Friday, December 27, 2013

Funny, it doesn't LOOK like Christmas...

It's been quite a while since I've updated the site, and a lot has happened since then!

The first thing(s) of note are that Jing and I are now both employed.... ironically, to US companies. Jing is a Customer Service Rep here in PI for ATT's accounts, and I started working from home as a virtual assistant, handling some of the financial aspects for client accounts for a company based in San Diego, California. Vacation time in a tropical climate is now officially over. So ironically, we moved thousands of miles away and ended up with American based jobs.

I guess the funny thing about getting a new job is how much you think about "Oh, when I get my first paycheck, I'm gonna do this or that or buy this or that." When in the Bay Area, it used to be "Oh let's go to this fancy restaurant," or "Let's go see this show/movie/performance." Here, our priorities have shifted a bit... with Jing's first check we looked forward to buying diapers. With mine? Well, I can't really think of anything that I'd want/need, especially after Christmas -- I got the two things that have piqued my interest in the past 4 months (more on that later).

For my readers in the States, concerning Jing's job: call center jobs are actually very lucrative in comparison to their American counterparts. In the States, call center agents are usually fresh high school and college grads, and the perception is that the position is (maybe) a rung above fast food working. Here in the Philippines, you're doing very well for yourself if you can get a job at a call center. It's one of the highest starting pay positions in the Philippines. The English proficiency required means you most likely already have some sort of degree (many nursing and medical school grads begin working in call centers before they find a nursing position abroad -- the US isn't known for importing call center agents).

"Kuya,"** our oldest son, will most likely start preschool in January. He's excited about it, but I don't think he really knows what he's in for.

All the kids here are on break until after the New year, so we have a few of the kids' cousins over pretty much every day, plus a neighbor kid who comes over and rides bikes. My nose bleeds from all the Tagalog being thrown out...

Speaking of which, my Tagalog has gotten worse. I haven't been practicing it very much at all lately (as I mentioned before, it's very possible to live here and not use Tagalog at all if you don't want to). I'm also becoming a little more "independent" and we now have an electric scooter that I use to go to and from places (which obviously cuts down on my "in-transit" conversations). Added to the mix the fact that since my mom has been here I can't really use Tagalog with her, so I've barely been using it at all... just the occasional phrase every now and then. This is something I plan to fix once the New Year rolls around.

Christmas has, of course, come and gone... though honestly it feels like we've been in the Christmas season since September! Christmas music started before we arrived in September and has been playing pretty much nonstop since November hit, so I'll admit I'm a little glad it's past. Radio is different here... there doesn't seem to be much censorship in the Philippines... for radio at least. You can Google some of the "TV scandals" for the Philippines (usually it's off color jokes or something similarly ridiculously minute), but as far as radio goes you can hear the "F-bomb" get dropped during your commute. It was pretty surreal to walk into a book store last week and hear "Merry Christmas to all, now you're all gonna die!" from Weird Al Yankovich's "The Night Santa Went Crazy."

Unlike our friends and family in the US, we didn't get any temperature drops... in fact, it seems to have gotten hotter and more humid in the past few weeks! I know a few of my friends have gotten snow. I don't know that I really miss snow... though I'm sure "Ading"*** (our youngest) would have loved playing in it. Maybe in a few years when we visit the States again... depends on the timing.

It was really nice to see all of our family (well, most of them) on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Kuya was overly excited about getting Mentos (I really wish we had gotten a video of it). Jing got some clothes, Kuya and Ading got snacks and some toys we brought from the States when we moved, and I got a shirt and a G-Shock watch (knockoff). Haven't really seen anything here that I want. I guess my attitude has changed a bit since moving here. In the States it always felt like you were just working to get the next "want." The next iPhone, the next gadget, the next "big thing." Here, I haven't really seen anything that I felt was really a "want," and most of the needs, we already have.

However, during a trip to Divisorio back in October (think of an open air market with cheap/knockoff goods and brickabrack), I saw a shirt and a watch. I don't need a shirt, I have plenty, but I thought it would be funny for me to wear it, since everyone wants to use English with me.
The text doesn't translate directly, but basically it says something close to
"You're so fancy with your English, how about I kick you?"
As far as the watch (also pictured below), I already have a really nice watch that Jing gave me as a while ago, but it's very nice and I don't like to wear "flashy" stuff when I'm just out during the day -- I stick out a lot already. I mentioned to Jing that I wanted a cheap watch that I didn't care if it got stolen or broken. I don't like pulling out an iPhone or an iPod in a large crowd to check the time, either. Too much potential for mandu (pickpockets) to do the old "snatch and grab." The watch she got me was perfect.
G-Shock knockoff... it cost a little under $5 American.
The real thing can go for $100 to $300 USD, depending on style.
Otherwise, Christmas was very... sickly. I've been fighting a cold/flu/SOMETHING since the night of Christmas Eve, and the boys started sniffling Christmas night, so they probably got it too.. Ading is pretty miserable right now, and with him being a year old, it's tough for him to communicate and it's tough for us to get him to take medicine.

I guess the next thing coming up is the New Year, which is traditionally seen as an opportunity for "a new start." We've already taken advantage of a new start of sorts by moving here, so I guess I have a few personal goals for 2014, but aside from "update this blog more often," nothing major (or at least nothing I'm interested in sharing to the World Wide Web at this point).

I hope you all (or y'all, depending on where you're reading this from) had a great holiday, and I hope you have a wonderful New Year!!!

**"kuya" means "older brother" in Tagalog
*** "ading" is Ilocano (a Philippine dialect) for "younger sibling"

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