My new passion project: Out and Abroad

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After mulling about this for the longest time, I FINALLY started my passion project – a blog collective called “Out and Abroad” for all those like me who are already living and working abroad or thinking about making that big move.

Ever since I moved to Singapore I’ve noticed the lack of blogs or articles that chronicle real stories of real people (especially Asians) about this topic. Culture shock. Intercultural relationships. Work permits. Landlords. But so many people, both friends and strangers, have always approached or emailed me asking for advice. My vision for Out and Abroad is to be a blog collective and a platform to broadcast stories for like minded individuals. 

The reality is that more people are becoming ‘global citizens’ but no one is really talking about what that means on a personal level. The struggle is real. Haha.

Don’t worry. I’ll still be using ForeignFilipina as my personal blog (it will never go away!) My sister has asked me what’s the difference. My reply is that Out and Abroad is not about me. It’s about the community I want to build.

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Anyway, I hope you guys can help me out in two ways.

1) Like our Facebook page

2)  I’m looking for contributors, particularly Asian women. Please let me know if you know someone who might be interested or write to us at outandabroad@gmail.com.

Thanks :)

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2014: A year in settling down

2014

I’ve always been a creature of change. I’m restless, constantly moving, living upside down and side-ways. Change was my trigger for growth and I’ve always been proud of my ability to weather a storm, drizzle, downpour, typhoon and all. My more ‘mature’ self was the pot to look forward to at the end of the rainbow.

That’s why change, in one form or another, was my underlying year-end lesson of 2012 and 2013. But to my surprise, it isn’t my theme for 2014. Getting settled is. And what I’ve learned is that stability can make you grow too. It isn’t synonymous with complacency.

The start of 2015 marks my third year of living in Singapore and second year of my (first) relationship. It’s the first time I’ve welcomed the new year with the same job that I genuinely enjoy. My neighbourhood feels like a home and my errands don’t feel like a chore. I have a constant group of friends. I actually have savings that I look forward to growing instead of using as an emergency fund.

It’s not that 2014 was lacking in change because it was with the momentum of a new job, traveling solo for the first time and to 9 places in total, family/career milestones and mistakes. But I can’t deny this feeling that every bit of change is giving me a clearer picture of who I am and the life I want. Indeed I’m getting settled — settled into myself that is. And that makes all the difference.

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I’m a firm believer that you have to test yourself in order to find yourself. Actually, let me rephrase. You have to keep testing yourself in order to keep on evolving because humans are naturally dynamic individuals. Heck, I’ve tried a kazillion of things in my short lifetime and will keep on doing so. But what I’ve learned in 2014 is that longevity breeds familiarity, which in turn develops the inner confidence and trust in ourselves that we need to evolve and ride the recurring waves of change.

I’m incredibly thankful for the year that was, finding the balance between work-life-travel-writing and a creative outlet for the things I love; and strengthening even longer lasting relationships with loved ones. 2014 was the warmup. 2015 is game time – a chance for me to really step up, keep my balance and ride those waves. It’s going to be an epic year. I can feel it.

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The Liebster Award

liebsteraward Thank you  A Restless Traveler for the Liebster Award nomination!

“Liebster is a word with German origins meaning dearest, sweetest, kindest, and beloved. The Liebster Award exists only on the internet, and is an award given to bloggers by bloggers. The award is given to bloggers with less than 200 followers. The purpose of the Liebster Award is to recognize and discover upcoming talent in the blogosphere through a Pay it Forward initiative.”

What I love about the blogosphere (and the internet in general) is that it promotes paying it forward. If you like a blog, article, Instagram photo, Tweet, you share it. That’s how people stumble upon great content and helps artists stay motivated to work on their craft.

Thank you Restless Traveler for believing in my blog :) It’s also a nice break from the writing-grind to answer some fun questions.

There are some rules involved with this award:

  • You must link back to the person who nominated you (but cannot nominate them)
  • You must answer the 10 questions given to the nominee before you.
  • You must select 10 blogs with under 200 followers to answer your 10 questions.

Now, here are my answers:

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Why did you start your blog?

Blogging has always been my constant companion, through adolescence, teenage angst, post-graduation anxiety, twenty-something contemplations. It goes along with me wherever I am, living in Manila, Singapore, traveling across the region. My blog is my way to discern, a reminder of who I am and want to be. I started my blog because I love to write, but I continue to blog because I want to share my stories and hope that others will draw inspiration from what I’ve learned.

What’s your favourite part of blogging?

I love the personal nature of blogging. It’s what differentiates it from other mediums. I love being able to relate to someone through their blog and seeing them grow through time.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about blogging?

Blogging is historical. Your blog is a way to capture a moment in time in a particular place in time. This is what I’ve always believed to be its greater purpose.

When was the first time you traveled?

I don’t remember actually, but I have fond memories going on adventures with my pops. When we go on family vacations, we’re always the ones exploring somewhere uncharted, taking the car to some undisclosed road.

Where are you going on your next adventure?

