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)