2019 was perfect

We’ve been so behind in posting but what better way to start off the year with a 2019 in review update. It’s a bit long so skim through it, read every word or scroll down to the ending, up to you! Enjoy!

I started putting a “best nine” insta post but we had so many that 9 would just be the icing on our ginormous cake. Where do I begin? How about the first of the year!

We kicked of NYE with dinner at Pier Market in SF, ice-skating and an interview with the local news station about our NYE plans which were going back to our hotel room, getting in our pjs and finishing off with our private karaoke party. We spent the first few days of the new year in SF, exploring, eating, visiting with friends and of course anticipating what the rest of the year had in store!

We also kicked off the year with all of us as dual citizens of the US and Philippines, which is the reason why we were in SF. Decided it would be good to have Terence and Teren get their dual citizenship since Tara and I had ours, thanks to soccer of course.

We had plans on moving into our new van but discovered a leak in the roof which obviously makes it unlivable. The beauty of van living was our options were pretty open since we weren’t tied down to one specific place. We spent a week or so with the Wu’s couch surfing, many thanks! Luckily, our friends, The Cari’s, just listed their basement apartment for rent and next thing you know, we were moving in, no regrets. We gained a family. A family who welcomed us to Sunday dinner potlucks, a family who welcomed us with glasses of wine (and juice) on any given weekday(end), and a family to share laughs, tears and memories with.

It was a big adjustment moving into a studio apartment. It felt like a mansion compared to what we were used to! It was temporary and we made it work.

Around Valentine’s day, Tara received an invite of a lifetime! She received a call-up letter from the Philippines Women’s Soccer Team to train/play for the Olympic qualifiers in Qatar. After a lengthy chat with Mr. Boss and my work…I put in my notice and was booking our tickets to the Philippines for the end of the month. Of course, Tara made the final roster and on her way to Qatar. Terence and Teren ended up coming to the Philippines and joined me in Qatar to cheer the team on!

The trip was instrumental in Tara changing her decision to de-commit at PLU where she received the Presidential Scholarship and spot on the PLU Soccer team and instead go to school in the Philippines, to play soccer for De LaSalle University!

After a month, we were headed back to Seattle to finish off the rest of the school year and prepare for our MOVE TO THE PHILIPPINES. The opportunity was there so why not? Cost of living is way more affordable (the US dollar goes a long way in the PI,) it’s always sunny and warm, a chance for both kids to live abroad and more importantly, learn about their heritage and experience it firsthand. Moving made sense and matched up with our retirement goals.

Every month was jammed pack leading up to our final day in Seattle. I spent some time in San Diego with my family, going away lunches/hh/dinners, getting all our doctor and dentist visits in, packing up our little studio apartment, riding bikes, road trips, training for my 2nd half ironman only to be canceled for a sprained ankle, tara’s high school graduation, one final weekend trip to Victoria, BC, and our super awesome and fun going away party at Kona Kitchen.

On June 14, 2019, we got a rental van and packed it up with 7 boxes, 5 carry-ons and 3 luggages and headed up to Vancouver, BC for our one-way flight to Manila! 13 hours later, we arrive to what would be the greatest move in our life to date. We spent the first few days unpacking and settling in the condo in BGC (owned by Terence’s Aunt.) Tara and I left the boys and my mother-in-law for Greece. It was an amazing 2 weeks and great way to kick off not just our move but Tara’s 18th birthday.

The travel and adventure continued on…Tara went off to train with the National Team for the AFF Championship tournament in Thailand, Teren and I went on a long weekend trip to Coron with Terence’s family, and weeklong stay in Kawit with my first cousins on the Peregrino side.

We ended up opting to not live in the condo in BGC (that in itself is a long story that has been long forgotten) and moved into my grandmas house in Kawit! We were happy with that decision and was for the better. Spent the entire month of August getting Teren into a new school, buying a car, getting internet set-up, hot water heater installed and making her house a home.

In order for us to live abroad comfortably and to continue to maintain our incoming US dollars, Terence would have to travel back to Seattle every other month and working remotely in the PI. So far, so good. Thankfully, technology has allowed us to keep in contact through hours of video calls! I run my consulting business virtually and can do it for any part of the world! I have to travel back to the states from time to time to give lectures which is great because I get to see friends and family and get my fill on Mexican food and pizza!

What we love about living in a province versus the hustle and bustle of a busy, modern city…its as if we traveled back in time, living in place where kids are playing outside, literally leaving in the morning and coming home before it gets dark. Of course, I was a bit nervous to start but that’s how we’ve been conditioned to feel and act growing up in the states. Going back to a time where kids go door to door to pick up their friends to go “play.” Going back to a time where being outside was way more interesting than spending the day on electronics (though a lot of kids and adults do that here too!). Going back to a time where it was okay to walk to playground without an adult to play soccer/basketball/baseball. It’s a weird feeling especially when I find myself telling Teren “make sure you are back before it gets dark and in time for dinner.”

