Sunday, August 30, 2009

What's in S' Bookshelf?

Oh so you think The Pink Tarha ladies are just into shopping and eating huh? Believe it or not, we're homebodies most of the time. Swear! It doesn't sound convincing enough noh? But we are. Reading at home (and being couch potatoes of course) is a part of the every day life of a Pink Tarha lady.

We are voracious readers and it's interesting to note that we have different tastes on literary genre, the same way that we have different fashion styles. So we're opening our bookshelves to you (the same way we opened our bags) and will share you what our favorite books are so you have an idea what's the best books in the city to kill boredom.

First up is the shelf of resident ice queen Sundrenched, who recently celebrated her birthday. Okay, before we show you her collection of books, may we just remind you that she's just been in the Kingdom for a year and two months. If her book collection doesn't tell you she's quite a reader, we don't know what will.

When asked when and where she got her reading habits, S said, "I started reading Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Sweet Valley High, and pocketbooks when I was a kid. Who didn't?! I'm not a picky reader. I even peruse brochures and flyers!" Sadly, she left all her books in the Philippines. "I didn't buy a lot of books then (except for Bob Ong's and Pugad Baboy) but I never fail to visit National Bookstore or Powerbooks whenever I go out. Even if I'm not buying, I just browse around."

Now that's she's here in Riyadh, S has a small bookshelf bought from IKEA. Being narrow, her shelf is now full to the brim. Her books have overflowed to her couch, and bed, and side table... and practically anywhere in her room! She can finish one book in a day (if she's not doing anything important). No wonder she has an eyesight of 250/250! Anyway, here's what kept her pre-occupied for the year she's been here in Riyadh:

TOP SHELF The Partner (John Grisham) / The Summons and The King of Torts (John Grisham)
L-R: Rage of Angels / Doomsday Conspiracy (Sidney Sheldon) / The Templar Legacy / The Third Secret / The Romanov Prophecy (Steve Berry) / The Afghan (Frederick Forsyth) / The Venetian Betrayal (Steve Berry)

S says of her collection, "I was surprised this grew into some sort of a mini library. Only three among those books came from the Philippines. Three came from Most of them are bought here in Riyadh. Reading has become my solitude when I went here. The first book I bought here is Nicholas Sparks' The Rescue from Jarir Bookstore. I also bought and read Arab fashion magazines before just so I can see the difference between their mags and the ones I did in the Philippines."

SECOND SHELF Water for Elephants (Sara Gruen) / In the Country of Men (Hisham Matar) / Born Under a Million Suns (Andrea Busfield)
L-R: The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini) / The Almost Moon (Alice Sebold) / The Bookseller of Kabul (Arne Seierstad) / The Time Traveler's Wife (Audrey Niffenegger) / Saudi Customs and Etiquette / Vagabonding (Rolf Potts) / Hope for the Flowers (Trina Paulus) / Stolen Lives (Malika Oufkir) / The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (David Wroblewski) / The Hour I First Believed (Wally Lamb)

Her three main book genre are Middle Eastern novels, adventure/crime, and popular fiction. "I became interested in Middle Eastern fiction since I went here in the Kingdom. I want to know more about the Middle Eastern countries. They're so different from our South East Asian culture yet as interesting. Meanwhile, I've always been a fan of Sidney Sheldon. I have read all his books. I like Steve Berry's and John Grisham's books because they're very much like Dan Brown's. Very intriguing and action-packed. Most of the other popular fiction I bought has movies out so before watching the movie, I read the book first." You do not see any Harry Potter or Twilight books there because "I'm done with the 7 Harry Potter books in the Philippines. As for Twilight? Hmn, I will eventually pick up the vampire books and read them when all the rave die down. :P"

THIRD SHELF Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud (Julia Navarro) / The Client and The Street Lawyer (John Grisham)
L-R: A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini) / Prisoner of Tehran (Marina Nemat) / The Memory Keeper's Daughter (Kim Edwards) / Girls of Riyadh (Rajaa Al-Sanea) / The Rescue (Nicholas Sparks) / Love in a Torn Land (Jean Sasson) / The Coroner's Lunch (Collin Cotterill) / The Attack (Yasmin Khadra) / The Sirens of Baghdad (Yasmin Khadra)

One thing though, S rarely re-read books. "I want my first impression on a book to stay, along with the learning and insight I gained. If it's a really, really good book... then that's a different story. It will be like a favorite movie that I watch over and over again."

