WARNING: Two Thirds of the Engineers Working in the Middle East Suffer from HIV?

OFW Engineer with HIV

What the hell is HIV?    It is not the dreaded disease you think it is.   The social circuit called it the:

  Hair Is Vanishing “
It is common to see Engineers in the workplace showing a receding Hair Bangs or a diminishing Top Hair.  Certainly, they came from various age groups usually ranging from 30 – 55 yrs old.  Though, it is quite unusual to see this day some younger engineer gradually experiencing this HIV phenomenon - as what they called it is.   Anyhow, we know for sure that the cause of this depends on many factors under the sun, some of which may include heredity, environment, stress and lifestyle.  

However, most of my colleagues are now beginning to accept this fate and gladly justify the benefits more than the social dilemma it will take.    One Engineer proudly says, “You know my friend this is a sign of Accumulated Wisdom brought by many quality experience and trainings in various Engineering Projects in the Middle East...”   No doubt about that, and I did not anymore challenge that statement, or else I might be in trouble. 

Stage 4 HIV??
Nevertheless, others will not accept this HIV thing, and will do whatever it takes to find ways or solutions to reclaim their hair using some expensive hair grower products available in the market today, or for desperate ones, using the customized, fully fitted, removable hair solution they called “WIG”.   There is no bad thing about trying all these means to claim their crowning glory.  And it just goes to show that indeed, they do not like to join the association of Mr. Clean which is the unsung organization of the (BHP) Bald Headed People being shown in a popular detergent brand long time ago.  The choice is theirs.   

Well nowadays, time changed, it is now highly accepted and even admired in the sports and fashion industry for this skin head style of hair cut.  Look in TV, Print Media and the Internet; it is almost everywhere.   It is now becoming a fad rather than a stigma.   Even those with a blessed hair wanted to make a change to this bald look hair cut style,  in which one can feel and  look like a tough guy, rugged, masculine look Engineer where every Nurses in the kingdom will not hesitate to take a second look.   

From Left:  Engr. Juvinil, HR Officer  Allan, Engr Wilson Zabala, Document Control Expert

So, what it is in it for the Engineers out there who have HIV?   Simple.  Just relax, Be Yourself, Have some fun and Be proud of your God given Bald Shining Head.  Be thankful that you will not any more experience dandruff.  You do not need any more to buy shampoos; conditioner, gel and comb to maintain your hair which means extra money save in your pocket to buy other stuff.   Best of all, you will also look like young and a baby forever.   Not to mention, the animal appeal and the irresistible softness your shining head may bring to the lady’s finger touch.  What a wonderful and refreshing feeling!   Lucky You… Kalbo!!

Till my next post,

Seize the Day,
Allan Laranang

What Are The Drawings For?

From Left To Right:  Interior Design Expert Architect Arnel Paguio,  Internet Expert Engr Allan Laranang,  Lighting Expert Engr Angel Daguio

Drawings are always part of Engineer’s work.   Come to think of it, there will be no drawings without engineers or vice versa.    This will constitute the plans, implementation and commissioning of the project.   It will surely make or break the outcome of the project.  

From Left To Right:  Lighting Design Expert Angel Daguio, Power Design Expert Noel Esportlas, Interior Design Expert Architect Arnel Paguio
Furthermore,   what really are the types of the drawings typically produced by these talented Engineers:

Design Drawings
It is also commonly called Tender Drawings.   It is produced using the conceptual design based on the criteria set by the owner, consultant or designers in accordance with the international codes and standards.  These drawings are also the basis for the bill of quantities necessary to estimate the cost of the project.

Shop Drawings
These drawings are produced by the contractor to define the detailed plan and  constructability of the design drawings.   It is commonly drafted with utmost details such as precise clearance measurement, length, elevation and sizes of the materials to be used for the installation, taking into consideration the approved specification and standards.  The approved materials and equipment by the consultant and the owner shall also be included in this drawings.

As Built Drawings
These are the drawings already installed, inspected and approved at site.   The Site  QC Engineer or the  Project Engineer will conduct red line of the shop drawings  to indicate the actual field installation.  It may or may not change the drawn shop drawings.    These drawings are submitted as part of the handing over after the successful commissioning of the project and  stamped as AS Built.
To sum it up, each drawing as shown above is equally important that complete the process of project completion.   It complements each other, provides direction and reference to any succeeding steps in the construction and project management.
Inset:  Allan Laranang explaining to the Team the importance of Numbers in generating the required drawings.  That's why they called it ENGINEERING!!!
 Till my Next Post,
Seize the Day,

Allan Laranang

Vacation Time in the Yuletide Season

Flight Going Home
Did you know that there are only 3 important days OFW Engineers are always waiting for?  

