Back in Circulation

I guess I’m back in circulation. This is my first blog post after two whole months, even though there’s so much happening in my life right now. This is my first post as a resident of Australia. This is more an intro and I don’t expect to put much substance in what I am writing right now. But I’m hoping this would get me started again.

I’ve also thought about the title of this blog: “Quarter Life”. Maybe some will say that I’m already far beyond that at 31. But I have decided to keep it, since I already have a good number of posts and followers, and the domain is already paid for the next few years. Also, I’m pretty sure I’m still far from the mid-life crisis, so perhaps its ok to stay put right here. 

So here’s where my new story starts. My new life begins in Australia. The wild adventures of Abii continues…

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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.

Tonight’s Dress / Happy 25th / My life, profound

Let me start with an anecdote. There is this story about two dresses…

Dress one, a wonderful floral dress I bought last February. I got it the same time I bought a cocktail dress for my uncle’s wedding. I had no urgent use for it but it was so beautiful and it fit me so well that I just had to buy it. However, there was no other formal event to go to during the first half of 2012, so the dress just waited in the closet for its time.

Dress two was bought in Singapore, during my trip there last March. I wouldn’t let a Singapore trip pass without going to Bugis, and there I was able to buy this simple teal dress, among other clothes. I’ve always wanted to wear the dress, but every time I attempted to, it always seemed too formal for the instance. I even brought it with me to Australia during my trip, hoping that there would be some kind of a dressy affair to go to, but still it never got used. Sensing no urgent need for it, I left it together with a few stuff to save on baggage weight for my flight back. It was sent back via box shipment.

I attended a formal event tonight and I needed a good dress to wear. I was keen on wearing the floral dress. With much excitement  I tried it on a few days ago, but it would not fit! Though I hate to admit it, I gained weight these past few months and couldn’t fit into the dress it anymore. I could just wear my other dresses, although most of them have already been worn to previous events. Then, I remembered the teal dress. I tried looking for it but couldn’t find it anywhere in my closet. I eventually remembered that it was still en route in a box, which we haven’t received yet after more than one and a half months. Oh well, I had to find something else to wear, maybe re-use one of the dresses I’ve worn before.

Wonderful news when the box arrived just yesterday! The dress was there, I tried it on, and it still fit well! Pretty interesting for a dress bought from Singapore to come to Manila, travel all the way to Sydney, and come back to Manila just in time to be worn for the very first time.


The event I attended was the 25th wedding anniversary of my uncle and aunt who lives in Sydney. My uncle is actually my dad’s first cousin, and their entire family was so wonderful and gracious when we visited them in Sydney, how I wish I met them a long time ago! They are also so caring for my brother who was living on his own in Sydney. They welcomed him and treated him like family.

Happy 25th wedding anniversary and re-wedding to Tito Bong and Tita Isa! It’s so beautiful to see a family like yours. Health and happiness to you, and your children Jomar and Steph.


Things are coming together for me in odd ways. The universe works its unexplainable magic. When it wants to give you lessons, it sometimes does in whispers. Sometimes the universe talks to you in Latin, or hieroglyphics. It’s a bit difficult for me to find a way to communicate it properly so that it can be understood. What’s there about this dress, the wedding, and the universe?

I’m guessing that the two dresses are two views of myself. One is a really wonderful view, which does not fit me anymore, and the other, a view that couldn’t find its place before, that it had to travel around first before coming back and finding its right place and time.

Indeed the right place and time. I write in metaphors again, like my post about reflections or my post about train rides. I was somewhere I belonged from 2008 to earlier this year, but I was not meant to simply remain a certain way, or in a certain place, or with the same people. I had almost half a year of trying to find myself, and trying to find where I am meant to be. I am not yet there, but I feel that I’m getting closer and closer. I’ve already realized where I want to be. I’m hoping to soon find who I would want to be with. Everything will fall into place eventually. Now I simply let myself be carried away by the waves of this mighty river that is my life.

I <3 Gold Coast

Gold Coast is one of the best places I’ve ever been to. It was paradise for me. The beachfront extended long beyond what your sight can reach. They say beach extends more than 53 kilometers, that’s so much more beach than I’ll ever need in my lifetime. There’s a lot of beautiful sand to lie on. The seawater was still cold when we were there, but it had good waves worthy of a little swim or a nice surf. The main segment of the beach is even called Surfers’ Paradise, and the place is very worthy of the name.

Gold Coast, of course, boasts of its exceptional coasts and beaches. In addition, there are a lot of other recreation places and attractions in town. There’s Movieworld, Dream World, Sea World, White Water World, Wet n’ Wild, Australian Outback Spectacular, Paradise Country, among so many other attractions around.

