Saturday, January 24, 2015

Random Thoughts: Life of a Balikbayan

Note: I promise I'll post finance-related blogs once I get to really, really feel once again how living in the Philippines is like. I'm not even two weeks here pa. Do know that I am taking notes of everything so I can report to you guys how much does it really cost to live frugally in the Philippines. For now, I'll post some random observations and thoughts through the eyes of a balikbayan who never went home for five years (well, if you have been reading my blog for a while now, you know why I didn't go back, not even for a vacay.)

  • As I'm typing this, it's 5:05 AM, up since 3:30 AM. My sleeping pattern is going bonkers pa. I consistently go to sleep early, get up at 3AM and go for a run around the subdivision around 5:45 AM, though I doubt if I can run this morning coz it's raining pretty hard.

  • Ang daming foreigners sa Mactan area, na shock ako! The other day, my Mama and I went to the market to buy some veggies, I was wearing a hat with one of the football team in America printed on it (the official football team of the state where I used to live), this 'kano and 'kana, with their huge backpacks on their back, were walking towards us, the 'kano kept looking at my hat and then gave me a thumbs up. Nahiya naman ako suddenly. haha!

  • Filipino really point out what they think about you (especially physical appearance: the tumaba ka, pumayat ka comment): I was talking to a neighbor, we just met ha and she blatantly asked me if my nose is fake. I don't know if I should be offended or flattered. I mean you don't say that to someone you just met, right? I almost showed her my white heads and blackheads as well as my big ass nose pores just to let her know that my nose is not fake. LOL. She even ask me for my 'diet' because why I am so skinny daw. Like I could roll my eyes. Instant bestfriends na kami, is that it? And I don't like hearing 'why I didn't marry a kano, may itsura naman daw ako' comment. Ugh! Iba-ibang trip lang yan, I always thought.

  • My brother was craving for ampalaya with eggs, so off we went to the wet market to get ingredients. Ang mahal kaya ng ampalaya, Php 100 per kilo na or maybe the lady just duped me lang. Yep, it's mahal but compared to the US, you cannot get healthy, fresh veggies for about 3 bucks. I am still getting used to the wet market routine pa. My friend told me to buy veggies in the supermarket because it's already weight, packed and priced na to be sure that I won't get fooled. Still thinking about it pa if I should do the wet market or the supermarket route.

  • I have been cleaning my house like crazy, but ang sarap kaya ng feeling knowing that it's my house and I can do anything I want with it. Yep, homeownership comes with great responsibility but, for a balikbayan like me, having a place to live in that is mine, ay.. ang kilig kaya! Maybe I should put the title in a frame and display it, hahaha.. I am joking, of course!

  • We will visit my father's grave very soon. Looking forward to that.

Cheers to HOME and for being here at last.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mish-mash of Thoughts: Getting to the Philippines, etc.

  • I arrived at Singapore Changi airport January 13th, 4AM. My luggage was in disarray so I plopped on a corner, took all my stuffs and started to arrange the total chaos that was my luggage. I noticed somebody walking towards my direction and she keeps looking at my luggage. Seriously, she keeps looking at it as if looking at what's in there. I wasn't thinking she was a robber coz she was wearing a uniform of some sort, and she was undeniably pinay. That's when it hit me: "I am nearing the Philippines na pala where in people stare at you no matter what." Maybe she thinks I am major taga bukid for sitting 'crisscrossed applesauce' on a corner. haha!

  • In my 42 hours travel, I have been to 4 different airports, and Singapore Changi Airport is the most impressive! I was shaking my head super-bad and murmuring to myself how this airport is a "consumerist haven." I really wanted to get something hot to eat, but I was overwhelmed with tons of choices and I ended up not buying anything.

  • Majority of flight was spent aboard Singapore Airline Airbus A380. I didn't know it was a big deal until I 'googled' it. Apparently Singapore Airline is the first airline to fly the legendary A380 which by far the biggest kind of airplane yet (correct me if I am wrong, though)

  • I chose window seats aboard Virgin America and Singapore Airline but ended up choosing the aisle seat on  SilkAir (Changi to Cebu flight.) I was thinking that I should choose the aisle seat so I can dash out asap the moment I land in Cebu. I ended up totally regretting it coz I missed all the view! (I was flying around 9AM, arrived in Cebu around 1 PM.)

  • Dang, there are a lot of Filipinos in Singapore! I often hear bisaya here or tagalog there, but man... I cant seem to make friends. I got used to being alone and keeping to myself.