Her favorite books? "I would say Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns made me teary-eyed for the most part. Those books are sure tear-jerkers! I'm sure even guys will cry buckets, especially on The Kite Runner. Honeymoon in Purdah by Allison Weaving is also a good book. It's such a good read that I sent it to the Philippines for a traveler girl friend to read. Vagabonding and Hope for the Flowers hold a special place in my heart because they were given by friends." Her least favorite ones? "The Philippine Constitution from college! Hehe."

Books waiting to be read.
T-B: No Country for Old Men (Crmac McCarthy) / The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd) / Three Cups of Tea (Greg Mortenson) / Gate of the Sun (Elias Khouny)

S is currently reading The Secret Life of Bees. "It was turned into a movie in 2008 and before watching the screen version, I want to read it first. It's a poignant read. My favorite insight from it so far? 'You gotta imagine what's never been.' I can't wait to finish this book."

S is planning to buy the Steve Berry books she didn't have yet (The Alexandria Link and The Charlemagne Pursuit) and Dan Brown's soon-to-be-released book The Lost Symbol. But first, she needs a much wider shelf!

Do you share S' type of literature? Share the books you've read that you found here and let's start a book lovers' club! Hehe.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Happy Birthday S!

Our beloved Sundrenched (S), is turning twenty-something today and The Pink Tarha Team would like to greet her a very happy and PINK birthday!

S is the initial brains behind this blog, and honestly, if it weren't for her The Pink Tarha wouldn't exist. She's basically our Editor-in-Chief, lining up our assignments, features and despite our busy schedules, she tries her best to keep us in-line...constantly reminding us to produce entries. :P

Certified posh and prim, the discoverer of the 9SR shoes, the "thinker" and a truly special friend,

Happy Birthday S!

this desert rose.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Power Shopping (Part II)

Diamonds are a girl's best friend right? But for an average-earning, single OFW like me, shopping is this girl's best friend.

okay! I know that this sale season has got my shopping frenzy off the charts...and I mean OFF.THA.CHARTS. Still, I'd like to believe that I am somewhat logical with my purchases because they are on sale (at ridiculous prices, might I add) plus, I know that it's still within my budget (classic excuse of a shopaholic?!). This is the second installment of my Power Shopping series. I am hoping it won't be a trilogy. (Eeek, crosses fingers!)

Accessories galore:

Accessories from Miss Selfridge, Claire's, Accessorize and New Look

All of my purchases from Miss Selfridge are at 9SR (see cocktail rings, brown flower necklace, ribbon and button earrings and the turquoise chandelier earrings). From Accessorize, I got a floral bangle for 9SR, "gong" earrings for 12SR, a topaz capiz necklace for 14SR and some black and gold bangles for 13SR. One item from New Look was a white heart necklace for only 10SR while Claire's was super ridiculous that they had items for sale for only 1SR! Yes, you read it right, 1SR! (see the bronze round earrings and the square silver hoops were both for 1SR!) Red layered necklace was 5SR from Claire's.


Black, fringed sandals with bronze studs from New Look

It's a crossbreed of the gladiator-look trend plus the everything-with-fringe/tassle mania that has hit fashionistas worldwide. This pair is special because the salesman from New Look (Kuya, whatever your name is, I will always think of you while I wearing these shoes) gave me an extra "discount" on this pair. Originally priced at 269SR, I checked out this baby for only 40SR!!!

Brown, leather, gladiator shoe boot also from New Look

I swear it is like gladiator meets Texas. I absolutely ADORE this pair and the fact that it was only for 40SR got me stark raving maddd! Now, only if there was an event I could wear this to...

Tops and Dresses:

Tank tops from Dorothy Perkins, 10SR each.

Gray, cashmere cardi from Dorothy Perkins: 75SR (I know it's a bit pricey still, it's CASHMERE people!) FYI: It used to be priced at 230SR.

Cream satin top from Dorothy Perkins, old price: 180SR, sale price: 45SR!

Purple gypsy top from New Look. 'Would love to wear this to a beach outing or somewhere sunny. Can be a dress or oversized top. Original price: 159SR. Sale price: 30SR!

Floral sunday dress from Dorothy Perkins: Original price: 275SR. Sale price: 68SR. And guess what? I returned to the mall a week after buying this, and I saw that it even went down to 50SR. Imagine!!? Kalurkey.

See, since booze and clubbing are illegal in this part of the world, I turn to shopping as my next best thing. So sue me! haha. In all fairness naman, I only become this "shopping amazona" during the sale season. Especially when prices are uber ridiculous already, you'd be crazy not to think twice about checking it out.

I am really apprehensive that there would be a Part III to the Power Shopping series because last Wednesday, I read that Citymax is at 50% off for summer clearance, and that there are Ramadan Kareem sales everywhere. Plus, S said that she was able to purchase two pairs of 9SR shoes yesterday at F&F. I can almost hyperventilate just typing about it. It doesn't help that it was just salary day last Thursday.



Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Pink Tarha is "Kikay"!

The Pink Tarha Team is a member of the KaBlogs Station, a blogging community of OFWs worldwide. Recently, the KaBlogs Team published a list of KaBlogs Winners 2009 courtesy of blogger LordCM. We were given the "Ang Kikay Mo Naman!" (OFW) award.

The "Ang Kikay Mo Naman!" Blog Award is described as:
"Isang blog na maraming mga disenyo at ang mga nilalaman ay hindi basta basta. Ang bawat isang bagay sa kanyang pahina ay may angking "kakikayan" at kagandahan."

In this regard, the Pink Tarha Team would like to thank our sponsors.....hahahaha! Kidding! (we wish we HAD sponsors). But seriously, we really are thankful...not merely for getting an award, but more so on the warm welcome that KaBlogs has given us. Especially to Mr. Thoughtskoto, Nebz and Sugarcoated Cynic--who were the first to really jumpstart our readership. It is heart-warming to be surrounded by OFW bloggers who share their thoughts and stories wherever they are in the world.

To the rest of the awardees, (as we say it here in Saudi Arabia)-- Mabrook!* Masha'allah!**

Keep on blogging!

The Pink Tarha Team

**God protect you!

Berry Romantic

Ramadan Kareem!

Now that Ramadan has started, don't be surprised to see the malls decked with lanterns (not to be confused with the Christmas lanterns okay?) and lamps. Last year, the highlight of decorations was the royal color of violet. Is it the color of Ramadan? Anyway, speaking of colors...

A few weeks ago, the PT Ladies' (minus Eyecandy who had her much-needed day off) "dress up Monday" theme was "colorful," the opposite of the power dressing attire we had. We didn't know if it was ESP or cosmic timing or coincidence that we arrived in berry-colored blouses! Not really colorful enough because we lacked the other rainbow colors so we tweaked the theme to "Berry Romantic" instead. Hehe, girls can change their minds yes? Versatility ang tawag d'yan. :P Berry colors like purple, plum, blueberry, and lavender abound. If only we're wearing dresses, it could have been more romantic! Hehe. (Asa pa!)

Drama much?!

The berry colorful ladies now:

On Maryhadalittlehump: Purple polo shirt ZARA Pink pullover BERSHKA Gray slacks PAPERDOLLS Headband ACCESORIZE Bangles PARFOIS On Shoegarfreeruby: Short sleeve jacket PAPERDOLLS Floral top and eyeglass necklace TOPSHOP Pants CITYMAX Patent teal shoes OASIS Hair pin and button earrings H&M On Sundrenched: Plaid polo and black skinny jeans CITYMAX Maroon flats PARFOIS Headband ACCESORIZE

Fine, we couldn't wear dresses but there's always hope for lady-like and romantic themes in this side of the warm world. Berry colors helped in bringing out the ladies in us. It's probably safe to say that the Pink Tarha Girls are now Pink Tarha Ladies! Oh, how we've grown up... nah! :P

Now that we're done with a little bit of color... yathink we'll switch to something dark yet again on the next Collage Week?! Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

An Expat's Guide To Ramadan

The sighting of the new moon on the ninth month of the year is a very important event for Muslims all over the world. That day, which may well rest on August 22 (Saturday) this year, marks the beginning of Ramadan, the Muslim's holy month. For us expats (who are non-Muslims) in the Kingdom, this is the month of becoming one with the Islamic world. This is after all Saudi Arabia, the seat of Islam where the two holy cities of Mecca and Madinah are found, so "co-observing" the Ramadan is a must. For OFWs who will experience Ramadan for the first time, here's a list of things you must remember this month:

1. Eat discreetly.
Fasting is the most known, widely-practiced activity during this month. Fasting stirs people away from impurities of worldly activities (ex. vices) and invokes purity of the heart. It also teaches self-control, self-discipline and empathy to others' sufferings. Muslims are not allowed to eat and drink after the fajr (dawn) prayer until the sunset prayer. Though we (non-Muslims) are not required to fast, we must be considerate of those who will. Do not eat and drink out in the open where those who are fasting can see you. Arm yourself with baon because eating establishments will only open after 6:00pm.