So, what are those...  These are the Friday,  the Payday and finally the Vacation Day.   Seems like an ordinary, but it is indeed a big deal for me and for every OFW Engineers out there.   The Fridays provided the needed day off after  a week of back breaking work.  The Payday is actually the same as the remittance day.  It is what we came here for, to trade our time, knowledge and skills.   You can check my previous post about remittance here.

Lastly, the Vacation day.   After  a half year or a full year working in the middle east depending on the agreed contract,  there is no other sweetest moment like going home.  I've been in and out of the country for quiet some time now, but it is always the scene of going for vacation that really excites me most!  As soon as I receive my plane ticket,  I begin to think of gifts to buy, things to do and other family activities I terribly miss so much. 

With my colleagues at the Airport Lounge, waiting for boarding.
The moment I set foot in the lobby of the airport prior to boarding, and hear the voice message from the public address speaker saying, "  All passengers of KX 471 bound for Manila, All Passsengers of KX 471 bound for  Manila,  please proceed to Gate No. 14......... followed by an exit tone"  I got excited already.  It is indeed a classic musical piece for me.  I would love to record that as my ring tone later.

Delayed Flight,  I'm starving
Even on the instance that my flight encounters delay,  I love chatting with my colleagues in the airport lounge on what will be our vacation plans and other life's topics that prevent us from getting bored.  Oh yeah, I like window shopping in the duty free shops too!   But here in Riyadh and Kuwait, you can not find wines and liquors for sale.   Next time, I would like to connect via HK or Bahrain.

Getting ready for long flight going home

Inside the plane,  I would enjoy the food, the movies and sometimes playing games in the sit console.   The moment the pilot announced  "  Ladies and Gentlemen,  in just a short while we will landing NAIA 1 International Airport,  the temperature is 26 Deg C, please fasten your seatbelt..."  This time I got excited again!

Looks like we are now going to land.

The moment the plane landing gear touch down the runway,   I got carried away by the cheers and clapping of my fellow OFW'sWe know this is it.  We just arrived.  I knew then, I will now be seeing my wife, waiting for me in the arrival area.   This is not yet the end of our journey.  It will just be the beginning of our much awaited vacation we are all waiting for.

Our Plane just landed.
When I finally meet my wife and we sealed a kiss,   this is now the start of my vacation and for sure that would be a different story to tell.  Surely, it will be great to spend my vacation this time especially in this yuletide season. 

A Blessed Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone !!! :-)

Till my next post.

Seize the Day,

Allan B. Laranang


Desert Engineers @ Play

Desert Walk
Who says a Desert is like a dry, quiet, and a boring place?   

That was what I thought it is before we hit the road going to the  place called Red Sand  100 + km from the city of Riyadh.   I was really amazed of the wide mountains of desert sand which is sculptured by the wind and formed slope along side each other.    It resembles the stock of brown sugar placed in the dining table for the sticky rice cake.  It is nice to come here when the summer time is just beginning to cool down and starting to enter the winter season.  This place is the favorite spot of OFW's during Eid holiday to unwind and play like a kid.

Girls just wanna have Fun!
Here you can find the ladies without wearing their avayas,  walking in the sand, chatting with friends, picture taking and driving the exciting motor quad bike.   The sand is so fine that you feel like walking in the bunch of cotton.   There are enterprising locals renting quad motor bikes of various sizes which you can negotiate for  SR 50 to SR 80 per hour.   Some folks who have a 4 wheel drive vehicle used it to drive in the sand and challenged the contours and slopes of the mountains.  Though, you should see to it that you have reduced the air pressure in your  4 wheels before you dare trying.  Or else,  you get the possibility of being stuck in the sand or worse,  damaging your power transmission.

This is really my first time to drive a quad bike especially here in a wide desert red sand.    When I adjusted on the feel and control of my brakes, steering and acceleration,  I did try to race with my colleagues,  climbed the steep hill and challenged the downward slope.   Oh man,  what a feeling!   I admit I nearly fall from the bike when the  wheel got stuck in the sand and I lose control of the handle.

My Colleague Pinoy Engineers

Over all,  it was great!  The timing is right to become a kid again.  It is also a way to de-stress myself and overcome my fears.   I can say that this desert I experienced is no doubt a cool, noisy and fun!

I look forward to coming back again here next time.

