May 15, 2008
34 days and 2,285.75 miles away from the Philippines, my employer informed me that I have to wait another 7 days for the approval of my Employment Pass from Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower. So it’s another week of doing what I want to do whenever I feel the urge to do it. I’ve really tried to plan my activities for each day, and at times I was able to follow them. But most of the time, I would take a detour from my plans and let my whims and mood take over.
It was the 5th of May, 23 days and 5 interviews later, that I received a job offer as a web designer for a web design company. I felt utter relief and the plain old feeling of happiness when you have finally been given the thing that you need most. 23 days of stress and a feeling of uncertainty is a sad companion, even more so when you’re in a foreign land and you have this feeling that you’re just an outsider looking in.
That was 10 days ago and at last, I was able to really relax and sink in the still unfamiliar way of Singapore’s life. I even received another job offer a week after I received the first one, but hey, first come first serve. For the past ten days, I had watched TV series on video streaming until the wee hours of the morning. I slept late, ate breakfast at 10 a.m. and had lunch at 3 p.m. At times I would go to this place called Kovan City, some 3 or 4 bus stops away from my place. It’s quite near our place and if you’re in the mood, you can walk all the way up to there. I would usually eat my lunch at the hawker food stalls and spend the rest of the afternoon at MacDonald’s. I read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “Strange Pilgrims” and indulge in melancholy as the characters in the short stories mirror the way I feel to be in a foreign land on my own and for the first time. When I don’t want to read anymore, because these short stories are meant to be indulged one at a time, I would open my sketchpad and doodle my thoughts away.
When my eyes got tired from all the reading and doodling, I would enter the Heartland Mall to feast my eyes on things I couldn’t buy. I only have meager allowance and I reserve it for food, rent and necessary things that I need. Sometimes I would just wander around this small space aimlessly, looking into things that I don’t really see and hearing spoken words that I can’t understand. I feel so detached from the mall and the people, and there I am again, an outsider looking in. I never would have thought that I’m going to miss the familiarity and the “happy atmosphere” that one can feel whenever I enter malls back home. I never would have thought that I’ll fondly remember SM Megamall or the smiles and “good morning ma’am, welcome to Jollibee” warm greetings from fast food chains. Now, I can see and feel with my own eyes that Filipinos are one of the warmest and welcoming people I know.
So here I am, still suspended in the anxiety of waiting. But I carried in my heart the things that can’t fit in my luggage. Faith and hope.