This marks the end of the Year of Change series. Looking back, it’s been quite a bumpy ride from the start of January to December. My 2013 has been anything but boring. I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve packed my suitcase, hopping from one plane to the next, never being in one place long enough to get settled.
In January – I lost two of my grandmothers and my unborn nephew. It was a funeral month for me. I drifted from one wake to the next. When one ended another came and there wasn’t enough time to recuperate.
February to March – I tried to get settled and did everything to travel outside my city. I just wanted the feel of being in a bus or ferry- the feeling of going somewhere. I travelled to neighbouring islands Leyte to Bacolod then to visit my cousin in Iloilo. By a stroke of luck, my sister gave me $1,000 dollars so that she can completely own my investment. I applied for a visa to New Zealand and China.
April – my friends from the US came and it was a whirlwind of hopping to the tourist destinations in the Philippines. We went to beach party town Boracay then went snorkelling in picturesque Palawan. We ended with swimming with whale sharks in my hometown where I got a huge motorcycle burn in my right thigh. Awesome souvenir.
May – I visited my friends in Hong Kong and China. I missed them and the life we shared there but found nothing much has changed. I’m glad that I have moved out even though I’m now in a wandering state but it is much better than being stuck there and not finding out if there is more to life than being an ESL teacher in China.
Next I went to New Zealand where I saw hobbits in the Lord of the Ring movie set, Hobbiton and Asians in Asiatown, Auckland. New Zealand is absolutely gorgeous with its clear powder blue sky, myriads of green rolling hills and majestic mountains. I would love to go back there again.
June – I got an offer from a good friend to be a marketing assistant in Thailand. I packed up my bags to move to Chiang Mai Elephant Land. Then I couldn’t cope with the stress and the loneliness of often working alone though the job challenged and thrilled me and I had learned so much from it. I also had a bout of bronchitis and had one sickness after another. I couldn’t risk my health so sadly, I packed up my bags and left–
July– August –only to move to Vietnam. I received a job offer to work in Hanoi as a business high school teacher. I accepted because I was going to teach something different and the pay was better than Thailand. However, things got sour because it was a horrible company and they didn’t live up to what they promised. Instead of Business they had me teaching me ESL which a total step back for me. When I quit because I didn’t get what I moved there for things got ugly and they turn out to be racist pigs.
September – I moved out of the temporary hotel I was staying at and moved into my friends’ place while I planned my next action. I concluded I would waste money staying in Hanoi while looking for work so I decided to move back to the Philippines. I toured around Hue and Danang in Central Vietnam then re-visited Saigon again.
October – I got a contract job editing a book about HIV for the international NGO RTI. Then the 7.2 earthquake happened. After surviving the incessant rolling aftershocks, I tried scrambling applying for an EU and UK visa which didn’t work because you had to apply for them 3 months before departure. My friends and I were planning to go to these places in the middle of the year.
November – Day of the Dead. Oct 31- Nov 3 were holidays. Because of the earthquake and a 2 day holiday, my city of Cebu had almost an entire week off. Then on Nov 7 the most god-awful most destructive typhoon to make landfall lands on our doorstep wiping out an entire city of 200,000 people leaving bloated corpses strewn on the roads and thousands homeless.
A few days later, I left to attend a Teach In Japan seminar in Manila only to find out we had to pay $2,000 placement fee. Hell no. The next day, I flew to Japan in the midst of leaf changing season and went to Kyoto, Osaka and visited my Filipino friends in Okayama.
December – I landed in USA where I was treated horribly by immigration in LAX airport (never go to LAX – that’s where they had that insane guy shooting at people). I have visited the US 5 times and they still acted suspicious because my visa was issued in China. The fact that I told them I had worked there didn’t mean anything. Honestly, post 9/11 America immigration is the most paranoid asinine horrible all encompassing big brother institution ever. I don’t feel safe at all but constantly being watched all the time. They are not there to make you feel safe but to make you feel like you are under surveillance and living in an apocalyptic Orwellian world.
I went to Florida then to Vegas where I saw national parks in Utah, California, Arizona and Nevada. I also saw the Grand Canyon which was jaw dropping. Then went up to see the beautiful monuments of the capital Washington D.C. and went up to the old capital Philadelphia and ended with the glittery lights of New York City.
Now it is New Year’s and I’m finally getting the rest I deserve in Philadelphia. I wish for nothing but a quiet New Year now after all I’ve been through. It’s been quite the travelling year for 2013. I thought I was going to move to three countries – didn’t end up in either.
2013 was a mixed bag of good and bad. I never thought I’d travel again after Chile but nature works in mysterious ways. I have worked far more in writing than I ever did in China but I haven’t wound up in something long term yet. I still hope and yearn for that. My path has been scattered, unsure and all over the place. I have kept hitting the restart button and there’s only so much energy you can expend from that. So my wish for 2014 is to find that sense of stability, that rock, my place in finding that balance of earning an income and in making me stimulated, in making me grow, in making me happy. I know once again that it won’t be easy. I’m still in transition. There would be a lot of falling at the beginning. There might be a few restart buttons again. I might lose my way again but I want to keep moving forward.
So as of the moment, I still don’t have a home. I still don’t have a job. I don’t know where I will be. But I will continue to move forward, move forward even though I don’t know exactly where I am going.
Happy New Year everybody.Go back to the beginning of the Year of Change series