Welcome 2016

Another year has gone, good bye 2015 and hello 2016!

Last year I wasn’t with my family and I celebrated New Year’s eve at my boyfriend’s house. This time, I celebrated it with my family, too bad my other sister is in Caloocan and she can’t travel to Bulacan. Anyway, I prepare Macaroni Salad and a Carbonara. I did few searches before making my Carbonara with a twist. Usually the Carbonara toppings only include bacon, ham, parsley etc., I added Corned beef and MaLing and then cut into squares (I didn’t mix it with the Carbonara sauce).

carbonara

I woke up early and worked until 19:00 my time, then I started preparing our food. We didn’t have a lot compared to last year, I’m broke because we’ve been fixing our house since last November. I’ve been waiting and I called my older sister so they can join us.

Before I forget, my youngest sister just gave birth last month! I thought it would be the same as my father’s birthday but she delivered afterwards.

baby

We waited until the clock turned to 23:59… We were counting down, then we started yelling, “Happy New Year”. We celebrate our New Year while drinking and doing karaoke. Filipinos really really love karaoke, it’s like any of our events wouldn’t be complete without karaoke.

We all got drunk and they kept going. I can’t catch up to them and finally slept around 03:00.

Happy New Year everyone!

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My 2014 Hallowmas experience

Hallowmas – or let’s say All Saint’s Day (Undas in the Philippines) is held each year from the 31st of October until the 2nd of November. Most of the time, Filipinos will travel to their provinces with their family. Most Filipino students are very happy because during this holiday there’s a week-long semester break from their studies, which resume the Monday after Nov. 2nd. It is also the time when relatives have their reunions in the graveyard with their loved ones.

I went to Pampanga with our family to visit my tito (uncle) and my lola’s (grandmother) grave. I brought my SLR camera as well to take some photos. Usually, others will travel on the 30th of October to avoid traffic but we traveled on All Saint’s day. We started packing our stuff around 6am on Nov. 1st. We left our house @ 8am GMT +8. My brother was the one driving, since no one else likes commuting. There’s no traffic until we passed the NLEX (North Luzon Expressway).

undas2

Once past that we started having traffic in San Juan, Sta. Ana Pampanga. It’s around 9:45am, an hour passed and we’re still on San Juan. The weather is very very hot and the car’s temperature started to go up until it hit the red line. We had to stop over so that my brother can put some water in his car’s radiator.

overheat_staAna

We ran out of water and were glad that there’s a house nearby. My boyfriend and I went inside and asked if we can have some water because our car overheated, they said it’s fine. We filled up the 1 gallon jug of water twice. My boyfried wanted to give them a little money but I told him I don’t have any small bills and I think it’s fine since it is the province. We thank them for their kindness and started moving on.

The traffic died down as soon as we passed the Sta. Ana church. We reached my uncle’s house around noon. They prepared the Pampanga’s food delicacy called “buro or balo-balo” ( I don’t know what it is called in english LOL) and grilled fish. We ate, chilled, had some chit-chat and relaxed for a bit and then we started to take some pictures.

Buro

arayat

mount arayat

Mount Arayat

Doesn’t Mt. Arayat look amazing? ^_^

2 hours later, my auntie and her daughters prepared another food dish for our Meryenda. They cooked delicious sopas and yummy palitaws.

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We went to relax under a tree and started singing Karaoke again. We started preparing to go to my uncle and grandmother’s graves. I forgot the name of the cemetery but it’s nearby the Arayat-Magalang tricycle terminal and Puregold Arayat as well.

mom doing karaoke

Since most of the public cemeteries in PH are crowded, we have to carefully step on some graves to utilize a shortcut way to our relatives tombstones. It is not considered disrespectful as long as there is no one visiting that grave. If they were it would look bad if you step on it while relatives are around praying for their beloved ones.

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We reached my uncle and grandmother’s tombstones and started lighting the candles and praying for their souls. We hung out there, had some chit-chat and I took some more shots.

Uncle and Lola's Graveyard

Uncle and Lola’s Graveyard

Usually, we wait until the candles run out, however for some reason there’s a lot of mosquitos during this trip so we decided to go home earlier than usual.

