OFW Story: Things We Miss From “Pinas”

2015 June: It’s already a month since I started my journey to a foreign land. Looking back, I never thought I’d ever feel this kind of thing you always hear from people, that feeling they call, “homesickness.” It never occurred to me that I’ve been feeling this sort of thing a few nights now. Before, I love putting myself to a restful sleep after a long and stressful day, but now, I’m already having difficulty sleeping at night. Maybe because I’m already homesick.

I’ve talked to some colleagues about this and true enough, they also feel this way. We ended up talking about what we miss being home.

FAMILY & FRIENDS

The only substantial reason why we chose to work a thousand miles away from our motherland is because of our family. Yet, they are also the ones who make us want to go back home as much as we could. However, when the waiting gets too long, all you have are your computer-printed photos of them which you tried arranging in front of your desk. There is no substitute to seeing your family and friends in flesh like you could do back home. No hours of doing/using Skype or Viber can replace the fact that you are living away from them, and you can’t do away from thinking they might have their own sphere without you in it.
 However, thinking negatively won’t help you achieve your goals while you’re in a foreign land. Remember, you are your family’s hope and as much as you miss them, they miss you, too—so much that they get misty eyes when they talk about you. Remember, keep your faith with you and call unto Him, whenever, wherever. He will come to your rescue, no fail.

 

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FOOD

No amount of authentic ramen or swiss chocolate can substitute to the taste we’ve accustomed to long before the age we started talking. Months before going to Japan, my friends and I used to visit some Japanese restaurants to try their cuisine with the goal of getting used to its taste. We were all excited when we had our first Ramen sided with Karaage and Tempura. Yes, we admit we devoured every piece of it at first but when days were passing, and all we can see is the same thing served on the table, we cannot do away from missing the native dish we got used to, growing up.
 For Filipinos like me, who doesn’t miss Adobo, Menudo, Sinigang, Tinola, Pinakbet, Pinikpikan, Dinakdakan, Lechon, Bistek, Chicharon, Dried Mango, Sampaloc, Malagkit, Sisig, Bopis, Empanada, Miki, Champorado at Tuyo, Papaitan, anyone?

FEELING OF BELONGINGNESS

I had this one experience with my friend while we were in a coffee shop. We were talking about how good the coffee was, meanwhile, a group of adults dashed passed us, just as we started speaking in Tagalog. I know, some locals do not want to be asked or to be disturbed, however, we felt like we were so gruesome that time that they really need to run as fast as they could from where we were standing. 
People living in a foreign country right now, will agree to me that there is this some kind of “awkwardness” every time you go to pubic places or even in a small get-together. When you are the “foreigner” in that place, there is this kind of feeling you encounter every time you mingle with the locals. It is not because they are not approachable or kind to you but they are not just “the same” people you know. Being in a foreign land entails that you need to act and think the same way they do. Don’t get me wrong when I say “the locals,” what I mean is the people originally living/residing in that place.
 Sometimes, you miss being carefree. Free from thinking you might get caught by the police without your Residence Card or passport with you. Free from thinking you might get summoned by someone because you might have spoken too loud or you might have used your camera in places you are not supposed to. It is just so different when you are in your own country where you can always ask people anything you want, or you can just be yourself without a bit of hesitation.

Read More: 5 Problems OFWs Hide Their Families

TRANSPORTATION

I know, majority of us opted to work abroad to seek for greener pasture. This means, we moved to a place where technical advancement is not a buzz, but just par for the course. However, when you get accustomed to high-technology transpo, you always miss this somehow-stressful, back-to-basic kind of ride back in your own country.
 For Filipinos like me, still, nothing beats the morning rush in the Metro, or the TryBike or Tricycles in the provinces, and of course, the famous Jeepney—who wouldn’t miss the moment when you pass your fare one passenger to another until it reaches the collector or the driver? True enough, the Philippines is still in her developing phase but this “Bayanihan” (cooperative endeavor, Google) all over the country is but unveiling.

 

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THE PLACE ITSELF

Sometimes, during an ordinary day, when you’re at work, you plan your way home with the thoughts of common streets leading to your house, and all of a sudden, you get back to your consciousness remembering that you are a thousand miles away from home! This makes you think more about things and places you miss about your own country.

Read More: 10+ Things OFWs Won’t Tell Their Loved Ones

YOUR HOBBIES

When you’re in a different country, although you can still pursue your hobbies, there is still some hindrances you will encounter like time, budget, etc. Like for me, what makes me happy is making pastries, while for my other colleagues, they love cooking native dishes. Although we have available ingredients here, it is still not the same taste like what we make back home, when we make it for our families to partake and when a simple cuisine means a special banquet to them.

