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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Should I be worried as an immigrant in United States?


Politics can be immensely divisive. Families got into arguments that ended up really nasty and friends turned into enemies.  So in as much as possible, I do not want to enter that dangerous ground. Sometimes, you need to let your voice be heard though no matter how small or insignificant it may seem.

When the new US president was elected, I received quite a number of messages from friends and family expressing their concern about me as an immigrant here. My husband and I were solid about our view about it, I came here legally and I followed the process so what’s to worry about? The new president was clear about it. He was after illegal immigrants with criminal cases.

The process of my papers took almost two years to finish. My husband and I went through the agonizing journey of waiting to meet all the requirements of US government. I needed to submit police certificates/ NBI clearance attesting that I never had any derogatory records. Aside from all the documents we needed to submit, I had medical examinations (thoroughly checked physically and psychologically) to ensure I don’t pose health threat and I was required to have various vaccines as well. To top it all, I went through three security checks before boarding the plane coming here, going through another security check in the US port of entry which included scanning all my luggage, removing my shoes and jewelry then being checked in a tiny room by a lady security guard before I was allowed to pass the immigration. My husband and I were in complete agreement those precautions were necessary if America wants to stay being safe. So, why do I need to worry? I came here legally and if only illegal ones with criminal records are the focused of reforms, there is definitely nothing for me to worry about.  

However, the effect of the executive order signed by the new president was unprecedented.  Suddenly, legally obtained visas and green cards lost their worth and people from seven countries banned from entering theUnited States were detained in airports. Some of them just came from their home country because of family emergencies. I am a permanent resident like them. My country was not included in the seven countries specified in the executive order he signed BUT the president is clear that more countries will be added in the current list. Who knows which country will be the next?

On the side note, those people currently being detained now came here legally, too. Probably, they went through the same I process I had. 

When a wall is built for protection, there is nothing wrong with it. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs states safety and security as part of the basic needs of an individual. America has the right to be protected just like any other countries in the world. But, if one is built based on hate, then the bedrock of values where humanity is based, loses its significance.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Why You Should Put Down Your Phones!

My husband and I love playing games and watching videos on our cellphone. He has his own likes and I have my own. At times, we get too absorbed with our phones. But, there is one thing that we don’t forget to do every night- put down our phones.

The key to a successful relationship is not a fairytale made in heaven but simply communicating with each other. Every single night as we put down our phones, we talk about practically everything. We discuss our differences, laugh at silly things, plan for the future, and sometimes just simply affirm our love for each other. Putting down our phones gives us the time to completely focused on each other.

More than two years of having no other means of communications but through phones, we learned that now we are finally together, the best way to communicate is when we put our phones down.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

I Got a New Job!



 Starting anew can be quite scary. This is especially true when you are starting thousand miles away from your home for decades and you need to untangle yourself from things you got used to. However, there is always an assurance that I am not circumscribed by the past. I am free to define what I want to happen in the future. Whatever I have achieved before, I can work hard to attain the same feats even if I need to start from scratch.

Finally, after more than two months, I received my SSS card last Wednesday and it means, I could look for a job. Immediately, I sent an application online and after an hour, I got a call for an interview. I had flu after that so I never really had any time to worry or thought about it.


The meeting with the program coordinator last Monday reminded me of what I love about teaching. Her questions brought me into reminiscences of the past and affirming that what I worked hard for was not in vain (I am writing a different blog about this). I was told that by the end of this week, I would hear from them once they’re done interviewing the other applicants.

A day after my interview, I received the call confirming I got the job.  And this morning, I signed everything including stacks of tax papers. It may not be as lucrative as the job that I had before but it is a really good start. After all, every single journey that I have embarked on, I’ve always learned something new. That makes the journey more special!


So, yay to the good news! I got my first job here in the US!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Beauty, Intelligence and Respect

I love Facebook. It is probably one of the attestations that the world has evolved into completely new paradigm socially, economically and politically. However, I cringe in disappointment whenever I encounter posts that hurl vicious words against an individual. Sadly, when it comes to intellectual discourse some people opt to stoop to the lowest level of character assassination and using spiteful words instead of addressing and discussing the real issues and suggesting solutions.

Maxine Medina’s rise to fame is glumly not just because she is representing the Philippines in the Miss Universe pageant but because of the circulation of her videos answering questions. Her beauty and confidence are clearly manifested the way she projects herself on camera. However, thousands of comments ruthlessly attacked the way she answered the questions. I understand. 

The beauty queen has distinctly a problem with expressing her thoughts in English. Nonetheless, stooping down to the level of insulting her complete being will never be justified. Calling her names does not address the real issue. It is not her problem that she won the title to represent the Philippines. Yes, she has the responsibilities to ensure that the country is well represented during the contest, but it should not come at the expense of insults and totally being disrespected in the process. Judging from what her coaches stated, she worked hard to improve. There were many beauty queens who won the title using their native language. Most importantly, you cannot judge a person’s intelligence solely on how she answers one or two questions orally.  

Some of us have become callous individuals who prey on the weakness of others. Let us bear in mind what Berg once said, “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.” Or in this case, to show respect.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Heavenly Saturday

There is nothing that can make my Saturday feels heavenly but spending it with my husband and having a nice breakfast.  So, this morning we visited this restaurant which offers home-cooked meals and we were not disappointed. 

The place has this homey feeling and there is no sense of busyness you usually get when you eat in a restaurant. The ambiance was relaxed and over-all, the interior offers a calming feeling which makes you want to savor every bite of your meal.  Indeed, it was a heavenly Saturday.

