Finding Abii – Half-a-year in Straya

Today marks the completion of the first six months of my new life here in Australia, and indeed it’s something worth celebrating.

Let me explain the title for this post. Finding Abii… perhaps it refers to both discovering and rediscovering myself here in my new world. A fresh new start have given me a great opportunity to rediscover things about myself, my love for music, dance, and the learning endeavours I’ve put on hold or semi-abandoned in the past. Finding the time and opportunity here, there is a chance to find more of myself again.

Music, Dance, and the Arts
On my first month, I bought new guitar and have been fiddling with it during free time. My my dad also brought over my violin when he came over in December. That’s one more thing that I want to spend more time on, practicing how to make beautiful music on stringed instruments. I’ll be going for dance classes soon too. People who know me most know how much I love dancing. I want to spend more time on it in the coming months.

The city also abounds with so many different opportunities to enjoy and appreciate different kinds of arts. I enjoyed watching the Symphony at the Domain a few weeks back, just having a picnic on the grass and watching an orchestra under the stars. I would’ve enjoyed watching the Opera at the Domain the week after, but I’m sure I’ll have other chances for that soon. I might find time to visit the art galleries in the city too.

Health and Wellness
I am also lucky to have also rediscovered a healthier me here in Sydney. I no longer need my asthma or allergy medicines to survive the world. Just a little bit, and I’ll be off all maintenance medicine soonest. I’m also starting to rediscover a more fit Abii. With a gym downstairs from our apartment, there is no reason not to go or not to make time to go. Eating relatively healthier has been helping too. I’m starting to find a skinnier version of myself which was kept somewhere deep inside. So far, I’m down almost six kilograms since I arrived. I know I still have a long way to go to get to my target, but it’s a good and promising start.

Work and Learning
I was lucky to have found contract work with the Federal Government of Australia on my first two months in Sydney, and even luckier to have received a 3-month extension on top of my original 4-month contract. I must be doing something right, they must be satisfied with how I work to consider me for such. I still continue to search for a permanent job though, but what I’ve had so far is a good start.

I’ve also started on some studying and learning towards something I should have done a long time ago. It’s mostly self-study for now, maybe take some formal classes in the near future, and eventually take a certification exam. It’s a personal commitment I have to make good on.

Finding the lost self
Unfortunately, not everything about this new life is about finding or rediscovering things. I’ve also lost a little part of me somehow when I moved, and it’s something intangible and difficult to explain or put into words. As such, I am truly in the process of “finding Abii”, looking for a part of my sense of self, confidence, and independence that gave me the power to overcome all kinds of adversity in the past. It took some time for me to realise what was lost or missing in my self, but as they say, knowing is already half the battle. Now I can actively remind myself of “myself”, I should be back to my old self shortly.

2015 Goal achieved!

It was way back in 2012 when I decided that I was moving to Australia for good, and I envisioned to move by 2015. Since coming back from vacation in 2012, I have deliberately filled my life with little bits that always reminded me where the goal was – little kangaroos and koalas on my office desk and at home, a picture of Sydney Harbour on my computer desktop, and so many other things. And even the year, 2015, was deliberately repeated along with these little clues to my future.

Here I am now. A little bit over four months in, and excited to celebrate Christmas and New Year here in my second home. Things are falling into place slowly, but there is much that has yet to be achieved. But I’ve done the biggest leap.

Thank you 2015. Hello Australia. Welcome to my future.

Music is fuel to my soul

Music is fuel to my soul.

Music used to play eternally in my bedroom whenever I am at home, and my sister can attest to this. I savored music during my long commutes to work and home back when I had to go through the hells of C5 or EDSA. I find myself engulfed in music even at work – to the point that some days I obsess on specific songs and have them on loop for the entire day.

Perhaps I’ve gone on too long without feeding my soul. When I moved, there were too many things to be worried about – finding a job, settling down, making sure that I had the basic things that I needed. I worried about running out of money, about eating too much and exercising too little, about watching too much TV. I was so afraid of standing out, of not being able to fit in. Too much on my mind. I didn’t want to bother the other folks at the flat with my music. I was afraid to put on my headphones while commuting since I was still getting used to how the roads worked here (and the way the vehicles go about the opposite way takes some time to get used to). My spotify also did not want to work for a few weeks (I had to update my location in the app just to make it work). The only music fix I would get was in my brother’s car through his spotify, but of course he also had his own music flavour.

I’m rediscovering my music now. Plugged into my headphones at this very moment that I am writing this. I’ve also plugged in during my gym time. I’m also slowly easing back the music in while working. A little bit of music on the speakers at home when the rest are away. I’m starting to get my fix again.

Music is fuel to my soul, and I’m starting to feel a little more alive again.


p.s. Music currently on loop is “Indak” by Up Dharma Down – http://endlessvideo.com/watch?v=tb2uJtlZzbk

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…

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.

A new generation

There is already a new generation that is starting to take its place, and will be taking over our future pretty soon. About 25% to 30% of all posts I see on my Facebook newsfeed are of my friends and colleagues babies and children. I am starting the last year of my 20s, and my friends are about the same age as I, give or take about 5 years older or younger. Considering that most of us are in our late 20s, my friends and classmates have just started getting married the past 2 to 3 years, and most of them are starting to have their babies this past year.

My childhood best friend gave birth to her beautiful baby girl seven months ago. The wife of a close guy friend just gave birth to a baby girl yesterday. A number of friends and batchmates have kids from about 0 to 4 years old. There are three babies born within a six month period to three of my second cousins based in Sydney, Australia, and another baby born two years ahead of them, and it’s so cute to find my cousins pictures with these babies altogether. So much bundles of cuteness around.

Oh well, here comes the new generation, the new batch who will be making their way into the world. These are the individuals who will be exposed to the current and future technologies, and given the vast opportunities of the future. What will the world be in 2080s to 2100s? We probably won’t be able to reach that point, but our children, the next generation, will be able to forge and experience this future world.

I won’t be reproducing anytime soon, though, not until I find me a good husband to be my partner. But I now see the shift in responsibilities and priorities of my generation. It’s time to be responsible for another individual’s life as we now start to be blessed by children. We’re starting to be less-selfish and childish, and more thoughtful of other people, more responsible, and more aware of the need to contribute to a better society and a better future.


P.S. I’m still trying to get used to my title as “Tita” (Aunt) Abii , after being just an “Ate” (Big Sister) Abii to a number of my younger friends in college, and to all of my cousins. My colleagues kids have already started calling me Tita Abii in the past few years, but only now is it really sinking in, perhaps especially when my friends’ kids start talking.