  • The moment I was nearing Cebu, I got major grin on my face. I keep looking out the window with my Joker grin on my face with no regards on what people on the middle and window seat thinks (they were old couple from Davao.) I even saw what looks like our subdivision! Yah, I live near the airport.

  • The road to the subdivision we're in was under some major renovation exact same day that I arrived. When I look back at it all, it was hilarious! I got super confused, ended up riding a 'tri-sikad', my 3 luggages were in the under 'tri-sikad' while I was riding other tri-sikad keeping a close eye on my luggages coz I am paranoid like that.

  • I truly am enjoying my tri-sikad rides and jeepney rides around Mactan. Seriously, I am so paranoid with snatchers and all but why do people flash their iPhones and expensive gadgets in public while here I am, getting paranoid because I don't want to my pink, inexpensive phone to get stolen. haha! I could only laugh at myself.

  • What appears to be so big a city Cebu was to me 5 years ago became so small and crowded now (except I.T. Park, which looks like a posh small town where I used to live)

  • Do I regret coming home for good? Except for the mosquitoes, I truly don't regret coming home for good. You see, this is HOME.

  • Filipinos are vain and clean-freak, I can tell by all the TV commercials. It's either pangpa-puti, shampoo or laundry soap. No wonder Filipinos don't know any investment instrument coz there is no single investment commercials I've seen pa (correct me if I am wrong.) Maybe later down the road, may investment commercials na here and there na.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

"Ahhh Miss, Where's the 25 Cents?"

Since we don't have an AC, mosquitoes continue to assult me, so I decided to buy a mosquitero (mosquito net).

I bought it yesterday. It's in yellow and good for one person.

Cost: PHP 159.75

I gave the cashier PHP 200

Change: PHP 40.25

BUT she gave me PHP 40.00! The horror! I then said, "Ahhhh Miss, where's my 25 cents?" Yup, inenglish ko talaga si ate! hahaha!

Call me cheap, tihik, kuripot.... 25 cents is 25 cents, and I would get my 25 cents no matter what they think. No lifestyle inflation here.

Finally, 'Pinas for Good na!

Early this morning: Ahhhh, watching news together with my two brothers and my mom while eating pandesal and sipping some Nescafe early in the morning, this and more are few of the simple stuffs I am enjoying lately.  

I was expecting that a bad-ass humid weather will greet me once I come home, but it is not that hot and humid lately. I have been sleeping without an AC (because we don't have an AC), but my sleep pattern is kind of going bonkers pa but other than that I am a-Ok!

I'll update you guys when I can. I have a whole lot of experience here. Ay, another adventure, I tell you- happy and interesting kind, though.

Welcome to Cebu
Right outside Cebu Airport

Mactan Bridge

Visiting the Carmelite Monastery
Lighting a candle with grateful heart in mind
A monastery where The First Lady President of the Philippines once hid


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Few More Days to Go: Coin Hoarder + Tying Up Loose Ends

O.M.G! Ilang tulog nalang! 

I'm lucky that I'll be in the Philippines in time for His Holiness Pope Francis' visit. One of my "before I die" thing is to see a Pope and to attend a mass conducted by a Pope at St. Peter's Square. Maybe later na ang St. Peter's Square, seeing the Pope muna! I am excited na ewan! Ayyyy! Though it's a sad homecoming coz my father's brother died. I remember those times when my father was in coma, I used to live with them and I always end up sleeping on the couch while watching TV. My uncle will then carry me and put me to bed beside her daughter. He was like a father to me and I'm super sad about his death. At least, nag ha-high five na si Papa at si Uncle somewhere out there now.

  • Closing my bank account: It felt like my expat life finally comes to an end the moment I close my bank account the other day. The manager I talked to said she used to work for Chase in Cebu, and she liked it there a lot. I could tell that she used to live in the Philippines for a while because she didn't pronounce Cebu weirdly (not "Say-boo", you know)

  • Changing my coins: I am a coin hoarder, what can I do? Watch the video for a proof and see how much coin I hoarded at the end.

  • Deactivating my pre-paid phone line

  • Doing some tourist-y stuffs: I went sightseeing. I used to ignore a famous tourist spot nearby and since I am going home, I need to see it all one last time. I took tons of pics.
It so darn cold now! 10 degrees but feels like zero degree, the weather channel said! It snowed the other day, by the way- the first snow of the winter. Mother Nature really wanted me to see a snow before I leave, huh?

