I was 23 when I first left my country. The first time to be away from my family, the first time to travel to Europe, my adventure. I could still remember that day when they all took me to the airport, my parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends – quite disheartening, actually. I was sad to leave them, but at the same time, looking forward to my journey.
A week after I’ve arrived in France, it started snowing. I couldn’t believe my eyes; the whole world was blanketed in white! It was so incredibly gorgeous and perfect, no footsteps in it, just lumps and bumps where plants sat in the gardens and cars entirely covered in snow. I was mesmerised. As soon as I’ve felt its powdery texture, I thought to myself, “This was the White Christmas people were dreaming about.” I couldn’t imagine that just a week ago, from sweltering morning – traffic starting to build up in Manila. The noise of cars, taxis, motorcycles, vans and jeepneys beeping and honking, children going to school and adults to work, street vendors selling taho (soya) or peanuts. Such a difference! A normal hectic day in Manila compared to a peaceful, snowy one in France.
Four years later, I was returning to the Philippines. I have lived in Switzerland, Germany and the United States. I worked as a Secretary to the Ambassador of Ethiopia at the United Nations Office in Geneva. I did the English correspondence and dealt with his appointments. It was a great diplomatic experience. Then I went to Germany to do some laboratory training. I’ve got my Chemistry degree from the Philippines, so I was able to get a 6-month training at BASF, Ludwigshafen. There, I met Him Indoors, who was also doing some training. Action and reaction, love happened and we were sad to part ways after the training. I went to Los Angeles, California, USA and he went back to the UK to finish his Chemistry degree. In the summer, he visited me in Los Angeles and we decided to get married. That was the reason I was returning to the Philippines – to tell my parents that we were getting married.
The EDSA Revolution of 1986 in the Philippines. I was part of the crowd – a bizarre mixture of people coming and going in every direction, military tanks and cannons with their soldiers greeted with flowers and food, burning tires, activist flags and streamers, vendors selling their wares, vehicles parked everywhere and some beeping their horns, portable radios, foreign correspondents and religious altars. Strangers flashed wide grins at each other. People were marching, praying, crying and singing all at the same time. It was one of nonviolent protests that led to the departure of the then President Marcos and the re-establishment of the country’s democracy. I was there. I wanted to make a difference. I was part of that history.
We got married on the nicest day of June (it was the only weekend it didn’t rain, thank God) in the UK. We prepared a big fish (baked) with mayonnaise, red and green peppers, chopped carrots on top. I also cooked spring rolls with sweet and sour sauce and other Filipino dishes. Him Indoor’s mother baked the cake, and did the other dishes. We prepared before hand, so we used the fridges of their neighbours to store them. My cousin from Germany and her husband came and she was my Maid of Honour. She wore a Royal Blue Dress. I wore a creamish dress from the Philippines, made of pineapple fibre, like silk. It was exquisite! Him Indoors wore a dark blue suit, with his great grandfather’s pocket watch. We got married in the Register Office, which was a magnificent timber building and the oldest building in the country. It was so romantic!
Four years later, Him Indoors was accepted to work in Bavaria so we moved here. It was a new place for both of us, not knowing that we would be still here after 25 years. HRH the son was born here and he considers Bavaria as his home. We’re happy here – we have the mountains to hike or ski in the winter, and the lakes, beer gardens and parks to walk or cycle in the summer. It was just the right size for us, not too big a city and not too little a village. We have a terrace house and a garden. When HRH the son was born, I decided to stay at home and looked after him. We did lots of things together, from toddler groups, music school, kindergarden, school, etc. I volunteered to work as one of the librarians in their library. When he was 10, I started thinking about going back to work. I did some training, a Master’s in English Language Teaching. Now, I’m a freelance English trainer/teacher. And so, my journey continues.