Sorry state

Two days ago, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has finally broken her three week silence and admitted that it was indeed her speaking in the leaked recordings being widely circulated around the country. The recordings were supposedly taped phone conversations between the Arroyo and election commissioner Virgilio Garcillano discussing election fraud, particularly vote padding for Ms. Arroyo.

During her televised admittance, she said she’s sorry for her lapse of judgment in calling the commissioner and defended her actions by claiming that she was only trying to protect her votes. She denied any wrongdoing and said that the country as a whole should move on from this scandal.

Perhaps thinking that the Filipinos would quickly tire of this latest controversy, she chose to wait three weeks for it to die down. When it didn’t, her camp moved on to plan B and formulated this apology, hoping that it would appease the quick-to-forgive,quick-to-forget public. Wrong again, since the public are now clamouring for her to resign. If this latest controversy wasn’t preceeded by the jueteng allegations against her husband, she might have had a chance but as it stands now, it looks like she better be ready to face the music and soon.

What gets to me is Ms. Arroyo’s gall in categorising her phone call to the commissioner as a mere lapse in judgment. Surely, she would have been aware that what she was doing at the time was unethical and unfair to the other candidates? Where is the sense of delicadeza(decency)? Her camp claims that the tapes have been edited and doctored so I won’t even go into the contents of the conversation. Her admission that she made the call is enough to make me question her intent. Why even make this inappropriate call? Doesn’t she trust the commissioner, whom she appointed herself? What is she so afraid of? How did she think the opposition capable of cheating her out of her votes when she was the one with power and resources to do just that?

The latest news is that Mike Arroyo, Gloria’s husband, is leaving the country. The reasoning being offered for this sudden departure is “to remove these distractions and doubts from our people.” The president was calling it a personal sacrifice but it certainly looks like a guilty party trying to fleeing the scene while he still can, while his accomplice covers for him.

Her apology came too little, too late and he’s departing the country without answering the allegations hurled against him. The whole thing reeks of insincerity and cover-ups. Sorry Ms. Arroyo, apologising does not absolve you of your sins this time. The country is in a sorry state and you’ve done little (some may argue, nothing) to elevate the Filipinos’ quality of life. Saying sorry just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Published in: on June 29, 2005 at 9:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

It’s a privilege after all

Almost a month ago, Gabriel posted an entry entitled Esprit Privilege Card Disappointment, citing his sense of being cheated at being handed a temporary card with an issue date of 27/05/05 and an expiry date of 27/8/05. He opined that accumulating the required $300 worth of receipts in 3 months wasn’t worth the 3 months I would get to use the discount being offered. I guess he felt cheated, who in their right minds would be enticed by such a “deal”?

When we got the temporary card, we were told that it would take 8 weeks for the permanent plastic card to arrive. I remember telling Gabriel after leaving the store that with just 3 short months of effectivity, why even bother sending a plastic card? Perhaps the real card would have a longer use by date? He was skeptical because the temporary card didn’t say anything about what the expiry date would be on the card and scanning the print on the Esprit Privilege Card (epc) cardboard booklet didn’t say anything at all about the expiry date. He even searched for information on Esprit’s website if it mentions anything about the duration of this discount card but came up empty. Hmm… maybe it is just the 3 short months written on the card after all.

Well, I received my little red plastic card from Esprit today and guess what? The expiry date printed is still 2 years away! What’s more, the card could be used at Esprit retail stores throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia, including Hongkong and Singapore. Well, that’s certainly good news. It means I could get 15% off the tag price of a merchandise in any of their stores, even when I’m doing my shopping abroad.

I guess Gabriel spoke too soon of his disappointment huh? Oops.

Published in: on June 27, 2005 at 10:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Melbourne International Animation Festival

Every year in Melbourne, it seems, there is the Melbourne International Animation Festival where animated films (mostly short films) by amateur and veteran animators get shown at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) for a whole week (June 21-26).

I was really disppointed last year when I missed that year’s Animation Festival so I swore to myself that I wouldn’t miss this year’s. I almost did actually. The festival started June 21 while Raquel and I were still on our day-off the office. It the next day that I only found out that the festival already started.

