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Sunday, February 9, 2014

First Few Days In Our Second Home... Pasadena, Texas.

Like any other family who just transferred to a new place, we needed to fill it (our apartment) with the basic things.  And since it was already furnished with the most needed appliances and furniture (which was a convenience on our part), all we had to buy were stuffs for our consumption, hygiene/well-being, bedding and a rice cooker.  Well, they may not be concerned about rice around here, but for most Filipinos, a meal without rice is insufficient.

We went to Walmart (which was fortunately very near our place) and bought the things in our list.  And my, I still couldn't help myself convert to peso.  Why won't I, most of what we spent were still from our savings and separation pays we got from the Philippines.  Our bill was like Php8,000 plus with that day alone, and we still just bought some of the necessities (there were a lot more we hadn't purchased yet).   I know, I need to let go of this habit of converting... it's stressful and not good.

The positive side: 

  • People here are very courteous, most especially those who are working.  "Hello, how are you.", In an elevator, "Sorry, I need to stop you at 2" (upon pushing the 2nd floor button), and "Thank you, have a nice day."  Were just some of the things I commonly hear from complete strangers I met here.  It's like its in their nature to be polite to people around them.
  • Love their apartments here.  It has a fireplace (at last), fully carpeted, hot and cold faucet and shower (water here can be freezing cold) and aside from the air conditioner, they use heaters here. There is even a playground and a swimming pool as well as a tennis court and a gym within the compound.

  • Products are top of the class and health conscious or are they?  Their foods are of the best quality, the fruits are fresh and crisp, meats are tender and they have the top brands in the market.  We kind of think that the food they serve are not as tasty as ours, even their salt and sugar are not as salty and sweet, respectively (LOL).  But the ice creams, chips, meat products and chocolates are abundantly available and even at discounted prices.  So, moderation needed.

  • Easier traffic condition due to strict implementation of rules.  We just got our family a car, it's a necessity here.  The traffic here (compared to ours) is a lot easier to drive.  Just need to have their license here before the 3 months period where I can still use my Philippine license.
  • High concern on children, elderly and disabled people welfare.  Children younger than 8 years old who are shorter than 4 feet and 9 inches must have a car seat or booster seat.  Elderly have reserved seat on public transport vehicles.  And facilities are designed to be user friendly for the disabled.  These, among others, show that they give priority to the safety of these people and they make sure the rules for them are followed.

I know there's a lot more things I could say to praise this city.  But as the saying goes, "there's no place like home". We miss our first home, our country.  We miss our comfort zones, the familiarity, the company of our love ones...  Here, we are on our own, in which we are the foreigners.  But, we are still blessed, we have our whole family, the source of our strength... the reason why we will get through.  Truly, the Lord is with us...

Monday, February 3, 2014

Our Longest Travel So Far

It was a long way to our destination... and we're traveling along with 2 kids and a baby, 3 huge traveling bags (22 kilos average), and of course our hand-carries.  I know it'll  be tough, but we had to go through it.  After having our farewells with our families, our journey begun...

We stayed overnight in Manila for the "finishing touches" transactions and  prepare/rest for the early flight the following day.  It was 4 hours before our scheduled flight when we arrived at NAIA, Terminal 1 (not to take any chances).  Events were such a series of long lines, carrying heavy loads, paper works, and thorough inspections... man, was I glad I had my wife with me.  Everything went well, then we boarded our plane heading to Nagoya, Japan, for a technical stop.

The travel lasted for 3 and a half hours, more or less.  We arrived in a cold and foggy Japan (the kids were a little disappointed not to see snow).  We already prepared winter clothing, but as first-timers, the weather was freezing cold as we got off the plane.  Though it didn't last long, it became warmer as we walked inside the terminal.  While we were there, got this funny experience; wanting to finish fast with the inspection I immediately hopped in to the metal detector.  As a consequence, the inspector found metals, had a more thorough inspection and had to go through the detector a couple of times.  In short, it took longer (LOL).  Tip: take every metallic object off, even coins...  After hours of waiting, off we went to our longest flight... Detroit, Michigan.

During the almost 14 hours of flight, there was nothing much to do.  Just slept (since the baby was sleeping most of the time), watched movie on the monitor (there's a lot to choose from) and walk/stand once in a while (or else you'll have a sore bottom).  We had no problem with food and beverages, the attendants kept on serving them.  One thing I couldn't ignore was how courteous Americans are, especially the flight crew.  Overall, the trip was very nice.

We arrived at Detroit seeing the ground covered with snow, which made my kids excited (us, we had our reservations).  We landed good, though we felt the plane slipped a little bit (understandable).  Then, after we were held in the immigration office to clarify some matters (long story), my wife and I finally took a well deserved nap (alternately, the kids were still there... hahaha).  And since we can't let the kids go outside the terminal, we accompanied them to roam around inside the terminal... it's still pretty amazing after all.

Then finally our flight to Houston, Texas came.  It's a shorter flight but still around 2.5 hours.  We were fetched at the airport, took out Whattaburger (first meal, huge servings), went to our apartment, bought some stuffs @ Walmart, and then sleep?  No, we all had a jet lag...  and were all wide awake...

We thank the Lord for our safe journey and for all the guidance and blessings He showered upon us...

Sunday, February 2, 2014


It's a practice for most of us Filipinos to spend a little time with people who are leaving for good or for such a long time.  Commonly, a "despedida" is like any other celebrations.  There are foods prepared for all, friends and family gathered together, and prayers and messages of goodwill are given to those leaving.  And my whole family had them before we leave the country.

I had it with some of my friends in Calinan office, also in our main office and another with my two "get together" buddies.  Most of it, I didn't spent a single money since it's their treat. I assume that they already considered traveling (especially outside of the country) isn't cheap.  It's really nice to know that even in that way, people showed me their concern, and little as it may seem, it helped.  Appreciate it.

And to set the minds of our kids that we're already leaving for good (as a friend suggested), a day before we left for Manila, we also had a simple farewell gathering with our family, relatives and close friends.  It may be hard for them to leave their friends behind, but to see everyone being happy and supportive with our travel and hearing all the nice things about it from them, helped a lot to ease things up.  So glad...

This is one of the things in life we thank about, the gift of family and friends.   It'll be a long journey for all of us, and it maybe tiring... but the support of all makes it easier for us to face the uncertainties ahead.  

It'll be a long travel for tomorrow.  Praying for a safe and manageable trip.  All glory to our Lord.  Yahweh bless.