… from emancipating. From living your life how YOU feel like you should live it. From traveling. Or even having a travel life. Okay, before I begin. Let me just explain first. I am not in anyway encouraging you to be rebellious towards your own mother or anything.
I’ll introduce you to my mother and I’ll explain my living set up so you have an idea how I live and why I’m saying this. People have been telling me how lucky I am that my parents are supportive, and I’m not gonna deny of that fact. I will say how truly blessed I am.
My mother, Elsie, was born in a strict family. Her mother, my grandmother, almost entered a convent, “escaped” (that story was told very vaguely to us), married young and became a housewife. A traditional Filipina housewife, back in the day when their role was to take care of the family and isn’t allowed to meddle in her husband’s business. Elsie, born in 1938 (please do the math), was the eldest of 12 (?) children. My mother would tell me stories as to when she’d be invited in the party, her father would have one of her sisters, ask her to go home after 30 minutes. Elsie grew up in a strict household.
Elsie moved to Manila and was a working student in college. She had her fair share of suitors, being the beautiful that she was (and still is). My mother met my father when she was 30+. They were in a relationship for 3 months (this version varies, sometimes they’d say 5 months), and married after. She had five children, two of which were miscarriages. And I am the youngest and the only girl.
My mother raised me as if it was in the 1930’s. I wasn’t allowed to go out, my curfew was before the sun sets. As I grew older, my mother and I would fight – mostly she’d get mad at me, I never answer back. When I was 18, I stopped schooling and took a part time job in a call center, I worked in the mornings and I get off work at 1PM. If I am not home by 2 or 3PM, she’d send me an angry message asking where I was. Even at the age of 20, I am not allowed to sleep over elsewhere, I had a curfew of 10PM. If I get home later, I’ll never hear the end of it. I’d still be grounded at the age of 23. I’d push my limits sometimes. She’d allow me to travel, but I have to ask permission two weeks in advance, and a constant reminder to her a week until the day of my travel. She’d always say, “I can’t sleep well knowing that not all my children are home”, and yes, that includes my brother who’s 13 years older than I am and has his own family. I really believe that if my mom CAN keep us all under her roof, she WOULD.
Only a few months ago, she was so pissed off at me for wanting to go out at 8:30 in the evening. Yes, only a few months ago, I’m 26. I talked to my dad about it (crying and complaining) and he told my mom to stand down.
Over the years, I’ve learned that I truly had to gain her trust. She’d be less mad if I text her every hour or so, or if I actually ask permission (sometimes, this doesn’t really work). At some point, I had an opportunity to work far from home, she put some thought in to it, let me took the job, but at the last minute, she told me – using her loving, motherly tone not to take it.
Now, I still have to have a few days notice when I’m leaving Manila. And when I’m away, she’d text me everyday when I’m coming back. I have come in to terms that it’s who she is, and how she expresses her love to me. She’s not out to make my life miserable. She’s just concerned.
At the end of the day, I had to understand where my mom’s coming from. Why she’s always so strict with me. She’s worried, she doesn’t trust this world. She’s concerned for my future and she only wants the best for me and my life. But, I have to make her understand how I want to live my life. And with that, we met halfway. She lets me go out now. She lets me travel a few weeks at time. And every time I come home to her, I would tell her stories and I see how she appreciates them and I feel she’s happy when I’m happy. Any mother would be, any mother would. Your mother only wants your happiness, and when they see it, they’ll trust your decision.
Now, I know you’ll tell me. “You don’t know my mom, she won’t listen to me”, I’ll ask you, have you talked to her and have you listened to her side?
Let me talk about something I’ve always been open talking about, my “career choice”. A brief history, I started working at the age of 18, I initially worked as part time in a (huge) BPO. At that time, I skipped college wanting to earn money and the company wasn’t hiring undergraduates, a year and a half in to it, I worked full time. Stayed for three years before leaving. Took a six month break, moved to a different company, stayed there for eight months – I didn’t like the commute, the “stress” of the work and being drunk everyday wasn’t helping me either. Then I moved to another call center – not a BPO but the job was the same, job security and the pay was great. A year or two in to the company, I felt that it was becoming repetitive and it made me unhappy. It was only on my third year when I actually had the guts to leave.
You read an article, you follow a blogger and you see them living their lives. You get envious. It makes you wonder, how there’s so much more to life than taking in calls and resolving other people’s problems. How what you’re doing shouldn’t define your life. And that the work-life balance they’re claiming at work is all bullshit.
