Saying goodbye to Vanessa

It’s been in the works since about early May. Either sell or trade her in. I already put a down payment on another VanDoIt. Things have changed since I got my VanDoIt November 2019. You can no longer get an off lease van, only new, and the wait time is about a year. I like their product and working with them. So we will end up getting our 5th van from them. Today was trade in day. Goodbye van #1, Vanessa.

Tons of memories but these come to my mind. The memories of Almie and I driving her from St. Louis Missouri after pick up to San Diego. Stopping at a Walmart to listen to offers on our town house. Driving back to the to the kids in time for Christmas. Learning how to use the van. It took us about a week to get running water. Learning how to get the right temps and humidity inside the van. Stopping by friends houses to fill up on water. Sleeping at friends driveway/streets. Navy showers. Taking the van to baseball games. Soccer games. The time we went to the Bay Area to check out USF. House sitting for Melody, Tiffany, and Kogan-Chan’s. Deciding to move to the Philippines. Deciding to sell the van, but it didn’t sell. Then to rent out the van, which was delayed because the place that was supposed to sell it didn’t winterize it causing some plumbing issues. To just a few weeks ago picking up the van from SF and parking in it SD while we did some summer fun. Then to today’s end of the road trip where Almie, Hayla, and Teren drove from SD-PHX-ALBQ to pick me at Albuquerque and the we headed to Wichita. Then the final “long drive” from Wichita to Kansas City Missouri.

Though it was only a year in the van. The family always talks about how they miss it. Safe to say both kids have expressed their desire to have their own van adventure. It definitely opened up a lot doors, closed some, allowed us to explore the thoughts of what “home“ really is, and a big one for me was a way to get into a minimalism mindset. It’s a constant struggle. The other day while I was driving from camping I had to double take, relisten multiple times and read the lyrics of the song “don’t dream it’s over” by crowded house. But I was listening to 6pence none the richer version.

Now I’m towing my car
There’s a hole in the roof
My possessions are causing me suspicion
But there’s no proof

what a year, is it over yet? i kid

so…we have been lacking in posts. the last post was a recap of 2019. shortly after that there was a volcano in the philippines. then a few months later there was the pandemic.

the gang (almie, tara, terem) are still holding strong in the cavite, phi while terence is back and forth between manila and seattle. this will continue for several years until it doesn’t.

earlier this year we also bought a house. it’s in the process of being built. pandemic slowed down construction. while we love we are staying now, it doesn’t totally feel like our home. this purchases solidifies our decision to call the land of our birth (almie and terence) our permanent home base. as hommie put it “putting down roots”.

we’ve flown by the seat of our pants most of our lives but in a thought out manner. kind of calculated chaos. but it’s worked out so far. so the last time i was home i was like we should start a business as i noticed a bike shop that i had been going to was a franchise. almie checked into franchises which lead us to cycle house. so the objective is to open a bicycle\motorcycle parts and service shop in the next 4-6 weeks. once this takes off it will eventually take over the international working.

is this a van blog? sup with the vans? a little recap. after living out of vanessa for a year in 2018, she ended up being put for sale early 2019 but dealership didn’t winterize her. she was setup to be rented spring of 19′ in san francisco till a bunch of water issues came up from dealerships mistake. we ended up buying big boy (now named chariot) at end of 2018 to downsize vans. but in that time we decided to move overseas. big boy ended being rented in 2019. i had a good experience and decided to get another van. the van i really wanted, a van do it. it arrived november 2019. wanted to rent this one out too, but the pandemic came thru. the red van was supposed to get modified with rooftop tent and cabinets inside but the pandemic. so we have 4 vans, yes 4 vans??!! 3 rent out now. the 4th should be rented sometime soon, but right now for it is good for a cot with your mountain bike inside type of camping. the van business is cool i absolutely love sharing experiences with people and they get a taste of van life, living small, and camp fires.

stay safe all. remember somebody out there cares about you. if you can’t find them, reach out to us. we can fix that.

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.


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.


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.