We want back to my uncle’s house, visited more and eat dinner. We took a short nap and then went home around midnight to avoid traffic and the “overheat” probem again. We arrived back home at around 2:00am.

Home sweet home! See ya again next time Pampanga!

A message for my son

So I think it’s time to make a new post, it has been a month since my last update. First of all, thank you very much readers of my blog, this month is the most amount of visitors I’ve gotten so far. Also, happy happy Independence Day to our beloved country – the Philippines. I hope that people know what we are celebrating today – it is the day where we have our Freedom!

I had a quick walk to my brother’s place and it was pretty amazing. I met the goats on the muddy road, but don’t get me wrong, I love those kinds of things, I love the country.

I’m so happy right now, especially with the people that surrounds me, they keep cheering me up. I’m having a hard time deciding on whether or not to move to a new place, because I need to make sure that I can take care of all of my finances including paying for my son’s schooling.

It’s very hard to be a mother and a father at the same time. I think every single parent knows that. I was busy preparing for my son’s school earlier. It will be his first time to go to school, I both hate and love seeing him grow. He’s growing so fast, I feel like it was just yesterday that he was just a baby. Today, he’s on his way to being a man and starting to ask questions, to write, to sing, to play and more. Tomorrow, he’ll be a big man and I’ll be a grandma! LOL! Well, that’s life… I hope not too soon, I wish for him to finish his school first and I’ll do the best the I can to support him no matter what he does in life.

Son, I know right now, you won’t understand what I’m saying, but when you grow up and you read this I would love you to know that there is nothing I wish for except your happiness. I may not be a perfect mom, but I hope that you’ll be a good boy when you grow up. I stare at you at night, I touch your face and cuddle you, although you’re asleep. Thank you because you understand mommy’s work, you know when and where you can bother me. Thank you because you understand me whenever we talk. I’m sorry if sometimes I’m talking to you as If you’re my same age, but I’m glad that you’re learning and you never repeat what you know is wrong. (Just like coloring the wall 🙂 ). I’m so excited for your school, I love you you with all my heart. I love you so much Kurt -Mommy.

Life is like the Weather

I believe that everything happens for a reason, and no matter what that reason is, I’m just trying to accept it. I may have crossed the lines that caused someone else to get hurt but those mistakes teach me to not do it again and I know I’m not perfect. I made mistakes, everyone does… but that doesn’t mean that I deserved something that is ten times as painful. My worst trait is trusting too much. Because of that, I feel I have failed so much in my life. I’ve sacrificed so much just to help someone or just to make others happy. It’s enough for me to see their smile, and to know everything is alright. It’s always like, others first, myself later.

Sometimes, I keep asking God to let me see the future because I want to know the next chapter of my life. I want to know if I’m going to have a new cycle. A cycle where I can be contented, where I can see my dreams, where there is no more pain like what I’m experiencing right now. I wanted answers to some questions, I got some answers but I know in my heart that it isn’t the whole solution. I’m so afraid, I don’t know why… I don’t even remember making some mistakes; all I know is that I was in a place where I had no choice in life but to follow the flow.

“Life is like the weather, sometimes you love it and wish it to stay the way that it is, but sometimes you hate it because it makes you feel unwell.” -thyrene

          I am aware of this, however sometimes I don’t know how to deal with it. As Charles Swindoll says,

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it”.

On my 24th birthday, all I wish for is to have a better future for my son and to continue to seek for the answers that I’m yearning for.

The U.S. Embassy, My Family and I – Part 2 “When one door closes another door opens”

The continuation of my blog: The U.S. Embassy, My Family and I – Part 1 “When one door closes another door opens”

After the interview, I slowly put the blue letter into my transparent envelope. I don’t know what to do.  My knees can’t step forward, and for a second I thought that this is just a dream. I walk straight and don’t look at other people sitting down and waiting to be called.

I didn’t leave the embassy; I sat down at the same angle of Window #10. Then I read the letter where it says, “You did not establish that your social, family, and economic ties outside of the United States are sufficient to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent.” “You did not establish that you are qualified for one of the nonimmigrant visa categories as indicated in the INA.”

I thought I can stay strong; I did my best to be strong. But, upon reading, I look at my son’s pictures, and I didn’t notice my tears falling down.

