The year that was (and wasn’t)


Flew to America the day after my birthday. With just a few hundred dollars in my pocket, braved the unexpected. Banked on: one, my adaptability, two, savvy, three, familial support (a home to stay, at least). Soon after the itch to start to make a living creeps in, I find a good opportunity — a mall job that called for fashion IQ and sales savvy (thanks to a childhood friend for the trust). A one-woman band — the manager and also everything. But good things don’t last forever. A 90% rent increase forces store to shut down. Another retail job comes. Never liked it from day one. Never got the training I expected. Day two, I was put on the first shift. Manager made me hold his cup of Peet’s coffee and briefcase while he unlocked the store. He was spurious, the job I applied for was full-time sales associate. I was right, no schedule after the holiday season. That jerk!

Jobless for more than a month and with people around me starting to get tired of my presence, domestic tension escalates. A licensed nurse only in the Philippines — the easiest way out there, be ready to put on those scrubs and join the hundreds of thousands, probably more, young bagong dating, TNTs and the less fortunate, almost-nearing-senior-citizenship Filipino US residents. Caregiving. Nowadays, a fashionable word, a dollar earner, a stepping stone, a matter of perspective, and for me, a job and a home in one. A very demanding occupation that entails long hours, focus and Superman qualities. Earned more than I needed, and a toned physique, with matching bruises and scars, literally and figuratively.

This week, I’m celebrating my next birthday. Back in Laoag, feeling myself.

My first taste of home — unannounced, I disembark an ubertiring 2 days delayed Philippine Airlines flight (bummer! Anyari, PAL?!), boarded a trycicle (the local taxi) at the Laoag International Airport, went inside Ace Marketing (the husband’s store and home} Hubby was busy with a customer and not looking. “Hello,” I said. He turned his head towards me. “Ok*ninam!”

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