That Wednesday night, I went to ACMI to watch two of their programs:
6:30 pm: International Program 1 (repeat from the day before)
8:15 pm: Student Program 1

There were several short films on the International Program but overall I wasn’t too impressed, specially with those films that I found too artsy. I mean, I do appreciate art films but when it’s like an animated abstract painting, I really couldn’t understand the point.

There were also a few films there where a lot of people in the audience were laughing but I wasn’t. There was this film with a lot of slapstick comedy in it that people found real funny but I guess I no longer found it funny because I’ve watched a lot of cartoons in my life which I found funnier.

Perhaps another reason why I wasn’t laughing was because I wasn’t in the mood. That day, I didn’t feel well and I had this runny nose. So, at times during the showing, I couldn’t help but sniff and blow my nose. After a few minutes into the first program, this guy sitting at my right leaned towards me and whispered, “I don’t want to be a pain but your sniffing is annoying me.”

I said I was sorry just to shut him up. But after that, I stopped enjoying the short films shown as I was too busy feeling infuriated with the guy sitting beside me. What did he want me to do? Heal myself in a snap of a finger? I would’ve done so if I had the mutant ability to heal sick people on whim. Leave the theatre? But I already paid $13 to watch the stupid program.

Raquel told me I should’ve given him a retort or something but in the end I’m not the type to look for trouble so I just gritted my teeth while I continued watching the rest of the program.

When the International Program finished, an usher handed a small piece of paper that appeared to be a ballot. We were asked to vote for the short film we liked most in the program we just watched. I voted for Fallen-Art which was a dark comedic piece about soldiers. I found it funny though it was really morbid. Just go to their site to read more about it.

I had hoped that the Student Program that would be shown next would be better. I reasoned that maybe the student films would have more creativity, originality and freshness. However, I was disappointed with over half of the student films shown.

But the one I hated the most was this film where there were these circles drawn and shaded in pen being animated to move across the screen in random directions while loud screeching metal sounds (or maybe it was music but I frankly wouldn’t classify it as such) blared in the theatre. The stupid animated circles were followed by similarly animated triangles and then followed by animated squares. This whole hellish experience went on for what seemed like an eternity. This was the only part of the program where people actually walked out of the cinema. It was that bad. Unbelievable. How did that piece of crap got included in this festival is beyond me.

Then there was this film that I found disappointing though not as bad as the animated geometric shapes film was the 3D animation called Circuit. The textures and models used in the animation were like from the time of Diablo 2 cut-scenes. But to be fair, these were students so they probably couldn’t afford the cutting edge 3D technologies. But the quality of the 3D models wasn’t a big deal for me, really. My main gripe was that the lead character’s “acting” was very wooden. I don’t think the technology would’ve hindered them in making the character act more life-like.

I liked Subway Score (by Alexander Isert of HFF, Germany), Red Sky Morning (by Sterling Sheely of USC, USA), and Edgar (by Aviad Goldevicht of Camera Obscura, Israel) the most among the films shown in the first Student Program. They were all 2D monotone colored animation. The first one was morbidly funny, the second one had a dreamy feel to it and the last one was creepy. Too bad I forgot to vote after the program ended.

Anyway, that night’s showing discouraged me from watching the remaining programs in the festival. Sure, I’ve seen great short films in that night but I wouldn’t want to endure watching the awful ones just so I could see the good ones.

Still, I’m curious to see the good films that I didn’t get to watch. There is supposed to be a “Best of the Festival” program on Sunday 8 pm. Maybe I’ll go to that one where the not-so-good films would already be filtered out.

Published in: on June 25, 2005 at 1:41 am  Leave a Comment  

Our Second Wedding Anniversary

Long time, no blog. We’ve been busy lately and had no time to write anything remotely interesting in the past several days. So let me just bore you for now with what we’ve been up to.

Last Monday, June 20, was our second wedding anniversary. We celebrated the occassion by booking a room at Melbourne’s famous 5-star hotel — Crown Towers. It was expensive, sure, but we were able to afford it because it was only an overnighter and they were offering a special one-night winter get-away package. I also just wanted to feel what it’s like to spend a night at a 5-star hotel again (it’s been a while).

We had dinner at Georges, an Italian restaurant right in the casino area. It’s just too bad that we weren’t able to take good photos there because photo-taking was prohibited in the casino. And then there was a mix-up with our order of garlic pizza which became a chicken barbecue pizza which became a garlic pizza again which finally became a chicken barbecue pizza.