I’m going to India in January for my friend’s wedding. I am so psyched! I’ve always wanted to 1) attend an Indian wedding and 2) go to India.

A favourite dish that’s not from your country?

I love ramen but I have yet to try authentic ramen from Japan itself. Aside from that, my favorite drink is Thai milk tea.

Favourite songs to listen to on long bus,train or plane rides?

I usually stream my music, so I don’t have a playlist when I’m not connected to internet. I either sleep,  think or read. A lot.

If you could be anywhere right now where would you be?

I would be in India just because I’m so excited for my trip already!  

Travel photoblog or well written post?

I love words, so a well-written post with lots of pictures to help tell the story. Although a well-written post can stay on draft for awhile because it takes time to write properly.

What advice would you give someone about to start a blog?

 Starting a blog is easy. Continuing a blog is the hardest part! Make sure you have enough motivation to keep writing. Trust me, it will be worth it especially when you look back at what you wrote.

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My nominees (I have less than 10 because I realised a lot of the blogs I read already have a lot of followers or don’t blog regularly anymore :( )

Slouching somewhere

Slhando

Carlo Chong

Pushy for Sushi 

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My questions:

Why did you start your blog?

What has blogging taught you?

Photo-blog or well-written post?

What motivates you to keep on writing?

If you could live in one country/ city for a long period of time where would it be and why?

What’s the best travel/ blogging advice you have received?

What’s your must have travel companion?

Do you prefer traveling alone  or in a big group?

Favorite dish that’s not from your country?

Any tips or advice for people who are looking to start a blog?

FOREIGN FILIPINA: A MANIFESTO

394171_10150628743865309_2063282302_nTo move abroad is to open yourself to a new way of seeing with foreign eyes and local heart. It’s to become a citizen of the world. Someone who finds home in the people they meet in places they come to love, by understanding their different way of living. Why stay in the same place when you can live and work beyond the border? That’s how I found myself here. On this blog. Scribbling from Singapore. How about you?

Hi there.

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Hi there.

I know it has been awhile since I last wrote a blog entry. Trust me. I have tried. I’ve revisited my 2 year anniversary with Singapore draft multiple times. But now 3 months have passed by since that milestone and to be honest, I don’t think I’ll ever be near being satisfied with it. So, let’s just move on or else the deadline will drag along and I’ll never end up updating my blog.

Work has been keeping me pretty busy with a big campaign coming up and an ongoing pitch that I’m on. I can’t believe I’ve been at my new company for half a year already. The good news is that I’m pretty happy with my job right now. I feel like it’s the right place, the right time, the right people. The chemistry of my team is incredible and that matters when you need to hustle and the expectations and pressure are high. I would be lying if I said that sometimes I feel anxious, but I’ve been working long enough and know myself enough to acknowledge that it’s a sign that I’m learning something new. Maybe personal development is half about riding the anxiety wave.

Anyway, it’s almost midnight on a Sunday. I miss writing for myself, especially in free-verse with no outcome in mind. So I thought I would just say hello. I’m going to check-in with these informal posts more often.

-RF

My Binondo Friends

Binondo is a restless city, stuck in reverse, and set in motion by a flurry of color, noise and feet. It blisters from the friction of heat and skin.

Decades have gone by since 1584 when it was created for the Sangleys, or Chinese Immigrants, yet the past still swelters in the air. A nagging reminder of a Manila that could have been. A Manila that I had yet to see, even if a has-been is the only thing left for me to appreciate.

China Town, Binondo, Divisoria… different names for an enclave people don’t often get excited to see. At the time I didn’t have enough funds for the beach, but I think there are other ways to discover the Philippines.

So, my Binondo Friends, namely Jen, Kevin and myself — we set out to explore the city of half-baked buildings eternally under construction.

The first thing I told Jen and Kevin when we met up at the Ayala MRT Station was “Hassle ng jeans!!!” (It’s a hassle to wear jeans!) It’s too hot to wear jeans, but for girls in Divisoria it’s even hotter to wear shorts in the eyes of the locals. Nonetheless I tried to dress comfortably, with a baggy shirt, and a big bag for water, money and shopping.

From Ayala we took the train to Recto where we found a jeep to take us to Divisoria.  None of us have taken this route before, but we eventually made our way along the wearisome one hour ride.

First stop was Divisoria, the market district, similar to the Park Square of Makati or Green Hills of the North. Commerce is what Binondo is known for, in the past as a business hub, in the present as the place for cheap buys.

It was a jungle outside and inside Mall 168.

But we are warriors.

And we (fine, I was) ready to make a killing.

According to the Chinese, “168” is a lucky number, and it roughly translates to “road to success,” which probably explains the loot I brought home that day.

Back outside, the sexy shorts were waiting for me.

I didn’t need umbrellas but I thought they were pretty. A rainbow for the rain.

My parents warned me that I’ll meet all kinds of characters in Binondo, hidden in the stalls of the vendors. Luckily, I spotted some of them first.