FINAL THOUGHTS: There might be things we miss about home but looking back to our failures and successes, we should always be grateful about what we have right now–being in a “greener” pasture. We might miss home from time to time, but we should remember to be grateful at once because we have the opportunity to change our family’s future to a better and more convenient one. Kudos to all OFWs all over the globe!


Above photo from Nicole Lawvia pexels.com

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10+ Things OFWs Won’t Tell Their Love Ones

1.

What you see in FB posts taken from beautiful places were only visited once in a blue moon and the chance to take these photos were actually very rare. They just take a looooot of photos, for their family to see. Actually, it is just 1/16 of the whole picture.

2.

OFWs carefully choose what they post in their social media because they want to avoid getting their family worried about them. They won’t show you how hard their work is or how difficult it is to be alone from a thousand miles away.

3.

HOMESICKNESS is REAL.

4.

They are eaten by sadness especially during that particular time when they go to bed. They actually realize no one is waiting for them to share the bed with. (I mean, those precious moments you have when you know that after a tiring day, you are going to have kulitan moments with your kids, your parents, your siblings, your wife/husband and share the comfort of that soft, mushy, cushy, velvety bed back home).

Read More: OFW Story: Things We Miss From “Pinas”

5.

BALIKBAYAN BOX is not just an ordinary box. It is a huge box where all the love, care, affection and sentiments were accrued together to form and fill the box, complete. It is not just the pinaglumahang gamit, or “just those things taken from the sale.” It was carefully and wholeheartedly planned and bought just for you, that’s why you often receive it with your name written on it somewhere. This is hard to explain, but it is the reality.

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6.

They rush to SALE to get you the newest model or item you can possibly have with an affordable price. So even if their monthly budget is very tight, when the sale comes, they forget about the budget and rush to buy your bilin or pasalubong, just to make you happy.

7.

In order to complete the BALIKBAYAN BOX, what they do is to buy items from sale, or from flea market. They do it one item after the other. They do not buy the contents or items to complete the whole box all at once, because believe me, it’s not possible, because we can’t afford the whole thing.

8.

After buying one item after the other, some months will pass until they’ll finally realize it’s time to order the “box” from their maaasahang courier agency, most of these boxes are pre-paid so they shell out some part of their savings to pay for it. (One large box is more or less a hundred bucks, 100USD, so it’s quite expensive, some are cheaper depending on the destination).

Read More: 5 Problems OFWs Hide Their Families

9.

Even if they plan to send the balikbayan box in the next 6 months, they already have the “list” of what to buy and to whom it will be given.

10.

Every time they go to malls or department stores, most of the things they’ll see are items which are fit to a certain family member. Let me say it in Tagalog, “Ah ito bagay kay Nanay,” or “Siguro magugustuhan ni Bunso ito.” Actually, they seldom do think about buying themselves new things because they always prioritize their family who are left in the Philippines. They want you to be happy, and even with just a simple shirt or item from that mall, we expect that you will appreciate it because we remembered you.

11.

A simple “thank you” means a lot to us.

 

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12.

Most of our OFWs are always in their best behavior and stance when they are in their job, even if they are sick. So no matter how difficult it is to work when you have high fever, excruciating back pain or your cough is getting worse, they will patiently finish their shift because they do not want salary deduction. “Sayang kasi eh, pantuition na lang ni Bunso.”

13.

The reality of having no one to care for them when they’re sick is a life-sucking reality.

14.

After a tiring day, they won’t go straight to bed, because they still need to cook, do the laundry, iron the uniform, or to tidy up a little because nobody else will do this for them. Indeed, they are their own heroes.

Read More: 5 Problems OFWs Hide Their Families

15

Most of them stay at home for Skype calls or short period rests during their day off.

16.

Hindi masarap ang buhay sa abroad. Akala mo lang iyon.

17.

They suffer a lot from being spendthrift. For example: They do not use the heater even if it’s freezing outside because their electric bill will explode, basta lang makatipid, kahit lamigin, ok lang. Another example is: They actually eat the same food everyday, just because it was the cheapest version of bread or whatnots in the supermarket. Whichever the sale is, ‘dun lang dapat ang choice mo.

18.

Their appetite is actually limited by their budget.

19.

They love you so much that’s why they are willing to sacrifice everything for you, even if it means being away from you.

 

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20.

