Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Jeepney Experience

I barely can remember when was the last time I rode a jeepney. Maybe it was three or four years ago.

One day during my Manila holiday, out of the blue I wanted to take a jeepney to anywhere. I wonder what it feels like to literally be in Manila, again -- just like the usual lifestyle I've had before.

So I sent a message to J telling her I wanted to go their house and asked her if I could get directions on how to go to her place by commuting. I planned to just cook dinner and enjoy our own time.

She replied, "Sure ka?"

Finally I got the directions saved on an old mobile phone provided by my younger sister. I wore almost "pambahay"-like outfit because Mom said so. I got a small old bag to put in the phone and 700 pesos. Inside my pocket was 30 pesos. Youngest sister told me to act and speak jologs. It was as if the first time I will ever commute in my entire life.

I was quite scared but I have a gleam on my face and very excited. This is going to be memorable.

I want to conquer you again, jeepney.

So from Espana, I rode the Project 2-3 jeepney. I sat behind the driver. I missed saying this, but yes, there was an awkward smirk on my face when I said, "Ma, bayad ho." I gave 20 pesos since I am not quite sure anymore how much is the jeepney ride. It was quite a long journey heading to Anonas, and in between people watching, I somehow tried a few times to open my phone to make sure that I am following the right directions.

Passed by E. Rodriguez, Tomas Morato, Kamuning. I'm so happy I can still remember these roads.

J's directions say: "Text mo ako 'pag nakita mo na ang second Jollibee from EDSA. After kumanan ng jeep, there's a public school on your left, then a pawnshop. Baba ka na dun. Hintayin kita sa babaan."

I was enjoying the ride when I saw the second Jollibee so I was rushing to compose a text message. The jeepney was almost full as I was trying to type away on the mobile phone inside my bag.

It was already too dark at 7pm. I got used to living in a city where the sun only starts to set at around past 7pm. It was too vague but I was quite sure I already saw the public school, then finally the pawnshop! I breathed deeply for one moment as I knocked the ceiling of the jeepney and uttered, "Mama, para ho."

I got off the jeepney, with cold hands. I was screaming in my head, I'm so proud of myself. I made it!

During my travels, I always take public transports. It makes me, belong. And that's the ultimate reason why I wanted to ride the jeepney again.

Though I felt like a foreigner enjoying the jeepney ride, I felt a sense of belongingness again. Finally, I am home.

It was not really scary as I thought it was. :P

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Nomad Takes on a Higher Level

I really believe that when you really love what you do, it somehow loves you back.

I have always been thankful that my career and workplace is exactly giving me a sense of fulfillment in all aspects. It never falters to bring out the best in me. I've always believed that when I put passion in anything that I do, it always turn out good.

I am not really a person who lives for climbing up a career ladder and likes to see her payslips getting higher by the day. I just want what I need. I just need enough -- enough to live by, enough to feed myself, enough to support my family, enough to invest in my personal growth, enough to invest in my future.

There is a certain charm in doing unpaid jobs and projects, whether it is art, crafts, cooking, etc. When I do what I love, and I am not being paid, my work becomes even more fulfilling.

Most of the jobs I've been to, honestly, are not based on how much I will earn, but most importantly, how much I will grow as a person. And luckily, I have found my perfect spot.

On 22 March, I hit the train station earlier than usual to get a copy of TODAY paper, Singapore's free local daily newspaper. It was scheduled that one of the interviews I've had will be published on that day. Flipping every page, my heart kept beating faster and faster. And there, on page fourty-four, titled "The Nurturing Workplace" was the full-page article I was interviewed in with quite a big photo of myself.

It's quite a funny story that while everyone in the train was reading newspaper, they kept on staring at me and back at the paper. I guessed they have recognized me. It was as if I want to sink slowly right there.

However, thinking about it now, and with friends and colleagues telling me how proud they are of me, makes me feel proud of myself too! This is such a humbling experience.

I might be doing these kinds of stuff more often now. I can't wait for more.