I get questions here and there as to why I left the corporate world and why I left such opportunity to be working in a company that pays well with great benefits. My generic answer would be, cause it made me unhappy. It’s the truth. No amount of money can actually compensate my happiness, plus working at night really took its toll on my health. Some people would raise their eyebrows when they read that. How impractical it is. And how idealistic I can be. Imagine this, if you’re earning xxx amount of money, but you’re always buying medicine for xxx amount cause your body is failing you, does that sound practical?
I am earning much less, I have a part time job and a few on the side (which is seasonal), but for the past 8 months, I’ve only had a few fever and colds, nothing that seawater can cure. I feel better. My wellness, my body, my mind, all feel well. I may have moments of sadness – only because Manila makes me so sad, but I get a good night sleep – and actually sleep at night. I can schedule beach trips at any time without having to worry about filing for leaves and having them approved. I can stay in the province for days or even weeks at a time.
People would ask, when are you applying again to xxx (previous company). Or where do I plan to apply next. My answer for now is not anytime or any company soon. I don’t intend to work at a huge corporation anymore. I work for a startup company now. I work directly under the CEO. And it makes me feel important. Working for a smaller company made me feel valued. I am not someone indispensable (at least that’s how I feel). My tasks and my projects are my own. My opinions and inputs are taken with so much consideration. There’s this sense of responsibility and accountability working for a smaller company. (Okay, enough gushing – my boss may read this. LOL)
We all have decisions to make, we all have responsibilities, we all have mouths to feed or others that rely on us. We’re all fighting a different battle. I am not in the position to dictate you to leave your job. I am not encouraging you to do it. But I am gonna say, leave something that makes you unhappy. If you can’t do it yet, then wait it out. You know when the time is right. You’ll know. You’ll feel it. Don’t do it cause others did. If you’re the kind of person who has to have a plan, then have one. Set a timeline, have a goal. Cause everything will fall in its proper place at the right time.
Five weeks seemed like a short period of time, looking back, it actually flew by faster than I hoped. Two weeks turned three, three turned five. It wasn’t my plan to stay in Baler for five weeks. On my fourth week, I was contemplating if I should extend or if I should go back to Manila. I decided to leave, I said I wanted to miss Baler. I wanted to keep coming back for more. It’s only been a few days and I’m finding myself regretting that decision.
Miserable Manila is back.
I don’t know whether it’s the air, or the traffic, or the hustle, or the people that’s making me miserable in Manila. I have not left the house ever since I got back last Monday evening, only because I don’t feel like going out. The thought of the crowdedness and all the vehicles and whatnot stresses me out. It’s only been a few days and I already can’t wait to leave.
On the simple rural life.
When I got back, my dad and I were catching up and he remarked “Maybe that’s what you prefer, maybe you like the rural life”, and I do. I really do. I love going out on trips to different surf spots, going on picnics, being able to swim in the ocean whenever I want, walk to places, ride motorbikes, hangout on a friend’s house because they’re your neighbours, playing with kids. I mean, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies in the province, but I like how I don’t have to rush. I like how everything I need is accessible, and I don’t mean the luxuries within reach here in the city, but my necessities – like food to cook, water to drink, ocean to play on.
Indefinite plans for the future
I have this strong feeling of wanting to go back, but I feel like I would on the time (?). I’ve yet to plan it, but in my head, Baler is one of the places I would want to settle down in.
The other day marked my second week here in Baler, this is the first time I’ve been away from home for that long. I’d usually only go on trips for a week at most. Since John left me here, the boys kept me company.
I grew up with two (WAY) older brothers, so I know how things pan out when it comes to teasing, annoying each other and even playing rough house. But even that did not prepare me for this kind of living setup.
I am now living with at least eight boys, age ranging from 21 to 11. I’m gonna say it now, it’s fucking crazy! From stinky toilets and smelly farts, trash talks during pusoy dos, smacking the shit out of everyone (them, not me), swearing, rough houses and take downs and tickle wars. I have come in to terms that by the end of this trip, I could identify their farts. CRAZY.
Some days are crazier than others, some days with voice raised we all would piss each other off. Demanding wifi password, phone password, movie marathon on the laptop. Calling each other out for not taking a bath or brushing their teeth. Making the youngest cry, you know, from trash talks to actually physically hurting each other.
Some days are more mellow, like male cats who like straying away, these boys would go out on minutes, hours or even days at a time. They always go back here, tho. Which I’m extremely grateful for. They would watch out for me, making sure that I’m with someone or I’m okay in being alone.
Above all that, they’re treating me well. They’d help me around the transient I’m staying in, cook food for me, do the dishes, give me motorcycle rides for errands. Some days I’d tidy up the room, but once in a while they would surprise me with a better or lazier way of tidying it up (depending on who did it).
