Saturday, August 13, 2011

A SIX-YEAR GLIMPSE INTO MY PAST

Few more days from now and it will be six years since I left my native land.  Six adventurous years of wandering elsewhere but the Philippines. 

When I left the Philippines in August 2005, I never projected myself this far.  I had a short-term goal of saving enough money for the first couple of years so that I could go home for a balikbayan (homecoming) trip, and maybe get married, and then sponsor my family.  That's what I had in mind all along.  My vision was limited to the year 2007 and nothing beyond that.  I told myself that two years is too long a time to be away from my family and loved ones.  I know that so many things could happen with my family back home in such a span of time, and I wouldn't allow myself to miss out on those.  What I didn't realize then was that so many things could also happen to me while away in such a span of time.

A month after I landed in Canada, I got myself a nighttime full-time job.  It was not quite what I hoped for but it was decent enough to sustain the newcomer me.  The following month, I got myself a second job, working from home as a subcontractor medical transcriptionist.  Although I was initially declined for the position due to my lack of Canadian experience, the results of my online test outweighed it, so I was reconsidered.  Not too long after, as if working 12-8 and then 10-3 was not enough to keep my hands full, I took a third job - part-time cafeteria server/cashier/general help.  Between three jobs and sociocultural adjustments, all within three months' time, it was just too hard to cope up.  I was either working or asleep.  I didn't have much of a life to say.  Inevitably, I quit my cafeteria job.  Sometime along there (which I now can't exactly pinpoint when), I broke up with my left-behind boyfriend and concurrently entered a new relationship with a shady-character Torontonian guy.

In about six months, I was on my way to moving out from my relatives' place.  I felt I was ready to live on my own.  I moved from Vaughan to North York in a two-bedroom apartment along with two other roommates.  I had enough savings then for my much thought about 2007 balikbayan trip, but relocating to a new place meant monthly bills, purchasing furniture, and other basic essential expenditure, so needless to say, I used up a good portion of my savings.

Not quite long after I moved in to a new place, I quit my full-time job.  With big responsibilities I had on my shoulders, that was a big decision to make.  I was supporting and looking after myself; my financial obligations to family back in the Philippines; the pressure of sponsoring my family to come to Canada; my utmost desire of a 2007 balikbayan trip - all that and I didn't even have a stable full-time job to begin with.

Amidst depression and frustration, God blessed me with a spiritual home.  I felt the warmth and love of a family through my church.  I gained friends; in fact, much more than friends, brothers and sisters.  With my spiritual family, I found comfort and refuge.

I continued my at-home job.  In fall 2006, my roommates and I decided to move to a cheaper place.  I liked our apartment but I needed to cost cut so that I could save money for a 2007 vacation.  We found a basement apartment close by - and yes, it was not fancy at all, but we moved in anyway.  A month thereafter, it didn't work out the way we thought it would, so my two roommates decided to move out.  I wasn't left with much choice either.  It just didn't make sense to pay a three-bedroom basement apartment and live by myself, yet there was literally no time at all to find somebody who was willing to at least sublet the place.  There was I thinking of cost cutting but then instead I lost a month deposit for breaching the lease.  Much more, with all my stuff, where in the world would I find a place to live at in that such short notice, and winter approaching soon?  It was nearing the deadline and I was in tears chatting with my bestfriend, pouring my heartaches to him, and telling how much I wanted to quit and go home, to which he lightheartedly replied, "Ano ka ba? Gumive up dahil lang sa house hunting?" - loosely translated as "What the heck? You're giving up just because you're having a hard time looking for a place to live?"

Christmas 2007 when I moved in to a two-bedroom apartment situated north of Toronto.  A well-mannered widow was already renting the unit but for the same reason of cutting back on expenses that she rented out the smaller room.  She was quite choosy for a roommate, but we got along well.  Although I mostly kept to myself inside my room, I enjoyed those hearty conversations we shared every once in a while.  Approximately two to three months after I moved in, she purchased a house in East Toronto.  She asked me to be her tenant, which I didn't mind at all, only the commute would be painstaking for me.  I was working from home but I was busy too with church activities, so I wanted to stay close to North York.

Subsequently, with much urging from one of my big sisters in church, I started looking for an office job.  She thought that it was a waste of my talent not to explore my opportunities outside.  Lo and behold, in April 2008, I secured a full-time office position in a company located downtown Toronto.  Little did I know that this opportunity would catapult me into a much bigger world.

