“I’ve been busy”

For the longest time (or what felt like for me, that is), I can’t believe I would come around to saying that again. Ironically, it gives me a certain kind of peace knowing that I’m finally getting somewhere with my life after being in the same place for a few months now. This kind of busy is what I had been accustomed to all these years so it’s not a surprise I’ve been desperately looking for it.

My decision letter arrived on the 13th of September. I was at my Lolo’s cardiologist’s clinic to have his maintenance medications adjusted when I received The Email. Yes, it is The Email that has been occupying my mind since the day I resigned from my job. It is The Email that is supposedly going to determine my future. And it did – it confirmed I have a future! I was overwhelmed with so much happiness but I had to contain it in text and private message conversations with my family and closest friends cos I was surrounded with people I didn’t know. I couldn’t even concentrate on what Doctor T was telling me about my Lolo’s laboratory results.

Fast forward a few days later, the other e-mails kept coming. The agency was telling me what to process and giving me lists of documents and forms I need to submit. My ever-supportive Mama was already trying to book us the earliest and cheapest flight tickets.

On September 20, exactly a week after I received The Email, we flew to Manila. By we, I mean my mom and I. I don’t know about you but I feel so much more secured and at ease every time my mom comes with me to take tests. I’m well aware of the fact that I am 24 years old and should be independent but I realize my mom won’t always be physically there for me anymore by the time I work abroad so I guess I’m trying to enjoy it while it lasts.

I was thirty minutes early.. for the medical exam cut off for the day – which is quite a blessing considering I know I couldn’t afford to lose a day. I only had four days to do what I had to do in Manila. I had my dental check where the dentist, probably thrown off at how my teeth looked like, gave me a referral to restore three of them and to get prophylaxis. So I did. Growing up, our school dentist always told me I had perfect teeth so I kind of kept on believing that until this sort of harsh reality came and brought me back to a dentist chair. So much for trusting.

The eye check was next. Geez man, I am blind!! I couldn’t read most of the letters the eye doctor was pointing at. She told me I have myopia or near-nearsightedness… which brought me back to the countless times I kept on straining my eyes to see what was being reflected on the projector screen at Church. All that time, the letters were not too small. I was just too blind… to have my eyes checked. She prescribed me with glasses to refract my vision. I had no choice but to comply.

Day Two was for my TB Test. It is a pre-requisite for my entry to the country I am applying for. Actually, I was somehow confident I would be clear of TB cos I had my last chest x-ray barely two months ago. Not surprisingly, I was TB-negative. However, there was an incidental finding of mild thoracic dextroscoliosis. I was frustrated cos I didn’t see it coming. Of course, my mom always told me to stop slouching and there was even an incident when Wency texted me “Indi mag slouch dipota” (which is our way of being affectionate towards each other, really) but all my previous x-rays were clear and now this came out of the film. I immediately asked my agency if it would affect the application and thankfully, they said it wouldn’t. I was able to breathe again – but not for long.

I went back to where I had my other medical tests taken to get my prescription glasses and to see if my results were okay. I was told there was something found on my x-ray (yes, I had to take two x-rays for two consecutive days) but thankfully, I had my TB Test result to present as a supporting medical record. It was all God’s perfect timing and plan, really. After an hour or so, I was declared Fit to Work. I was able to breathe better again.

Finding out these minor conditions made me realize how I’ve been taking my health and body for granted. I knew there was something wrong with my vision but I had been denying the possibility I would need glasses one day. I’ve obviously always had bad posture but just shrugged the idea that it was a sign of something. And this was the perfect time to receive that reality check. I wouldn’t want to get one any other way.

PDOS or the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar was on Day Three. I thought I was going to learn the ropes of becoming an Overseas Filipino Worker in the near future but what stuck with me more was the sad reality of middle-aged mothers leaving their infant and toddler children behind for what they deemed would give them a better future. I was the only nurse in the group and the only single as well. The fourteen others were all hopeful parents and they looked half-excited and half-anxious of what their designated jobs in various Middle East countries have in store for them. I can only pray that they achieve what they want to come there for.

Overall, this Manila trip was productive. I’ve always thought (until now, actually) that it’s highly impossible for me to adjust and feel at home in the metro but I’ve learned that most of the things I still have on my list, I could only accomplish with me coming over there. Everything is there- the TB Test center, the recommended medical clinic and PDOS center, the UK Embassy, the airport that would take me on that international flight one day. Conversely, the heaviest traffic jams and the pranksters are also there. It already stresses me out to say this but: basically, what would I do without Manila?

I’d like to believe I will always remain a province girl no matter what but I have to admit Manila has given me the kind of busy I’d been craving for – the good kind of busy. Thank you for keeping me busy.


Fen-te Singko

Dear Fen,

Happy Birthday! I know we don’t get to hang out often but I’m glad that when we do, there is never an air of awkwardness and I can still poke your boobs when I feel like doing so.

You’re 25 and have been to so many places I never had the courage to travel to. I’ve always admired your guts to leave this little city and breathe air where it’s probably fresher whenever you feel like it. I hope one day, we get to share trips too (making a mental note to put that on my bucket list)!

I know you are going to reach places (literally hahaha and figuratively, of course). I guess we just have to be patient and work with the Universe to get us where we ought to be (and that means dealing with long queues and shitty personalities at PRC).

I guess all I’m saying is, 25 looks kind of scary and though we don’t get too talk about it a lot, I think you also have days when you feel so clueless about the future just like me. But I guess we just need to learn to get through. As always.

Please know that you can always message me in case of quarterlife crisis. See you on Saturday?