The other day the transient we’re staying at had guests, some of the male guests were staring at me, which annoyed the hell out of Neil. I thought he was just being picked on, so I told him to just ignore it. When we got back, the guys flocked together stared at me at the same time, I snapped at them saying “hi” with a sarcastic tone (which didn’t help). Neil was on game face on. I’ve seen that look, I know how far he’ll go. But I’m very much thankful that he’s always looking out for me.
The past few days had been quiet, not everyone is ‘home’, which kinda makes me sad. But it’s okay, they live a stone’s throw away from me anyway.
I’m taking a mental health break from all the back log of work(s). Yes, I have two jobs and another on the side. I always thought freelancers have it easier, and now I hate myself for judging them. I now have high regard for people who work outside of the office. They don’t have it easier, they just have control of their time. Everyone is fighting their own battles, be it commuting to work or juggling online work.
I arrived last Saturday in Baler, and between catching up with the kids, working, doing mundane tasks such as helping in the kitchen and tidying up the room and barely surfing, everything’s been well. I am liking this simple life. We got invited last Monday to a birthday party of a girl who we didn’t (personally) know! Been eating well thanks to those who cook for me, and I’m enjoying the “family dinner” we’ve been having every night. I am extremely blessed I have these kids who take care of me. Sleeping is another story tho, we’re all cramped in my room, but no one has been complaining.
The other night, the power went out. We did what we could to amuse ourselves, singing our hearts out, talking about food before eventually one by one they managed to sleep. The power went back as soon as some were almost asleep, one managed to sleep through the humidity. I was the last one to sleep cause gotta adult first.
I’ve been *trying* to vlog. It’s just that some moments aren’t meant to be missed fiddling with my phone or camera just trying to capture it. Safe to say, I kinda suck at vlogging. I still have a few weeks to go.
I tried surfing again after x months of not surfing + wrist pain from typing too much. I did manage to reach the lineup, the current just was too strong and I got too exhausted so I just decided to paddle in.
Some days are more laid back than others, I don’t have a routine. Some days you’ll find me in Charlie Does (a coffee shop here) or in Smart (a resort) or just at home. I feel like all my mother’s lesson has been helping me, preparing food, tidying up just a little bit, being more responsible and considerate to others too. Speaking of mother, she’s been constantly texting me asking me when I’ll come home, my reply is always “indefinitely”.
I realised that this is my life now, I’m away from the comfort of my home and away from my family, which still makes me sad, I miss my parents, my brothers and my nephews. But I feel like I have to do this.
I’ll be honest, I don’t know how I’ll end this entry. Maybe I’ll start writing again. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week. Maybe I won’t. Who knows?
Dreaming I’m near the ocean, wishing I was. The upside is, I won’t bother filing leaves, considering if it’ll be approved or what not. Basically, everywhere with internet connection is my office. I conquer the world in shorts and sneakers. I do have to deal with shitty and unstable service once in a while, but what is that compared to a miserable workspace, right?
I’m still in this point in my life where I’m trying to sort everything out, we all gotta start somewhere. I’m still adjusting with my current struggles, unlike before I would wake up, take a quick bath, get ready, cry and try to talk myself in to not going to work (true story) and going to work anyway. But now, I have to actually manage my time, dedicate a time for work – including planning where to work if the house gets too noisy, I get paid less too, but to be honest, I wouldn’t trade this kind of “problem” to going back to a job that reminds so much of my time and of my life.
I would be taking a break from traveling which I’ve already mentioned in my previous blog. It’s not as if I won’t travel any less, my main goal is to travel back to places I’ve been to, get to know the culture and the people more. At the top of my head, Baler is my priority, Catanduanes is next or maybe Ilocos or Davao, I’ve yet to actually think about that. I just feel like as much as I would love to plan to the tiniest detail, I shouldn’t. And I’m guessing that’s a good thing.
I’m blessed to be surrounded by people who travel a lot, it gives me an idea of which route to take. Do I want to travel long term around South East Asia? Or South America, maybe. Where do I want to start. A good friend of mine would – in her loving and motherly way would give me tips and ideas. And traveling around the world now seems like within arms reach. But, I feel like that’s not something I wanna pursue for now. I’m not closing any doors for that possibility, I’m just holding it off. Which is the true beauty of life, we all have our lives ahead of us yet we’re all caught up trying to prepare for the future that we’re no longer living in the present. I’m not saying preparing for the future is a bad thing, I’m saying being obsessed with it is what makes it bad. Ask yourself if you’re living in the now.