Filipinos: Dubai’s Smile
With Dubai presenting itself as a base to a multitude of nationalities, it is not surprising that the Filipino community flourishes here.
From the districts of Satwa and Karama that have transformed into bustling residential communities for the Kabayan diaspora, to the crowded streets of Deira, where local eateries rustle up tantalising delicacies, Filipinos here continue to find their reason to smile in simple ways.
For Dubai resident Zyrene, this very nuance doesn’t see her pine away for home.
She says: ‘Nearly everywhere you look, you will see a Filipino in Satwa. Maybe, this is the reason I don’t feel homesick.’
Yet, it’s not just a neighbourhood that makes a community.
Quiz Erwin Jen Peralta, Marketing and Brand Manager of Little Manila – a popular Filipino restaurant in Deira – he says food is at the very centre of people’s comfort.
‘Filipinos are meticulous with taste and the texture of their food, so they will know right away if someone cuts corners,’ he says. ‘Here at Little Manila, food is like a nostalgic memory.
‘When they taste the food, it’s like what mom would cook back home.’
As communities grow so do interests and the Filipino diaspora has made a mark with its popular extracurricular activities, including its own basketball association.
Marlon Cinco, Chairman of the Philippines Expat Basketball Association, says: ‘The basketball community creates new relationships with surrounding Filipinos, as well as other nationalities.’
Meanwhile, vehicle modification – a popular hobby with the community – has also found a growing fan following in Dubai.
Joseph Ruben from Prospeed, a Dubai-based organisiation that modifies vehicles, says the hobby is an extension of their passion.
Are these modifications any good? Ask Ruben and he says: ‘I would say ingenuity is one of the best characters of a Filipino.’