Choosing to work overseas doesn’t mean we want to escape the poverty in the Philippines, but we want to be the solution to this poverty.

21.

There are times when we’re alone in our room, and then we suddenly burst out in tears, because we miss you.

22.

Short messages from you means the world to us. Photo messages of daily events in your life are even better.

Read More: The Hardest Part Of Being An OFW

23.

Please do not think of us like we are very mayaman or big time, because we actually are not. Naninilbihan lang din kami sa ibang lahi, kahit gaano kahirap, titiisin para lang sa pamilya.

24.

Most OFWs go home without savings because they send their salary straight to their family. Salary means remittance. In short, dadaan lang sa kamay mo iyong sahod mo.

25.

When exchange rates are high, we are the happiest.

26.

We wanted to give you everything, or buy everything you want, but sometimes, the budget can’t make it, and we are deeply sorry.

27.

We are terribly sad when we miss all the important events in your lives.

28.

Social media” is our next hobby.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I did this post without the intention of making all the families of the OFWs (even mine) to feel sad or to feel guilty, but I did this on behalf of the OFWs out there.  All the things written in this post may not be true to every OFW all over the globe, but at least one is true, I must say.

To our families,  we just want you to know that we love you so much and you are always on our minds and hearts every waking moment of everyday. Your happiness, your presence, your care are the things we dream about before we go to sleep. You are the force that gives us determination. Just the thought of you being completely happy is what makes us get up every morning. We ask you to remember us always and pray for us every day, and make sure you are healthy and safe, because these things are the ones we want to make sure at the end of every tiring day away from you.

To GOD be all the GLORY!

Kudos to all OFWs!!!

***

Above photo from Skitterphoto via pexels.com

Read More: OFW Story: Things We Miss From “Pinas”

 

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10+ Things to Do While Waiting for His R&R

I know even the minute you bid goodbye, you already start to miss him, right? I can say, “been there, done that,” but then again, even if we’ve been together for quite some time, time and time again, it pains me when he’s gone.  I know how you feel, because right at this moment, I’m feeling it, too.

“But girl, everything will be all right, alright?” This is what I could only tell myself, right now, and I could may be say to you. Everything is going to turn out well.

Let me tell you a little story, this happened when I graduated from College and he was still inside the Academy, that I think, he was a Cow, back then. Those times, I know I have to find a job because after all, (in God’s love and providence,) I’ve passed the board exam, and I was only waiting for my license number which will be issued by PRC. But then, to tell you frankly, I never chose to look for a job or to have a committed work-related stuff back then because I was afraid I might miss something from his Cadet “Milestone.” Gladly, I have loving parents who didn’t require me to look for a job or to give back as early as that time, they only told me to do whatever I want this time (because I think they were relieved that the “future” is mine after passing the NLE, and after all, I was only 20 years old that time). My parents were very supportive, so I never looked for a job after College, I just “enjoyed” or I think the better term is “rested,” after of course the grueling review for the exam.

While waiting for his R&R, I am as hopeless as a person who wants snowflakes in Summer. I just hang in there, waiting for his break, of course my parents know Sancho as early as that time, and they treated him as their own child, they were very supportive of us. (Sobrang tiwala, and kita niyo naman ngayon ang results ng pagtitiwala ng both sides ng parents namin, kami pa rin, at sa Awa at Tulong ng Diyos, hindi naman kami pumalya. Hehe)

Here are the things { I did, I am doing, and I think I will continue to do } whenever I miss him during his deployment.

1. CULTIVATE A NEW HOBBY

TBH, I’ve had a lot of “new” hobbies, name it: collected and tried to take care of plants (but after a week I’ve gotten lazy, so my Dad continued watering them and they withered after a couple of months hehe): took care of a dog (my Mom continued taking care of Britney~my Pekingese Dog, until she died after mounted by an AsKal, this is a true story, I will talk about this in a different entry post); I’ve tried ARTS! You know, crayons, paints and stuff on a canvass, after a few days, I got lazy again, you know what happened next.

I can talk for a day or two for the things I’ve done to help me cope with my loneliness because he was away. You might think I am overacting, but honestly, that time I was only 20 years old. Some hopeless romantic kid who just found out about love, so yeah, call me crazy. Hehe

So the point here is, do something new. Promise, it will alleviate your loneliness.