Kurt

Then, without noise, I started crying, my tears continuously flowing (Even up to now, while writing this blog, because the pain is still fresh in my mind). I ask myself, “what kind of ties they are looking for?  Isn’t it enough that you don’t need to be far with your son and your family to earn money? Wouldn’t anyone love to be that way?” So many things comes to my mind, I’m thinking, what did I say wrong to the consular. Is it because I earn too little money and that lead his result to refuse me to have a visa?

Sketch of where am I sitting in the Non-Immigrants Section

I look down while covering my face with my very long hair; I’m thinking of why I belong to a family with no luck and no assets. I feel like I’ve been cursed but even if I would have a second chance to live, I’d rather be this way because nobody knows what our family has been through. No way could you imagine it exists like that.

I know I’m not the only person who failed, I know the fact that there’s a failure and there’s a success. But it is not easy to accept a failure that isn’t appropriate. It’s not appropriate to make an opposite decision when I know that I am right. When I know that I wouldn’t stay in the United States and go there for trainings only. Sometimes, the consular doesn’t see it in my eyes, my sincerity of showing how I love my homeland, my family and especially my son, he didn’t give me a chance to show it.

It never comes to my mind to Immigrate in the U.S.A. and that the only thing that keeps me going is my son and my beloved parents. If they base their result to other Filipino’s who lied and never came back, then I am not one of them. I would like to fight for my rights and to show them how sincere I am of coming back. Coming to the United States may give me culture shock but it won’t lead me to stay because of their technology nor money. My son needs me during this stage of his life; I don’t want to be too far from him. I can’t even sleep without him beside me in my bed.

I’ve been sitting there for more than 30 minutes, my eyes won’t stop crying, I don’t even have a handkerchief, I use the end of my sleeve to wipe my tears and nose. Still, can’t believe what happened. I stare at each window except to window 5, 6,7,8,9 because I can’t see them. Windows are starting to close one by one because there are no more non-immigrant applicants. The guys wearing blue shirts that are assisting applicants already left. I think they know what happened to me and they let me sit there and cry.

Then, after couple of minutes, a woman came by with her kid in a stroller.
Woman: Why are you crying?
Me: Because they denied my Visa
Woman:  What kind of visa are you applying?
Me: B1 For business, training.
Woman:  Don’t cry, you know my mom has been denied for 6x now.
Me: (I didn’t speak)
Woman: You can re-apply again. (Then, she strolled her kid)

