Thursday, August 30, 2007

Medical Afterthoughts and Malate Meanderings

I was too exhausted from my nightly purging and packing ritual Tuesday night that I completely forgot to set the alarm to get to K's medical exam appointment at 0630 August 29.

By a stroke of sheer grace, my eyes opened wide at exactly 0438 Wednesday morning. The plan was to be up at 0330 in order to leisurely prepare for the cab ride to Roxas Blvd and the nearby St. Luke's Extension Clinic (SLEC). I don't know how I was able to wake up considering I was in the middle of R.E.M. (Not the band...)

So off we dashed out our gate in the pre-dawn light in a drizzle at 0520. We found a cab at the neighborhood taxi stand and made it to J. Bocobo St. by 0545. K got a number - 90 - then we slumped into chairs expecting a long wait. To our surprise, the ball started rolling twenty minutes later and K began the process that saw her lining up for the digital encoding of her face; an X-ray; a medical exam; an immunization history interview; blood-letting; urine-letting; and all the other things done to examine ones... health.

We were told to return the following day at 0900 (which was earlier today), to get the results. Still exhausted from our lack of sleep and the tired that's catching up with us, the alarm woke us at 0500 and we promptly ignored it. An hour later we were running out the door to catch a shuttle back to SLEC.

What greeted us was the sight of 500 people crowded on all five floors of the building.

K got her forms and then headed for the Immunization Section for two shots. So proud of her! She put on a brave face and didn't even flinch as the nurse poked each of her arms. Six hours later we were finally done.

I took her for a brief walk yesterday down A. Mabini St. located in the area of Manila known as Malate which was once famous as a Red Light District, aka girlie bars. (I used to go to some of these places when I was in college to catch my favorite band, The Dawn, when they did a series of shows. Fodder for another blog!)

It would have been cool to spend an afternoon just hanging out at that side of town - Luneta Park, Paco Park, Aristocrat Restaurant, Penguin Cafe - telling her stories of a Manila I once knew. But tired got the better of us and we decided to head for the more modern Makati and our jeepney ride home from The Fort.

I did get to point out the beautiful Sy-Quia Apartments - North and South - that have been up since World War II. "Some pretty cool artist types live there, hun." I whispered to K in the jeep. ''Old money-types as well with Spanish names..''

''Is that Malate Church?'' she asked. ''It looked bigger when I last saw it.''

''You were 5, hunny. Of course it was!''

I guess life has a way of changing our perspective when we get older.

I'm curious how we will both remember that day some time in the distant future, asking ourselves how huge a change this whole moving back/moving to the states was.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

gastronomic adventure.

This whole moving thing is making me adventurous in a "food way".

I had a day-old chick with my friends yesterday.

And balut the other day. Both were surprisingly yummy! I just had to overcome the outward appearance.

I better get to sleep. Only a couple of hours til my medical at the embassy!

Monday, August 27, 2007

There are Places I Remember

Couldn't resist borrowing a line from The Beatles. I've sifted through more than half of our belongings and am almost at the second part - more sifting.

I'm trying to be brutal and ruthless with all this discarding and donating. It's been hard on my emotions and time. How do I throw away memories? May I please have more hours in my day to get through the tearing and sweating and dusting? In order to streamline the process even further, I will be purging yet again from the things that already survived the first round.

As I go over old documents and notebooks and pictures, I come across old billing statements with my former addresses. It got me wanting to list all the places we lived from the day we left our home after my mother passed away in 1997.

I think this is the best way to remind myself how diverse our journey has been. When I finally have a scanner, I will insert images for the addresses that have them.

Here goes:

1. Humility Corner Kindness Streets, Multinational Village, Paranaque City
The second home I lived in since moving to the Philippines. My mom had this five-bedroom house built. It was sold after she passed away in 1997.

2. 202 Jakel Mansion, Pasig City
My first attempt at fixing my "own" place. This large two-bedroom condo was situated near the highway so you can imagine the wonders it did for my asthma. It was a mid-rise walk up that had four floors.