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2. LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE

The first language I’ve self-learned was Finnish. (Nauso kasi ‘yun dati sa Baguio e.) Then later, of course, Japanese. Try to learn a new language, it will be so dramatic if you say I love you in different languages, right? Or try to learn new dialects from our very own country, like for me, I speak Pangasinan and Ilocano fluently, and I am currently learning how to speak in Cebuano, because Sancho was assigned to a Cebuano-speaking area and actually he could already speak fluently that sometimes he doesn’t notice he’s talking to me in Cebuano. (Lagi niya ako Binibisaya nang hindi niya napapansin, gusto ko rin matuto para makasagot ako sakaniya hehe.)

3. ENROLL IN A SHORT COURSE

That first assignment he took right after his graduation was one of the deepest dents in our relationship. But I took it head on, and came out alive and somewhat productive. As he was busy applying his military prowess in the field, I, too, was applying my baking prowess.  LOL I enrolled in Baking Class for about a month or so. At first it was just for fun, or something to keep me busy, then it dawned on me, I was actually enjoying every single minute I spent inside the Baking Lab. I just lab it. LOL

Learn something new, promise it will be worth it, want to know why? Because when Sancho learned I was good at baking, everytime he comes home from deployment, we bake and cook together. It’s actually kind of fun! Next time, I’ll be enrolling in Culinary, promise!

4. VOLUNTEER

There are a lot of weekend activities you could do in your own community, it will really help you expand your horizon or grow your network.

When Sancho was busy during his first assignment after his graduation, I was left with no choice but to actually face reality of finding my own career path. I’ve volunteered to a provincial hospital and signed up for a Dialysis Program/Training–which I think I got from his brother, because his brother is a Dialysis Nurse. After the training, I went back to Baguio and thought of signing up for PMA Station Hospital’s Nurse Residency Program. Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, I was actually that Nurse who took care of Cadets and Soldiers for almost a year inside the Academy! I will share some stories about my experience  in a different post.

5. TRAVEL

The first area I’ve ever been to without him was in Aklan, yes in Boracay. We also went to Iloilo to eat Bachoy with my Family. Believe me, it will give you stories to share when you’re already back in each others’ arms.

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6. PLAN YOUR NEXT TRIP TOGETHER

I’ve always wanted to go to Tagaytay! Haha I never had the chance to go back there as and Adult. LOL I’ve studied Language in the Metro for almost a year but then again, I never had that single chance of going there. Oh wait, I have. It was when he got back from Schooling and then I tried to lure him into going there but when it was time to leave (at 0300H) he actually asked if we could do it some other time, and went back to sleep. Poor baby!

So plan your next trip and actually implement it. hehe

7. MAKE YOUR BUCKET LIST

Believe it or not, I started to make a list of our “Relationship Goals” when we were only days old. Haha I will actually take a photo of it if the notebook was with me, but it is in Sancho’s keeping. I wrote there stuff like, go on a Movie Date, Dance in the rain, Travel together etc etc etc… Be specific!

8. DATE YOUR PARENTS

After College, I told you I didn’t for once look for a job, so I had the luxury of time to be with my parents as in ALL THE TIME for more than a year. We had coffee 3x a day in our house, we went for road trips together, we saw some movies together, and we went to new places. Thank God I had the chance to be with them esp my Dad.

9. MAKE YOUR OWN SCRAPBOOK

I always wanted to make our very own scrapbook, pero laging hindi natutuloy. Print your important photos and make some scribbles or do some arts! I think it’s fun!

10. MOSAIC YOUR PHOTOS

I want mosaic of our photos together. Pero I want puzzle pieces para may twist. I just don’t know how to do this, yet. But, I think, when I’ll get time, I can actully look for a suitable app and put my hands on it. Try it, too!

11. MAKE AVP OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP MILESTONES

When we get married, I want to show a audio-video presentation of how our relationship started. It might cost me lengthy hours of doing it, but I think it will be worth it. Make yours, too, and show him when he gets home!

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FINAL THOUGHTS: Waiting for his R&R is actually boring. Hehe But then again, if you look on a brighter side, you will realize it’s actually quality time for yourself and for your family to bond or to do new things. Keep yourself busy with things to do, and later on, just before you know it, he will be there right at your doorsteep looking for you. Go girl!

***THE LIST GOES ON! Comment or message me so we can input your thoughts! I love to hear from you! What do you do during his Deployment aside from work? 🙂

Above photo taken from Naoshima Island with Sancho. Sorry for our sun-kissed feet! LOL

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6 Things We Learned From Traveling As A Couple

“In life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with.”

Yesterday, I posted an article (Read: The Great Take Life) regarding how my fiancé surpassed all the difficulties when he was still preparing for his visa. It was kind of crazy, but then again, after all those things he’s been through, he succeeded. He got his way to visit me here in Japan. I’m such a lucky girlfriend.

