Saturday, May 31, 2008

BJ Fabricante wins Mukha ng Pinoy!

We’re supposed to administer the month-long summer festival of a mall in Batha last night (actually, it was our 2nd week already) but we sneaked out early since two of our friends and protégées (JC Manuel and BJ Fabricante) will compete to the “Search for Mukha ng Pinoy 2009 para sa Kalendaryong Pilipino” in Al Fawaq Science International School.

JC was G. Pilipinas Riyadh 2005 and featured as one of the desert hunks. Actually, we always support him in all his shows and competitions. In return, whenever we need his expertise to fix our laptops/PCs and do some graphic designs, he is always there to help us.

Johnny “BJ” Fabricante was G. Maharlika Jeddah 2004. He was working before in a newly-opened Jeddah Hilton Hotel, which is owned/managed by our company. Actually, that time, my boss was trying to convince me to work in Jeddah Hilton. He offered me a hefty salary package, but I declined because I just feel not comfortable working in Western province.

We watched the show from the start while enduring patiently the terrible heat inside. It was already late afternoon, but the tremendous temperature was too extreme.

Seeing the candidates one by one during the first appearance in their regional costume, BJ and JC stood noticingly among the rest of the male contestants. I know one of them will be the winner. BJ’s handsomeness and lofty height (6’2”) and JC’s mestizo-looks were their matchless possessions.

During the final Q&A, JC was asked about the issue of divorce in the Philippines and he immediately said that he favors divorce in order for the couples to veer away from domestic problems and start new life, while BJ’s, without any qualm expressed his objection on the same-sex marriages because of religion. However, he asked for indulgence from the audience since some of the crowds may feel upset of what he believes. On the contrary, his answer was well delivered and made him the first Mukha ng Pinoy titleholder. JC’s got the 2nd runner-up title.

Well, the show might not be as grandiose and well-orchestrated compared to the G. PIlipinas Saudi Arabia search, but I appreciate the effort of Sining Pinoy. There were productions lapses, technical glitches and uncontinuity of the program, but I guess the Sining Pinoy should take their first show as a challenge to improve more.

More pictures of BJ once I officially proclaim him as a desert hunk soon…

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Cross-dressers collared in crackdown

There is an emerging trend of men dressed as women and vice versa in the UAE markets and streets and police in Dubai have arrested several men and women for cross-dressing in what they said was a campaign to preserve the social values of the cosmopolitan Gulf Arab trade and tourism hub.

The detainees were being referred to the public prosecutor as part of the one-week campaign called "Preserve Our Social Values", though it was not clear what charges would be brought.

Dubai is part of the seven-member United Arab Emirates, a Muslim country where cross-dressing is frowned upon but whose population is dominated by migrants with diverse backgrounds and lifestyles.It is a city of sky-scrapers and mega-developments, which attracts foreign workers ranging from well-paid Western executives to low-wage Asian labourers. Tourists may wear bikinis and drink cocktails at hotel nightclubs but sex outside marriage is banned as is homosexual behaviour.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


The way you whisper in my ear is so seductive.
The way our fingers fit between each other.
So seductive the way you move.
Its so seductive the way I kiss you.
As you begin to lick me.
I start to moan.
So seductive, the way I scream your name.
So seductive the way we make love.
I'm so seduced by your sexiness.
So seductive under the silky sheets.
So seduced by your love.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

MRP to be launched at the Embassy

Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Antonio P. Villamor

The Philippine Embassy wishes to inform the Filipino community as well as all Saudi companies and individuals employing Filipino workers that, upon instruction by the Department of Foreign Affairs, it is scheduled to begin the implementation of the Machine Readable Passport project on 31 May 2008.

Following are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the MRP, for guidance:

What is MRP?

A machine-readable passport is a passport where the data on the identity page is encoded in optical character recognition format, and is capable of being read by a passport machine reader at international borders.

Why MRP?

One of the benefits of having an MRP is the faster processing of arriving passengers by immigration officials at ports or borders.

Moreover, MRP is more secure compared to manually read passports that preceded them. The public can rest assured that it is tamper-resistant and fully compliant with the standards and requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The Philippine MRP, which comes in maroon cover, also has more pages (44) than the old, green passport (32).

What are some of the security features of the MRP?