Binondo is always on-the-go, with tricycles zooming by, or men with carpets on their shoulders, maneuvering their way through the crowd. I can still hear the buzz amplified by karaoke songs being blasted through the shopkeeper’s speakers.

It’s hard to absorb and capture quirks with one panoramic view. So you focus on the details.

Until you understand that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Pop cola, chillin’ together  on a hot summer’s day.  Very Pinoy.

Kevin, tunay na lalaki (real man.)

While making our way to China Town, I saw a horse drawn carriage pass by. “Why don’t we take a calesa,”I suggested,  and we did, which was cooler than taking a trike like originally planned.

Jen: “You’re in China Town when the signs are accompanied with a Chinese translation.

Even in China town, it’s never just chinese, like the rest of the polylingual Philippines.

Finally, authentic Chinese food at Wai Ying Fast Food restaurant, which brought back fond memories of a date I once went on. Here, authenticity is cheap. Even if no roasted duck was available, any kind of mami is a good way to cap off a long and fun day.

Or some macca ice cream.

Perhaps old Manila is a has been,  but our attempt to discover it should never be.

*Note: This entry was originally posted on April, 2012. I wanted to re-post it since it’s Chinese New Year. Binondo, Philippines, which is the oldest China Town in the world, is so different compared to clean-cut Singapore. Gong Xi Fa Cai everyone! 

Dubai Day 2: Beyond the sandscape of the Desert Safari

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I fell in-and-out-of-sleep while the bus took us out of town and toward the Dubai’s Desert Safari. It was like waking up from a dream only to witness a mirage outside my window:  the desert grains endured, hardened by the beating sun. Beyond the sandscape, a seamless horizon.

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It was my first time seeing the desert. A set change from many road trips before.

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Grains of sand replaced the dusty provincial roads of the Philippines.

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A natural skyline liberated from the towering buildings of Singapore. It was weird to see no trees, yet be assured that the lack of greenery was natural in Dubai.

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We tried our best to blend in. We’re not tourists! It was working until…

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we saw the sandboards.

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Traveling, this means to an infinite end, approaching but never really reaching a final destination.

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By bus

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… camel….

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… or state of mind. 
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Possibilities beyond the sandscape, smiling like a seamless horizon.

One year later

June 27, 3013. A new chapter begins!

June 27, 3013. A new chapter begins!

One year ago, when I left Manila for Singapore, I did not know what I was getting myself into. No amount of research or meditation could ever fully prepare me for the new life chapter ahead.

Moving away is a rite of passage that’s uncommon in traditional Asian culture where children live at home until they get married. FYI I did not get married in the last year (just saying), so independence was granted at a much earlier stage in my life. Was I ready — financially, spiritually, mentally? There was only one way to find out. Jump and the net will appear as one of my favorite Zen sayings go.

Since that fateful day on June 27, 2012, fast forward one year later.

I would be lying if I denied that the big “What-if…” never crossed my mind. (I’m not that mature hah!) What if I stayed in Manila? Or on the flipside, if I decided to stay, what if I moved to Singapore instead?

It’s a pointless mind game which can be argued from all sides. The biggest lesson I’ve learned since moving abroad is how to let go and keep looking forward. It’s not easy, but  it’s a worthwhile trait to try and master.

I would also be lying if I wasn’t scared. What if living abroad didn’t work out? What if I was more confused than ever? Would I be a failure if I moved back home?  No. Because experience is always valuable and the wisdom you gain after living abroad, entirely outside of your comfort zone, and exposed to various people and things, is priceless. So what if you fail? Try again

Arriving in Singapore.

Arriving in Singapore

Leaving Singapore for everywhere else --- Bangkok, Malaysia, Dubai, Shanghai and Seoul

Leaving Singapore for everywhere else — Bangkok, Malaysia, Dubai, Shanghai and Seoul

Since June 27, 2013 I’ve…

… had 3 jobs, free lanced on the side, and traveled to 5 new countries.

… left journalism and entered the corporate world.

… lived an offline life, rather than an online one.

… fully supported and saved for myself.

… found love.

The list goes on.

One year later and I still don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into. At least now I know the beauty is never having to know. I remind myself that I’m learning as I go along. Surprise yourself. Will I still be in Singapore? In a corporate career? Who knows where or what I’ll end up doing next year. Until then….

Finding stillness in Seoul

Written on June 28, 2013

“People in constant movement recognize the value of stillness,” said Pico Iyer during his talk at the Singapore Writer’s Festival some time ago. Finally, after the craziest, most challenging and overwhelming month at work, I’m happy that I can finally put my life on pause this weekend. So I’m okay with staying in on my first night in Seoul, Korea where I’m writing this entry from my hotel room. Sometimes adventure can wait until tomorrow. Tonight is for stillness.

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Updated July 1, 2013

Touch down: Home, Singapore.

In stillness we find strength to carry on. Needless to say I’m back home, fully recharged, and with a clear mind to conquer the next challenge. I had a wonderful time exploring Seoul with 2 Korean strangers. A trip full of the universal language of love and laughter.