Monday, October 27, 2008

Moving to a New Apartment

After 18 months, we are finally moving to a new apartment. Finding an apartment that you like and a weekly rent that falls within the budget is hard and the only good thing this time is that we have a car to go to all open house inspections. I told Nat that we should always go to the front of the queue and be the first one to see the unit. In that way, if we’re interested we can fill up the form and be the first one to apply and get higher chances of getting the unit.

Last week, we went to about 5 open house inspections. The last one we saw that afternoon was just a couple of blocks away from our current one although they are already in different suburbs. There were more than 20 home-seekers like us waiting outside to see the unit. We were the 1st one to see the unit so we were the first one to get out, there were still a number of people outside waiting for their turn to get in. Since it was the best unit we saw that day, we rushed to the agent's office and submitted the form together with the requirements and made a deposit.

On Tuesday we got a call from the agent saying that we were successful and we can move in by next week. So I called a removalist, a professional cleaner and informed all utilities servicer of our new address.The removalist costs $60/hr plus $30 travelling time. I hired a professional cleaner for a moving out general cleaning for $250. I also requested to have the new apartment’s carpet steamed clean for an extra $60. Internet and telephone reinstallation would cost $55. And redirecting our mails to the new one, $13.

I can't wait to move to our new apartment. I just hope it's not as maalikabok as our current one. Our current apartment is so maalikabok that even when I wipe the table in the morning, dusty na sya in the afternoon.

I wish I had loads of money so we can just buy a house, its a big hassle finding a good apartment and with all the packing and cleaning! hay!!!!! kakapagod!!! Sayang, if we had the money and a PR status, we could take advantage of the government's first-home buyers grant of $21,000. But with the current prices of houses here, hay! mangangarap na lang ako!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Maku is 2!

Maku had a month long birthday celebration in 3 different countries.

The first party he had was at his school in BF while in Manila for 2 months.

Mini cupcakes, food box with chicken nuggets and cheese dip were shared with his classmates

Trying the Mickey sugar toppers .... yummmmmmm....

Look at my blackened teeth Nanang..

The second celebration was with cousins at Fun Ranch in Alabang

With cousins Euan and Isha

and Tita Joan behind me

And then a trip to Hong Kong Disneyland, a treat from Wowo and Wowa

Maku and Wowo in their matching robes. Maku refused to take off the robe and slippers even during his nap

Don't drool on me Goofy.. Uh oh, I'm the one drooling

Okay, Pluto, you can taste my arm but dont bite it!

With my favorite cartoon character, mickey mow!

Enjoying the balcony of our hotel! This is life!

With the hotel's garden and the South China Sea in the background

Ok, lady, where should I drop you off?

Lost luggage

And then my 2nd birthday back in Sydney...

You can already see how pilyo he is na

On our way to the city

The three of us spent the day at Sydney Wildlife

We ended the day with a simple dinner and a chocolate cake

And finally my party 3 weeks after!!!

My chef attire

Got all the caps from our trip to Hong Kong Disneyland. The pluto cap for Daddy, the pink Minnie Mouse for Mama and the 2 Mickey hats for Maku

Thanks Nanang for the wonderful invite

Hotdogs, burger at pandesal!!!

Pasta in bolognese and carbonara sauce, chocolate fondue, cassava cake and ube

Kids get to create their own meal. A recipe booklet was prepared by Nanang. We provided them Mickey mouse aprons.

Sold out ang pita pizza, ham & cheese and fizzy mocktail

Thanks Nanang for the layout and thanks Wowa and Wowo for shipping it here

Friday, August 22, 2008

(Nat's thoughts) On leaving and being left behind

Sorry to whoever stumbles upon this post but this was originally written a few weeks back (22 August to be exact) but I only had the time to finish it just recently.

