Part One: The Quick Visit to Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi (A Trilogy)

This is story of that one event that changed my life forever. It might probably wasn’t much but this is a very personal story that I will be dividing into three separate blogs. For starters, let me take you back in 2019 when I was still living in United Arab Emirates.

This is all about the reason of why I came back to the Philippines. If you don’t have any idea about that yet then I highly suggest for you to read my blog about that first:


So going back to the story, I was going on with my typical afternoon in my workplace in Downtown Dubai when my boss came in to see me. She was holding an envelope which I believe was the result of my medical test that will dictate of whether or not I will be staying in Dubai.

A month before this event, I got a text message from the health department that I needed to repeat my X-Ray. Which I already did as part of the process for me to be granted an Emirates Identification Card. Acting paranoid that I am, I did what an overly suspicious person will do: go into google and fricking research. I know I was about to get my brain into a situation wherein it’ll overthink so damn hard until I get unreasonably distrustful. There, I read a lot of stories from foreign workers who are being deported because of the countries ‘flawed TB screening policy.’

I knew then I should stop overthinking because I was only creating problems that aren’t there in the first place.

I mean, right?

I didn’t know what I did to continue living day by day without telling my troubles with my friends whom I was living with.

It kept me up all night.

And it bugs me because I wasn’t ready to go home just yet!


Going back to that afternoon, my boss pulled me out from my task at work and sat me down outside on the patio of the studio. I remember it was a lovely afternoon โ€“ the skies were blue and Dubai’s winter was embracing my whole body.

And when I look at my boss looking at me, that’s when I knew.

The eyes Chico, they never lie.

Even though I was still hoping for a better answer, I knew I unknowingly preparing myself for the worst possible answer: being denied residency.


James Franco said that dreams and expectations also have a very dark flipside of disappointment, broken dreams. And what do we do when our dreams crashed down in front of our eyes?

We pray.

And so in hopes to try to make me feel better at least, my housemates Ate Alma and Dan asked me if I wanted to visit the Grand Mosque in another emirates which is Abu Dhabi.

A boy with a broken heart could only say yes.

It’s amazing where the paranoid mind can take you.

With only a few days left before I suddenly fly back to the Philippines, I knew I had to dash out our villa and visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

And so we drove to another Emirate to see the the famous religious site shine in front of my naked eyes.


The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is one of the biggest mosques in the world.

Upon arriving and walking through its gigantic corridors, it’s hard to deny how unbelievable, gleaming, and complex this building is. I should’ve taken more photos and taken down notes of what I exactly felt when my jaw was dropping to its beauty but I just couldn’t write them down here anymore. So here’s one of the few photos that I took during my time there:


After that, since we were already in Abu Dhabi, we also went to Heritage Village. It is nothing more but a visit down memory lane that lets you immerse in a time capsule that brings an old Arabian market and way of life.


I could write another 500 words to explain my feeling when I found out I was being deported back to the Philippines. But that’ll be for another two blogs after this.

To set your expectations, I was sad. Really sad. Devastated to say the truth. But I knew when we were driving back to Dubai that all I need to do is to follow the flow of life, focus on the positive, and just take care of myself.

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  1. Michele Lee

    Marron, I can only imagine being given the news you were and only having a few days to process that news and then leave, a place you did not want to leave. It sounds like the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque visit gave you some peace and the start of some healing. I enjoyed your photos and look forward to the next two chapters. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns.

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      Marron Santillan

      Michele, thank you so much for reading but most importantly, thanks for the kind words! I don’t know why this comment went to my spam folder. But yes, it was really heartbreaking. I can still remember how heavy my chest felt that day (pun intended!) ๐Ÿ˜„

      1. Michele Lee

        You are most welcome. I have missed reading your posts, so it is nice to see one from you. I can relate to relocation heartbreak. ๐Ÿ˜ข Will you be able to return someday?
        Puns are fun! ๐Ÿ˜„

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          Marron Santillan

          As far as I know, they banned me from returning back to their country. It was sad at first but looking back now, it doesn’t matter to me anymore. It isn’t the last place for me to visit and with the world’s situation now, it’s making sense why it happened. Thank you, Michele!

          1. Michele Lee

            Great attitude, Marron. Often, challenges and setbacks do not make sense until later and then we can see that everything worked out perfectly (or at least better than we first thought). ๐Ÿ˜Š Read you soon!

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  2. Ivan Lui

    That feeling is somehow like an eraser. I felt your pain cus it was my pain too.
    And then they donโ€™t believe we are a one big family on this planet.

    Thanks man. Hope your journeyโ€™s going well

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      Marron Santillan

      I hope you’re doing pretty well whatever you are going through right now. Thanks, man. I really appreciate you stopping by.

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