Till my next post,

Seize the Day,

Allan B. Laranang


Remittances Receipt
Over $12B annual remittances of the OFW came from these remittances receipt even though they do not pay taxes to the Philippine Government.
During paycheck time, OFW's flock to every remittance center here in KSA.  Each one will have to withstand the long lines to be able to send money to their families back home.  Sometimes, the money is still smoking hot, fresh from the cash machines or from their company payroll, straight to desired remittance booth.  Money left will be for his daily household allowance and for some amusement expenses.  
Remittance Center with my colleague

This figure of remittances will keep on rising because of the continuous influx of second generation OFW’s now joining the OFW bandwagon.  No wonder the economic experts baptized them, as the new heroes of the 21 st century.  It is really hard to ignore that they are now becoming the primary fuel to drive the Philippine economic growth.  According to the owner of a prime developer of real state company quoted as saying,  if it so happen that there will be a decline for the demand of OFW’s working abroad.  He said; he will immediately put on hold or completely stop all his real state projects to prevent possible losses.
 A typical town in the countryside with a demographics composed mainly of OFW beneficiaries will surely make a dent to the local businesses if these remittances will not reached the recipient in due time.  Just imagine the scenario if the banks did not receive the money from the OFWs:

  • Construction stopped because the developers do not get paid.
  • Increase of expired grocery food inventory because of low sales.
  • Students will not take exams because of non paying of tuition fees
  •   Deferred payment of loans.
  •  No more take out pizzas or burgers.
  •  Postpone parties and out of town picnics.
  • Barbers will play more chess games than cutting hair.
  • Tricycle drivers will spend more time in the waiting shed rather than on the road.
  • The yaya will not get paid.
  •  No more tip for the waiters/waitresses in the restaurant.
  •   Grumpy lenders will keep knocking on the door.
  •  Internet service connection will be interrupted.
  •  Cellphones will just be use as a calculator, alarm clock, radio and camera.

  • Dogs wont stop barking, asking for more meat bones in their left over foods.

Have you seen the point here?   It is just One Word…  It is the Economy people!
So, why is it that there was a fervent move to tax the OFW’s by certain individuals( mostly politicians)?   Because of the number… man!   To date,  OFWs around the world totalled to around 8 million and counting.   More than 1 million of which is from Saudi Arabia alone.   If you only collect $ 1 per person, that is a staggering $8M every single month to the government coffer.
There are a lot of debates surrounding this issue.  But one thing for sure, if you ask me or most of the OFW’s out there, the definite answer would be a resounding big  NO!!.   Knowing that the government will cut the portion of my hard earned paycheck is not anymore appealing and will surely demotivates the majority already working away from their family.
I am more than happy to pay for my real state tax, value added tax, professional tax, insurance tax, business tax, but please… not anymore to the fixed withholding tax deducted to my paycheck. I’ve been there and done that already. I do not remember smiling when I line up to pay for my withholding tax long time ago to the BIR. Why? My wife was not smiling to my paycheck either.   Leave that to those still happy working in the Philippines who might be someday by a sudden course of nature decided to also work overseas.
For now,  I’ve got big smile in line paying for my remittances because I know I make a difference in the economy as a whole and at the same time, also making my wife happy with a big smile going to the Bank. : -))

Till my next post.

Seize the Day,

Allan Laranang


 Box of Love

Have you seen similar box like this before?   This is no ordinary box. There's something about this box that is deeper than we knew the contents are.  It stands as one of the many symbols of the OFW phenomenon in this time.   This box will be transported many miles across the skies from OFW abroad to his  beloved family back home.

Surely, the content of this box will bring big smiles and cheers to the keen receiver who had waited sooooooo….. much for this thing to arrive.    This may be sent because of the OFW wife birthday presents, anniversary gifts, or just the manifestation or expression of his enduring love to his son or daughter who were consistent to call about their wishes and populating his email inbox with precise detail pictures of what they really want.

Most of the list items that the OFW Engineer painstakingly fill inside the box are the common stuff like toys, clothings,  rubber shoes, perfumes, chocolates,  electronic items, kitchen wares, books, hardware tools etc..  Items like these are really a lot cheaper here compare to buying at home.  Plus,  OFWs find some stuff that is  hard to find elsewhere.  It takes a lot of skills to organize this stuff inside the box considering every space as much as possible to maximize the freight cost.   Here in KSA,  the average cost of freight to the Philippines is SR 6 to SR 7 per kg, depending on your location ( Manila or Province ). 

When this box finally arrives in the Philippines  it shall be the center of attraction among the family members.   Probably,  meals may be skipped,  television may be shut off, cell phone calls and text message may be ignored, to make sure they will not miss anything from the opening ceremony.   If only you can install a spy audio transmitter, you can eavesdrop the various voices......  saying:

“    Ang dami naman tape….. hirap buksan, akin na gunting  “
“   Ayun nakita ko na yung akin. Yung kulay orange na may check!!  “
“   Tsarannnnn!  Wow!    ganda kasyang kasya….”
“   Eh,  Asan na yung akin ay.........”
“  Sandali,  mayroon pa sa ilalim….  “
“  Sarap netong chocolate, ang tatak sulat parang bulate ???  “
“  Gusto ko ito , tamang tama pang exercise ko… “
“  Yehey!,  gagamitin ko na yang bagong bag ko sa school bukas ano…."
“ Oy, yung chocolates bigyan mo mga classmates mo ah…
“  May alak ba dyan?    Walaaa, bawal dun yun.
                “ Tawag nyo na Daddy nyo. thank you na kayo….” 

