I applied for jobs abroad, I experienced various forms of discrimination, bullying, and other forms of oppression but I persevered so now I am in this job.
During my days off, I mostly spend time on the computer communicating with my family. I miss them very much along with the places I often visit as well as friends left in my hometown. As for food, I miss ginataang native chicken, kilawin, and lechon are on the top list of dishes I crave.
Here at work, one unforgettable experience I had was when one co-worker from India gave me biryani, later I could not report to work because of a stomach problem.
Eventhough Saudi Arabia is quite different from the Philippines, there are a few similarities I notice. One of which is that citizens of both countries are deeply religious, although they practice different faiths.
One valuable lesson I picked up while working here is how one needs to communicate with people of different backgrounds. Here I work with people from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Thailand, India, Yemen, and Turkey. Although I communicate with most of them only through hand gestures, I learn how to deal with them.