    One last selfie with Sir Abe. Four score and seven years ago...

  • Returning the last DVD I watched (The Awakening)  and the last book I read (You Can be Happy No Matter What) to the library: I secretly said goodbye to the library. Gosh, I shall miss that place! Books were my best friends for the longest time, library was a place where I got all my entertainment for free! For that, I am super grateful.

  • Giving up my tripod and a whole lot of stuffs: I was so over the 50 lbs limit, so yah.. need to give up stuffs. Oh well, it's just stuffs. I can afford to buy it all again if I need it. Trust in abundance.

  • Downloading tons of e-books in my Kindle for the loooong trip home: Actually, You Can Be Happy No Matter What is not the last book I am going to read borrowed from the library. I downloaded 10! Yes, 10! 10 is the limit for e-books, so I downloaded 10. This will hopefully keep me entertain while on long layovers and such.

  • Finalizing my suitcase:  All my bags are pack, I'm ready to go! The main goal of this blog is at hand. See you soon 'pinas!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Random Thoughts # 2

  • In preparation for my upcoming flight: Motion sickness medicine or melatonin, which medicine should I buy?
  • Yay, received  $5 CVS coupon!
  • Remembering my first ever bus ride experience: I was clutching my rosary,praying and calling all the saints I can think of the first time I rode the bus alone. It was only 1.3 miles away, but I was scared beyond belief! Now? Pfft... I walk the same route almost everyday, and still often wonder why did I get so scared before.
  • Why do people here call the 'restroom' a bathroom even when they are in the mall or public places? I mean, do you take a bath in the mall? Geez! Haha, I am being literal, I know. In their defense, they don't understand why Filipinos call it Comfort Room or CR. 

  • Yah, Filipinos are blessed, or cursed, with young looks, swear! You can't imagine how many times people mistaken me here as a highschool student. Some even commented that I looked too young to be working with old people... until I tell them my real age-  and they get shocked for a split second
  • By reading this book AND taking notes, does it mean I am not happy? Probably the last book I'm reading from the library. In my defense, I learn by taking notes- tons of it, actually. If this book is my book, the edges would have been filled with scribbled notes and would have been filled with highlights and all. Active reading, they said.

  • I should stop watching too much "What's in my carry-on" videos and Philippine vlogs.

  • When it's so cold out and you can see your breath every time you exhale, I purposely go out early for a long walk because I like pretending to be a fire-breathing dragon or a train (chugga chugga cho cho, complete with hand gesture pa!) I know, I am weird, as long as nobody's looking! I am Smaug the Terrible.... or Thomas the train. Haha!

  • My first ever Snow Storm experience. Snowmaggedon '10.

  • Should I name my first dog Gannicus (my favorite gladiator) or Stark (my favorite Avenger)?

  • Ahhhh, one of the highlights of working abroad is having the chance to wear my father's sweater! He was a swimming coach and this was his  "uniform."

  • As my journey to Pinas for Good comes to an end, I am thinking of deleting my blog for good. Blogging anonymously has been a way for me to cure my homesickness. Pouring your heart out to strangers as well as your thoughts, goals, etc., is surprisingly therapeutic. It also made me quit my addiction to Facebook. My heart swells whenever someone comments or email how they changed their mindset because of me, or how they have been listening to podcasts or considering going to the library because of me. I never expected how this little blog,and my thoughts/experiences, could influence a number of people.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Should I Adopt the Baby?

"By 35 years old, if 'the one' is still not around, I'll adopt a baby," I told myself that- written in my journal actually.

Marriage and having kid/s really came knocking in my door lately- by lately I mean a year or so ago. I always thought that I would remain single forever, that I won't get married, like, ever, coz ewww, depending on other man for survival is against me and my beliefs. I saw my mom struggle after my died pass away. I told myself that I would never, ever depend on any man. I won't get married and have kids because I don't want my future kids to experience what I experienced, if ever my future husband dies early- like what happen to us. And I also has fear that my future husband will die young because, according to them, the mole on the side of my nose is bad luck, dinadaanan daw ng luha and that means my husband will die young. As stupid as it is, I believed it for the longest time- made me an anti-marriage and anti-having-kids even more! Hail to the mole on the side of my nose!