So this time I will be talking about what we learned as a couple from traveling together.

A LITTLE BACKGROUND: Originally, I was assigned to have my OJT in Western Japan (far from my dream places which are Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe), my place is a city but then it’s a “provincial” city. LOL So I want to see “other” beautiful places, which I haven’t seen before. This time is somewhat special because I’m with the person I love. ❤

In short, we want to go to places we’ve never been before, places we don’t know anyone. SO WE DID.

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Here are the things we learned from traveling as a couple:

#1 To Stay FOCUSED

First of all, it was our first time to visit those places. It was also our first time to travel together as a couple, outside the country, so we were very overwhelmed.

Due to excessive excitement, you might find yourself amused with all the attractions you will see, this is good, because you are only appreciating the uniqueness of the area, but then again, if you over-do it, you might miss the chance of seeing the “bigger” picture because you spend so much time on the “small” ones.

Always remind yourself that you were there to see that certain place you dreamed of seeing, just like what you’ve planned in your itinerary. STAY FOCUSED because you might be regretting the time you spent on the details, instead of seeing the real picture.

#2 To Share #3 To Be Thrifty #4 To Be Resourceful

We didn’t come there to spend all our life savings just for one trip, because we promised each other this would be the first of the many trips we will have for the rest of our lives.

We went there to experience the culture, the beauty of nature that only Japan has to offer. We went there to feed ourselves with new discoveries and fill our minds with new memories together. We were making a history. But then, this doesn’t entail that we have to be very extravagant so we learned to share, to be thrifty, and to be resourceful.

(Wizarding World of Harry Potter, taken when we were drinking a cup of Butter Beer lol)

For example we want to experience drinking Butter Beer (just like what we read in the books or saw in the movies, we wanted to know how it tastes) in Universal Studios-Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we want to try it for the experience, so instead of buying two orders, we just bought one and shared it. You might think we were depriving ourselves etc, but then if you do the math, instead of buying two drinks, why not buy one instead, so that you could buy souvenir or butter beer mugs later for the price of one order of the drink, wise, eh? 😛 (***One drink is 1,300 Japanese Yen equivalent to 585 PhP)

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Another example would be bringing bento or snacks and bottled water during a lengthy trip. Instead of spending over pricey empty-calories snacks you’ll find in convenience stores during stopover, you might want to bring your own self-made snacks/packed lunch so that you could save a few bucks and refrain from stepping out of the vehicle during a long trip. It could also save you time and a load of cash you could use for other stuff later.

#5 To Be Patient With Each Other

Yes, we might be a long-term couple but going on a trip in a foreign land really tested our patience with each other. I for one am a difficult person haha. I’m kind of obsessed with “comfort” so whatever it is that’s bugging me or making my life hard, I often send away or put off. I couldn’t do this during our trip because everything we encountered were out of our comfort zones.

Take language for example. Japan might be considered a first world country, but only a few people understand and speak English. I could speak Japanese, but sometimes, when we talk to locals, they use their dialect, which I am not familiar with, so I somehow get frustrated. Then my boyfriend will ask me what the person has just said, and I will say, “I don’t know, I can’t understand,” and normally he will say, “Anong gagawin natin, hindi ko rin naman sila maintindihan, ikaw lang marunong sa atin.” (What will we do now? I couldn’t understand them; too, you’re the only one who speaks their language.) And… the arguments will go on if he is also a short-tempered person like me… If my boyfriend is not patient with me, we will be fighting all the time. Haha. Actually, in our relationship, he is the cool one, I am always the hot one—I mean someone who gets easily irritated. But later on, I learned how to cool down and be easy going because of him.

Being out of your comfort zone will really test your guts, but that’s a part of being away from home, and learning new stuff from a new place.

When the going gets tough, remember you were there to relax and enjoy the vicinity. You were there to have vacation, haha remember to always keep your cool wherever you go, and whatever happens, make sure to choose your partner over winning an argument.

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#6 To Fall In Love All Over Again

Being in a new place will bring out all possible bright and dark attributes you were hiding inside and waiting to unleash. Hahaha Travel is a great way to know your partner from a deeper perspective, and when you do, it’s one way of assuring yourself that even though how many times they shift gears, if you really love them, you will be there to witness it, and then you will be falling in love all over again every time they find a new person inside they never knew existed.

The best things in life are the people you love, the places you’ve seen, and the memories you’ve made along the way.

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