Life is good.

The Ber-months are extra festive in the Philippines. Christmas music and decor starts in September, a tad more in October. Then you have November where the holiday of things start to ramp up and of course December. Each barangay decorates its streets with their choice of holiday lights, carolers come to visit in the evening, bands march down our streets beating to familiar holiday music and kids come by and say “ma-masko po” which is kinda like trick or treat! Then the big day arrives, Christmas day! Almost every household is filled with family and friends, tables full of food and desserts and all is merry and bright. We enjoyed our first Christmas here and even had the opportunity to book a last minute holiday get away to Boracay. SO beautiful!

NYE is just the same but with fireworks. With the help of a quick cat nap, I made it to midnight and got to wish my loved ones a happy new year.

Today we reflect on an amazing 2019 and can’t wait to experience 2020.

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Waiting game

We have a few things that need to happen this week.

  1. Internet! Right now the internet is set up next door, where my cousin lives, and while we are able to connect, it’s super damn slow. The local internet company, PLDT, is verifying a few items and hopefully we’ll get set-up this week. It will be a world a difference going from 2 MBPS to 60. Praise be! (For all my Handmaid’s Tale fans.)
  2. Water heater! Everyone takes cold showers here. While it’s nice when it’s 98 degrees out I can’t do it everyday, hindi ko gusto (I don’t like it.) It’s on my to do list and getting one installed this week will be an accomplishment in itself.
  3. Buying a car. We weren’t planning on getting a car while we are here but things change right? I’ll definitely need one to take Teren to and from school, that bus service is not going to work with the amount of travel time involved. Plus, it will give me a bit of freedom to get to places and run errands on my time and not be at the mercy of public transportation. A part of me says we should get something small and practical like a honda civic or something…but Terence found this and now I’m torn. Missing vanlife!
The cutest baby van in all of Cavite.

So aside from the 3 must need to accomplish tasks above, it’s pretty easy living. EXCEPT for all the lines and wait times for everything here, from grocery shopping, banking, and doctor visits!

One of the first things I did when we arrived Manila was opened up an account with BPI (Bank of the Philippine Islands) figured it would be easier to transfer from our US accounts to a PI account and avoid the international transaction fees, atm fees and withdrawal limits. Thankfully there is a BPI branch here in Kawit which we went to the other day to make a deposit and withdrawal. Unlike the states where you line up at the teller window, here, you take a number and take a seat. When you take that seat, plan to sit for a while which I did. It was probably a 30 minute wait only to find out I was not at the right BPI. I was at a subsidiary of BPI which is for Family Savings Bank customers…argh. The teller was cool and super helpful and told me where the branch I need to go to was. So we drive about 15 minute to the actual Bank of Philippine Islands and like everywhere else, took a number and waiting my turn…an hour and a half later. Holy Jesus Mary, I felt like I won the lottery when my number was called. Made my deposit and received the cash I needed, all in 15 minutes.

Next up…

We were pretty concerned about healthcare and what we would do if we needed medical attention. The process itself was pretty easy and straightforward. Of course just like at the banks, you take a number and wait your turn. There were several steps…the first was letting the nurse receptionist know what we needed to be seen for (a physical for Teren and med certificate stating he was healthy and fit for school, which was one of the requirements of getting him enrolled) then filled out some paperwork, then patiently waited our turn. We met with the pediatrician, answered a few questions and then the physical. She was nice and thorough – she agreed to be our primary for Teren. Easy! We don’t have medical cards for the PI but have coverage through Terence’s work. We do pay in cash for the appointment and submit for reimbursement. It was surprisingly affordable.

Banking and healthcare, yup, the lines and the wait. I suppose you get used to it.

But the grocery lines…I will never understand the set up. There are 3 checkout types:

  1. Basket Carts
  2. Normal shopping carts
  3. Senior, PWD, Pregnant line

I totally get number 3 and give priority to these folks…but let me just step up on my soapbox and talk about number 1 & 2.