2. Tardiness is the new punctuality.
Your office mates are not late, they're just in time... for a new Ramadan schedule. Some offices will tweak their office hours for Ramadan. Most will start their office hours late (ex. 9:00am from the usual 7:00am) and end early (3:00pm from the usual 5:00pm) but this new schedule is not for everyone. Don't fret if your schedule is unchanged and don't use the excuse "Eh bakit sila, late namang pumapasok?!" if you feel the need to be tardy. This is not the time to lament on this world’s unfairness. After all, you eat your breakfast, you're here to work, and you understand the side effects of fasting in one's strength and productivity so just look at the brighter side of things: the PT girls personally enjoy the almost empty roads going to work in the morning.

3. The road is a danger zone at night.
After work, stay inside your flats/villas, have your dinner, and watch Wowowee (or whatever it is in the tube) because chances are, it's traffic. If you go out, you'll just get a migraine from all the road rage - horns blaring, tires screeching, drivers trying to set a new world speed record, and everyone else hurrying... it's a crazy world out there. Be safe inside your houses. But if you really have to go out, be careful.

4. Stores open late, close "early".
Most of them are. Because they open late, they also close early... as in early morning na! Malls open after the maghrib prayer (8:00pm) and closes around 2am. So do your grocery and shopping during this time frame (although you'll have to contend with traffic and huge crowds). If you need to buy something really really important, wag nang ipagpabukas pa because you will not find your suking tindahan open in the morning. It's kind of weird to do our mall shopping at 1 in the morning but it doesn't bother us that much. (Gusto nga naming 24 hours bukas ang mall eh, hehehe!).

5. Generosity reigns.
There's an abundance of food in the streets so don't be surprised if someone knocks on your car's window and give you a box containing bread, dates, and drink. It's the pantawid-gutom of those who are fasting. For other stuff, it's also a must to go to Haraj, the largest ukay ukay er, junk souk in this part of the world, during this month. You can find great steals (ex. designer bags at super low prices) because they tend to change almost all their furniture and clothes this month. (Okay, we haven't done a proper post on Haraj but we will soon!) Don’t forget to greet Ramadan Kareem! (“Ramadan is generous!”)

6. The Eid Al-Fitr
Ramadan will end on the sighting of the new moon on the following month. This will probably be on September 18 or 19. The holiday called Eid al-Fitr (Festival of Breaking the Fast) marks this. Muslims will put on their best, go and feast with their families and friends, give food to the poor, and pray together. This is a beginning for them, like a new year. For non-Muslims, we can enjoy a week of vacation from work (er, depends on your company so you really have to be good employees ;P).

That's it for this guide. If we got some details wrong or you want to add other tips and information, leave 'em on our comment box o'rayt? Time to hit the grocery stores today because it will be jam packed tomorrow and the rest of the Ramadan season for sure. Ta-ta!

Ramadan Kareem!

For more info on Ramadan, visit this site.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ang Tunay na Katas ng Saudi

Hindi salapi, bahay, lupa, o jeepney. Kaming mga anak ng Overseas Filipino Workers ang tunay na katas ng Saudi.

There's no easy way to open up to the public the lives we've led as children of Overseas Filipino Workers but we will because we owe it to the men who made us possible, who made our lives breathing and thriving in this desert possible.

The main force that binds the Pink Tarha Ladies is not our love for shopping and eating but the fact that we are the second generation of overseas Filipino workers in our families. We have almost the same story. Our fathers were part of the early wave of migration during the 80s. We were the children left behind, the children who grew up in a different kind of home, where absence reverberates in every corner of our houses and echoes in every hollow of our hearts. What we have become are the fruits of labor of these brave, selfless family men. We owe it to them to tell our story.

What became of us, those little girls who only have vague memories of that day when the pillars of our homes left to seek a greener pasture? Shoegarfreeruby, Maryhadalittlehump, and Sundrenched grew up in the Philippines while Eyecandy was raised in Saudi Arabia. Was there ever a difference to OFW children who grew up in the motherland and in the Kingdom? What kind of fruits did our fathers' diaspora bear?

Raised in the Republic

1984: R with her mom, dad, and younger sister

I was only three when dad decided to work in Riyadh. I vividly remember that time when we took our family picture the day he left (above). My sister was two, and my mom pregnant with our youngest. Facing the ordeal of having a father away was something my mother bore for 22 years. We owe it to her that she was able to raise us all up with love. We never questioned why our father had to be away because she made us understand. Growing up, I remember that our yearly trips to the airport waiting patiently for our father to arrive were the happiest memories of my childhood. There were tears we needed to hold back when his vacation was over but the promise of seeing him again after a year comforted us. Who would have thought that I would be following my father's footsteps? - Shoegarfreeruby
1989: M and her sister missing their dad

