Hey Senti

There’s the senti version of myself that I have been trying to avoid throughout this process of tying loose ends, packing up, and getting ready to go. I am really not good at goodbyes whether its with people, places, or special little somethings.

I can still even remember my 10 year old self saying goodbye to the house (apartment) that I have lived in my entire life (at 10). It was one big cry-fest saying goodbye to my best friends, and even to the littlest nooks and crannies of that humble apartment. I’ve been living for the last 20 years of my life in the “new” house, a bigger and better one in a better neighborhood… But my mind will always remember how each furniture lined up around the rooms of my childhood home.

I also am so sentimental about my grandmother’s house in the province, the one I went to almost every summer vacation until my mid-teens. I remember its smell, and the details that almost never changed for the longest time. The house has already been sold a number of years ago, and it’s somehow better that we now have our grandmother much closer to watch over. But her house will forever be etched in my mind the way it was.

Shit. It’s not easy not to cry now. Imagine how many years ago those memories were? They seem like they were just yesterday.

In a few days more, I’ll be leaving the condo I stayed in for the last year. Then I’ll be leaving home and bound for a country I’ll be calling home for the next years. Of course, my parents house will still be there, still the same – but I will no longer be there, and I will forever be changed.

I should be looking forward, being oh so excited about what the future holds. I am, but I can’t deny that there is an extremely senti part of me that can appear out of nowhere at any point. I need to keep myself busy, to keep looking forward. I don’t want to be hindered by my sentimental self from being all-in on this grandest transition of my life.

Things fall into place

Sometimes, grand things happen like some unseen cosmic hand putting all the pieces into place for big transitions of my life, like winds blowing me a certain direction to where I am meant be. I would not refer to it as fate because I know I still have the power to decide. But sometimes chances and opportunities make the things you desire most be just within your reach with ease.

Last year, I had the great opportunity to be considered and accepted to work for USAID. Transportation and accessibility is one of the important considerations I always take when making transitions, but the universe just conspired to give me what I needed at the right place and time. My cousin was about to start in medical school almost the same time as I was to start, and the 2nd room in the flat where she was to stay became my home during the weekdays. The same place allows a 15 minute walk to and from work every day, instead of the 1.5 to 2 hours drive or difficult commute from our family house. If I started earlier with USAID, the flat would probably have been still occupied by previous tenants. If I started later, my cousin may have already found a different flatmate. It made a big difference, and I get my first chance to live on my own. Everything was just at the right time.

Perhaps its also like that this time around. I am about to move to Sydney, Australia soon. Earlier this year, I was able to get an invitation to apply for a visa just a few days after lodging my EOI, and then get my visa grant within three months after lodging my application. The timing of the visa grant allows me time to stay just to finish my initial one year contract with USAID. I am leaving within a few weeks of my current bosses’ transition to their new postings in other countries, just about the time that our team is transitioning to the new bosses arriving. I’m leaving just before my cousin starts the new school year in med school, and a classmate of hers will move in to my room almost immediately after I leave (and she does not have to transfer mid-school year). One of my kuya’s flatmate in Sydney is leaving just before I arrive there, and the vacated space/bed will be available for my use for my first few weeks (I would not need to sleep on the floor!). I also had just enough time to save some funds to use as I start a new life in Sydney.

There is no reason for me not to believe that things fall into place somehow, when it’s meant to be. Things will not be complicated, sometimes you find it served to you on a silver platter. All you have to do is not hesitate, get moving, and grab that opportunity. I was not meant to move to Singapore. I was not meant to take up my masters degree in Europe. Just when the time was right, I find myself drawn by the waves of this life to Australia.

I can’t help think that when I finally find the love of my life, things will just fall in to place, just like these other beautiful changes that came into my life.

The long road that leads to Oz

I’m set to move to Australia in a few weeks time. Somehow, I find it amazing to look back and realise how slowly things fell into place, and how the timing was on spot. I’m guessing that the long road started in 2012…

I worked for The Mind Museum for 4.5 years, and it was finally created and opened to the public in early 2012. I left the team in 2012, and while in between jobs, went on a vacation for a month with my family in Australia to visit my brother who was working there. We were able to visit Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, and Gold Coast, and meet up with our other relatives.