For number 1…these are little carts you can place 2 shopping baskets on. For number 2…these are your standard shopping carts. I was at the local grocery store: Save More and got what I needed and headed over to checkout. There unfortunately was only 1 register open for the standard shopping carts, which I had and just like the bank and health clinic, waited patiently for my turn. The guy in front of me had a ridiculous amount of groceries and was taking way longer than expected. Low and behold there were 3 open registers at basket cart checkout so I went over and got in line only to get turned away because I had a normal shopping cart. I asked why I couldn’t check out here since there was NO ONE in line and told her there is only one register available for the “normal shopping cart” line. She continued to show me that this was the basket cart line and she can’t check me out. Now I wasn’t going to start a fight or argue so I walked my ass back to the normal shopping cart line, in the same spot I was in and waited. I suppose the moral of all of this is to follow the rules and when it’s time to shop, use the basket carts.

Tomorrow we are heading to the LTO (Land Transportation Office) to get my drivers license. They cap the number of people they see to 100 so guess what I will be doing after we drop Teren off at school? Wait in another god damn line and wait patiently for my number to be called.

#itsmorefuninthephilippines

Finally settled

I had set a reminder to blog our updates weekly but since landing in Manila, life has been a good busy, hectic at times, but good. We are almost at our 2 month mark in the Philippines but somehow it feels way longer! It’s been an absolute whirlwind and we are loving life.

A few days after arriving Manila, Tara and I were off on our Greece trip.! We spent 2 weeks touring the islands, eating yummy food, drinking wine and beaching. I can’t wait to go back and will be planning a trip for 2020!

We had a slight change in our housing and decided it was better for our family and probably my sanity to live in the house I grew up in for a year in Kawit, Cavite. It is a city an hour south of Taguig (where we were originally going to live.) It is what Terence will refer to as the real Philippines. While I would eventually like to invest in a condo in BGC, Kawit feels more like home. Plus it makes a huge difference to have family close by.

We are pretty much settled in and have somewhat of a normal schedule going. Still waiting for our internet to get installed, water heater for the shower and a few personal items that need to get picked up at the condo. The house is pretty big (for us) and old! The house has also collected many things over the years and all I want to do is purge and clean up! I’ll have to see what I can do here!

It seemed like a daunting task to find a new school for Teren to go to in Kawit as we really only had a couple days to get everything set up with school starting so soon. With a bit of help from my cousin, Jaja, we got to visit a couple schools and decided the International British Academy would be a good fit for him. It’s a bit of a drive from the house but doable and not so bad, 30-40 minutes depending on traffic and weather. On the first day of school, we tested out their bus service, which seemed great up until I rode back with them (had to give the driver directions to the house since it doesn’t show up on google maps/waze) and holy shit. It. Took. THREE. HOURS. to get home. 3 hours and 14 drop offs later, we were the last ones since we live the farthest. I couldn’t imagine making Teren sit in that commute everyday. SO, I’m buying a car and getting my Philippine drivers license. As some of you know, I really don’t enjoy driving but I’m willing to suck it up and drive if it will save Teren from waking up super early (5am) and a 3 hour home commute. My cousin is taking me to look at cars today, hopefully it’s painless and easy!

Oh, Tara made the cut of 23 for the PWNT and will be flying out to Thailand next Tuesday for 2 weeks to compete in the AFF Women’s Championship. I’m a bit jealous that Terence is going but I did have Greece not too long ago so it’s only fair, right?

Tara is almost officially enrolled/registered at De LaSalle Univ. She’s going pre-med and has a spot on the soccer team, GO ARCHERS! School starts mid-September!!!!

Life is good.

Terence’s take on it

So we’ve been here in the Philippines for 2 weeks. It’s been surreal. It was great of my Tita to come home and meet us. She is the matriarch of the Nava family at 85. She has graciously allowed for us to stay at her condo. I appreciate her and her all the historical information she has on my family.

So what have we been doing. Pretty much going to out eat it. There is a reason why Filipinos are know of their food, cause it’s pretty damn good. Been hitting up a bunch of malls to see family, which is btw a Philippines past time. You can pretty much get all your household goods, appliances, and groceries at a mall. Along with other normal mall stuff.

I’ve also been working. I’ve been keeping a 9pm to whenever I get done hours. It will change slightly when I get back in August. Time adjustment was a little difficult cause I had to add work in there. Also the first week seemed like we were going and going. Did I say my mom is here too? She’s was going and going and of course I tagged along too.

Since the we moved into the van in 2018 my workout regime and bike riding went way down. I put on a little bit of weight. So about 2-3 weeks before our move I decided I would do a full marathon. Why? Cause I can. Haha. My buddy Joe did a full iron man in which he did his 1st full marathon. I figured if he could do it, my fat self could do too. Since then I’m sure I’ve dropped some weight with running, the heat, and the heat. Did I tell you about the heat. It’s hot and muggy I love it.

