When non-Muslims see a hijabi on the street, walking with her head scarf and long garments covering her from head to toe, there must be a spark of curiosity that ignites within them. How does she spend her days? What is a typical morning for her for example? Is her life similar to yours and mine? Being a hijabi, does she have queer habits? Where does she hang out? Is she basically normal?
So I interviewed three hijabis from three different cities to ask the million dollar question:
“What is it like on a typical day for you?”
Ambayanan Manding, also known as Shiro, is a well-known public speaker speaker and debater. At present, she is the only Muslim woman who debates seriously in many tournaments in Metro Manila. She has represented her school in the last season of ANC Square Off: The Firm Debates. After her TV appearance, people have coined a name for her: The Beautiful Muslim Debater.
“I am a full time student. My life is boring like that! I love sports. I play football. I want to try archery. I love arts. One day, I will go around Europe and Greece, In Shaa Allah.”
“I am a public speaker. I debate, it is a kind of sport for me. I am the only Muslim woman who debates around Metro Manila and have joined the ANC Square Off: The Firm Debates. I love it when they call me the beautiful Muslim debater.”
“A very cold bottle of water or a hot cup of coffee will make my day. That’s how weird, I am. I am not a morning person. I wake up at 9am or 10am and go straight to shower and dress up for school. After having lunch either at Mcdonalds or Bonchon, I hang out at the library.
My classes normally start at 5pm or 6pm onwards so I get back home at around 10pm. I spend my days almost the same way 5 days a week. My life as a law student sounds like a bore for real. To help me get through, I never miss my shot of coffee, it knocks on my sleepy head in the late afternoon.
I don’t have a constant company, but myself. I am just thankful, I have my debate family whenever I feel that I need my thoughts be heard.
Life is unpredictable. Looking back a decade ago, i have changed a lot: I smile often and more composed. I am grateful to Allah, everyday. Alhamdulillah!”
Kristine Marie Esmade, is a wife and a mom-to-be. Born in Batangas City and raised in Siniloan, Laguna, Philippines and Riyadh, KSA. She is a nurse by profession as a quality improvement auditor at King Abdulaziz Medical City-National Guard Health Affairs in Riyadh. She reverted to the faith on March 2012.
“I live in one of the compounds of our medical city with my parents, since we all work for the same hospital.
That’s one of my most favorite blessings I am grateful for every waking day–that I get to be with my family even when abroad. I have two brothers, both Catholics, same as I was pre-conversion, both currently in Philippines.”
“So what’s a typical weekend for me here in Riyadh? I’ve decided to choose a typical Saudi weekend in our house here in Saudi, since most of the weekdays are spent at work so there’s nothing much to tell there.
My days start as early as 8 am–when you had to much movies to watch the night before and anticipating an entire day of rest and relaxation. Jumping off the bed with a Bismillah, I head to the kitchen where my dad has just greased the pan for some sunny side ups and dried squid, I help around preparing the salad/enchiladas and morning fruit shakes (banana-milk-apple-aloe-mint-strawberries plus vanilla ice cream if we’re feeling extra festive). My dad and I get to bond a lot inside the kitchen.
When the table is all set, it gets filled with two more people–my mom and husband–and an iPad. Alhamdulillah for technology, mornings are without a videochat with my 3 year old nephew in Philippines. He’s a bagful of sunshine with another bagful of tricks to show off to his Lolo and Lola.
After cleaning up the table, more chores gets done–either the laundry, the garden (we grow a small garden which grew eggplants, okra, aloe vera, oregano, mint & other flowering plants) or the dogs (Bubbles, Phoebe and Shadow, all who demand weekly baths and morning runs at our rooftop or afternoon strolls around our compound).
Then it nears Dhuhr and I would help the hubs prepare for Jumuah Khutbah. After he leaves, I take a shower myself, wait for the adhan & pray my Dhuhr in my room.
By the time Hubs (husband) gets back, Mom, Dad and I have already made lunch. We have this “Weekend Pasabaw” thing at home wherein we make bulalo, nilagang baka or sinigang na baka on weekends. See we rarely have meat on weekdays, we rarely have time to pressure-cook beef for an hour or so. So it’s pretty much one of the things the household look forward to every weekend and dad can make one heckuva pasabaw.
The hours after lunchtime is usually the individual/couple siesta time, we go to our rooms, my husband plays his guitar, I crochet, maybe cuddle or laugh at random funny Facebook/Youtube videos. Around Asr, I get to pray with my husband at home. Also, to make up for the khutbah I cannot attend to (since the language is Arabic and my Arabic is the worst), we look up Nouman Ali Khan’s talks in Youtube. He’s our favorite ustadh.
A little later in the afternoon when the sun is more gentle, we would go out for a walk aka window-shopping. There are so many grand and beautiful malls in the city. Sometimes we meet up with friends or my in-laws and dine out.
When we get home, and decide we still have enough energy left for a movie, we throw in a bag of popcorn in the microwave, switch on the computer, attach it to the projector and voila, instant movie house! Because as you know, you won’t find a single movie theater in Saudi Arabia, so we had to make our own in our own homes.
And after all the day’s hustle, Hubs & I close the day with an Isha’a prayer, a kiss on the forehead and an Alhamdulillah in my heart.
Norhanie Mama an Admin Assistant VI working in the Office of the Regional Governor in Cotabato City. She just turned 23 last April. She blogs at annalao.tumblr.com. You can can also look her up on her Instagram account @annabananalao.
“On a typical day. I always try to go to work earlier than my work time which is 8 am. Waking up for Fajr is a great help actually. Add the fact that I am a morning person too. And I always, always have my morning coffee.”
“Right now my job as an Admin Assistant VI in the ORG is dynamic. It’s an 8 am-5 pm job but as my job description isn’t very clear, I get to work overtime and get to travel around Mindanao as part of the job. Currently I am a lead writer, program head, and do graphic design jobs as well. So when in work I do my routine job. We are currently on an intensive seminar–ISO certification–that brings a lot of stress.
Stress eating, yes, that’s me.
So I always make sure to at least run or do skip work and workout at least thrice a week which is so hard for me to maintain right now. I keep an eye on my weight not for the sake of what people will say. I maintain it to be healthy. I don’t like the feeling of being overweight. It lowers my confidence level and makes me gasp for breath just by walking around.
I run, workout at home, and skip rope. I also play badminton with my officemates. I am trying to fall in love with the sport, thus, I am already saving money to buy a decent racket.
Weekends? Usually I go home to Cagayan de Oro. Or travel here in South, talking about the perks of being here in the South. But if I don’t have enough money to travel then I just cook. Yup. I love cooking for myself and my roommates and other Meranaos here in Cotabato when we hang out.
I always bring a book with me or my iPad as I have many books downloaded on it.But I don’t read a lot anymore compared before because of my day job.
I end my day with a book or a call to my loved one, either my mom or my lola.”