There was something about Australia that captured me during that very first trip. Something that somehow felt like home, and I truly felt that it was a place I would love to settle in. Perhaps there’s a lot of things and factors, not just one reason, why the place seemed more welcoming than most other places I have been to.

When I went back to Manila, I still had two pending tasks to work on – find a new job, and prepare for an application for scholarship for a Masters Program in Europe which I have been planning for the longest time. I took my IELTS for the scholarship application in November 2012, and got good scores. I put together my application for the scholarship and submitted it in December 2012, and again in December 2013, but I was out of luck. There were only 12 slots while there were hundreds of applicants. I was not offered the scholarship both times.

In December 2012, I was accepted by an Australian company operating in Manila to work under a project of AusAid (now DFAT). I started with them January 2013 and had an initial one year contract, but I decided not to complete one year and left in June 2013. I moved to a retail company and worked as a business systems analyst, a work which was much more closer to my qualification as Industrial Engineer. I stayed with the company for an entire year, until I found an irresistible opportunity and was offered a position under USAID.

During this entire time with these three different companies, I was already researching and preparing documents for my application to Australia. The plan was to apply as a skilled independent immigrant, as an Industrial Engineer. I was finally able to put together all the requirements for the competency demonstration report and submitted it to Engineers Australia in September 2014. The IELTS I took in November 2012 was the same IELTS results I used for this.

While waiting for my Engineers Australia (EA) certification, I already created an account on SkillSelect. The only remaining requirement to complete an Expression of Interest (EOI) was the certification.

My passport was expiring in mid-2015, so I decided to renew it around middle of January 2015. I was still waiting for my EA certification, and was expecting that it will take a few weeks to a few months upon lodging my EOI before I get an invitation to apply for a visa. Before the end of the month, I received an email from SkillSelect:

“You currently have an EOI in draft status in SkillSelect. If you complete and submit the information in your EOI, you may be eligible to be invited to apply for a visa in the next invitation round.”

Immediately after receiving this, I emailed Engineers Australia to follow-up on the certification, since I was expecting their response by late December or early January. The next day, I receive a response from them saying that my certification is actually already in the (snail) mail, but they also sent me in the same email a scanned copy of the same. Since they already gave me the scanned copy, I uploaded it on SkillSelect and finally completed and submitted my EOI.

Two days after, I get an invitation from Western Australia to apply for state nomination. On day three, I get an invitation to apply for a skilled independent visa 189.

Things were like on steroids since then. Can you imagine, I get an invitation to apply for a visa just days, not even half a week, from the time I lodged my EOI? The timing was indeed perfect. The I realised, I was still waiting for my new passport to be shipped to me, and I can’t submit my visa application until I have it.

Two weeks after, I receive my new passport. I prepare all the documents required, have them certified as true copies again, scanned and uploaded them, and lodged my visa application. That was the first week of February 2015. They say it takes around 3 months processing for these types of visas.

I receive a request for more information by the end of March 2015. I quickly worked on getting the additional document requirements that was needed, I was given only 28 days to provide a response to their request. I was able to complete everything and have them certified as true copies exactly on the 28th day, and submitted them immediately. That was the end of April 2015.

Just a little over a week after, I got my visa grant notice. It was finally time to start planning and working on the big move.

I’ll just be completing my original one year contract with USAID. Just in time, I’ll have just one week to pack before I fly out. Also, I’ll be leaving my room in the condo just right before the start of the next school year for my cousin, and just a good time for someone else to replace me when I vacate the condo.

It may have been a relatively long road to get here, but it was a rollercoaster towards the end of the ride.

From where I am…

From where I am right now, I could say that I’ve come a long way from six months ago. Where I am, I prepare my own food every day, clean up after myself, do the weekly grocery, put things into place. I walk to and from work every day. I have an exciting, challenging, and fulfilling work that sometimes takes me places. And in the evenings without leaving my bed, I can watch a building with an LED light show, the big colorful giant ferris wheel in the distance, some hotel buildings around me, a tiny part of Manila Bay and the yachts parked by it (no sunset view though), and the night lights of the city of Manila.

It’s just amazing, thinking about it, how I never planned any of these. A beautiful and enormous change in my life just as I turned 30. But things seem to be running even faster now. Who knows what changes will happen to my life in the next six months, in the next year, or in the next few years? Who knows what new adventures I will be getting in to very soon? Things coming my way just makes everything so exciting.