So we got here then Almie and Tara left for Greece like 5 days later. They sure have had a kick ass time. It was Tara’s graduation present as well as her 18th bday present. What sucks is their flight to and back to PHI were changed. I leave Tuesday back to Seattle at 11:30 pm and they arrive at 800pm. They were supposed to arrive in the morning. So I haven’t seen them for 11 days and won’t likely see them till late July.

Terence why in your right mind would you leave your family for a month at time? Moving to the Philippines was a choice Almie and I made for a few reasons.

1) I don’t want to live with regret. The door was open for us to move. I would hate 10-20-30 years down the road for me to say damn I wish we would have moved.

2) The cost of living here is very very low compared to the US. I want to use this time to save as much money as I can. This is part of the 8 (now 7) year plan. When I’m 50 I want to bank enough loot to be able to decide to work or not. To not have to work, but to choose it. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE my current job. They have allowed me this opportunity. The work is good and it suits me.

3) I missed growing up here. My mom made a hard choice after my birth father died. I want my kids to get a chance at “living Filipino”. For them to experience the culture, the food, the traffic <–I’ll save that for another day.

No pictures on this post because I pretty much didn’t use my phone while out because I didn’t have a load. Plus it got me to be in the moment while being out with family.

PI update!

Tara and I have spent the last 2.5 months in the Philippines. To say it was an amazing experience would be an understatement. It was an unexpected trip but one that has given us the chance to validate our decision to make the move!

To recap our journey here…

Tara was invited to participate in the Philippine Women’s National Soccer Team Camp in preparation for the 2nd round of Olympic Qualifiers. She of course accepted! We were en route to Manila two weeks later.

A big thank you to our Aunty Emy who opened up her condo in BGC for us to stay at. Tara ended up boarding with her teammates in Rizal giving me plenty time to reflect, plan and prepare for an overseas move.

Tara trained for the entire month of March then we were off to Qatar for 10 days for the tournament. It was a good run for the girls, they played hard, with heart and represented our country with Pride. Though the road to Tokyo has ended they still have plenty opportunity for future tournaments.

And here we are, spending our last couple days relaxing and preparing our trip back to Seattle.

I’m going back with a bigger appreciation of what we have and not so much of what we don’t. Granted we have lived in the BGC bubble the last couple months but have also seen what life is like in the “real” parts of the Philippines. No matter how rich or poor, people in general are pretty happy and pretty content of where they are today. I’ve met people from all walks of life and having conversations centered around family, Filipino culture and country pride.

Pride and Proud. I want to touch on this real quick. There’s something to be said about how much Filipino’s love their country and to lend support when called upon! We saw this in Qatar. Terence had reached out to all the local Filipino businesses, radio stations and the Philippine Embassy in Qatar, sharing the news of the team playing in the tournament and asking to spread the news and for all to come cheer the ladies on. The first game was primarily attended by friends and family…after word got out, we had triple the amount of people attending the 2nd and last game with the radio station in attendance! People came with the PI flag and cheered the girls on. It was amazing to see so many people come out to watch with zero connection to the players. The connection here was the representation of their country and being part of something special. No matter how many goals we scored or got scored on, the pride and proudness could be felt in the stadium. ❤️

The day to day. There are definitely things that are significantly different compared to what I’m used to.

Traffic. If you think traffic where your at is bad, you have yet to experience what it’s like to go 5km. Sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes an hour. But you get used to it and plan accordingly.

Pace. While we live in a world of instant and now, I’ve grown accustom to waiting, lines and it will happen eventually. It’s a much slower pace and with that I’ve been able to practice patience and being present…key word if practice. It’s tough sometimes but what can you do other than have another glass of wine and enjoy life, right?

Crosswalks. Pedestrian’s usually have the right of way but what I have learned is first come, first walk. It was a shit-show at first, afraid of being ran over by a car and dying but I noticed if you simple walk (still being mindful of moving vehicles) and politely gesturing you are crossing, cars will stop eventually and let you cross, mind you, a foot or so from you!

Life. It good living in the Philippines. A constant 80+ degrees here. If you don’t mind the humidity, it’s LOVELY. Not to mention the sunshine.

Cost of living. It’s generally less expensive to live here…when you are spending USD. With our move happening quickly, I’ve adapted to look at things from a piso standpoint. It’s shocking at how things become more expensive when you look at it that way. With the typical average salary being 500P/day, spending 2000P+ on dinner and drinks would be a splurge. Home cooked meals for sure.

Overall, it’s been a great trip.

Teren got to visit his future school, meet his classmates and teachers, and get a little taste of what’s to come in June.

Next 2 months will be a bit nutty with preparing for our move, Tara’s graduation, family coming to town and focusing on my training for my half Ironman in June!

Life is good for the Shelton-Borromeo clan. Vanlife kickstarted our adventure and look forward to the rest of 2019!