This past week has been one of my saddest I've experienced so far. I have (yet again) returned to my host country with Maku, leaving behind my parents. While I have had the pleasure of having Wella (my one and only sister) accompany us on our trip back to Sydney, it was and will never be easy to leave those you truly and dearly love behind. The mixed sense of melancholy and anticipation (of being able to be with Cherrie) brings about a whirlwind of thoughts through my head, as we were about to enter pre-departure, a big question suddenly caught me off-guard, "why I'm I doing this?". The pervasive and most obvious answer would be because of having to be with Cherrie again. As a family unit, one need not ask the obvious, but coming from a tight-knit family, I cannot help but persistently ask myself 'why do I need to do this?'; 'why endure the pain of leaving those whom you love behind?'; 'why can't everyone have their cake and it eat too?'. I love my family, I love my wife and son to high heavens, I would love to do anything to make them happy. But again, the sinking feeling of having to leave someone else behind always creates emotional torture to some degree. I am quite a logical person, I like to see things in a structured, linear manner for me to appreciate the beauty of life. But I have learned early-on that life is not structured, it is a series of unstructured events only made coherent by those who see the big picture. It is like ordering a whopper meal from Burger King: one whopper, hold the onions, hold the mayo (yes, in some parts of the world, they are still a firm believer of mayo on burgers - much to my disappointment), regular fries, large soda, hold the ice - structure made simple by one's personal taste. Life could not be made much simpler by that analogy, I reckon. Again, the sad fact of the Filipino diaspora can be answered by economics, the law of supply and demand. When demand for skilled labour shifts from one's home country to another, supply would naturally gravitate to the demand. The mass exodus of Filipinos leaving their native soil in search of a better quality of life on foreign soil has always been espoused by the government as they (the joes and janes who run the country) have always seen this as an excellent source of foreign-denominated remittances which gives a huge boost to the GNP. But when will it stop ? When will our much-beloved country start inviting back all our skilled doctors, engineers, IT professionals, nurses and encourage them to share what they've learned ?
India has done it, but why can't we ? So much Filipino talent is out there yet the Philippines is still 'third world' ?

But enough of this GNP/economics blah, blah. I am just sad of the fact that while Filipinos are going everywhere, the situation in the Philippines is going nowhere. Our decision to relocate and uproot ourselves wasn't based on a whim, or on a fleeting sense of despair. Sure our life back home was comfortable, we had our immediate and extended family for support, but the one thing that motivated us to move was the bleak future that lies ahead for our son. Now that we have had the privilege of seeing how dynamic and progressive a country can be, looking back I think we made right decision. Now, I go back to my earlier statement, parting ways with your dearly beloved is the price you have to pay for looking forward, for being a willing participant to change and the unknown. When Maku and I left Manila for the nth time, it was like leaving for the first time all over again. You put up an emotional barrier in the premise that you won't fall into tears but on the 11th hour get the opposite result, the human psyche truly is a complicated subject don't you think ? While in Manila, I was fortunate enough to meet up with some really close grad school buddies and they all asked the same question, 'what's it like' (living on foreign soil, alone) ? My usual retort is simply, "it's like dorm life but without the books". Most of us who stayed in the dorms eight years ago know fully well how it was like to have to fend for yourself, away from the comforts of home. All under the united premise that we'd all have to get good grades, good grades that would assure us eligibility for graduation. I think the concept is the same, it is the end result which is the difference.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Nat's turn - another feather added to my hat

Today started-out as any other day for most. But not for me, today's the day I had to prove not only to the people around me, but most importantly - to myself that I am worth every single cent AND tear (going back to school in manila, leaving Chi behind for the nth time, etc.). Today is the day I take my SAP certification exam. Today is the culmination of the five week's worth of intense studying (read: no partying, no gimmicks, no trips to the movie house, nothing, as in NADA!). Today was the day that will prove that I have somehow learned something during those five weeks. And guess what, I effing passed ! I couldn't effing believe it !

Remember that scene in Jerry Maquire wherein Tom Cruise 'thought' he'd signed up the character of Jerry O'Connell? (you know that 'Free Fallin' scene???). And man! I was doing just THAT in the car on my effing way home !!! The feeling of finally getting the exam over and done with and ALSO passing it was simply......ecstatic ! So OK, my reaction might very well be over the top but I certainly do think I deserve to be happy, most especially AFTER I found out that of those who took the exam (there were actually 3 of us), only one passed (there Kris, I said it ! hehehe!)

On another note, since I am now on update mode for this particular entry, I might as well add another blessing I've managed to receive today (5 Aug) US B1/B2 visitors visa has been approved for renewal ! The wait was tough and hard, especially if you have a 23mo old hurricane with you; why? because US State Dept regulations now require the personal appearance of children-regardless of age, I had to bring the little prince with me, but it was definitely worth it ! That's another ten year, multiple entry to the US for both me and the little squirt (this son of ours has more visas stamped on his passport than most grown-ups I know!) Good things come to those who wait, eh ?

Monday, July 28, 2008

On Being Alone

One of the advantages of being alone is that you can do whatever you want. You can sleep, eat, and wake up anytime. You have your own time to do whatever you want. Nobody stops or controls you. You don’t feel guilty to stay out late or obligated that you need to be home and do household chores. Yes, I am enjoying my being single for the past month, but don’t get me wrong, I still have many occasions when I long for the hugs and kisses of my two boys! My point is that we just need to make the most out of our current situation and currently, I am enjoying my freedom!