It was in 1987 when daddy went to Saudi Arabia to work. I was two years old, too young to remember, and my sister was one. Our youngest wasn't even born yet. My mommy told me how I refused to approach my father whenever he was home for vacation. I was a stubborn kid, crying and very shy around this "stranger" who leaves and returns home and leaves again. And then I finally understood the setup. It wasn't difficult for my sisters and I because of mom and her relentless explanation why our father needed to go abroad. We cry when his vacations were over. And when he was back in the desert for the nth time, we resumed studying hard and asking the Lord to guide him because during those years, those were the only things we can do to repay my father's sacrifices. - Maryhadalittlehump

1996: S with her papa and siblings

The army green luggage now stashed in our attic never fails to remind me of the day my father first went to Saudi Arabia. That moment was framed in my brain, never mind if I don't remember exactly when. All I knew is, it was the longest summer of my childhood. Two of my siblings and I were whisked to the province and raised by our grandparents while my other two sibs were raised by mom in Makati. Two different worlds brought upon by an absence, a distance bridged only by cassette tapes we recorded for him, letters sent, and calls only made possible through an aging static landline. How can I forget the graduation days missed, the holidays celebrated on a five-hour difference, the long airport waits and the vacations spent like stolen moments? But just as the saying goes, "distance is nothing; it is only the first step that is difficult," everything eventually fell into place. - Sundrenched
Growing up, the three of us (R,M,S) grappled with the reality that we were missing a part of our family. We felt like we never knew our fathers at all, and that they never knew us. We were aware though that our fathers were away to provide for us and there were some instances wherein we felt wealthy, one of the few middle-class families in our neighborhoods back then. We had the newest toys and we were happy but there was an indescribable empty feeling. We were well provided but we were incomplete.

We grew up knowing that every grain we put inside our mouth, every shirt we wear, and every penny we spent in school equate to every tear our fathers shed, every sweat in their brow, and every chilly night spent alone. Though at first, we weren't aware. Like most OFW children, we were spared the gruesome realities of our fathers' OFW lives. So when our eyes were opened to their hardships, we learned the value of hard work and perseverance. Their long absence has taught us patience; that there will always be times of waiting for someone, or no one. Their being away gave us freedom and the chance to explore that freedom to our heart's content. We felt the silent trust they gave while we were facing the world with both eagerness and caution. We became street smart, out to tend on our own. Yes, we were alone but never lonely because we also have our mothers and relatives who love us and somehow prevented us from rebelling. Our fathers' love was channeled through these wonderful people. Love, after all, knows no bounds.

Being raised in the homeland has also done wonders for us. We were never deprived of playgrounds, friends, and Filipino cuisine. We knew our culture, history and geography. We were never left without our national identity. We've been parts of historic events and we've experienced how it is to become a Filipino. Of course, these too much freedom and exposure have also given us reasons to take them for granted and abuse them in various ways. We were never the perfect OFW children and citizens. We committed mistakes and caused problems but in our hearts we knew that we have become half of what our fathers and motherland have envisioned their children to be. The rest is now being spent in proving ourselves to our selves.

Raised in the Kingdom
1989: E and her dad

Six years old was just about the time that I was beginning to develop my long-term memory and ever since I could remember, I’ve always considered Riyadh as my home. My father was fortunate enough to bring me and my mother to Saudi Arabia right after the Gulf War had subsided. Thrilled at the idea of riding a plane to be with my father, little did I know that ten years would pass before I would ride another one again. - Eyecandy
I grew up (up to my teens) as an only child, fed and bred in the best way my parents could afford. Despite not growing up in a “normal” environment…such as never learning how to ride a bike, climb a tree or play on the streets…I’d like to think that I grew up “normal” nevertheless. Back in the day, TFC was not yet around to give me an idea of what kids my age back in the Philippines were like. For me, what I had around me was the norm. I considered it the norm to wear an abaya every time I went out, to not have malls and cinemas and theme parks, to be escorted everywhere by my father, and to just have a “school-bahay-school-bahay” routine-type of existence. This happened because my family never went home for vacations, so my formative years were purely spent on Saudi soil. I didn’t mind the apparent “restrictions” of Saudi life because it’s all I ever knew. Besides, my parents never let me feel deprived of anything. In fact, I knew I was a very lucky girl. Too lucky sometimes, I guess.

