Us in Oz!

I can’t believe we are really in Oz.The flag is planted. The Paredeses are complete! Been here for about 4 days now while Lydia and Ala have been here 11 days since they left a week earlier. It was a good idea that we arrived in two installments because by the time we arrived, things that had to be settled were more or less done already. The house is pleasant and airy with white walls and carpet all over. It ‘s a good place to have a safe landing in a new country. Well, except for one thing: we REALLY need a car to go anywhere since the suburbs here are really sprawling. I hope to get a sedan by early next week so we can be more mobile. So far, the great thing is people we have just met are volunteering to drive us everywhere. We have been blest with people of goodwill. There’s Rod Santos, APO’s ex-producer whom I called in 2001 when we got approved for migration. I called him then just to ask where I could get a hotel room for my family while we had a look and see if we liked Oz. Since then we have become great friends and he and his family have helped us a lot and continue to so in getting us settled.

Then there’s Obet Dioniso, a fellow Atenean who has been driving us around and going out of his way to ease our problems. Yesterday, our next door neighbor Paul Nelson offered to drive us while we did errands. And so many more have been calling us and offering their time and assistance to us. It’s simply amazing! It seems to be true that when one opens one’s eyes, one sees that God sends us nothing but angels! It’s as if the Universe is telling us that our decision to move was not ours alone. I find everything that’s been happening wonderfully synchronistic.

There are so many more things we need to do and get done. Getting a car is my priority this coming week. Mio and I will be interviewed for his new school on Monday. We’ve figured out transportation for him if he ends up in Kellyville High School. He will also be on the batch that will be the first ever graduates of this relatively new school.

So far our spirits are holding up. Lydia and Ala have been cooking and the rest of us do the other chores. Our common task is taking care of Ananda who seems forever hyper in this new place. Must be the Terrible Two’s!

Tomorrow we go on a picnic with some people we have just met. I am excited about meeting new people and every little discovery I make. Every transaction we do with anyone seems to make some sort of impression on me as I try to figure the ins and outs, and both the speaking and the silent language that is used in this milieu. I fantasize sometimes that I am a spy who is ordered to zealously gather as much information as I can in the hope of fitting in and become indistinguishable from the natives. Or at least when I want or need to be!

Our furniture has arrived in Sydney and we are expecting delivery in 7 to 14 days. When the happens, it will be a giant step towards normalcy for us although I know that we still have quite a long ways to go.

Meanwhile, I am thankful for everyone who appears every time we need help in this family adventure story that we have embarked on. In the back of my mind, I know that in every hero’s adventure, a Gandalf, an angel, a Yoda or an Obi Wan Kanobi shows up each time one seems stuck. We just have to recognize them when they show up!

So far so good!

the ‘goodbye look’

It’s one despedida after another. Tonight will be my fourth straight one, and I don’t how many more before I leave for OZ.

The house is again a mess. Even if the movers have taken what will go to Sydney, we are all taking a second look at what we may still want to bring. Ang hirap mag-relocate.

Everywhere I go, everyone I see or look at seems to stand still but vividly shimmering before my eyes. They probably seem like that since I am giving them one last glance, the ‘goodbye look’.

Bills, papers, accounts, legal stuff are all being dealt with and finalized. This is what happens when one phase of life ends and another begins. Or at least this is how it should be if one has the luxury of being able to plan life’s transitions. I think of what it is like for other people of more humble backgrounds who are suddenly tossed in a sea of change—people victimized by tragedy, calamity who suddenly find themselves in refugee centers, school houses, churches, or relatives’ homes in place of their familiar abodes. Nakakataranta siguro. I wonder also what it was like for the Marcoses 20 years ago when they fled with hurriedly packed boxes of unsorted loot. Nagalsabalutan, as we say in Tagalog.