After couple of minutes, she came again with her American husband. My eyes are continuously crying. Like never ending…
Man: Hi
Me: Hello
Woman: This is my husband
Man: Are you going to the USA for tourist?
Me: No. I’m going there to have training with the current company that I’m working with
Man: Nowadays, it’s very hard to come to the United States. I’m already an American and petitioning my wife wasn’t easy.
Woman: Yeah, so many papers needed before we finish fixing everything
Man: Don’t cry, you know what we’ve been trying to get my wife’s mom a visa but they always denied her. Until now, she hasn’t got a visa yet.
Me: Is it really hard to travel to USA with B1/B2 Visa?
Man: Yes!  Because some Filipino says they will come there for tourist then they will get married. So Embassy is very strict with application.
Me: But I am going there for training =(
Man: Why did they refuse your visa anyway?
Me: (I showed my blue letter)
Man: (Reading…) you failed because of economic ties. You know what, United States, what to see that you will come back to the Philippines.
Me: But I have my son, and I am the Head of my Family now.
Man: Even though you have your family in the Philippines, that’s not enough for them to prove that you will come back. You need to have monetary things that they know you can’t leave behind when you come to the United States. We are talking about money here.
Me: (I cried so much) but, why it’s very unfair. They didn’t even ask for any of my documents to show that I will come back to the Philippines. I have my son, and I won’t leave him behind in my country.
Man: The best way to come to the USA is the K1 Visa. You should find a husband that can bring you to the United States
Me: (I didn’t speak) I look down.
Woman: Are you already married?
Me: Yes = (Then I cried so much… (To be honest, this is the first time I admit to the internet that I am married)
Woman: Where is your husband?
Me: We have been separated. We only lasted for a couple of months after marriage, not even 6 months. I don’t love him, and I was only 18 at that time. I don’t think about it much, all I think about is that there will be someone who can be shown as the father of my son. He is not the real father of my son.  I just signed a paper and the marriage ceremony didn’t even last for 5 minutes.
Woman: Where is your son?
Me: He is living with me, in addition to my parents and 2 siblings.
Man: (He comes closer face to face)
Me: (I keep crying) Then look at my envelope
Man: Look, don’t lose hope… Remember this saying, “When one door closes another door opens”. It is not always bad. Have faith in him. (He repeats it again) “When one door closes another door opens”. You are very pretty woman and there are so many men out there who can help you. Believe me, see we can hear and you didn’t end up with anything and yet you meet us.
Me: Thank you (I stop crying and started to wipe my tears)
Man: (He made a joke) Anyway, what kind of man you are looking for? White, black, short or tall? (Then he laughs)
Me: (I laugh, and I said) It’s my birthday today.
Man & Woman: Wow! Happy Birthday
Woman: O wag ka na magmukmok jan. (Stop sulking)  You can always try again. Or find a husband and help you to fix your papers
Me:  Thank you ate (ate is use to respect older woman than you although the English term is sister)
Woman: Come with us, there is no people here now.
Me: (I stand up, and come to the place where they are sitting; those guards are looking at me. Maybe they wonder why I didn’t leave my seat in the Non-Immigrants area)
Man:  How old is your son?
Me: Four. (Then I showed him the picture)
Man: Nice, He and my son can get along.
Me: (I smiled. Then I saw the woman’s older son.) Is that your son?
Woman: Yes, he is my son to my first husband before I get annulled.
Me: How much did it cost you?
Woman: 50k
Me: Why it is cheaper? In my place, it’s around 200k and more.
Woman: Maybe because I live in province.
Me: I can’t afford to do annulment because I am taking care of my son and my family.
Woman: Don’t lose hope, look; my husband helped me to fix it and now we are here and filing out immigrant papers for my older son.
Me: Your sons are so lovely and handsome. You are so lucky.
Woman: Time will come, don’t worry.
Man: I see in you that your intent is just business. But if you change your mind, we can help you.
Woman: Do you have Facebook?
Me: Yes. (I wrote my email address and gave it to her)
Woman: I will add you later so we can keep in touch
Me: Thanks Po. (They are so nice)

They are at the US Embassy because their petitioning her older son for Immigration.  Then their number was called and they told me to stay there or wait.  The girl is very lucky, and upon staying there, I also saw another woman with an American husband. I’m thinking, is that the easiest way to go to the U.S.A. when you don’t belong to a rich family, when you don’t have assets and everything? When they are finished at the other window, they come back and said that they will be called again. I asked where the comfort room is because I need to wash my face and go pee pee.

The woman I met is also inside the comfort room; she is changing her son’s diaper and making something to drink. Me, I washed my hands and keep staring at the mirror and also at them. I don’t know what to say, I can’t say anything. Then, she said she will be leaving the CR now and they are just in the Immigrant section at the other side. She said, come with me. I said, I will follow in a bit. A few minutes later, when she’s gone, I am staring into the mirror and looking at myself.

As I stare at myself, my eyes start to cry again. Then when someone will come by, they will look at me but I don’t look back, and I keep crying. I feel like not going home. I have so many plans like; this will be the beginning to earn enough money so I can bring my mom to a hospital to do some check up with her growing tummy. Nobody knows what’s going on in her tummy, after they remove her right kidney, her tummy keeps growing. I need plenty of money so I can have her general check up and operation if necessary.  Then a young kid came in, he went pee pee and then when he washed his hands. He looked at me, we see each other eye to eye, and he didn’t leave. He looks into my eyes and sees the tears falling down slowly. He didn’t leave and he stayed for 2-3 minutes and kept looking at me. I stopped crying, because I know he wonders why I am crying, and I look at him as my son and as a mom, and I don’t want my son to see what’s going on. He is so very young to be involved in nature’s life.

After he leaves, I started to get going. I didn’t know how much time I stayed at the U.S. Embassy.  I walked outside the Comfort Room slowly and tried to look for those people that I’ve met, but I think they left and they might have thought I left too, because I stayed very long in the CR crying. Thank you to that kid, whoever you are, you gave me strength

Upon walking, I’m trying to leave all the pain inside the U.S. Embassy, staring at the road while walking to the Pedestrian Lane. I normally bring a camera + mobile to take an Image of all the walks I’ve been. But since every kind of electronics is not allowed, and I had to leave them behind in my brother’s car, I feel incomplete from not taking pictures of the places I’ve been.