As I musn’t discuss what has transpired later that evening, I’ll just fast-forward to the following morning.

The package included a complimentary breakfast buffet at their Conservatory restaurant. Well, I certainly ate more than I should but I thought, when would I get a chance to eat a buffet breakfast again?” Let’s see… they were serving the following dishes: scrambled eggs, variety of breads (like croissants), sausages, bacon, toast, fruits, siopao, lugaw (congee), fried rice, cereals, pancakes and fruit juices. Although I felt guilty about eating too much afterwards, I definitely enjoyed my breakfast.

We soon checked out of our room and drove back to our home sweet home. After lunch, we just decided that maybe we could drive all the way to the regional Victorian City of Ballarat to take some photos of the town. Last time we were there was two years ago when Raquel and I first went to Melbourne for our honeymoon. At the time, we went straight to Ballarat’s famous attraction — Sovereign Hill, a recreation of an 1850’s gold-mining town which is kind of like Nayong Pilipino back home but better.
Ballarat Botanical Gardens.
Click image for more.Anyway, we went anyway because according to the Ballarat’s tourism site’s propaganda, Ballarat was only 75 minutes away from Melbourne. In fact, it took us something like two hours to get there.

By the time we got there, there was probably a couple of hours’ worth of sunlight left so weren’t able to take a lot of photos. We were able to go to the Ballarat Botanical Gardens though where we spent the remainder of the daylight time taking pictures.

When it became dark, we drove back to Melbourne. The trip back to our apartment took longer than our trip to Ballarat because by the time we got to Melbourne, it was already rush-hour and everybody was already on the road, too.

It was an enjoyable day overall. We were tired though when we got home so we just stayed home the whole day the following day. Fortunately, we also asked for a Tuesday day-off.

Photoblog Links:
Our stay at the Crown Towers
Our impromptu Ballarat trip

Published in: on June 24, 2005 at 10:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Always Be Prepared

Recent events regarding another Pinoy acquaintance of ours who is in big trouble reminded me that living abroad isn’t always easy. Without the support of family and friends you left behind in the Philippines, you have to be prepared to face any problem alone.

Back in the Philippines, I was never prepared for anything. I lived a fairly happy-go-lucky (bahala na) lifestyle. I had a good job there that paid well. I have my family and life-long friends to ask help from in case of emergencies.

When I moved to Australia, that was no longer the case. I stopped being so happy-go-lucky. I had to be more responsible. I shouldn’t rely on the help of others (all though I hope I could). I had to be more self-reliant.

With that, I’ve listed below some of the lessons I learned about making myself more self-reliant:

  • Save money for emergencies. Living abroad, you don’t have your family to help you out financially. They probably couldn’t afford to help you anyway. When you find yourself out of a job, you’ll definitely need those saved funds. It would be a good idea to set up a second bank account (with the same bank as your first) that you wouldn’t touch at all unless it’s an emergency. If the second bank account comes with an ATM card, leave the card at home so that you wouldn’t be tempted to withdraw from the second bank account. Then, set it up so that a set amount of money from your first bank account gets transferred to your second account automatically every month. Over time, you will save lots of money and you wouldn’t even realize it.
  • Get a credit card. If you run out of cash and you desperately need money, you can always use the credit card to get you by. If you find yourself unemployed and you don’t have savings, you can probably survive a month or two with one credit card with a $5k spending limit. I recommend you get a Virgin Credit Card because it doesn’t have an annual fee. So you won’t be paying anything if you aren’t using it but it will be there in case you ever need it. Now, I know that there are people who absolutely hate having credit cards because they feel that they’d end up buying more than what they can really spend. You’ll just have to learn to not use credit cards unless it’s necessary.
  • Prioritize your spending. Be sure to have the essentials paid off first whenever you get paid your salary. If you are renting an apartment, paying for the rent must be your number one priority. After all, where would you live if you get kicked out by your landlord? Pay the bills next. Where would you be if you don’t have electricity or water in your apartment? If you really cannot afford to pay all of your bills, you should at least pay your rent, electricity and water. The other bills could probably wait. All though this sounds so common-sense stuff but, believe me, I know a couple of people already who didn’t seem to know this.
  • When unemployed for too long, don’t be too picky. It might happen that you get “retrenched” and find yourself jobless. If you have prepared for this eventuality, then you can probably remain living comfortably for a month or so and you would still have the luxury to be choosy of the jobs you’re applying for. But when you are running out of resources, it is very important that you get any job just so that you would continue to earn some money. I hear that they really need fruit-pickers in country Victoria that they are willing to hire people from China to do the fruit picking. I could probably do that if it means getting food on the table at the end of the day. The problem is, there are people with so much pride that they aren’t willing to get a job that seems beneath them even if it means getting kicked out from their own homes.
  • Have enough money for a plane ticket. In case that every thing really isn’t going your way, you should have at least an exit strategy. That is, you should always have enough money to buy yourself a plane ticket for the Philippines. I couldn’t imagine myself destitute and stuck in a foreign land. At the very least, I’d like to be able to return to my family and friends in the Philippines even if I was penniless.

