Hoy! Akin ‘Yan! The 10 Woes of Room Sharing

Eight out of 10 Filipinos in the UAE say practicality drive them to share a room with people they barely know. No matter what the strains of this arrangement are, saving money and helping families back home are top priorities. The Filipino Times sneaks a peek at the top 10 downsides of sharing accommodation. 

The UAE is home to around 1 million Filipinos whose goal is to make ends meet and be able to send a big chunk of their income to their families back home. Tying oneself down with a rent contract – if at all one can afford it – is a daunting prospect to many. So, Filipinos usually go for the next best thing: flat-sharing that also comes with the option of bedspacing.

These are preferred by Filipinos, especially for those who are looking to quickly transition to a better life. Filipinos in the UAE shared with The Filipino Times their personal struggles and the reasons why they endure shared spaces, despite facing many issues with roommates or flatmates.

A straw poll conducted by TFT shows that 8 out of 10 (80 percent) Pinoys believe that room sharing is the most practical option for keeping the costs down and making their salaries stretch to all other needs, wants, and obligations. Of this, about 9 out of 10 (87.5 percent) admit to feeling trapped in a tight budget, but have no choice as they must remit more than half of their earnings to families back home.

The rest (12.5 percent) overcome the annoyances of a tight living space through the pleasures of shopping, dining, travel and leisure. Aside from the usual personality clashes and varying hygiene habits, most of the flat-sharing Filipinos admit that issues concerning their health, security, comfort, and safety make them wish they had better choices.

Here are the top 10 downsides to sharing a flat or a room:

  1. Luto ko, kain mo (Eating food that isn’t yours)

This comes in various forms: Sino’ng umubos ng bigas ko? Sino’ng uminom ng mantika ko and so forth. John Ramos, 27, shares his experience: “Many a time, I wake up in the morning and, after rushing to the shower and dressing for work, find my lunch box empty just when I’m about to put it in my bag on my way out. It’s revolting.

I had my name on it, but whoever did it apparently didn’t care at all.” John feels it is a sad reality that the food he bought from his tight budget went to someone else, and that person didn’t even care.

  1. Naunahan ako sa CR (Race to bathroom access)

Yadz Pedral, 32, tells a story of how his stay in his former flat had almost cost him his job.

“When I first arrived in Dubai back in 2009,” he says, “I went for a bed-space in a four-bedroom flat in Satwa.

The flat only had two shower rooms. Needless to say, each morning was chaotic as everyone was in a mad scramble to get ready.

I would always end up late because someone would always beat me to the shower. And so I was placed under the microscope by my boss, who was naturally upset for my tardiness.” On his reason for choosing to live in such crowded quarters, Yadz, who hails from Sultan Kudarat, says it is all about being a dad. “Knowing that my children live a comfortable life back home makes me feel fulfilled as a father,” he says, referring to the remittances he is able to make by saving money on accommodation in the UAE.

  1. Makalog ang gabi ko (My night trembles)

In the UAE, bedspaces are typically two-bunk metal beds, where privacy is defined by a curtain separating you from the rest of the world. Normally, the lower deck bed-space is pricier than the upper deck. Nevertheless, a good night’s sleep is still hard to come by if a squeaky bed is the enemy.

In the TFT poll, the term “makalog ang gabi ko” has emerged as a common expression among Pinoy expats. Joanne Menez, 31, describes her experience with the nervewracking squeaky beds that she likens to a Black Eyed Peas hit song.

“I’ve been here since 2012,” she says. “In that short span of time, this is my sixth address already, because all of my previous flats [shared spaces] had one thing in common that I totally abhor — the double-deck beds creaked like the beat of Boom Boom Pow.”

  1. Maliwanag ang gabi (The night shines bright)

Roommat’s red flag: the bedroom light is often the bone of contention among occupants. Rico recalls a nasty surprise. “I asked a roommate if I could turn the lights off inside our room,” he says. “I didn’t see the next thing coming — it turned into a heated conversation and flared up. Good thing our roommates stopped the looming brawl from happening.