With a more secured job, I had the courage to rent a place on my own - no roommates.  I was getting desperate because yet again my move out deadline was nearing.  My bestfriend was relocating in the midtown area at the time so I went with him to check out his new place when he signed the lease.  On our way home, one block from his new apartment, another building had a vacancy sign.  We were both ecstatic and literally jumped for joy when we saw that.  The building superintendent showed us the available units.  First, a one-bedroom, which I couldn't afford, so he then showed us a bachelor, which to my relief suited my budget.  I didn't even think twice when I signed my lease the following week, in May 2008.

Finding a place was just one of the many challenges I was facing then.  I took the worst turn when the shady-character guy I was in a relationship with (or pseudo-relationship more appropriately) left me.  It was like my whole world collapsed.  Again, I was undergoing adjustments - renting on my own, new job, being outside and interacting with people - it was a long, tedious, roller coaster ride for me.  I got by with prayers and help from friends, and the distraction my job brought me. 

In September 2008, five months into recovery from the heartaches of my recently ended relationship, I met Vince.  He was new at work and was training under the supervision of my boss' executive assistant; hence, he had to share the room with us for the first week.  We started off as friends and then became really close, and as they say, the rest is history.

Six months after, in May 2009, Vince quit work to move to the States and pursue residency.  We weathered the long distance between us.  He drove up as often as he could to see me.  I flew down more than a couple of times to visit him.  We went on vacation trips.  We texted, emailed, called, and shared dinners over Skype every day.  In September 2010, we got engaged.  Twenty eight days after, on October 30, 2010, we got married.  It was a very lovely and memorable wedding - more of a wedding impossible - but by God's grace, we pulled it off successfully.  Two days after our wedding, Vince drove back to the States.

In mid November 2010, I was ready for another move - but this time, a really big move.  I was bound to the States to be with my husband.  I submitted my resignation letter at work but God's faithfulness just never fails.  My boss kept me and allowed me to work remotely from the States.

I became a Canadian citizen in December 2010.  I traveled back and forth between Canada and States in January 2011 to finalize my move, obtain my passport, and tie whatever loose ends.  In February 2011, all settled in the States, I was back to working in the comfort of our home.

In April 2011, six months after our wedding, Vince and I went to Jamaica for a honeymoon trip.  Since I moved, we actually have gone on to several other trips and there are more travel plans ahead of us, but yesterday, I was glad when I called a friend to book our flight to the Philippines.

There were countless detours and delays that caused me to miss my supposed-to-be-2007 balikbayan trip, however, none of them matter at all now.  What is important is that finally, the once 25-year-old naive girl who left home to face a battle she had not known, is going to reunite with her family and loved ones soon.  I can't wait to tell them the stories behind each scars and invisible medals pinned on my chest, and if anything else, I can't wait for them to meet the wonderful man I share my life with.

Thank God for those six long years that I have been elsewhere but the Philippines.  I thank Him more because it won't be long until I am home :)

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8 comments:

  1. Such a nice story! :)
    How I wish I can be as strong as you Ms. KM!

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  2. Touch naman ako. Now I believe you can hold the world in a cup. God is good.

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  3. I was so touched by your story. God is really so good with you. My husband and I are currently processing our application for Canada and I can almost relate to what you have just shared. Anyway, I'm happy for you and your husband. God bless you always!

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  4. Thanks, Rovie. All the best to you and your husband's plans on migrating to Canada :) God bless!

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  5. Wohoooooooooo! I was so engrossed reading all your struggles from the start to finish, Lany. You were able to relate everything with so much articulation and most importantly, the heart.

    You're such an inspiration. I don't think I could have done it all had I been in your shoe. MT ka rin pala. I took MT as a short term course in between my regular job in 2006 but I had never put it to good use, hehe.

    Your life's battle to get to where you are now is truly remarkable and inspiring. I am all hats off to you for despite the struggles, you never wavered in your faith to our Lord God Almighty.

    All praises to Him for having such a faithful follower in you ;-)

    Hugs!

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  6. @ Lainy, so true, all praises to God for enabling me to overcome the struggles and hurdles in life :) thanks to Him because I'm a survivor through His unending grace.

    *Hugs*

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  7. After our recent skype chat, i noticed that you have a website?! I clicked and started reading. I enjoyed reading the older ones and this was my favourite! I started thinking, your weekly letters to me when i we moved to Sydney could be considered as your first blogs. it was so detailed, i felt i was still studying in UST and hanging out with your new friends. hahaha...

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