Last Friday, I had some drinks with my colleagues at the Opera Bar. I had a glass of beer, 3 different shots of I don't know what they were and a glass of gin tonic and finished my colleague's red bull. Whew! With an empty stomach, I was already feeling dizzy so I stopped drinking. An hour after we went to Quay Grand for dinner. I didn't dare to drink anymore, I was feeling sober. I left them quarter to 11, took the train and got home at midnight. I had a good time and it was fun especially when everything was free. My last gimmick before this was a year ago!

The next day, my friend invited me to an open-house inspection. A 3-bedroom, 3 toilet with 2 car space apartment unit was selling for $1.3 Mln. I can't even imagine myself having that amount in my lifetime. We drove around 3 different suburbs in the north shore and for the first time I saw the biggest houses in Sydney. I spent the rest of my afternoon watching DVDs then in the evening I cleaned our room and the bathroom. I can’t even remember what I had for dinner.

On Sunday, I woke up a bit early, well, quarter to 9. I started my day watching series 2 of House and in the afternoon went to the library to get the book I've reserved. I had no idea there was already a hail which looked like snow in some of the northern shore suburbs. I had grilled pork chops in rosemary for dinner which was good, watched tv again and slept at 11pm.

So nice to be lazy and lie on the bed, relax, sleep whenever I want. I'm taking advantage of this few weeks I have before Nat & Maku arrives in end of August. Being alone is not too bad at all like what I was dreading before they left. Of course, I miss my 2 boys. I still have my crazy moments when I look at Maku's pictures and pretend to talk to him and tell him he's being makulit and malikot and then in the end make gigil by pinching his cheeks! I'm just grateful that we have Skype and YM, and we get to do video calls every night for free. For the rest of my weekends on being single, I am planning to do some cleaning and shopping for the house. Hopefully, I don't get tamad!

Cirque Du Soleil's Dralion

Last Thursday I went to see Cirque du Soleil with 19 other officemates. A privately hired coach took us to Fox Studio.

The show started exactly at 8pm. The ticket costs $109 and we were seated somewhere on the right side of the stage. No cameras were allowed inside the tent so we were not able to take pictures. The show started with 3 clowns mimicking and grabbing an audience to the stage which was really hilarious. It was followed by a young girl doing acrobats,balancing herself on one hand for a long time. It was followed by fearless aerialists bouncing off trampolines which was my favorite part of the show. The show ran for almost 2 hours with a 15 minute break in between. The show was so spectacular, the costumes were exquisite, the sets were remarkable and the acrobatics were gravity-defying. I just wished that Nat was there with me.

Here are some pictures from Cirque du Soleil’s website.

This young acrobat amazed us as she stands on a cane on one hand for a long time, constantly changing positions.

Pas de deux is a langurous aerial dance. A couple, intertwined, flies over the stage in a long band of blue cloth where they performed various acrobatic stunts.

Young women perform a ballet on light bulbs.

Another highlight of the show, male performers dive and throw themselves through wooden hoops.

Men manneuvre long poles while performing acrobatic feats on the ground.

My favorite part of the show, aerilists jumping off trampolines using the backdrop as landing pad.

Dralion is the fusion of ancient Chinese circus tradition and the avant-garde approach of Cirque du Soleil. The show's name is drawn from its two main symbols: the dragon, representing the East, and the lion, representing the West. Dralion derives much of its inspiration from Eastern philosophy with its perpetual quest for harmony between humankind and nature.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My Visit to the Dentist

It is often stated that dentistry, on average, is the highest paid profession in Sydney. Well, it's definitely true. I had a root canal therapy on my molar a month ago and just finished my last session on Tuesday. One canal, 4 x-rays and a filling cost me $880 for that last session.

So I gave my insurance card to the secretary, swiped the card and made claims electronically. When she came back she told me that I need to pay the whole amount because I have already reached the insurance’s maximum limit of A$1,700. I talked to the dentist and asked him if there is something else we can do and he was nice enough to tell me not to pay at the moment and come back today.

So I came back today to settle the bill. He asked me to call the insurance company to check again and they have confirmed that I have used up the dental benefit already. Syempre, kinabahan na ako! I don’t want to pay $880 – it was too much!!!! I was hoping for a good discount, and I was praying for at least a 50% discount. Since I’m a “suki” na there, he just told me to pay $195. Di ko tuloy alam kung matutuwa ako or feeling ko he's been overcharging me all the while. Pero I was still thankful that I just need to pay that amount. I came back to the office and compiled the receipts for the 4 sessions I had and just fixing my molar totaled to more than $2500 or Php 105,000.00.

I am just grateful that I have an insurance to pay for these ridiculous fees. Kaya lang I still need a crown which the dentist told me will cost about $1,200.00. Well, that can wait till next year!