While we were in Gold Coast, we stayed in the Surfers’ Paradise area, in the Q1 hotel. Q1 hotel is the tallest building there, and one of the tallest residential buildings in entire Australia. They had a viewdeck at the 77th floor from where you can see almost the entire Gold Coast area, and maybe even nearby areas. There is also an option to go up even further on top of Q1 to its spire, but it requires an additional pay, and you will need to be strapped to a full body harness to step outside the building at that height.

We had a VIP pass, which allowed us unlimited entry to Movieworld, Sea World, and Wet n’ Wild. We had limited time though, so we just got to go once to Movie World and Sea World, but no longer had time to go to Wet n’ Wild.

The Movie World was something similar to the Universal Studios in Singapore, both in content and in size. Would’ve been nice to stay for an entire day in Movie World. There were a lot of nice rides and shows, rollercoasters, and such. There was also a parade of their characters in the late afternoon. We got to ride the Superman rollercoaster, but we didn’t get to experience a lot of other rides because lines were so long and we only had one entire afternoon there. I enjoyed the place nonetheless

The Sea World was amazing. I’ve been to Sea World in San Diego before, but that was more than ten years ago that I can barely remember how it was. Sea World in Gold Coast was big, and it had a number of big enclosures for different marine animals – dolphins, manta rays, sea lions, and sharks, among others. There was also a huge place for some polar bears. We did watch most of the main shows, but didn’t get the time to ride the rollercoasters again.

We went to Paradise Country too, a good place to see a bit of Austalian wildlife. Of course we didn’t want to miss the chance to see koalas and kangaroos. There were also horses, sheeps, and other animals. It was just a good morning visit, and you can opt to have lunch there too. The place is just a kilometer or so from Movieworld.

We also took good time at the beaches. How can anyone not be drawn to spend time at the beaches of Gold Coast? How I wish I knew how to surf though, because it seemed a wonderful place to surf. A good place to bake under the sun to, and I love sunbathing.

A lot of people say that Gold Coast is the vacation capital of Australia, and I would totally believe them. There is so much there to enjoy, and a week is not enough to get to do everything. Perhaps you’ll just keep coming back. And yes, I plan to come back again someday.

Life, the train ride

Living life is like traveling on train. You take a train to get you from where you are to where you want to be. You wait at the right station, on the right platform, for the right train to come around.

But it’s not as simple as just riding a train from end to end. You need to know when it’s time to get off. If you do too early or too late, you’ll end up in the wrong station and may not be able to immediately transfer to the next train that will take you closer to your destination. Sometimes, if you stay on a train for far too long, it will take you back to where you started.

I may have stayed on in my last train a bit too long. Maybe I got too comfortable and too used to it, that I failed to get off at the right stop. Now I’m waiting at a station wondering which train to ride to get me back on the right track. It may take some time, and maybe some additional train rides, but I know I’ll be able to figure it out soon.

Also, notice those people in the train with you? Most of them did not come from where you came from, and are not heading to the same destination as you. Don’t compare your travel to them, don’t make any of them a benchmark. Strike a conversation with them if you wish, but do not let yourself get attached too much. Don’t you ever let them make you forget where you intend to go.

Nonetheless, no matter how far you plan to travel, or how many trains you need to ride, just remember to enjoy the ride.


After years of listening to songs and watching movies about trains and train rides, I finally experienced and realized the real train system in Sydney and Melbourne. It’s not as simple as the usual metro rail or light rail systems I’ve seen so far. Perhaps it would be more interesting to see and explore the train systems in Europe. 🙂

Canberra Sights

My dad’s cousin and his family took us on a road trip from Sydney to Canberra on our first week in Australia. It was a 4-hour drive away from Sydney, and we went there just for a day trip.

The first place we visited was the Parliament House. According to http://www.aph.gov.au : “The home of Australia’s Parliament and the meeting place of the nation, Parliament House is located on a 32-hectare site on Capital Hill and is the focal point of Canberra, the capital city of Australia. It was opened on 9 May 1988 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.” Contrary to the usual impression that the capital city of Australia is one of either Sydney or Melbourne, it’s actually Canberra, which is located in the middle of the two. There is not a lot about Canberra as a city besides being the Capital of Australia, and precisely because the city is really just built geographically in the middle of Sydney and Melbourne to serve as the political centre of the country.

Visitors and tourists are allowed inside the Parliament House, but not before a security check comparable to an airport. A lot of areas inside the Parliament House were available for access to visitors, including the Great Hall, the Parliament House Art Collection, and Senate and House of Representatives Chambers (when there are no ongoing sessions). You can also go up to the green roof-deck of the building, which actually inclines downwards to the first level, serving both as part-roof and part-facade.