3. 304 Jakel Mansion, Pasig City
I learned the hard way that I couldn't afford the spacious two-bedroom unit so my landlord kindly allowed me to move to a much smaller two-bedroom condo one floor up. He even re-financed my deposit and converted it to the new place.

4. JP Laurel St, Marikina City
As soon as our contract ended (and I returned to NU107 after a year's return to 99.5RT), I opted for a much cheaper place. The only downside was that it was in a heavily-flooded area.

5. San Isidro St., Metroville Subdivision, Pasig City
The novelty of living in a flooded area wore off so we followed my best friends when they moved out and moved into a small neighborhood apartment four blocks away from them.

6. 2002 Renaissance Tower, Meralco Avenue, Pasig City
I started a network marketing business and moved into a place I really couldn't afford. It was gorgeous though - 6 pools, 4 tennis courts, gym, and parking. K and I shared its one-bedroom and
its breath-taking view of Antipolo, Marikina and Pasig. New Year's was spectacular with fireworks going off seemingly right outside our window.

7. 1804 Mega Plaza, Ortigas Center, Pasig City
Bit the bullet again and moved into a two-bedroom condo in the heart of the bustling business district. We were right across a mall that we used as our entertainment center since we had no TV. Our movie budget though skyrocketed.

8. Hillside St., Cityland Townhomes, Pasig City
I went bankrupt from my business and couldn't afford to live in our nice condo. My friend kindly took us in for a season until we got back on our feet again.

9. 3005 Mega Plaza, Ortigas Center, Pasig City
I got a second job and we returned to our beloved favorite building. This time, to a simple studio. I eventually left radio and worked as a Communications Manager for a call center down the road from our place. It took me ten minutes to walk to my desk everyday.

10. 2204 Paragon Plaza, Mandaluyong City
I was pirated by another center. We moved to a much nicer condo closer to my new job in Makati. Our building was right on EDSA, the main thoroughfare of Metro Manila. My asthma loved this place.

11. Paranaque City
My then office relocated its headquarters to Alabang. At first, I didn't think it would be difficult to take the bus every day 75 kilometers back and forth. But practicality took over and we returned in 2005 to the beloved city we left behind almost ten years ago.

In some ways, I'm reminded of the Israelites wandering in the desert after leaving Egypt. They followed a pillar of fire and a cloud to get to their promised land. But whereas our journey has taken us full circle back to our roots, I wonder if my returning to the US is actually just another stop on my journey that will one day bring me back to the Philippines, or another country. Or if the US is the place I will call home for good.

It's too soon to tell. What I do know for sure, is that I don't want to miss out on where the pillar or the cloud are going.

Wherever that will be.

song playing on k's old ipod mini: save tonight by eagle eye cherry

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bekins, Boxes and Boracay

Another three-day weekend is upon us here in the Philippines and yet I will be spending it purging more of our house of... stuff.

I've managed to squeeze books, and assorted this's and that's into one box. I'm not happy yet and will do another round of sorting in the coming weeks. The box is too heavy and needs to be divulged of books and other things I felt deemed worthy of sentimental value. It's most likely c-r-a-p. Will be even more ruthless for Round 2 of operation "Move Life Back to the US".

When my mother transplanted us here in 1980, our entire house fit into a huge Bekins container that followed us via the ocean six months after we arrived in September. The green metal rectangle was attached to an 18-wheeler. How it fit into our narrow street is beyond me. I remember it feeling like Christmas the day it arrived. My bed, toys, dolls and everything else we had owned in the US (except our car) had finally come.

This time as I return to the country I once called home, no containers or vans or trucks will be needed. Everything has to fit into two suitcases and a box. Or a suitcase and a box. And where once we came to the Philippines to the warm welcome of relatives who appeared out of the woodwork, my daughter and I will be going to a state where we know no one save for a few Filipino strangers who are kindly offering the use of their home for a season.