Most of the things that I planned in the past five to eight years didn’t really happen the way they were supposed to, with the exception of a few accomplishments I have achieved and am very proud of. But what have been given to me – by chance, by fate, as blessing, or whatever in this universe have conspired to make them happen – seems to be more than worth all the other things that never really materialized. So now, I decide to just plan for all possibilities, and take everything day by day. I do plan by the day, by the week, or as need arises. I still have the liberty to do so, still being single and independent. Once I find that comfy spot in the world to settle in, and find someone to share my life with, I’ll probably get back to planning ahead again.

Everything at the right time, at the right place, and for the right reasons.

Break me (one last time)

I’m trying to finish quite an interesting personal task/goal. More than a year ago, I started writing in a beatiful notebook my “love history”. The task was to be able to write down all the stories, as I remember them, of the past loves, relationships, almost-relationships, and heartbreaks. The intention is to be able to rediscover my romantic history and uncover any repressed emotions, feelings of abandonment, rejection, and heartaches, with the hopes of finally being able to release them into the universe and be ready with restored faith in love.

I wrote the stories one by one, person by person, those who I have encountered and have changed my views about love and relationships… A lot of almosts, stories of my exes, my first love, etc., but I did exclude non-important ones. There were ten names in my list (mostly just “almosts”) I started off with the shortest stories, the ones I could cover with one to three pages. To be honest, I’ve finished writing the short stories more than a year ago. Somehow, I got stuck writing the last three stories, the more significant ones.

There is a “tiny” fear of what can be uncovered as I write the last three stories. I just finished one tonight, so there’s two more to go, and they’re the ones I dread the most. But I have to keep going and finish everything, face my fear and complete my “love history”. I want to get rid of the hidden/latent/unconscious baggage. I should let it break me just one last time and finally let it go (let it go…).

Death to Procrastination (or at least somehow, sometime soon)

Oh, how I wish I could completely say NO to procrastination… but however strong the desire to, the mind has its weaknesses.

Last night I just finished a task that I was supposed to spend time on and accomplish before the end of the first quarter of this year. It’s already the third quarter of the year. A lot of things have already overtaken it. Why have I wasted half a year and not do this? In the range of my priorities, it is extremely important, but the urgency is quite relative. I’ve put it off for so many other things, so many distractions, only spending maybe 2%-5% of the total time I could have spent on it. I could have finished it way back in March. But my subconscious was always giving me a reason not to do it:

  • “It’s the weekend, I need to rest because the workweek has been so tiring and stressful. I’ll just do it next week.”
  • “I’ve got a headache.”
  • “Too busy at work.”
  • “I’m preparing for a big transition in life and I’m too distracted with this, I’ll just deal with that after the transition.”

So here I am. Celebrating that finally I have finished what I needed to finish. Still struggling to push myself to actually do it, even after I’m done with the “transition” I was talking about.

Well aside from that, there is the exercise, the diet, the other creative and social things that I intend to do and have been putting off all the time. I’m slowly trying to accomplish them now, one by one. Bit by bit. I’m still trying to find a way to up my motivation and keep it high. But at the very least, I have a little more time to start working on these things. I need to tell myself that I have to always make time for this, even in the busiest of my life. No doubt my life will become busier and busier in the coming weeks and months of my life. I have to make sure that my busy life also include all of these other important parts of my life – my physical well-being, social life, creativity and innovation, learning, and my building blocks for the future that I envision.

The Next Great Train Ride

In keeping up with my old post comparing career paths to a series of train rides, I shall write again about my next big career “adventure” in the same line…

I’m jumping onto a different train again. A grander one. Possibly the one that I have been waiting to catch for quite some time.

Soafter I’ve made myself comfortable in my most recent train for an entire year, it’s time to get off and move to the next one again. Despite the meager comforts of the recent train, it has challenged and improved me both professionally and personally. I have worked well and learned much in such short time that I spent there. I have met new people, have become well acquainted with a number of them. I have also encountered some “difficult” individuals that I never knew even existed, and was able to properly deal with them.