The security features of the Philippine MRP include, but are not limited to, the following:

1) watermarked paper and colored fibers
2) ultraviolet (UV)-reactive inks
3) a combination of security prints, such as fine lines with modulation, guilloche design, art screen and dash effects and microtext
4) laser-perforated alpha-numeric serial numbers
5) security laminates that are ultra thin with strong adhesion to prevent chemical, thermal or mechanical forgery
6) high-level origination and high image definition
7) high security animated and color switch optical imaging
8) nano imaging

All relevant government agencies as well as foreign governments have been fully apprised of the features of the new Philippine passport and are thus able to detect forgeries and discrepancies which are prejudicial to those using forged or fake passports.

What are the important changes in the procedure of application for MRP?

Many OFWs have been quite familiar with the requirements and procedure for passport application. However, some significant changes have been introduced into the process of applying for and securing an MRP, to wit:

1) Personal appearance is required for everyone applying for new, renewal of old passport, and replacement of lost passport, except for minors below 8 years old and those over 65 years old. This is so that they can affix their thumb marks and sign the MRP printable form.

2) In compliance with international standards, passport size photos to be submitted must have a royal blue, instead of white, background. The size of the facial image should be at least 70-80% of the photo. This is very important since improper photos or mishandling of the photos will result in outright rejection of the passport application.

The detailed guidelines on the submission of new photo requirement for MRP can be found at the Philippine Embassy website: or at the Department of Foreign Affairs website:

3) After the usual verification, processing and payment of SR200.00, the applicant will proceed to the designated area and present his/her verified and processed application form for encoding. The applicant shall affix his/her fingerprints and signature on the MRP printable form, also called the Computer Generated Format (CGF), upon making sure that all the data contained therein are correct.

4) All the CGFs will then be sent via special diplomatic pouch on a weekly basis to the Department of Foreign Affairs office at the PICC where the printing of MRPs is centrally located.

5) Due to the centralized system of printing and maintaining passport database in Manila, the turnaround time for the release of the MRPs at the Foreign Service Establishments will be thirty (30) calendar days.

Thus, it is extremely important that all the documentary and procedural requirements are carefully observed to avoid unnecessary delay or inconvenience.

Can applicants have their old passports back while waiting for their MRPs?

Old passports submitted for renewal will be returned to the applicants and, if still valid, will not be cancelled immediately. But they will have to present their old passports again to the Embassy for cancellation upon the release of their new Machine Readable Passports.

Can all walk-in applicants be accommodated?

As much as possible, the Embassy wishes to serve all passport applicants arriving on any given day. However, due to the human and logistical constraints in launching the new system, the Embassy will adopt a progressive system of implementation.

During the first week from the start of the MRP implementation (May 31 – June 5), the Embassy can accommodate only up to 100 applicants a day including the usual Thursday morning schedule. In the second week (June 7 – 11 only since June 12 is an official holiday), the Embassy can accept a maximum of 120 applicants per day. In the next third and fourth weeks (June 14 – 26), 150 applicants will be served. After which, the Embassy may receive up to 200 applicants per day.

In addition, during the first month (May 31 – June 26) of MRP issuance, the Embassy would give priority to those whose passports are scheduled to expire in less than three (3) months time. Those whose passports are still valid for more than three (3) months will be asked to apply later.

What will happen to the old, green passports?

The old, green passport or the Machine Readable Ready Passport (MRRP) will remain valid up to its date of expiration. Until then, there is no need to have it renewed unless required by immigration authorities for visa issuance. However, the supply of this type of passport is now very limited and unstable. As the Embassy shifts to the much improved MRPs, the delivery of the service will progress on a gradual basis until it reaches optimum level in one month’s time.

What options are available for those who need a passport immediately?

Those who unfortunately find themselves in emergency situations (e.g. sudden death in the family or repatriation for medical treatment) and urgently need to renew their expired passports may apply for either the old, green passport or Travel Document.

Will there still be “Embassy on Wheels” to serve Filipino communities outside Riyadh?

In consideration of the travel time and cost that will be incurred by most passport applicants in faraway places outside the Riyadh region, the Embassy will resume its outreach service called “Embassy on Wheels” to process their passport applications. Such service can be brought back to Al-Khobar at the end of June 2008 once the necessary preparations are completed.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Assorted Gulf News

Saudi time to replace GMT?

The entire world should ditch GMT as the universal time standard and instead use Saudi time - the true centre of the Earth, according to Muslim scholars.