I would have wanted to see more of the country before leaving, especially since I scored a pathetic D on my local travels.

Out of all the beautiful beaches, mountains, lakes, rivers, springs, and caves that I will not get to explore, Boracay is the one place that though I did get to visit, I wish I could afford to go back to just one last time.

Friday, August 24, 2007

How many more days?

AAAAACCCCCKKKKKK!!! That medical exam is next week!

Next week I have to sleep early (or not...), I have to wake up at THREE A.M., I have to wait (better bring a book. maybe Wuthering Heights?), aaaand... yea. Hahaha! That icky part that people have to do for medicals.

Le Sigh.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Six Days to Go

Kyera's medical exam is on the 29th.

She's nervous.

I'm not looking forward to waking up at 3AM.

Here's the face of her waiting.

We had a fabulous weekend. Possibly one of our last out of town with dear friends. Click here for more pictures.

In the meantime, I will be heading to the Bureau of Immigration to surrender my beloved Alien Certificate of Registration (ACR) and Immigrant Certificate of Registration (ICR). I was told I will be given a final exit permit that I will present at the airport before I board. Sigh.

I would have wanted to at least keep these but it's not feasible to since they need to be maintained locally. One of the first things I will do when I get to the US is go to my nearest Philippine consulate or embassy and apply for a Philippine passport so that I can finally be a Dual Citizen.

song playing on itunes: save tonight by eagle eye cherry

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My Undiscovered Philippines

With a little less than a month here left in my beloved Philippines, I am ashamed and sad to admit, how little I've seen of the country I have lived for the past twenty-seven years!

My Lakbayan grade is D!

How much of the Philippines have you visited? Find out at Lakbayan!

Created by Eugene Villar.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Yes, I Blog Too

Hello there!

I was just looking through our blog when i realized that my mom has A LOT of blogs on this. And I'm supposed to be the one with a lot of spare time. So, mom, sorry for not writing as much as you want me to.

Anyway, on to me. Hehehe! My interview with the US embassy is set on September 5th. I'm pretty nervous about it. My medical, which is set exactly a week before my interview, is making me even more nervous. I really really really hope they give me a girl doctor! Right??

Hmmm... Let's go talk about fun stuff now. I'm excited about shopping for a suitcase for me! But, I'm not about to get a pink one. No, mom! NO! I don't care if grey is "old". I'd rather be mistaken as old than as a cutie-patootie. I'm not really looking forward to the packing part... But, I think i can manage...

So... there you have it. That's what I've been thinking about. Interview, medical, suitcase colors, and packing my closet.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Toys for the Extension

My landlady is the BEST!

She's letting us extend until September 15. Whew! After Saturday's drama, I was seriously on the verge of panicking.

At least that has bought us more time to put our life in order, aka pack and box what will fly with us to the states.

In the meantime, I have side projects to keep me entertained before we leave. Remember how I blogged about getting to review cameras? Well, slap me sideways and call me blessed coz I now have in my possession an Olympus E-410! And a Packard Bell EasyNote BU!


Good toys to keep oneself entertained while the daughter waits for her interview the first week of September.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Monkey Wrench

Dear Thelma and Kyera,

We apologize for the inconvenience but your presence is not welcome at our home after all.

Sorry for the short notice.

Hope you find a place to transfer to for a month until you leave.

Good luck.


Yup. That was my Saturday morning. Above conversation actually took place over K's cell phone. Had a good sob over the whole matter and watched Blades of Glory to forget the phone call. It worked. Chazz and Jimmy had me tearing and gasping for breath in a good way.

K and I have our fingers are crossed that we can extend. Otherwise, we'll be crashing on someone's couch.

Please pray for us.

I'm reminding myself that all things work together for good.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Five Sleeps Left

Our lease is up on our current apartment. Actually it ended as of May 15, 2007. But because of this whole "moving back to the US" project, it didn't make sense to lease a new place for a few months; that, and it would have been too astronomical a price to pay.

