Monday, January 26, 2015

Funny, I Didn't Think I Was Either...

Even after our trip today to DFA, Jing and I are still not officially recognized as married in the PI... even though it's been five years since we were married and I already have my permanent residence through marriage to a Filipina citizen. I'll expand on that tomorrow probably, but I wanted to write the following snippet from today before I forgot:

While at the Department of Foreign Affairs to get passports taken care of, I was assigned to the role of "keeping the kids quiet" while Jing takes care of paperwork and talking to officials. I use the opportunity to practice my Tagalog with the kids.

After being there for a while, we end up sitting near a Filipina lady who has a 4-year old girl with her. The girl and Kuya begin to interact in that "shy 4 year old" way. I ask Kuya what her name is, but he is too shy to ask, so I ask her in Tagalog: "Ate, anong panggalin mo?"

The lady with her says "oh, she doesn't understand Tagalog. She lives in Paranaque." (Paranaque is part of the National Capitol Region)

I continue to use Tagalog with the boys, but then we switch to English when we want to speak with "Ate." Eventually our paperwork is processed and we move on.

Later, I overhear the lady telling the girl "Oh, you need to learn Tagalog."

The girl responds

"Why? I'm not poor."

....I knew there was a disconnect between NCR and the rest of the country and that the majority of "high society" there uses English as often as possible, but I didn't know it was THAT bad.

Monday, January 19, 2015

A Year+ In Review

After almost a year away from this blog, I have finally returned. A lot has happened in the past year. We celebrated our first year of living in the Philippines, I've been promoted to a new position at my work, and I've also had the opportunity to get several acting jobs in my spare time. I've been in a TV series, filmed a movie (though my scene didn't make the final cut), and in an international TV commercial.

I wish I could say that I have been so busy with these extraneous hobbies that I haven't been able to post, but truth be told, I rarely find myself wanting to spend time on the computer after working on it for eight hours. I've even let my WoW subscription lapse (which is no small feat, for those of you who aren't familiar with my online gaming addiction). During the day, I maintain the company's social media presence, in addition to marketing/advertising online, and handle Search Engine optimization. It's a lot to handle at times. Even though my new work position leaves me worn out (and sometimes stressed), I really enjoy it and really see a lot of opportunity for growth professionally, personally, and also for the company as well. I'm excited, to say the least! Very much worth the effort!

I'm one year closer to Philippine Citizenship. It's still up in the air on whether I can still visit the States without resetting the timer (I'm supposed to be in the PI for 5 years before I can apply for citizenship since I'm married to a Filipina citizen). I've attempted to do research, but unfortunately each source says something different... and our local immigration office has not been helpful in the slightest (in fact, the lady told me I would never be eligible for citizenship, which I know is completely incorrect, so...) I have to fiuggre that out (as well as a couple other things) which may influence when we go back to the States. Our tentative plan is sometime in 2016, though we're not sure exactly when yet.

I'm more confident in my everyday interactions than I was a year ago. Unfortunately, my Tagalog has not improved as much as it should have in that span of time. The main reason is that I'm not using it nearly as often as I should have been. My work is "English Only" as it is based in the US, and I only go out to pick up groceries or exercise at the gym... both scenarios involve little real communication, and what communication does happen is the same conversation over and over, so not much room for improvement.

In an effort to improve my comprehension, I've started listening to a lot of Tagalog music. Jing occasionally helps me by "quizzing" me, though she still hasn't started speaking to me ONLY in Tagalog as requested. I think that's mainly because she gets too annoyed at me too quickly when she does.

I'm trying to think of major things that have happened that I haven't mentioned, and I suppose there are milestones to us that are "typical" (birthdays, holidays, etc), but not worth mentioning in depth at this point. We're all a year older, except Jing, who has informed me that she is still 29. I guess that'll be nice in 30 years when I am 61 and I'll still be married to a 29 year old.

The boys are bigger, of course. Kuya has started school and only has a few months left before summer break (they end the school year in April here). Ading has started trying to ride a bike (I need to install a rear brake on his bike, at the moment he just pedals backward really fast and doesn't go anywhere). Kuya has been out of diapers completely for a while (even while sleeping at night) and so now the process begins to try to get Ading out of them as well... though hopefully he'll be out of them by the time the next one comes along (hopefully a girl, whenever that is). I've gotten bigger, too. I've gained too much weight as a result of laziness/travelling and have started watching what I eat once again.

I think we have (more or less) gotten past the absurdity of living here. When we first arrived, it felt like every day Jing and I would have a discussion about how "ridiculous" things were... but now, it's just accepted as the norm (sure, we still get annoyed, and situations are often accompanied by the occasional eyeroll, but I think we've begun to become very "bahala na" (what will be, will be) about it. We still take funny pictures and make jokes about things (which I need to make a photo post about soon I suppose), but our "The Philippines is a crazy place" is punctuated by a period instead of an exclamation point at this point.

To make an overgeneralization; I've learned that people here are inconsiderate. They'll blatantly try to skip lines. the longer I've been here, the more I've noticed that people try to take advantage of the fact that I am a foreigner, and that perhaps I don't *really* know what's going on. It happens to me more than anyone else, so I've learned how to comment in Tagalog, pointing out that there is a line, and the "back of the line is there." When I start speaking Tagalog and pointing out that the person is being bwiset, security (which by the the way is a total joke and should have been enforcing it to begin with --- but I'll save that for another post) will step in and "encourage" them to move to the back of the line to avoid escalation. I think it's so prevalent in general because people here are so nakakahiya (embarrassed) to point out that someone is being rude that those people get away with it. When I first got here, I was doubly so, because I am very aware of my status as a foreigner and i didn't want to overstep any cultural boundaries. People still try to take advantage of me, but I am far more outspoken than I used to be about the matter, and I have the vocabulary to back it up now.

So a year and a half after we got here, I feel like we have the routine of living here down. In the end, I suppose it's just like moving anywhere in the world (with an added language barrier). Initially it's always tough, but as you get more familiar with things and settle into your role(s), things get easier and more comfortable. At this point, I don't see us moving back to the States, though I suppose it's always a possibility.