  1. Bakit basa ang sabon ko? (Why is my soap wet?)

Items like kitchen appliances grow legs in shared spaces, Pinoy expats agree. Usual case in point: why is my soap wet? Amor Magtuba, 32, shares the one rule she has learnt to adopt in her five years of co-living in a room. “No matter how small an issue seems,” she says, “maybe as small as someone using my handwash soap without my consent, I confront it promptly before it builds up into a bigger issue in the long run.”

  1. Sinolo ang freezer (The battle for fridge space)

In which Filipino ‘teleserye’ have you heard this line: “Know your space”?  It’s commonly seen on sticky notes left on the shared fridge in flats. And it has a literal meaning. Pinoys say this line is used to warn someone who monopolizes the entire space in a shared fridge, stocking it up on payday with a week’s supply of food, with utter disregard for where the rest of the flatmates would put theirs.

  1. Bakit walang laman ang timba ko? (Waking up with empty water container)

May Padron, 29, shares a mindboggling story that illustrates how cool water is as important as any other prized possession in a desert country. “Once,” she says, “I slept over at my friend’s shared flat. I was shocked to see chains wrapped around the lids of large water buckets in their bathroom. It’s unbelievable.

They went to such lengths to make sure that no one could use their stored water.”

  1. Videoke till midnight

Peng Hatulan, a UAE resident for six years, shares the story of her  daily struggle with noisy roommates: “What makes it really irritating sometimes is that their singing till late night keeps me awake before a really important day at work.”

Despite this, Peng says that enduring this living condition enables her to save enough and pay for her mother’s monthly medication.

  1. Sinong magtatapon ng basura? (Who will take the trash out?)

Probably the biggest source of conflict in any shared flat is cleaning. Agree? Well, unless you’re blessed with a mop-happy roommate that keeps your shared space sparkling. Rhina shares her never-ending saga with untidy flatmates.

“Some roommates create a chore wheel, but no one has ever stuck with it,” she rues.

  1. Sumakabilang kwarto. (Hello from the other side)

Shared flats usually have one large room marked by wooden partitions or curtains to separate occupants’ spaces. So it’s easy for flatmates to walk into someone else’s space, giving them a rude shock. Gina, 29, got the shock of her life when someone waltzed into her partitioned space in the middle of the night. The Pinay recalls, “It was like, ‘Hello from the other side.’

But I’m telling you, it totally freaked me out. For some, it seems funny. But it could lead to a serious violation of trust and respect, right?”

Naglevel-up na ako!

Gwen Viernes, TFT relations manager, recalls how she climbed her way up: from a humble bed-spacer to the sole tenant of three 2-bedroom flats in Dubai. She says, “I remember sharing a small room with 12 people in Sharjah, just like what many expats do.”

Dwelling upon her past, Gwen says, “Everyone must start from somewhere. The good, the bad, the ugly things in flat-sharing could be the testing ground for you.

Can you endure the life of an OFW (overseas Filipino worker)? Ultimately, these things will test your faith and resilience as a Filipino.” Saving up over the past two years has enabled Gwen to afford nice flats in Al Rigga. But not everything comes on a silver platter.

“The right ingredients are hard work and self-control. Focus on your goal and purpose. Never say never,” she says. “Renting a flat on your own,” she adds, “will make you feel secure and comfortable. It also gives you a sense of fulfilment as you fill your space with nice appliance and furniture. It is now easier for me to bring my parents and siblings here for a visit.”

Meralyn Tabanag, 30, store manager at Zoom in Rigga, once gave up any hope of being able to rent her own flat when she first came to Dubai. “I thought my life here would mean co-living with complete strangers forever,” she says.

“Staying in a bed-space was the most practical thing to do with my Dh1,400 salary back then.” Not having two cents to rub together, the determined Filipina stayed in her low-paying job and also ran a side business selling fancy bags and accessories to her countrywomen living in the UAE.

“If you want to make your life better, double or triple your eagerness to earn money,” she says. True enough, Meralyn got her first promotion as acting supervisor only a few months afterwards.

And in just a year, she had saved enough to rent a private room. She is now much happier with a more secure private space.

Do you have any story to share? i-TFT na yan! Email us at editorial@filipinotimes.ae


(Source: FilipinoTimes.ae)

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