This time, the transition from one train to the next was quite unexpected but wholeheartedly welcomed, somehow abrupt and immediate. I did not need to wait for the next train, nor did it wait for me. I had to jump on it as soon as I can, my feet barely touching the platform.

I don’t know what to expect at this point. There’s mixture of both excitement and nervousness for all of the unknown. I’ll start discovering what this new opportunity has in store for me soon. I’ve heard this one moves at quite a fast pace, and I have to adapt quickly and be at my best to stay balanced and keep up with the pace. But I’m quite optimistic that this will take me places and possibly take me faster and farther than I can imagine. A move from a rickety steam train to a bullet train perhaps?

Wish me luck.

An open letter to my 15 year-old self

Dear 15 year-old Abby,

Congratulations! I would like to tell you that you will reach your 30th year, and shall live furthermore. I am your future self, and if only I had a “return” time-capsule to actually send this letter back in time to you, I would.

You wouldn’t believe how much will change 15 years after. Looking back, I just can’t imagine how different I am right now from who you are (or were). I won’t even attempt to tell you everything right now, and I would rather tell you this: live each and every day and moment of your life in its fullest, no matter how happy or sad, through all failures and success. You will commit a lot of mistakes – a few big ones and numerous minor ones – but never regret that you did. Those mistakes are a part of how and why you become who you’ll be.

You will be blessed to meet so many brilliant people in this world. Not to say that there are also rotten ones along the way, but it’s best to look at them from a perspective – they almost always have a reason from their present or their past why they act a certain way. Be understanding, mindful, and tolerant, most of all.

The best people to have in your life are the people who will be brutally frank and tell you what is wrong with you because they want you to realize that you have the capacity to be even better than who you currently are. However, the worst people are the ones who tell you (and others) what’s wrong with you, just so they can be a little less sorry for themselves with their own lives. It is truly challenging to find people to trust, but those really worthy of your trust are people to treasure and keep. The people who will stay in your life will stay. The ones who will go will go. And some of your closest friends will be thousands of miles from you but will love you just the same.

Don’t worry about the future. I’m here right now, and it doesn’t look too bad. I won’t tell you what you’ll become because it’s up to you to find out. Of course, not all that you wanted or you planned will be fulfilled, but that’s no big issue. Things fall in to place in their own time and space. 

Life shall go on and on both for you and for me, just never ever give up on it.

I wonder now, though, what my 45 year-old self and my 60 year-old self would be writing and sending back to me :p


30 year-old Abii

p.s. Indeed, I changed the spelling of the nickname I use somewhere along the way 🙂

Love at the end of the rainbow

I don’t know if it’s a good idea, but I think it’s the option I should consider at the moment. Putting the “lovelife” (or the absence of it) in the back-burner at the moment and focusing on a bigger, more important goal.

The last time I told myself to go on a romantic hiatus was so long ago. And though I have been single the past seven (7) years, I have always been open to the possibility of finding it sometime, somewhere around the corner. At this point, maybe in a way, I’ve become a little bit (or so much) tired of thinking of (and trying to chase after) that “love of my life”. Albeit I do not intend to give up altogether and I do still believe that it exists, I have to put it on hold.

I have to chase my own rainbow. And when I have climbed over that rainbow and reached the end, perhaps the love will come thereafter. This shouldn’t take long. When all of this is over, perhaps finding love wouldn’t be much of a trouble anymore. And when I find him, love shall be an open door.

“Someday I’ll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That’s where you’ll find me.”

Steer Direction

Hello 2014. We finally meet. And just like the past years of my life, there shall be no new year’s resolution this time. Perhaps that was the only new year’s resolution I have ever fulfilled so far is the one to not make any more new year’s resolutions. Also, I believe that one does not have to wait for new year to make a resolution to change for the better. Each month, each week, each, day, and even each hour is an opportunity to effect a change.

Nonetheless, perhaps the new year is a good time to effect a theme. And for 2014, my life’s theme is to “Steer Direction”. All decisions and actions shall be deliberate moves toward identified specific goals and targets in my life. It’s not just about achieving something. It’s about reaching that one or few things that I have decided are the most important at this point in my life. Maybe one will say that this is how we should manage our entire lives. But this year is the time this theme resounds so much louder – a certain level of maturity has been reached, as well as a certainty of one wants to do with one’s life.

365 Days to get going.