I Made It… Three Years and Counting!

How time flies… I almost didn’t notice that it’s been three years now since I decided to pack my bags and leave the big city life behind. I must admit I didn’t plan on staying here this long but hey, I’m still here and not planning on leaving soon.

I can still remember the look on my friends’ faces when I told them about my decision. They know that I love to travel and I love the occasional adventures in life but what they couldn’t seem to understand was the fact that I decided to move to a secluded place knowing the kind of lifestyle I had in the city. I still remember how my parents, especially my mother, disapproved of the idea but everything was already set and there was no backing out anymore. My friends even had a bet that I wouldn’t last for more than six months but I told them I wouldn’t take that bet because I didn’t want them to lose… but now I wish did, it could have bought me a new handbag 🙂

 ortigas

The view from my [old] 18F condo unit. I kind of miss this place now

It was the biggest decision I’ve made so far. Moving to a new place, where I didn’t know anybody, didn’t speak and understand the language, literally and figuratively far from the modern civilization, was such a challenge. The first few weeks experiences were a mixture of culture shock and homesickness. I’m a Filipina and lived in the Philippines practically my whole life, except for that  two-month work assignment in the US years ago and the holidays outside the country, but the culture here is just so different from what I’m used to.

The work itself is really challenging and I like it… but the place is not so appealing especially for someone like me who used to work in the business districts and used to come to work in business attire, well-groomed hair, make up and high heels with matching handbag. My work demanded more and more of my time  each day and I almost didn’t notice the days and weeks passing by during the first six months. I slowly learned to speak and understand Visayan language, learned how to deal with people especially co-workers who are not used to my pace, learned to like and appreciate my surroundings. I was aware that some people didn’t like my presence for reasons I can’t seem to comprehend but it didn’t  discourage me a bit. There will always be those people who would wish for our failure but there’s no use wasting our precious time dealing with them and it is entirely up to us if we would succumb to it. Being tough is really tough but at the end of the day, it’s us who really know who we are, what we are capable of and what we are made of. So I say get tougher each day and enjoy the adventures of life every single day.

 I tried to recall some of the small and funny things I’ve learned and experienced here in Cebu, in no particular order…

 1. I learned how to walk gracefully and confidently in flats. In fact I own nearly a dozen pair of flats now. High heels were my best friends  and I couldn’t walk  gracefully and comfortably in flats three years ago. I really miss wearing heels to work now, at least I still get to wear them whenever I go to the head office in Manila.

shoes

i guess one of the secrets of being happy in life is learning to adapt without really sacrificing the more important things

2. I twisted my ankles more than three times as i was really trying to wear heels. I decided that I should stop trying before I seriously hurt myself. The worst part is that it will have a really negative impact on the company in case of a  serious injury due to wearing high heels.  Declaring a lost time accident due to a heels-related injury is really embarrassing and I will surely be reprimanded for that. So, I told myself… Get used to wearing flats.. period!

3. Learned how to eat rice meal for breakfast 2 to 3 times a week. I’m not a big fan of rice but sometimes i just couldn’t resist it when it’s already in front of me and I didn’t have time to throw two slices of bread into the toaster. I prefer coffee and toasts with butter and marmalade for breakfast.

4.  Learned to appreciate the small things that I wouldn’t normally  get interested in or take notice of in Manila such as eating fried chicken and sweet spaghetti at Jollibee, having coffee in a dodgy-looking place because there is no other place to get a not-so-nice cup of cappuccino, planting roses and enjoying the afternoon in the garden watering plants.

flower

5. Learned how to stretch my patience to the highest possible limit.

6. Learned how to toughen up each day.

7. Experienced swimming with the whale sharks.

whaleshark

one summer morning at Oslob, Cebu

8. Learned and enjoyed the culture…  for me, being in a new place means actually “experiencing” the place.

9. Experienced riding a motorcycle (as public transpo.. I was with my friend then, it happened only once I don’t plan on doing it again)

10. Experienced the beauty and adventure of the famous Sinulog festival.

sinulog

finally found the parade after long hours of walking and getting lost

11. Had my share of durian flavored latte at Waterfront hotel. I don’t like durian but the coffee was not so bad, it was an experience after all. It’s better than eating balut.

Durain flavored coffee at Waterfornt Hotel
Durain flavored coffee at Waterfornt Hotel

12. Experienced the barbecue food culture in Larsian. I’m not into that kind of place, but I still tried it for culture/experience sake. I’m not adventurous when it comes to food unless I personally cooked/prepared it.

13. Traveling over the fog-covered mountains of Transcentral high way and picking up veggies, fruits and eating boiled sweetcorn along the way.

14. I guess I should stop here for now, the list is really long and it still gets longer everyday… but the most important of all, I had  new experiences that taught me how to deal with life and enjoy it to the fullest inspite of all the challenges that came with it . I met new people and made new friends.. some of them will be my good friends for life no matter which part of the world we may be in the future.

So I say, explore while you can and give in to the adventurous side of you. Don’t look back one day wondering and asking too many “WHAT IFs”…. don’t stop wandering!

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