I know of a person who knew that he was going to have a financial problem in the near future yet he continued to live beyond his means. He continued to go out on night-outs with friends. He didn’t pay the rent. He didn’t sell his unnecessary stuff on eBay or the Trading Post. He had no savings. And in the end when he got retrenched, he had no money and ran risk of being kicked out of his own home. If he had more foresight, he wouldn’t be in the mess he is in now. Sure, he will probably still be jobless right now, but at least he wouldn’t be so desperate for money that he had to borrow from all of his new found “friends” (us) just so he can pay off his current obligations.

So, if you have plans of moving to another country, remember to be like a boy scout and always be prepared.

Published in: on June 17, 2005 at 12:31 pm  Comments (1)  

Of Sob stories and deadbeats

About a couple of months ago, our friend SS migrated to Melbourne. He didn’t have any relatives nor friends here and was on his own. One day, he went out shopping for some furniture and found himself at a popular electronics/furniture shop in the city. He asked a store assistant about an item and continued browsing. Then another store assistant approached him, asking “Filipino ka ano?“(You’re Filipino, aren’t you?). SS was surprised, “Oo, paano mo nalaman?” (Yes, how did you know?). The store attendant, SH, said he heard SS ask the other store assistant a question and heard his accent. Thus started the friendship between SS and SH, with SH even promising to give SS a discount on a sofa because he supposedly has an employee discount from the store and could assist SS in getting it at a lower price. SH claimed that he has been staying in Australia for 11 years now and learning that SS has just migrated, promised to give him the grand tour of Melbourne. SS and SH soon learned that they lived in the same area and SH asked for his address. Not finding anything wrong with this, SS gave it to him. Later that night, SH showed up at his doorstep without warning and invited him out for a beer.

SS, who was actively posting in an online Pinoy community forum even before he landed in Australia, saw that there would be an eye-ball for Pinoys living in Melbourne. He went and met us (Gabriel and I), M, R, IR, W and her cousin J. Before the meeting ended, SH called SS and told him he’d be interested to meet us all too. We waited for him to get off work before we disbanded that evening. That meeting was followed by several others, with regular gimiks(night-outs) per week. Everytime the group meets, a member would bring another friend or another member from the forum shows up and so our numbers grew. The group was mostly composed of Filipino migrants who are trying their luck here and have been here from 3 months to several years. Roughly in the same age bracket, we are a varied group of engineers, IT and accounting professionals, writer, student and pharmacist, among others.

Last week, we went out for a movie and bowling at Crown Casino and SH tagged along. Unknown to most members of the group, SH has lost his job at the store and has borrowed money from SS and M. While we were having fun practicing our bowling skills, he approached J and told her about his situation and asked her to lend him some cash. Being sympathetic to his situation, J gave him $350. SH then asked her not to tell anyone in the group that he has lost his job because he’s embarrassed about the situation. J said she’d keep his secret. Several days later, the group minus Gabriel and I, SS and IR went to Great Ocean Road, spending the night in M’s house in Werribee. SH went with the group and without the knowledge of the people he’d already previously asked for money, recounted his sob story to the other members of the group always careful that he talk to them one by one. He also asked for their phone numbers plus the numbers of the ones who didn’t join the trip.