Speaking at a conference in Qatar, Muslim scientists and clerics called for Saudi time should be adopted as the new standard, stating reasons such as Mecca being the direction all Muslims face to pray.

One delegate said that unlike other longitudes Mecca was in perfect alignment to magnetic north.

Others labelled GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) a colonial relic imposed by the British and said it was high time for it to be replaced.

The conference, 'Mecca, the Centre of the Earth, Theory and Practice', is geared around looking for and discussing Koranic precedents for modern science.

UAE: Maid-swapping in UAE

Sponsors of domestic workers will be able to release staff on a three-month temporary transfer under new rules designed to reduce the number of illegal workers in the UAE.

Under the new rules, sponsorship of housemaids can be transferred for a one-off period of three months, at a cost of 500 dirhams to the second sponsor.
If the sponsor of a maid agrees or wishes to transfer the maid to the sponsorship of another eligible person this can be done by entering into a new temporary work contract between the maid at the second (temporary) sponsor.

Bahrain: Sponsorship system to be scrapped by year-end

Bahrain plans to scrap its sponsorship system by the end of this year as part of measures to liberalise the kingdom’s labour market.

Bahrain government wanted to promote the free movement of labour as well as stamp out human rights abuses and human trafficking.

The plan was submitted for approval at the GCC summit in December, but a final decision has been deferred until the next summit at the end of this year in Muscat.
Lawmakers formally call for expat residency cap

Lawmakers have called for the controversial plan to cap how long expatriates can live in the Gulf be brought into force in the UAE.

A new legislation limiting unskilled workers, which make up a large percentage of the UAE's population of over four million, to six year, after which they will have to leave the country.

Under the legislation, labourers, housemaids, farmers and herders would be banned from renewing their work visas after six years and would only be able to return to the UAE by going through the entire visa application process again..

The recommendation has been submitted to the government for consideration.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Harry Chua's picture @ Men in the Philippines blog

I am a regular viewer of RD Dantes' Hot Men in the Philippines blogspot and i was surprised to see Harry Chua's photo posted in his blog Harry's Game.

Here's the original picture i took during the G. Albay 2004 search..

with some digital manipulations, like removing the judge's hand and the other contestant at the back, here's how it appears in RD Dantes' blog.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Saudi Arabia: Fingerprinting Must for Iqama Services Starting May 17

Saudi Arabia will introduce mandatory fingerprinting on all expatriate workers starting Saturday, Maj. Gen. Salim Al-Belaihed, director general of the Passport Department, announced yesterday.

Fingerprinting will be required for issuing new iqamas (resident permits), changing professions and transferring sponsorships starting on Saturday, 17th May 2008.

The employers should approach passport offices across the country without delay to complete the fingerprinting of their workers to ensure their workers' fingerprints are taken when applying for iqamas.

Experts say that fingerprinting would help combat forgery and prevent the entry and exit of criminals.

Due to the huge number of expatriates in the Kingdom, the department would rent buildings in major cities to accommodate them to complete the process. Passport officials may also visit big factories and companies to provide the service.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Opray presents Charice!

Full video of Charice guesting in Oprah!
Youtube courtesy of: Charice PempengcO

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Atlantis: Lost continent found in Dubai

Lost continent

In 370 BC, Greek philosopher Plato recounted the legendary tale of Atlantis, the lost civilization, in his writings.

He described how a mysterious continent had existed more than 10,000 years earlier and it was located near the Straits of Gibraltar.

Described as a highly evolved society, the great civilization apparently met the end of its rule over Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa when natural calamities such as floods and earthquakes destroyed a continent that has never been confirmed as ever having existed.

Ancient lore says Atlantis sank below the seas never to be seen again, while others have speculated that volcanic eruptions could have wiped out such a civilization in islands off ancient Greece.
After 2,500 years, the legend of Atlantis lives on.

The lost continent is being resurrected in the form of Dubai’s Dh5.50 billion ($1.5 billion) tribute to the ancient Greek civilization.

According to world-renowned resort firm Kerzner International, its masterpiece development on the outer reaches of The Palm Jumeirah, called Atlantis, will throw open its gates to the public in September, one month earlier than planned.

Atlantis, The Palm will be the largest destination resort of its kind in the Middle East, according to the firm, and is modelled after the first Atlantis built in the Bahamas in the early 1990s.