Seeing them happier and full of joy is more than enough for the OFW Engineer to compensate his love for his family.   It is not that he makes them become spoiled brat or something, that make them love the box more than the sender of the box. It is  only his way of mirroring his image to show that say " hey, I am still  here, I am still around, I may be far away, but I am looking after you all the time and I will always love you whatever it takes..."  So sweet so cool!...  

He wanted them to know that the box is just the symbol of his unconditional love for them.  That whatever the contents are, it is his way of giving back the love to his family for praying for him in his work,  staying faithful,  studying well and doing  good  all the time.   

The next time you see this kind of box somewhere, paused for a minute and utter blessing and prayer to the sender.  Wherever he is right now,  he will always be blessed.  That he may always be in good health and still succumbs to his previous deepest reason why he chose to be an OFW.   That he will not seek a second, a third or fourth family.  That he will stick to his first one and only family who truly deserved to receive the OFW Engineer's Greatest Love of All....

Till my Next Post.

Seize the Day,

Allan Laranang 


Here in the Middle East,  life is not just work and work harder.   We were also given the opportunity to take a break,  actually a  5 day  long break.   Thanks to Eid Mubarak Holiday.   Our team of engineers took this chance to go to khobar beach for that most needed respite from the four corners of our office.

3 Days 2 Nights Trip to Khobar

It was a long  5 hours drive to Khobar from  Riyadh.   In the stretch of the road, looking at your left and right window was just a plain, infinite, dark orange desert sand.    We saw a big number of  self supporting camels scattered like a buffalo.  I don't know if they are wild or being taken cared of by somebody. And,   I wonder how they survive the scorching heat of the sun! 

Even inside the coaster, obviously' as we are all very excited to reach our destination, we already started to have  some fun.  Typical pinoy stuff  for men like singing, role playing,  fun stories, picture takings and sleeping were among the antidotes to ignore the agony of prolonged sitting position.

On average, we were able to utilize 4  stop overs for gas refilling,  chai or latte drinking and emptying our gall bladders.    We noticed  that a lot of our kababayans were heading to the same destination like ours.  Just an indication, that even outside of our country, pinoys can always find ways to have some fun.

When it became visible to us the panoramic view of the Khobar beach coastlines,  our sleepy mode suddenly switched to high energy chanting mode of excitement.    Each like saying, Alright!   This is it!   I wanna plunge my tired ass in that salt water...  It was not that beautiful like our Boracay beach, but just enough to cool down our physical engines.

Ever wonder why food taste great in the Beach?    Because soaking your body to salt water and burning calories from swimming, running, walking and laughing will fine tuned your mouth to crave for that sizzling barbecue, grilled meat,  pancit, fish sinigang, bulalo, water melons and sodas.

After our daytime fun in the beach, we proceeded to the khobar city proper for mall tour and scout for some bargain shopping.   They've got many sales offer this time from 50% to 70%  perhaps mainly because of the Eid holiday season.    I was able to buy some beach sandals, shorts and shirts at a very low price. 

We  checked in to our hotel in the center downtown of Khobar to relax a bit after a day of  escapade.   Our hotel room  was not that classy, but just enough to get shower, cook and sleep.   The service was superb and unbelievable!  They booked two clients in one rooom?.  Arrghh!   Anyway, we got our room after hustling with the receptionist.

Going to Khobar without visiting the beautiful corniche area near the coast lines can be a missed opportunity.  In the morning sunrise, the park was really clean, beautiful and quiet.  It is ideal for a morning walk, jog  or just to meditate.  With a nice landscape, lagoon matched with fountains, popular restaurants nearby,  and some decorative external lightings,   I think it would be much better viewing this area at night.   

Did you know that the country of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia is just separated by a bridge?   It is known as the King Fahd Causeway.  The bridge is composed of four lane road, 25 km long and approximately 23 m wide according to Wikipedia.   We enjoyed the view which is breathtaking  when traversing the long bridge in the middle of a sparkling blue water.  It is indeed, no doubt...   a wonderful masterpiece of Engineering Ingenuity!

We spend our last night mostly in the beach.   The sea water was calm and warm which was really ideal for relaxing while floating, watching the glittering star light  in the sky and  just simply lying down there in the soft sand.

It was really a satisfying trip for all of us.  Our batteries are all fully charge again for going back to work.  Hopefully in the next Eid, we will be having another day out.  For sure,  pinoy engineers are always looking forward to a lot of fun after a back breaking work.   It served as a reward to our sacrifices, hardwork and patience while working here in the middle east.

Thank you for viewing...

Till my next post.

Allan Laranang