One of the things that I realized about my growing up abroad is that kids like me were raised with a terribly abundant lifestyle. We are showered with anything and everything that our hearts desired because we are in a country that allows our parents to give them to us. But this sense of “giving us a better life or a life they never had” can be a double-edged sword. I can’t help but notice that most children who grew up abroad develop a sense of entitlement without a cause. We’ve never experienced a sense of hardship to get what we want/have. I’m referring to the idea that we are not surrounded by poverty and challenging living conditions. Unlike the children who did grow up in the Philippines, they know firsthand what it’s like to hold on to every penny and use it wisely, they know what it’s like to live through a flood, a blackout or a theft in the streets. They know that if they don’t study hard enough and finish school, they won’t get a shot at a better life. Unfortunately for most of the children raised in Riyadh, we have this notion that our parents will provide for us no matter what. We know that we won’t run out of money, food and clothing. I see it to our disadvantage that somehow, we were not immersed in an environment that innately motivates us to be more determined, street smart and/or thriftier. I say all this based from my own experience. It is not that I am ungrateful for everything that my parents have worked hard for me to have and enjoy. But if I want to be able to give my own children someday the same privileges that I have had, then I must be given the opportunity to realize the value of trials and tribulations.

It is a blessing indeed to be with our families here abroad. I am sure that it warms our parents’ hearts that during dinnertime, we are all complete at the kitchen table. I may have grown up to have both my OFW parents by my side, but I suppose the kind of absence that I endured is that of a deeper sense of what it means to be a Filipino. It is the nurturing that only a nation can yield. I lived on my own in the Philippines for more than four years and despite it not being the "better" kind of life that I was used to, I believe that despite of that, I became a better person and even a better citizen of my own country.

As children raised abroad, I can only hope that we find it in ourselves to realize what it really means to be a Filipino. Yes, we are all extremely blessed and abundant in all our neccessities. Heck, we're probably even set by parents to not worry about a thing when we grow older. But that shouldn't keep us oblivious to what our culture and nation is, and it's expectation from US--the next generation OFWs--and what are we going to do about it. We should also keep in mind what our parents have done and gone through to be able to bring us all together in that kitchen table along with the food that we eat. And should we be so lucky, someday, we will be strong and hardworking enough to do the same for our own families.

All Grown Up

The country benefiting from the Filipino diaspora is just a by-product, it wasn't the primary reason why parents leave the homeland. First and foremost, it's for their families. Our families. To pack up and go doesn't speak of our father's identity as a nationalistic Filipino. It speaks a lot about our fathers being courageous men whose priority in life is their family. Lucky are those whose parents do not need to go abroad to provide for their families. For OFW children like us, we should feel luckier because we have parents who are willing to sacrifice their happiness for us. Admire their courage and turn their absence into something constructive rather than destructive. Distance should never be seen as a hindrance to grow up to our best potentials as persons. After all, our parents are only providing for our present. Our future entirely depends on us.

Filipino children raised in other countries, always remember whom and where you came from. Open your eyes to the hard work and sacrifices made by your parents to bring you to a new land. Do not forget your Filipino identity. After all, being born and raised in another country doesn't limit your capacity to love your nationality. You are living in a world with no borders, with limitless possibilities where everyone is an extension of a particular race. One day, like your parents, you will come HOME and that's probably one of the most wonderful feeling in this world.

OFW children have different stories to tell. But whatever our stories tell about us and our families, what became of us is the main part of the story our fathers will tell to the whole world. We are the outcome of their sacrifice twenty years ago. We are the fruits of our fathers' labor in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Kaming mga anak ng Saudi OFWs ang tunay na katas ng Saudi... and we hope that how we turned out was well-worth the sacrifice.

*If you liked our article, do vote for us at the Pinoy Expats Blog Awards 2009. Simply click the link, go to #28 PINK TARHA GIRLS on the nominees list, tick off the box and Submit Vote. Thank you! :)

batang bata ka pa - apo hiking society

Thursday, August 13, 2009

That Little Something, Something

I think I never said this enough. The Pink Tarha Ladies love accessories, so much so that every foray in the mall gets us a little something that makes our wardrobe reek with color and bling. Whether it be jewelry (surprisingly, no one among us is into Saudi gold), bags, scarves, hair accessories... we get out of the mall with a thing or two. There will always be that something every day that gets our attention. You'll be surprised how much we say "Uy, ang ganda ng (fill in accessory name here) mo!" Usually, it's the shoes of shoegarfreeruby, headbands of eyecandy, and colorful clips of maryhadalittlehump.

Over the past few months, I bought some accessories I fancied. Some were even bought in Al-Khobar's Al-Rashid Mall, just to commemmorate E and I's train ride to the Eastern province (I'm sentimental like that). Some were bought during the sale season (I probably uttered the words "sale season" a hundred times now you might think it's my favorite term this time.. oh right, it is!). ANyway, here are some of my fave items:

Vintage-looking "suitcase"

That's in quotation marks because this one is made of ultra hard cardboard so it's not really a suitcase. I love how dainty this looks. Ya think I can pull off a prim and proper look when using this? Wait, I am a prim and proper lady naman in the first place! Hehe. :P

Accessories from Forever 21

There's no Forever 21 here in Riyadh (boo!) so I got these stuff from Forever 21 in Al-Rashid Mall. They're pretty cheap at SR9 each.