Entertainment galore

After almost four years of planning and construction, Atlantis, The Palm has culminated in a 46-hectare manmade island marvel, crowned by the imposing Royal Towers Hotel, a 1,539-room oasis resort that is surrounded by open-air marine lagoons and stocked with 65,000 marine animals from the Gulf and beyond.

Water world

Nearby, in the 17-hectare Aquaventure water park, seven water slides reach down from a 30-metre high Mesopotamian temple dubbed Ziggurat. A 2.3-kilometre whitewater river wends its way around the island while dozens of underwater tubes and hidden passageways lead to sunken Atlantis ruins guarded by creatures of the deep.
Connected to the apex of the Palm by an oversea monorail and an undersea car tunnel, 5,000 people are expected to visit the desert-island paradise daily.

Paying customers won’t just comprise jet-setting tourists only. Dubai residents can spend Dh220 for a day pass to take in the underwater sunken Greek columns, shop at 17 retail outlets, sample fare served by the world’s top chefs and enjoy the solitude of a beach that is as exclusive as one can find in the city.

" The Lost Chambers features a "maze of underground tunnels offering underwater views into the boulevards of the ruins of Atlantis". There are 18 underwater exhibits.

Slide down

Water slides will challenge even the most seasoned theme-park patron.
The Atlantis water adventure system uses 18 million litres of desalinated freshwater to propel tube riders and solo artists through cascades and tidal waves and whitewater rapids, to sheer vertical drops.

At the Ziggurat temple, for example, a 27.5 metre near-vertical drop called the "Leap of Faith" plunges sliders down the face of the structure and into a freshwater tube that descends into a salt water lagoon filled with sharks. Water-sliders never come in contact with the sharks, however, as the tube carries riders straight through the lagoon into a large wading pool beyond.

And then there is the Torrent, a ride through rapids fed by a wave generator that "simulates a wave surge that is capable of swells reaching almost two metres high at over 94,000 litres per minute".

Room rates of Dh1,666 ($454) a night will help pay their salaries.

Fishy business at the lagoons

The Atlantis lagoons will feature more than 250 species of sea creatures, some of which will include native Gulf fish which have not been publicly displayed anywhere outside of the Middle East.

42 million litres of salt water will house many exotic local fish.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

If I am dreaming, let me not awake..

It may be a dream i don't want to wake up whenever I go into a relationship...

I must admit, i have to wake up to the point where my dream has to disappear and perhaps, if only I can organize to stay in bed forever and carry on with it...indefinitely!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Old Diriyah is closed!

As part of the Saudi plans to pump up tourism in the country, The Old Diriyah, which was the original home of the Saudi royal family, and served as the capital of the first Saudi dynasty from 1744 to 1818, is temporarily closed to the public for renovation for at least 3 years.

Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Chairman of the Board and Secretary General of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) outlined the strategic plan for tourism development in the kingdom which includes the restoration of some tourist spots in the region, antiquities and museums, including exploration, plus accommodation, travel agents, tour operators and tourism masterplans.

The commission has to restructure the industry and highlights the importance that is now given to the tourism sector.

While explaining that the mandate for the Supreme Commission for Tourism and Antiquities was to ensure that tourism adds value to the economy, culture and society, Prince Sultan emphasized that the first major target market was to attract the domestic audience, five million of whom travel overseas each year.

Other initiatives complementing this expansion included the addition of four more airports, bringing the total to 30, plus the construction of gateway airport cities, starting with Jeddah, which would include accommodation, exhibition and conference facilities to target the meetings sector.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Plight of jailed blogger exaggerated by media

According to the kingdom’s Deputy Interior Minister Prince Ahmed, the media "exaggerated" the plight of jailed Saudi blogger Fouad Al-Farhan, who was released on Saturday after spending four months in a Jeddah prison, despite having no charges pressed against him.

Before his December 10 arrest, Al-Farhan wrote to friends saying he expected to be detained for his writings about a group of reformists arrested in February 2007 for alleged links to terror funding. Al-Farhan had also criticised a number of influential Saudi figures as well as religious extremism in the kingdom.

However Price Ahmed said Al-Farhan had been arrested for mistakes he had committed, according to a report from Saudi Press Agency.

“The issue [of Al-Farhan] was not that important as it represented the mistake committed by a person on himself. A man who commits a mistake should bear its result,” the agency quoted Prince Ahmed.

Prince Ahmed did not confirm whether Al-Farhan had been released after his arrest four months ago.