Early this week, Gabriel received a call from one of the members of the group. The caller told us that SH has been asking each of them for money and that we should be cautious of lending him more. Stunned, we asked for some details. It seems that SH has by then borrowed a total of $1100 from several members of the group in a matter of just a few days. His modus operandi would be to call you, ask to meet and then say his spiel to get some money. Next he’ll make you promise not to tell the other members of the group, always saying that he’s embarassed of his need to borrow money. Later that night, Gabriel’s phone registered several missed calls coming from various unfamiliar numbers. A few minutes after we noticed the missed calls, the phone rang again and Gabriel answered. It’s SH. Gabriel wasn’t feeling well that night and SH must have noticed it in his voice, asking if Gabriel’s alright. Hubby said that he’s feeling under the weather to which SH replied that perhaps he should rest, ended the call cheerfully.

We’d later find out that SH called W after he called Gabriel. According to W, SH sounded panicked while confiding that he need money to pay his rent the next day or his landlord would evict him. W, who has already lent him some money, asked for some details. How much does SH owe? 2 weeks worth of rent($160/week). Where is this apartment? South Yarra, a stone’s throw away from the city. She asked for the name and number of the landlord hoping that she could ask the landlord for an extension. After all, what’s 2 weeks worth of rent? Won’t the bond more than cover for that?

Consulting the yellow pages, a call was placed to the landlord and W found out that not only is it not an apartment(it’s a backpackers hotel) but that SH owes 2 month’s worth of rent. Upset that she has been lied to, W texted SH. W’s mobile was soon ringing and SH was explaining that he has already paid up part of the rent and that he only need $500 more to pay up the total. Empathising with his plight, W met up with SH the next day to lend him another $500, against the advice of the other people in the group. She reasoned that SH might be telling the truth and it could have been her in his situation. We told her that if she has enough sense she wouldn’t be in his situation at all because she’d get out even before the situation worsens. The group also told her that if SH is really willing, there are many ways of getting some cash with being a freeloader. Why doesn’t he apply in casual positions or be a busker?

By now the members of the group has also compared stories and found several inconsistencies in SH’s story. He claimed that he couldn’t borrow money from SS because SS’s parents in the Philippines are sick and also need money. When asked, SS said that he already lent a large amount to SH. There were also several versions and amounts quoted and we learned that the amount SH supposedly owes the landlord kept on increasing with each telling and subsequent borrowing(shouldn’t the amount decrease because people keep on forking over money to him?!)

When W met up with SH that morning, W was hoping that SH would at least be contrite. She asked him to move to another accommodation that might be further away from the city but would also be cheaper. She reasoned that this would only be temporary, at least until SH finds another job. He insisted that he need to be close to the city to find a job and plans to crash at SS’s place(without asking SS’s permission yet). W also recounted how SH’s mobile supposedly rang with him claiming that it is a call from a prospective employer asking for an interview. This, at 7:30 in the morning! Having enough of his nonsense, W told him to stay away from the group and sort his life out, saying that he should only make contact once he’s ready to pay up.

Later that same day, W found out that SH is still asking people for money and even went as far as showing up uninvited to a new member, L’s, place of work. At this point, W asked M to talk to SH. M called SH and got a litany of excuses and reasons. SH claimed that he couldn’t stay away from the group now that he owed people money, what would people think when he suddenly disappears from sight? We told M to pass on the message that it would be better for him to stay away and that if he really is nahihiya(embarrassed) as he claimed, he’d abide by the wishes of the group – don’t show his face until he’s ready to pay up.

That, so far, is the end of the story. We’re all hoping that there would be a happy ending to this, with him finding some form of employment and returning the group’s hard-earned money. We also hope that SS would get the sofa he paid downpayment to SH to (without a receipt) or at least see that money returned. The group has been burned and are now understandably upset and angry with SH. I hope that SH’s name rhyming with manggagantso(swindler) would prove to be a coincidence. I hope that he would prove us wrong and get his life in order. I, however, am not holding my breath.

Published in: on June 17, 2005 at 12:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Update on 2 and 5

Last week saw the start of our attempt to incorporate 2 fruits and 5 vegetables in our diet. I’ve borrowed the Eating for Life book by Bill Phillips and have tried several breakfast and dinner recipes from it. The dishes we’ve tried were filling, tasty and easy to prepare.

