Posted by: Leap of Faith | October 8, 2006

A Close Encounter (but not of the Third Kind)

Last night, after a very, very long wait, the boys finally had their first haircut here in KSA.  The barbershop where I go to is located in the City Center, which needless to say, was more chaotic and full of shopping-eager locals.  We parked in the Al-Danah Center, where my office is located, and had a short walk to the barbershop.  I gave my last minute instruction to the boys… “stay close me!”

We arrived safely in our destination and the boys had their usual barber’s cut.  Guwapings!  Everything was uneventful until a Muttawa (or “Matet” a some Pinoys code them) and a police came in.  In the more than eight months that I have been here, I have been successful in dodging every instance that I get in close contact with a Matet.  We were briefed when we left Manila that the Matets have special authority to have you imprisoned whenever they are with a police (of course, they only do this if you are in a violation of local laws and customs). With this in mind, I made sure that I wouldn’t want to have any close encounter with these people.

I thought my luck ran out when suddenly I saw the men come in the shop. The scary scenes of a Greenhills-type raid flashed in my mind and we were part of it!  The police even sat beside Rafael and me while we were playing Chess (couldn’t he choose another seat?!). 

I did a mental check of all the documents that I needed to carry… my passport was with me (my Iqama is currently in the office since they need it to process the Iqama of my family), a copy of Luigi and Rafael’s passport was with me,  my officemates calling cards were with me (in case I got into trouble), and…. shocks! I remembered that I don’t have a copy of the passports of Luigi and Rafael… it’s with Pinky!

My heart started to pound like crazy.  How do I get out of this situation?!!!  What if they think my boys are illegal aliens?!!  Luckily, the Matet was actually checking the papers of the barbers and the shop (and not the poor patrons like us) while the police was busy trying to entertain himself with our chess pieces… he kept on touching it and teaching Rafael what to do. On a normal situation, I would have freaked out at him for disturbing our game.  But given that this is a special situation, I had to put on a beaming “close-up” smile to avoid any unwanted encounters.  I guess my strategy worked, the Matet and police left after fifteen minutes (which seemed like hours to me) but warned the babrbers that they had to close shop until their documents are completed.  The barbers were apologetic to me since they couldn’t do my hair anymore, which by the way was starting to look like the fluffy locks of a lion.  I told them that it was okay and that I would just go back next time (I actually ended up getting a haircut in another Pinoy barber/beautician in the Al-Danah Mall).

I’m glad that everything went well.  The boys had no idea what was happening, which I  suppose is a very good blessing since it would have made them feel paranoid about this place.  I was so sure that God’s hand was undoubtedly protecting us from what could have been a very unpleasant Saudi experience in jail!

I guess now I have another legit reason not to bring the boys to the barber again… hehehe!  Pinky, please bring out your scissor and comb and start cutting their hair!







  1. What an experience, Keith! From your story alone, I myself got scared! You’ll have to sign Pinky up for Ricky Reyes’ haircutting seminar the very minute you come back for a vacation. 🙂 It’ll be a wise investment. Then she can put up her own shop in KSA! 🙂 Haha.

  2. Bro, good to hear that you did not get into trouble with ‘Matet’. I’m sure you’ll hear from Ate Guy. 😮 Seriously, I’ve heard some scary stories from friends who worked there in KSA before. A friend was even jailed for no apparent reason (he told).

  3. Goodness, Matet makes trouble there too? Hahaha! My cousin told us funny stories about his encounters with these Muttawas when he worked there before as a nurse. I guess in time, you’ll learn to brush them off. For now nakaka-paranoid lang nga talaga kasi bago palang kayo diyan… Sige, baka magkaroon na ng bagong career si Pinky as hairdresser dyan! 🙂

  4. Weng/Peachy, can I sign you guys as Pinky’s guinea pigs? Allan… Ate Guy… yup, ang muse naming mga OFWs!

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