I don’t have anything with me and no money; I tried to find a bank to withdraw some money. Then, I don’t know where to start, don’t know where to go. After getting money, I asked some people where to ride to go to Monumento, Caloocan.  Finally, I saw a Jeepney, and I ride and paid the driver using my 500 peso bill. I’m so shy to pay with it because I don’t want him to think I’m just trying to exchange it. When he gets the money, he asks for a smaller bill. I said I don’t have any I’m sorry. He kept the money until he has enough php to give me my change.

I dropped down to BDO Caloocan, and asked about a Checking Account. Luckily, I have all the documents with me, DTI, Mayor’s Permit, and ID’s. I’m so sleepy while I am talking to the teller. She explained everything about the Checking Account. Then after 1 hour of waiting, they gave me my new checks =] Well, I guess after a very long day at the U.S. Embassy, there’s a compensation reward to make me happy.

 I went to Malabon, and go to my sister’s house. I told my brother that I will be there by 12:30pm after the Interview. But since it’s very hard for me to leave the Embassy, I stayed longer. I only saw a letter on their door saying, “We already left the house Neng, and the kids were starting to cry”. I can’t blame them for leaving me because it’s around 2:30 when I get to Malabon, longer than they expected me to be. So I leave their house and I go home by myself to Bulacan.

I feel so tired, and very, very hot. Imagine I am wearing a long sleeve shirt and blazer plus slacks.

          Then, when I ride the Bus, there is no seat available. (LOL am I being cursed this day) And yes, OMG, no one is even kind enough to stand up and give me their seat. No gentleman that day, I stand up from the start of NLEX up to the Marilao Exit. Am I being the gentlewoman? Whenever there’s an old person even a male on a Bus who doesn’t have a seat, I normally stand up for them. I think guys in the Philippines forgot the term “Gentleman”.

After a long drive, finally I arrived at the house. They all have a very big smile on their faces, waiting for me on the 2nd floor. They said, she’s here, she’s here… Then I look above them and do thumbs down. Then from a very blissful face theirs turns into very heartbreaking faces.

Everyone sat down and listened to me, except my nieces and nephew who don’t understand the surroundings yet. I explained to them everything, and at the very end of my story they give me this sad and happy look. They didn’t tell me how much they are thankful of me trying my best, but I can tell.  They said, maybe it’s not for me yet. Just don’t give up. It is a very heart-breaking moment. Every member of my family wasn’t being able to be lucky enough to have a better path in life. Each of us lives a normal life where you can have food to eat everyday and send your kids to school and that is enough. But even we live that way, and we are happy. And those people who live a better life, where their parents can give whatever they want are very lucky. Some of them don’t really treasure life, however.

I am at the edge of a life that wants to make sure that there will be a better future for my family. I am dreaming to have a very good business in my country and have my parents fulfill their dream of which they didn’t make, having our own house. My dream is very simple; to show my parents how I love them and to have a simple house that can fit our whole family.

Here is some shots of a simple feast that my mom made for me after a very long day.

Lechong Paksiw
Puto

My Parents. My Father's left hand doesn't function anymore due to stroke. My Mother, I'm concerned because I don't know if there's a complication in her tummy; it's getting bigger =( Her right kidney has been removed for almost 4.5 years now.

My cute niece

Me and My Son

  Sometimes, I am thinking, during the time when money doesn’t exist, you are able to travel from one place to another. This land that we are stepping on right now doesn’t belong to us. Everything is now based on a “Piece of Paper”. Money, Land Titles are just made of pieces of paper with a person who has authority to sign it.  Because of people’s selfishness and desire to conquer the world, the wars started. If only everyone on this planet can give and take and help people rise and not push down. Wars will stop and peace will be on earth.  I don’t know why I said this, but these things are also related to me.

     Being sincere about coming back to the Philippines is not only based on what things can be seen, or what money can be showed, but also the relationship between families that remains unseen and beyond vocabulary which will guide you back to where you belong.