Sunday, September 30, 2007

And so it can be told

I have managed to keep this to myself, my family and some very close friends for a long time and now I can finally let it out. I didn’t want to jinx it by telling everyone about it. Nor do I want to deal with the embarrassment just in case “it” didn’t push thru.

But “it” did.

And so it can be told.

My family (wife and kids) and I are moving to Australia. Finally. After almost 2 years of praying persistently, savings drained, and waiting in agony.

Yes, we waited. Almost impatiently and nearly losing hope. We waited as an acquaintance, who applied for immigration just a few months ahead of us was granted a Visa a full year ago. We waited as requests for documents and other requirements pile up one after the other. We waited for the medical results. We waited as our patience and resources slowly dwindled. We waited and wondered why our application was taking so long to get approved. And yet, when we received our visa grants two weeks ago, all we can say is “this soon?”

And so it can be told.

The Australian Immigration has given us a deadline. We have to be in Australia by end of November. Yes, this November. It took us a while to process the thought: we’re celebrating Christmas and New Year away from our parents, siblings, relatives and friends. We’re celebrating the holidays, for the first time, down under. “Be careful what you wish for”, so they say. “It might just come sooner than expected” must follow next. Now I wish it could've come later.

And so it can be told.

I can still remember when my Aunt (who sponsored us to Australia) went home to Manila for the first time after 12 years of residing in Melbourne. It was 8 years ago. I was already 2 years married then, and a father of a bouncing baby boy. Back then, my Aunt was already trying to convince me to apply for immigration. She said she’ll sponsor us and even though I didn’t graduate from college, we can still make it because of my wife’s professional skills as a banker. I politely declined her offer. My reason was simple. I would only go to foreign countries for vacation. And would only entertain the thought of leaving my family for work in, say, the US, if I can go back home to them every now and then. I heart NY after all and I have always dreamed of making it big in the big apple or to visit other foreign destinations like Rio, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Greece, or the United Kingdom. But to live in a foreign country and raise my children there? Thanks but no thanks. That was always been my position.

So what happened? People change. That’s what happened. We change as our beliefs and motivations change. We change as we grow old and realize that the tooth fairy doesn’t exist. We change as we expand our horizons or gain new experiences. We change for various reasons. For me though, the change wasn’t sudden. In fact it took me years to realize that it’s getting harder and harder to provide a good life for your family (especially for your children) in this country. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Philippines and I will always do but let’s face the facts. We are a third world country (we have always been and if things don’t turn around soon, we will always be). Our population is more than 90 million (it matters when you’re just a tiny speck on the world map). Our government officials are among the most corrupt in the world. We are a country known worldwide for red tape, graft and corruption, mail-order brides, poverty, impeachment trials, political scams, terrible traffic, grave pollution, and electing doofuses into public office. I have lived in this country for 31 years and for 31 years I have endured. But the time has come to think hard, really hard and consider plans for my children’s future. The fact that I live in Malabon, a place below sea level where it floods every time it rains hard (rising up to more than 6 feet! But that’s for another post), the fact that I travel almost 2 hours on the way to work and on the way home every single day due to traffic and pothole-ridden roads, and that poverty increases continually year after year, makes the change of heart even easier. After all, my wife and I are not getting any younger. Our kids are getting bigger and bigger and our place is sinking deeper and deeper.

It’s time. The prospect of migrating to a country offering bigger and better opportunities was more than just promising. The decision was a no-brainer. I’m not doing it for myself anymore. I’m doing it for my kids. We’re moving to Oz.

And so it can be told.

The Philippines. My residence for 31 years. My country. My home. I am still proud to be a Filipino. For despite all the cons I have listed above, there are still many pros. In fact too many to mention. We are still a beautiful country. For despite the massive pollution and maddening traffic in metropolitan areas, we are still home to the world’s most beautiful beaches, the most exotic animals and the most exhilarating tourist attractions. Despite crooked government officials, red tape and graft and corruption, in general, we are still good-natured people, full of good values, honest, and with good moral character. We are, after all, Asia’s bastion of Christianity, housing the most number of Catholics than any other country aside from Rome. Despite the prevalence of poverty and the decline of the quality of education, we are still the most hardworking and talented. We are the most fluent in English (the universal language) in Asia, proven by the current boom of the call center industry. You may not know it but chances are, when you’re calling the toll free number to report a lost credit card or request service for your gadget in the US, you are talking to a Filipino operator. Despite all the negatives, we still have Olympians, legendary athletes, talented artists and other prominent figures making waves around the world.

The Philippines. I may be leaving but my heart stays with you. I may soon be hopping with kangaroos and playing with koalas but I still think the Philippine eagle, our national animal rules. I am still proud to be a Filipino. I was then and I will always be.

And so it can be told.

In a few days from now, I will be landing in the land they call down under. I will be walking with the bushwalkers, bringing out the barbie for a Sunday grill or calling my friends “mates”. I will be migrating to Australia with my family in search for a new and brighter future. I will be starting life all over again. Writing new goals and wiping the slate clean. And with a heavy heart, I will be leaving you all, my friends, my family, my country.

My home.

And so it can be told.

I still have almost 2 months left, I know. But right now, allow me to tell you that I will miss you all.


Gale said...

Good for you. My motto is "Keep your promises to yourself." And it looks as if you did. I can hardly wait to read the next chapter in your new adventure.

Amery Celiza said...

i held off commenting on this blog because i needed some time to swallow that huge news you dropped. First off, i'm happy that you guys took an opportunity and I wish you well with your new life. But, i have to admit that I looked for the punchline, the 'joke joke joke' line where you'd take it all back because truth be told, I think the country would be a little less interesting without you around. :) In any case, I am very happy for you and I wish you and your family all the luck in the world!

russkal said...

thank you gale. rest assured i will be posting our new adventures when we get there : )

russkal said...


Thanks for wishing our family well. I have to admit it was painful to tell my friends about it because I suck at saying goodbyes. and thank you for saying that the philippines would be a lil less interesting without me, you're a very sweet kid and i have to say, you speak the truth as well :p

good luck on your career also, and who knows? maybe we'll finally bump on each other outside cyberspace one of these days. like they say in filipino, "maliit lang ang mundo".

DirkStar said...

Dude, how cool!