We also had different vegetables with minced chicken/beef such as guisadong toge, guisadong repolyo, guisadong beans(beans with minced meat) on separate nights for dinner. Not forgetting the fruit, we bought our week’s supply of grapes, bananas and tinned peaches in juice. Looking at our grocery trolley last week, you’d think it belonged to another couple since never before had so many vegetables and fruits graced our cart at one time. By the time we reached the checkout counter, I was worried that we’d blow our budget but we didn’t overshoot our budget at all(it stayed the same).

This week, we thought we’d try some more recipes from the Bill Phillips book and would be having chicken and vegetable soup, an Asian beef stir fry and another noodle and vegetable dish. We also bought bananas, kiwis and avocados for the fruit portion of our new diet.

With all this emphasis on putting more fruits and vegetables in our refrigerator and tummies, I had to get re-acquainted with my vegetables. For example, are potatoes classified as vegetables? How about corn, is it a grain or a vegetable? I would have said vegetable straight away because I usually see them added in with other vegetables (carrots, peas, etc) in frozen packages and baby corn does look more like a vegetable than a grain, doesn’t it? On the other hand, it is also a grain. What about mushrooms, aren’t they actually fungi?

Consulting these vegetable and fruit lists somehow cleared my confusion and also educated me on some of the alternate names used by Australians, Americans and British for the same vegetable. I remember I was craving for some guisadong upo(sauteed bottle gourd) when Sassy featured it in her Pinoycook site and read that sayote(chayote) would be a good substitute. The following week, I was trying to find chayote in the vegetable section of the grocery but didn’t find any. It was only later that I found out that this particular gourd goes by the name of choko here in Australia. D’oh!

I also worried about the store life of these vegetables and fruits since we only do grocery shopping once a week, two at the most. We certainly won’t benefit from any of these goodies if they get spoiled first. Here’s a list of the recommended method and storage times for most produce that I’ve found, for those who’re interested.

Could you tell I’m having fun? In our own way, we’re having our mini-food trip, discovering and trying out new food and sorting out which ones would be keepers or goners. There’s still a lot of room for improvement though, like making better food choices when eating out and not blowing our grocery budget like we did this week!

Published in: on June 15, 2005 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

Wiping the slate clean

For most people contemplating a move to another country, one of the most daunting things to consider is the thought of starting over again. After building your career from the ground up after finishing university, you’ll have to start from the bottom all over again. And this time, not even the name of your university may be able to get the employer’s attention. Your previous employment history may also amount to little especially if the companies you’ve worked with in the past does not have a global presence, who’s to know if they’re a reputable organisation or not? You’d also be a bit disadvantaged because you may not know the local language, culture and would have no local experience to speak of. In other words, you’d be a nobody in a foreign land.

For some, the difficulty of the transition from being a nobody to somebody in their new home may be eased by the presence of friends or relatives who have moved and lived there for years. Relatives could act as guides, counselors and sometimes, even drivers. However, for others who don’t know anybody in their new home or would like to do things independently, they are on their own. There are many things to consider and get familiar with in a short span of time but the most basic are the public transportation system, banking, job hunting, house hunting, appliance/furniture shopping, public health system and education(for those who’d be arriving with kids).

I used to think that the trouble of migrating is not worth it – I was, after all, working in a leadership position at an offshore arm of a foreign company in Makati with a good salary plus benefits, reasonable hours(flexi-time), friendly colleagues and bosses. I used to compare that with what it would mean to start over in a new country – low pay, 8 to 5 work(maybe more), may not have a very friendly office environment (you never know what you’ll get) and being at the bottom of the food chain. So I thought I’d stay in the Philippines and ignore the political turmoil, traffic jams and constant flooding. I told myself I only have to be content, that the grass on the other side would always look greener but that the grass in my part of the world is green enough, thank you very much.

I don’t know when the shift started but I know that with each despedida(going-away party) for friends and relatives that I attended, the feeling of discontent got worse. It didn’t help that the political circus kept going on, the flood problem ignored and traffic jams became the norm everywhere. I also started to worry about health care, not only for myself but for my aging parents – there was no way I could pay for a prolonged stay in a hospital if ever any of us gets seriously ill. There is also no way I could save up enough to buy a house of my own; no matter how much I save. The grass on the other side started to get tempting. At that point, I saw the challenge of wiping the slate clean as a way to an opportunity for a better future. I reasoned that if I was able to make it in the Philippines with sikap at tiyaga(hard work and perseverance), I could most certainly do it again elsewhere.