Layered necklaces from Promod

I've been wanting to buy these necklaces since I saw them. It was love at first sight but alas, it wasn't just meant to be because price got in the way. But now that they went on sale... it was love rekindled! Hehe. (Yeah,that sounded like yours truly is sooo cheap. :P) I wore the green necklace on our corporate attire Monday.

Bag from Accessorize

I love Accessorize but sometimes, the prices are just waaay out of league. Like, how can those headbands and hair flowers be priced at SR56 each?! C'mon! But in fairness, their gypsy-like, embroidered bags were all the rage the past months. Again, I cannot bear to look at the price tags then. Now, it's more bearable because their bags and accessories went 70% off. I bought this summery basket bag for a friend. I know our native bags in Pinas are way better than this but I'm sure my friend will like this just the same. Hehe.

That's it for me and my purchases this month. You can all heave a sigh of relief now that we're done bombarding you with sale items. Besides, the sale season is over so entries on shopping and retail therapy will start to dwindle on this blog from hereon. Ta-ta!

Huh?! What eyecandy? You have another power shopping entry? Hmn, can't really blame you. Post on! :P

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dining DUO Style

The Pink Tarha Team have had their enormous share of steaks, sushi, and shawarmas (that's American, Japanese and Middle-Eastern food). It's time for some European flair, must I say? Enter...

Located on the outskirts of Riyadh's city center, the extra drive to Exit 5 may well be worth your time. DUO serves a combination of fine French-Italian cuisine, aimed to awaken our senses to an authentic French and Italian experience. To begin with, the open dining area is the closest you can get to an al fresco feel with it's high, glass ceiling allowing natural light into the room. The yellow-painted walls are adorned with window panes carrying green fauna and the cobblestone-like floors and indoor light lamps are reminiscent of the streets of Italy. The ambiance is a fresh retreat from the overcrowded restaurants of the metro. It must be those high ceilings that make all the difference.

The entire restaurant is extremely spacious, also allotting seating area for those who would prefer closed dining. There is a second level, where the "Playstation" for children is located along with a couple of banquet halls that are available for corporate events or personal parties.

We arrived at DUO at around 6pm, and it wasn't a busy time just yet. As we sat on the wood-crafted, outdoorsy furniture browsing through the menu, we were served with complimentary fresh bread with mustard and olive spread.

For starters, we ordered DUO's delectable fruit drinks, concocted right off from their open bar. (No, unfortunately, there is no red or white wine with cheese to boot). They had an open salad bar though, which shows off their garden-fresh vegetable selection and several other healthy options.

DUO's Fruit Cocktails: Ciao (orange, banana and strawberry syrup), Monot (orange, pineapple and grapefruit) and Duo (orange, pineapple, apple, lemon and grenadine) at 18 SR each.

The salad bar was well-maintained and boasted of only the finely prepped vegetables. Fill up your plate for 25SR. Well worth the freshness!

From S, some crab meat, boiled egg, sweet corn, cheese and lettuce (there's some macaroni salad underneath too).

For J, some cherry tomatoes, fresh pineapples, lettuce and boiled egg. Looks delish, eh?

For me, French onion soup served in a round french bread with melted cheese for 15SR.

We had a good chit-chat as we waited for our food to arrive. The open dining area is open for smokers so if you are a "sunog-baga", feel free to puff a ciggie away just like the French do. Ahh, now for the main course:

A duo-style pizza. As the manager explained to us, DUO translates to "two" or a combination of two things. In their restaurant, it is the fusion of French and Italian food. In this pizza's case, it's the coming together of an Al Salmone pizza with a classic Pepperoni pizza. Al Salmone is made up of smoked salmon slices lying on a bed of tomato and cream sauce, mozarella cheese and rocket leaves. That bit was a hot item for us, as the tender salmon went well with the textured and mildly-spicy rocket leaves. I can't remember how much it was for a half-of-each pizza, but the price range of their pizzas go from 32SR to 48SR for 8 slices.

Chicken breast with 3 pepper sauce (42SR). Personally, we didn't think highly of this dish. It is after all...chicken. But what made this intricately different from your regular grilled chicken breast is the sauce and the spices used. According to the manager, the sauce was the most difficult one to prepare in the chicken section. The vegetables were scrumptious and sweet.

