Philippines Independence Day: Filipinos on their love for the UAE

Nearly one million Filipinos live in the Emirates - and some explain why as they celebrate their 124th national celebration

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Career opportunities aplenty, a safe place to raise a family and friendly people — these are some of the reasons Filipinos have given for choosing the UAE as their second home.

Nearly a million Filipinos live in the UAE, with many moving here to enjoy better work opportunities to support their families back home and advance their careers.

On Sunday, Filipinos marked their country’s 124th Independence Day. The President, Sheikh Mohamed and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, offered thir congratulations.

The National spoke to Filipino residents about how they would be celebrating in their much-loved second home.

‘I met my husband in the UAE’

Ven Villacarlos is a nurse who moved to Dubai in 2010 to find better work opportunities.

Not only has she secured a job at a hospital since then, but she also met her husband here and gave birth to their two children.

“Today marks our country’s Independence Day and many Filipinos reside abroad for work," she said. "As one of them, I will be celebrating in my own way with friends and family by praying for the Philippines’ success and progress.

“I came here because I wanted bigger opportunities for my profession and I wasn’t disappointed.

“This country is special to me because it’s where I met special people [such as] my husband and closest friends. I feel safe and secure here.”

‘We can build better careers here’

Edgar Nofelda is a manager of a Filipino restaurant in Dubai, who moved to the UAE in 2013.

He relocated better career opportunities and said Filipinos can earn twice as much in the UAE compared with the Philippines.

“With what I’m earning now as a manager of this restaurant, I would be earning half of that back home,” he said.

“There are more jobs here, there’s better quality of life and you can advance your career much further.”

Mr Nofelda also met his other half in the UAE. He married one of his colleagues a few years ago and they plan on raising a family here.

He will be celebrating Independence Day at his restaurant, called Hot Palayok, which has been decorated in red, blue and white — the colours of the Filipino flag.

“We are going to celebrate it in full swing,” he said.

“Our staff are wearing traditional outfits, we have an acoustic singer performing, we have a display that shows our national heroes — and there are many decorations all throughout the restaurant.”

‘UAE is safe with friendly people’

Ethan Lobis moved to Abu Dhabi in 2011 to find work. He said he had lots of friends here who managed to build better lives for themselves and said he wanted the same.

“We choose to work here in the UAE because the government opened its doors to Filipinos to showcase our skills, talents and culture,” said Mr Lobis, who works as an animal trainer and sitter.

“It’s a safe country and that’s why so many Filipinos are here.

“Today, we are very thankful to celebrate our Independence Day here in the UAE and are free to express our culture and good tradition.”

‘Filipinos are grateful to the UAE’

Vince Ang, general manager of The Filipino Times, a news organisation that caters to the Filipino population in the UAE, said Filipinos always sport hospitable smiles even in the face of challenges.

He said the Independence Day celebration gives them an opportunity to showcase their country’s talent and multicultural festivities.

“Filipinos have contributed immensely to the UAE's massive transformation through the years since they first set foot in this country over four decades ago, working across various sectors such as engineering, architecture, health care, hospitality, and many more,” Mr Ang said.

“Filipinos will always be grateful for the opportunity that this country has given them.

“Today, we're proud to be standing alongside the UAE's diverse populace for our 124th Independence Day at the heart of the Middle East, that we now consider as our second home.”

Updated: June 12, 2022, 10:13 AM