Those could have been my famous last words but thankfully, I’m still here. It’ll be three years next month since I’ve packed my bags and headed for the shores of Australia. I may not be where I want to be yet but at least I’m starting to see a way to get there. I’ve met some people who’ve made it in more or less time but I guess each person’s luck and journey is unique. To those just starting out, I can only say this – try and put what’s happening in perspective, it may seem challenging now but you may be laughing about it next year. Wiping the slate clean may not necessarily be a bad experience, it’s a chance to explore and grow if you just keep an open mind.

That’s not to say that I don’t miss the Philippines. I still do. I just don’t see myself going back and living my old life anymore.

Published in: on June 14, 2005 at 6:08 pm  Comments (2)  

Suburb Hunting

Yesterday, our group of Pinoy friends went on a long road trip to the Great Ocean road south of Victoria. Raquel and I decided not to go mainly because we wanted to get some rest and catch up on sleep.

Irar, one of our Pinoy friends who also wasn’t able to come along for the road trip, recently moved to her new apartment near Altona beach. She was raving about how the area was great so we thought that maybe we should check out Altona as a possible suburb we could move to in the in the future.

She kindly showed us around the area and it was just beautiful. She lives like literally a stone’s throw away from this small park. The beach was just one block away in one direction and the shops were one block away in another. The train station was maybe two blocks away in yet another direction. It was all pretty convenient. The neighborhood seemed rather peaceful, too.

After some exploring by foot around Irar’s neighborhood, we said our good-bye and looked around farther afield by car. It had this suburban feel that I actually crave for now after having lived in Canberra for over three years. Another bonus was that the area was near the sea.

I was about to discount the suburbs west of Melbourne totally from the list of suburbs we’re looking at for houses. The westerd suburb of Altona is definitely in my list now. The available houses we’re interested in at the moment are still beyond our means though. I just hope there would still be houses we like by the time we save enough for a down payment.

Published in: on June 13, 2005 at 10:13 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bowling and Movie Night Out

We went out again yesterday for another get-together with the Pinoy gang. We met around 7:30 pm at the Crown Casino foodcourt to have lunch. There were a few more faces that night. RChristian brought his American friend Ted, Irar brought her friend’s friend Efrain and Milkshake brought his officemate Rani. Well, the more the merrier.

Before dinner, Chinita checked to see what time is the next showing of Mr and Mrs Smith. After she saw that the queue for the movie was very long, we decided to just skip the movie and just play ten-bowling instead of watching a movie first then play bowling next.

After dinner, at around 8 pm, we went to the bowling alley to book ourselves a couple of lanes. The bowling attendant told Chinita, our de-facto activities coordinator, that the earliest time we could get a lane would be at 11:45 pm. So, what were we supposed to do between 8 to 11:45?

We ended up buying tickets for the Mr and Mrs Smith movie anyway. Since there were a lot of us, we were able to get a discount for the tickets. Unfortunately, the showing we got was for the 10:45 pm one. That meant that we still had to wait for about two hours.

It wasn’t a total waste of time though. We first chatted with each other near the cinema box office until we noticed that maybe we were getting in the way of the people wanting to queue to buy movie tickets. We continued our chat by the coffee shop a level down. The time actually flew by rather quickly when you’re having fun.

Soon, it was 10:30 and we went on our way to the cinema. Jacky who wasn’t going to be joining us managed to catch up. Unluckily, she wasn’t able to get a ticket to the same show we were about to watch so she just bought a ticket to watch Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith instead. We decided that we could just meet up with her after the movies were done.

By the time the movie ended (the movie was good and quite funny in my opinion, by the way), it was already past 1 am! So we hurried to the bowling alley to find out if the bowling attendant already gave away the lanes we had reserved for 11:45. I’m not really sure as to what happened then (because Chinita and the girls were the ones talking to the bowling people) but in the end, we still got three lanes. We divided into three teams and played till 3 am.

I sucked bad that night but it was all good. We were there to have fun and that’s what we had. Maybe next time though, we could choose a bowling alley that didn’t allow smoking as cigarette smoke really irritates my eyes and throat.

Anyway, it was a long time ago since I stayed out that late with friends having fun. All though it was tiring, it was well worth it.

Published in: on June 11, 2005 at 9:56 pm  Leave a Comment