Spinach ravioli (42SR). Behold one of the definite highlights of our dinner: stuffed pasta with spinach in tomato and cream sauce. It was a very light and tasty dish. I wanted the cream sauce to linger on my mouth a bit longer...very delicious and I would highly recommend this dish to any vegetarian out there. :D Yum-OH!

Escalope Cordon Bleu (66SR). Here we have, pan fried breaded beef escalope stuffed with turkey ham and Gruyere cheese (a kind of Swiss/French cheese), served with mashed potatoes. Once we got over the slightly pungent scent, we thoroughly enjoyed the savory thinned meat. A bite size of this went well with the creamy mashed potatoes.

The girls and I shared the main courses and didn't fill ourselves up too much (hindi pa ba?!) because upon a friend's claim that their desserts are equally fulfilling, we decided to leave some space for the real goodies to come rolling in...Their dessert menu was composed of mostly French desserts, here is what we had:

I ordered this homemade strawberry cheesecake (25SR) and it really came off as light and fresh. The cream is fine and the strawberries were ripe and huge! This kind of cheesecake has a stark difference from the commercially-made cheesecakes we usually feast on at the mall. Apparently, french-style cheesecake are really light.

Creme Brulee (25SR). Creme Brulee is actually french for "burnt cream" and its preparation does require a bit of burning, so to speak, by caramelizing the sugar on top by using a small, kitchen butane torch. Now you've probably tasted leche flan before right? This is pretty much its posh, elegant, rich sister. It is essentially made of custard, only in this case, only the finer and fresher ingredients are used. I would imagine this better with some fruits to go with it. But on its own, I would say that there is nothing too special about its recipe.

Profiteroles with chocolate sauce (18SR). This towering piece of desert love is made up of cream puff pastry (aka "Profiteroles") in between generous scoops of vanilla ice cream. It was too picture perfect that we almost didn't want to dive our spoons into it. But we can't help it, this dessert is too much of a temptation to be left alone melting in its glory. It's not too sweet but it's quite addicting.

Now we originally didn't order this next desert, but when Chef Faisal, whom we were fortunate enough to meet, insisted that we try this, we just couldn't say no. He even said that he will prepare it himself! Chef Faisal is the Head Chef of the restaurant and also stars on his own cooking show on the Saudi cable network. Fancy huh?

Meet the Chocolate Fondant (25SR)
[Enter halo and cherubims singing]

Without a shadow of a doubt, this chocolate fondant is the Piece de Resistance of DUO's dessert list. Think Lava Cake, only a thousand times better! The cake is cooked to perfection and the chocolate that pours out of it is simply smooth and rich. It may appear to be one of those things that can give you instant diabetes, but I swear to you, it is not too sweet as it looks. We learned that all the chocolates used in their restaurant are made from Swiss chocolates that they purchase in block-form. For any order they prepare, they create it from scratch from these imported blocks of chocolate. One of us described this as, "Simply DIVINE! " while I commented that, "I would LOVE to eat this off someone". Yum. Yum. Yum. After tasting this chocolate fondant, we guarantee that we will never EVER taste chocolate and chocolate cake the same way again.

And you thought dessert would mark the end of our dining? Oh not just yet. :P What Italian experience would be complete without a sip of coffee? Or better known as their "espresso". This also gave us some more time to talk and let all the spirit of good food and good company take over us that evening. Isn't that how the Italians do it?

Mocha Viennois (12SR). S enjoyed this coffee made of cafe mocha and cream very much. She wished she had more space in her stomach to drink this down to the last drop.

Cafe Caracas (12 SR). Another tall order of coffee, vanilla ice cream and cream for our friend, J. It is pretty much like dessert part II really. But the coffee somehow jolted us a bit from our pending lethargy from all the food that we've consumed.

Cappuccino (8SR). This cup of capp is for me. One of the little things I love about any java cup is the little details, such as the foam and that sprinkle of cinnamon on top. Ahh, this was the perfect way to end such a lovely dining experience.

DUO is definitely not your ordinary restaurant. But don't let the extravagant interiors and fine dishes intimidate you. They surely have something for everyone: kids, couples, friends/co-workers, even large family gatherings. As me and the girls say, "Try something new everyday"...and look where it took us! A little indulgence once in a while wouldn't hurt. (especially when it comes to great food!) Rest assured, everything that we had at DUO was fresh and intricately prepared. The service was attentive and respectful, the space was unique and serene, and the food...well, you read our post and saw the pictures! What else can we say?

Spend your next special occasion at a place that makes everything special: DUO.



North Ring Road, Exit 5 (near Le Mall)

Tel: 01-200-6868
Fax: 01-456-0583

Soon to open in Jeddah!
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