So I did the next best thing any orphaned only child would do. I asked my ex-mother-in-law if her grandchild, together with her mother, could move in. She agreed.

We move in on August 15.

And we still haven't packed; still haven't sorted through our junk; still haven't realized the full ramifications of moving into someone else's home.

That last part is going to be a stretch for us seeing that we are so used to having our own space. Ten years will definitely a comfortable space make.

Wish us well as we divide our lives into piles labeled "Dump", "Donate", "Deliver".

I promise to be as ruthless as possible. No more pack rat-ing of stuff.

My motto is, "If it won't fit into two suitcases and two boxes, it has no place in my life."

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head...

Tropical Storm Chedeng is reportedly heading out of the Philippines after dumping much-needed rain on the country these past couple of days. It's been a relatively dry year for us this 2007. I remember a couple of years ago that we had somewhere around thirty storms battering our islands. It felt like we were doomed to nothing but rain-filled days that left our hair flat.

Suffice it to say that we're used to days that keep us trapped at home while the rain pours outside. When my mother first moved us to the Philippines when I was in the sixth grade, I remember eagerly anticipating the official announcement that classes would be suspended. (One would think that it would automatically be a given seeing how bad our streets flood.) But wait we did and until told so, we went about our usual morning routine, but making sure to bring windbreakers and rain gear.

It was such a long, long time ago. We had a driver and my mom always brought and picked me up from school. Embarrassingly up until college! (We'll talk about that some other time...)

Nowadays, my life is completely different. I grew up to be a street smart single mom who is solely responsible for another human being. A far cry from the helpless nineteen-year old kid whose husband left her a little over a year after getting married. My mother took care of me and K up until the day she died in 1997. She had a massive stroke five days after her sixty-seventh birthday.

Rainy Window from
Sometimes when I commute home at night, I think about how my mom used to wait up for me even when I could drive. How she always made sure there was some food left over from dinner for me to eat. I miss her.

The littlest things remind me of my long-dead parents. I try to imagine what they would say to me now and what they think about what I'm about to do. I know my American father would be ecstatic. And my Filipina-Italian-American mother always encouraged me to move back someday.

As I come to grips with all the documents that I am gathering from files labeled as "Important", a date leaps out to me. It is September 20, 1980; the date indicated on my Philippine Immigration Certificate. This is the day that I am tentatively scheduled to leave.

I find it poetic. To leave on the same day I arrived twenty-seven years ago. I came here kicking and screaming; I leave with a certain sadness. If not for the Grace of God, I would be an emotional wreck.

So here's to rainy days that bring memories afloat; of days gone by with dearly missed parents; departure dates that are apt.

And the Grace of God that is more than enough.

song playing on K's ipod: svefn-g-englar by sigur ros

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Errands and the City

Day 2 of my crossing-out-my-Mind-Map-To-Do's kind of day. It's the second of my two-day Vacation Leave from the office.

So much for vacation.

It's been years since K and I actually did anything together. My last trip out of town was overnight for a wedding in beautiful Boracay last February. We haven't actually done anything like booking a reservation somewhere and tiring ourselves out getting to said somewhere and just... relaxing.

But it's all good. And as usual, I'm digressing.

So. We went to a statistics office yesterday and then I had to head to another side of town for K's Alternative Learning test results (Yes, Alternative Learning. Fodder for another blog. Sorry. Too long to get into here!). I waited an hour for the coordinator only to be told I had to go to the Department of Education for another set of documents.

Which brings me to today. A one-hour bus ride, a government office, a metro train ride to another side of town, then a recording studio to pick up copies of some of the commercials I voiced, then other side of town near home to meet up with K.

The second of only a couple more errand-driven days to come before September 20, or possibly sooner.

Here's wishing us all stress-free days! Or the storm-proof calm of knowing this too shall pass!