Irresistible charm of my husband completed my day.

I love this pancake with fresh blueberries. 



Thursday, January 12, 2017

10 Amazing Michigan Discoveries/ Experiences

Generally, everything I knew about United States either came from International news agencies or Hollywood movies so to actually live here after being in two tropical countries is definitely a remarkable experience. Here are some of my amazing discoveries/experiences in more than two months that I have been here. 



1. Sun, snow, wind, and rain can all come in the same day. Weather forecast is particularly important before you start your day. There are days I would wake up that the sun is so bright but before long, snow starts to fall. After a while, you would feel the chilly wind then the snow turns into rain. Not necessarily in that order. Sometimes you wake up that it’s snowing so heavily then suddenly the sun is shining brightly. Whatever you do or are planning to do, tune in for weather updates. 

2. Cars in the ditch are normal. Well, at least during winter. I remember traveling with my husband going to Kalamazoo during a really heavy snow fall and seeing cars in the ditch and even witnessing the cars slide then helplessly skid at the side of the road.  My husband always tells me, if you live in Michigan, you need a Dodge Ram. 

3. Grace before meals. The first time we were invited for a dinner with my husband’s family, I was surprised when they held hands then started praying together. Then the following week, we were invited for a dinner again by a family friend and they did the same thing. Several invitations after that, the same thing happened. They do pray even in restaurants. I feel so sorry and naïve but news in International agencies has always something to do with mass shootings and Hollywood movies are not the best portrayal either.  It is an important realization that not everything you watch or read is what it seems in real life.


4. Everything is instant. When I was in the Philippines, I needed to measure the flour, baking soda, butter, and other ingredients in baking. When my husband asked me to bake a cake for him, I opened the box with ready to bake cake, added eggs and water, mixed them all, then put in the oven. Then I made cookies by simply opening the box and arranged the cookie dough on the tray then baked. Want rice? Half-cooked rice which is ready in five minutes are available, too. The best is corned beef which is my favorite. Where I came from, you need to cut potatoes by strips if you want it mixed with your corned beef. Here, you open the can and voila, corned beef with potatoes ready to eat. 



5. Almost everything is big. Imagine a 24-ounce steak in a single meal or an eggplant three times bigger than ours in the Philippines. In short, the serving is big. And I mean enormous. My eyes grew big whenever they bring my order in a restaurant. You will know what I mean about the difference when you visit MacDonald’s Philippines and here. 

6. Eating ice cream while everywhere is covered with snow.



In fact, there is an ice cream place right around the town where we live. Even if it is snowing heavily outside, my husband has an ice cream stocked in the fridge. We could be shivering outside of Meijer or Walmart but we don’t forget to grab an ice cream when we get inside.

7. They love football. The first time I watched football, my husband’s sister explained the rules to me. But, that wasn’t what amazed me but the fact that families came together and we were out seated on a freezing bench and we had a lot of fun. They love football so much that the next time we watched it, we drove to Detroit which is more than three hours from where we live. Another three hours going back home at the middle of the night. After watching only twice, I have fallen in love with it hook, line and sinker. 

8. Nice people especially neighbors. I lived in three places in the Philippines and several in Indonesia before moving here. I have never experienced a neighbor coming over to welcome me and bringing me cookies. The next day, they brought me chicken pie and reminded me that whatever I need, I can always go to their place. In addition, everyone I met so far has been really kind and welcoming. I have never met these many people in a short time who can be so warm and kind to a stranger like me. 


I've talked to her on the phone before coming here. She works in one of the stores
where my husband buys his sandwich. 

They were amazed that I'm finally here after two years of processing papers and listening
to my husband talked to me on the phone.
9. Traffic is almost non-existent. Whenever the traffic light turns red and there are about three cars in front of us, my husband would joke that traffic jam is so bad. From where I came from, traffic jam is a daily occurrence and something that you need to endure whenever you go out. It’s amazing that everybody here has more than one car but there is no problem with traffic. No wonder there is such thing as American time. They don’t need to deal with traffic jam. 

10. Lastly, the place is stunningly beautiful. In fact, I am in a complete awe that a place like this exists. I came right around fall and the color of the trees was amazing. I lost myself in trance soaking with the beauty all around me. My husband brought me near the lake where you can gaze at beautiful big birds. It was so surreal being so near with them. He also brought me in another lake where the sunset was so beautiful and the sound of the waves was like music to the ears. It was truly a magical experience. I will never forget also the first time I experienced looking all around seeing nothing but white while the snow falls and listening to Christmas song. There is just simply no words to describe the experience.  

Fall is so beautiful!

My first time to ride a four-wheelers. It was awesome!

Sunsets are so beautiful in Michigan.

In one of Time magazine’s best books, In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams, Tahir Shah wrote that, 
Settling into a new country is like getting used to a new pair of shoes. At first they pinch a little, but you like the way they look, so you carry on. The longer you have them, the more comfortable they become. Until one day without realizing it you reach a glorious plateau. Wearing those shoes is like wearing no shoes at all. The more scuffed they get, the more you love them and the more you can't imagine life without them.”

My husband once asked me what my thoughts were when I was in the plane on the way here. At first I was scared, but, there was nothing that I wanted but to live a life with him. So, I jumped out of my comfort zone- a familiar place, a stable job, friends and family left behind, and finally realized how blessed I am living in a new place I call HOME.

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