Next, we went to the Australian War Memorial Museum. According to http://www.visitcanberra.com.au : “The Australian War Memorial commemorates the sacrifice of Australian men and women who served in war. Visit one of the world’s great museums; an outstanding archive and centre for research into Australia’s wartime history.” It’s a pretty interesting place, but I couldn’t appreciate it in its entirety because I was not familiar with the history of Australia, especially their war history. But it indeed is very remarkable how Australia give so much thought and effort to remembering all their heroes and fallen during the past two world wars.

Lastly, we went to the Floriade festival, Australia’s celebration of the coming of spring. Floriade 2012 was a month-long festival, open from 15 September – 14 October, 2012 at the Commonwealth Park in Canberra. They plant a lot of different colorful flowers in a number of garden beds, in beautiful designs. (http://www.floriadeaustralia.com/)

Walking Sydney

I had almost two weeks in Sydney during my trip to Australia. The purpose of our trip was mainly to visit my brother, but we included a lot of sightseeing. There is just so much to see around Sydney.

Town HallIt was good that my brother’s place where we stayed is smack in the middle of the city. He has a condo along George Street, and if I understand correctly, it’s one of the main roads within the city. Almost everything was within walking distance and we were able to take advantage of this.

 

Hyde Park was two blocks away. It was a wonderful big park, although I don’t know how else to describe a beautiful park besides mentioning the nice big trees, the lush green grass, and the amazing fountains, and the lovely park benches. There was also a small war-memorial museum on one side of the Hyde Park. On one end, you can already see the St. Mary’s Cathedral. It was just a good place to walk to and around.

 

The Town Hall was right beside the condo, although we never took time to have a look inside. However, there is a free walking tour around downtown Sydney that starts infront of the Town Hall twice a day. We joined one walking tour one morning, and it showed us around the different sights and structures around the George Street area, ending at the edge of The Rocks, near the Circular Quay. The entire walking tour took around 3 hours, but it was a very leisurely walk, together with a crash course in Sydney history.

 

 

Sydney structures and architecture are beautiful, and something different to me. Their old buildings are very ornate, reflecting such a rich history as a Commonwealth colony. It’s good that they are able to preserve a lot of these buildings downtown, if not all. The Queen Victoria Building (QVB) building was pretty interesting too, the way it has been re-purposed to be a high-end mall, and yet retaining that old-English vibe. It is a wonderful mix of the old and the new.

 

 

The Westfield mall was also close by. You can practically get from QVB to Westfield and Pitt Street through the basement shops. Westfield is their big, high-end mall. They have mid-range stores at the lower levels, and a good food court at one of the upper levels. You can also access the Sydney Tower Eye through Westfield mall.

Paddy’s Market and Chinatown was also around the vicinity. Although their Chinatown is not as “Chinese” as the other Chinatowns I have visited, here in Manila and in Singapore, it was also a pretty interesting area. Paddy’s Market is a covered, flea-market style retail area, and there are also a lot of things you can find there, both dry goods (clothes, household items, toys, souvenirs) and wet goods (fruits, vegetables, and meat). It’s a good place to buy souvenirs and “pasalubong” (take-home gifts for family and friends).

The Circular Quay is a long walk or a short bus ride away. From there, you can take a ferry to most of the ports around Sydney. It also gives a good vista of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge on opposite directions. Unfortunately we did not have the time to go climb the Harbour Bridge, nor walk to the Sydney Opera House. We did, however, take a ferry to Manly Beach and explore the area. Manly Beach is a good place to hang out, sunbathe, swim, and surf, and it’s pretty near the city and very accessible via the ferry.

Speaking of beaches, we did go to Bondi Beach, but it’s a bit of a drive from the city. We did not get to swim because it was pretty cold during that time, but there were number of Aussies doing their sunbathing. We decided to settle around the grassy area and have a picnic. We also got to walk around the area, with a number of food places and stores around.

 

Darling Harbour was also a short walk from my brother’s place. Darling Harbour is a busy area but also relaxing in a way. There are a few museums around Darling Harbour including the Maritime Museum and Madame Tussauds along the harbour, and the Powerhouse Museum a short walk away. We did not go to any of the museums though. I went on a solo walk there one late afternoon and just spent some time around the Tumbalong Park and beside the harbour. On another occasion, I was there with the family and we had dinner as we waited for the Saturday evening fireworks.

Whatelse? Hmmmm… Maybe I should also mention Woolworths (or Woolies!) right across Town Hall. We were getting foodstuff from Woolies almost every day, and it was just a tumble away from the condo.

Perhaps if I had more than two weeks in Sydney, I would be able to see more and explore more of the city and the nearby suburbs. I would also be able to spend more time with the extended relatives. Aye, I’ll definitely be back, I’ll find a way.

See you again Sydney.