Read full article here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dear Future OFW

I have just reached my third year in my present company a few weeks ago. How ironic that it feels I have been here longer than I thought I was, and at the same time, memories of moving here feels just as fresh as it just happened yesterday.

I can still vividly remember my first OFW memories in China, and how everything now feels just like a breeze. Maybe I wasn't ready yet then. Or maybe I was still young. Or maybe, the place and environment are not really for me. Or maybe, working in China was a baptism of fire. I've experienced more than what my 21 year-old self should have gone through. It made me stronger, and more resilient to everything I will be facing in the future.

With only one suitcase and a backpack, my life have started all over again. It was as if I am re-born, in a different environment, but with wisdom and a mindset of a young grown up. I've given up everything of what I had in the past--the comfort of my home, the complacency in my job, the company of my friends, immature habits, and dependence.

It was never easy to be in my shoes. I am here not just because I needed money. Unlike the rest of the Filipinos who work abroad who have to leave home to have more money, I am here because I wanted to prove something not just to people around me, but most importantly to myself.

I got the best family. I got the best education. I was pampered and saw the world in its most beautiful and kindest state. But I was so much eager to see more of it. I want to see the real world, with all its flaws and imperfections so I may be able to truly embrace life as a whole.

Before I have finally decided to leave home, there were a series of goodbyes, of taking it back and accepting again, of letting it all sink in. I looked at my bed for the last time which have cradled me to sleep all my life, and I knew it will never be the same again. I packed all my things and kept them in the storage, not even knowing when will I ever open them again. But this is it, no more holding back.

When I have finally left my comfort zone, it has never been easy. It is not just about working here, it is literally living on my own. I was lucky to have been blessed by friends who have let me in their home, who have sacrificed to squeeze me in their room because I have limited financial resources of starting a new life. And for that, I am forever thankful. In return, I vowed myself to prepare food for them and keeping the house organized for as long as I can.

Working is a different struggle altogether. There were different nationalities to blend in to. The pacing of work is ten times faster than what I have experienced in my previous jobs. There is no such thing as Filipino time. Everything has to always be on the dot. Salary comes only once a month, and budgeting is necessary.

Everyday will always be a struggle. Whenever I feel homesick, I call home. But sometimes, the money in my pocket is just enough for me to sustain the whole month, I couldn't top up extra account on my phone. And when this happens, it's always comforting to know that calling God will not cost me any cent. My faith is strengthened.

There will be days when I wanted to eat out, or cook something good, I end up depressed because I haven't replenished my grocery yet, and still waiting for the next salary to arrive. And there are days too, that I have to save up for the F21 dress my sister is asking me to buy, or a replacement of my sister's stolen laptop, or a piece of G2000 necktie as a birthday gift for my dad, or an extra cash on top of my monthly remittance for my grandmother's medication, and I end up eating 'tuyo' for days. I've done it with no regret, i love seeing them comfortable.

I am here because in spite of the grueling adjustments, nights of non-stop crying, sacrificing, I have become stronger, more faithful, more independent. I can make decisions on my own. I can take charge of my life and be responsible for it. I am beginning to see places, and the more I conquer them, the more I realize that I know so little about the world and its people.

I miss Manila, but not so often now like before. There's nowhere I'd rather be right now. I have found peace in my new home. I have gained friends. I've built memories that I will forever cherish.

So you, my dear future OFW, please give more time to think about working abroad. It surely is a bitter-sweet experience. Weigh what is really essential and what will make a better you. Think about the family you will be leaving. Think about your young kids, and how they will be able to grow without you physically. And for young ones who wanted to make a mark in this world, there is no perfect time than now. Explore the world. You will be surprised and mesmerized how your education in school comprises only a little amount to everything the world has to offer.

Once you set out on your new journey, you will be meeting a lot of people, some may help you along the way, while others will try to push you down. Be forever thankful to all of them for they will shape the new you.

And lastly, whatever you have achieved in your new life, and no matter how far you have soared, once in a while, look back, your past is a continuation of your present. And no matter what, look up too. Be forever grateful that in spite and despite of people and circumstances coming and going, He's never failed you.

So, are you ready?