Precious forever

I saw old friends from ABS-CBN who gave Lydia and I a farewell party. It was great reconnecting with Agot Isidro, Melissa De Leon, Amy Perez, Bing Loyzaga, and then rest of the staff of the noontime show Salinggonaposila which we used to host. We met at Lena’s at Esquinita, a nice dive near Channel 2. It was great to see writers, production people, fellow talents. As expected, we talked about old times and where we are at this point in our lives. Everyone seemed to be excited and genuinely happy to see each other. We missed those who were not there, and some of our old staff memenrs who had the misfortune of being assigned (and now are being charged) to the ill-fated Wowowee show. It will be sometime before I see them again. Who knows what the circumstances will be by then?

Me, Rico Puno, and Jet Montelibano of Music and Magic. Where did time go?

Upstart Martin Nievera, Ric Segreto on bass, Rico Puno and myself. Them were the days!!

Girlie Rodis, a friend from olden days and till now sent me pictures of myself and some showbiz friends taken more than 20 years ago when life seemed simpler due to youth. (Or maybe, I should say ‘when life seemed more complicated because of youth’ ha ha). Old friends are so precious to have.

‘Tunay kang tao’

Tunay kang tao!

Rustom’s ‘coming out’ announcement on the TV hit Pinoy Big Brother, though not exactly news was quite stunning since it clearly took a lot of guts to FINALLY come to terms with being who he is. The great story of redemption there is, in admitting he was gay (equate that with ‘flawed’ in the eyes of the righteous) he came out as a courageous and true human being. Thanks to Keanna Reeves who was there and somehow coaxed it out of him. Saludo ako sa’yo, Rustom!

I was talking to my group of friends who are steeped into politics and I was suggesting that if we could somehow make Keanna Reeves a part of GMA’s cabinet, could she get the President to finally admit to cheating also? If only life were like that. It should diffuse the political tension finally!

‘sleep of the tongue’

Just gave my last 2 talks today for a call center yesterday The first one was at 11 this morning. The audience of around 30 people made up of twenty- somethings were at the end of their shift. I was just a little nervous that they would be too tired to listen to a talk on leadership for an hour but to my great delight, they seemed to enjoy it. We even had a good Q and A after that.

The next talk was at 7PM which was two hours before their shift was to begin. I jokingly remarked that I felt I was talking to inhabitants of another planet where people were asleep in the day and were awake at night!

The call center scene is full of young people. There is a sense of dynamism everywhere although the hours and tediousness take their toll quite easily. It’s an artifical world where they keep American hours in the Philippines. And of course, a prerequisite to work in one is the ability to speak good English. A niece of mine works in one and she teaches people how to understand and talk English and straighten out questions about pronunciation. A funny story that has spread and also seems to be true is about someone asking when to use the words ‘confirm’ and ‘confeerm’ (read as written). Oops! Rented tongue syndrome.

‘Can I confeerm that?”

zen to go

I have been receiving so much mail and comments from everywhere about my moving to OZ. Of about 150 comments and letters so far, I have received only two negative ones. The rest have been incredibly supportive, although many expressed apprehension about the state of the Philippines because someone like myself is opting to leave.

Last night, my brother-in-law asked me why I did not leave in 1989 when the country was in greater disarray, and why I am leaving now. I explained that at my age now, personal growth is very important to me since my window to do stuff like this is clearly diminishing. By itself, the situation in the country is not enough to make me leave. But other callings beckon.

In many ways, despite what the emotional fatigue and the physical toll moving does, I feel like a young man on the verge of a great adventure. So much to see, learn, and encounter—a new place to explore, new friends to meet, new challenges. I can feel my blood racing already. It’s like opening one’s eyes for the first time. Why, even a supermarket in Sydney would be an exciting place to visit!

I remember a zen saying and I paraphrase, ‘the zen one discovers in the mountain is the same zen one brought up.’ Which makes me wonder why I should even be leaving at all! Ha ha! Life’s contradictions make everything doubly curious.

Mabuhay ang Pinoy

Lastly, I wish to thank everyone in Aus who wrote offering various help in getting us started. Everything, from a place to stay, airport pick up, lending pots and pans, beds, tocadors, cars, etc. have been pouring in. I am completely overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness of our kababayans. Filipino hospitality and down home kindness is something that never leaves us wherever we go. I feel this will be a softer landing. Salamat sa inyo mula sa kaibuturan ng aking puso at pagkatao.