It was only a year or two, when I became financially literate, that the fear of marriage and having kids to raise disappear. It was replaced with yearning to start my own family. It comes with age, I guess, and this woman's biological clock,too. I know, it's against feminism to believe in biological clock, but I don't consider myself feminist- I am independent, not a feminist(okay, not a full-blown, hardcore, extremely feminist, ya know what I mean? I am not really an expert with feminism thing, as you can probably tell.)

Why am I bitter? I asked myself. The commenter in my last two posts, God bless his/her heart, gave me an idea why. It's because I sacrificed a lot- from working abroad and forgetting/learning to let go of my happiness to saving money like a madwoman just so I can help my family get out of poverty.  My attempt to be different from the aunts, who somewhat left a scar within me, failed. That maybe, just maybe, I could have done things differently. I could have treated my niece just how my aunt treated me before- from all the belittling that I received to you-won't-go-anywhere-if-it's-not-for-me feeling. Maybe, if I applied the same tactics, my niece with learn to despise me and, in turn, would not be one of those teenage moms OR maybe I envy  my niece so much because I didn't have the same opportunity as she now has, and she wasted it. 

Why do I blame myself so much? For that, I have no answer. The feeling of bitterness and disbelief is still raw, and I know in time, I will learn to accept it all.

Back to the question, should I legally adopt the baby? Part of me says yes, but the little voice in me says 'NO.' No because my niece should learn a lesson, that she should face the consequences of her actions, that maybe it won't occur to her that "okay lang naman that I'll slip up, Tita will save me naman in the end."

Despite the bitterness that I am feeling, I asked her what her plans are, I  don't want to intrude in her decisions- I can only suggest, but not intrude. It's her life, I don't want to spoonfeed her with decisions. I want to still help her with school and all if she really,really wants to go back to school. Things will be different, she won't be the carefree college student she once was. I'll give her second chance, and if she screw it all up again, I won't help her anymore. Fair enough?

Gosh, what happened to that kid who blushingly and secretly told me when she got her very first period? Seems like yesterday and now, she will become a mother.
I worry about her younger sis, would she follow in her older sister's footsteps? 

Times are hard. If only pre-marital sex is openly talk about in the dinner table in our culture.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

When in Doubt... : Mantras, Quote and Song that Help Me


December's gone..
It's January 1, 2015 already! My flight back to pinas for good is fast approaching! So many things to do, but the tightening of the chest (nothing serious) whenever I think of my flight back home makes me want to stop for a bit, take a deep breath and say three lines which have become my mantras.

So, this it how it feels like... One day all is good and you think that your decision is the right decision, another day you doubt yourself and your abilities to pursue the goals that that decision has open up. But I guess it's all part of the journey, it adds flavor to our lives.

I've always been a goal-setter and a goal-pursuer. When I see a goal worth chasing, I do whatever it takes to get to that goal. Yah, I encounter negativity here and there, that I would never make it and all. But those negativity become a way for me to inspire myself to work hard, that I would never fail. So, you want me to fail? Support me instead of putting me down, coz the more you put me down, the more hardheaded I become.

Few more days and I am off to the Philippines for good, when I am in doubt, I  talk to myself and I recite the three lines that has become my mantras lately:

  • Everything will be okay
  • Everything will turn out just the way you want it to be
  • Another adventure worth pursuing, you can do it.. you can do it just like before, just like you always do

When people around you don't care or don't approve of your decision and you know in your hearts of hearts that this decision is the right thing for you, instead of them and their negativity affects you or get into you, pep-talked yourself- be your own cheerleader!

This whole business of going home for good has been questioned many, many times. 'Why are you going home 'pa?' They often ask, and I go through the whole litany of things, I mean, I know I don't have to explain myself, but sometimes I also got to remind them that it's my life, that I am strong, independent woman and I can make it.

Believe me, I encounter a lot of doubters, and for every doubter, this quote has been of great help:

"Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from weak minds"-Albert Einstein

"Doubters and negative people= weak minds" - just remind yourself that. I know, sometimes they have the best interest in mind, but just as long as you did your homework, that you aren't pursuing a goal blindfolded, you will be alright.

I also have a theme song that I listen to and reminds me of what matters most, I know listening to a song is cheesy, but whatever... All to cheer you up and keep you on track, right? I suggest you watch the video as well. 

                Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)
                                            By: Green Day 

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time
It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right
I hope you had the time of your life

So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial
For what it's worth it was worth all the while

It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right
I hope you had the time of your life 
It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right
I hope you had the time of your life 
It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right
I hope you had the time of your life

New Year, New Journey...