Our move to Manila in November 2014

Written on January 2015

Happy new year everyone! 

There were so many transitions in our lives that I have failed to update my blog. I am writing again after 2 months, and hopefully from hereon, write one blog post each month. 

After moving from Winnipeg in July, we took a lot of family trips here and there, and temporary moves here and there. Again, the kids have been really resilient and just went with the ropes. When we finally reached Manila in November, I think the whole moving thing finally sunk in... we endured a lot of crying, adjusting, temper tantrums, and questioning about our lifestyle and life choices. Tim and I held each other's hands while listening to their unending complaints, and guided them through the process of accepting that there are things we cannot change, but we can improve our attitude towards them. Change is always difficult for adults, and I know for sure that kids who are just beginning to realize that life is not always easy need all the understanding we can give them.

So there - the past few months have been a series of tests for me as a parent. Sometimes I cannot decipher anymore if the tantrum is really about the toy that they didn't get when we went shopping the other day, or because they miss a similar toy that still hasn't arrived after leaving our post 6 months ago. I don't know if the meltdown before bedtime is really about just being scared of the dark, or because they are in a new bedroom again, for the nth time. I don't know if the uncontrollable crying when I left for Bukas Palad practice the other day was just because they have a new babysitter, or because they realize that Mommy has more involvement in Manila and therefore will be more preoccupied with looking for job prospects and volunteer work. I don't know if the hesitation to go to school one morning is because they just don't like their school or because they miss their school in DC that they absolutely loved and left abruptly.

I know that I've said before and have resolved to myself that this lifestyle is exciting and expands the kids' horizons, but there are times when it gets really difficult and I question what we are doing to them. Many have commented that we are destroying them, that they won't ever have a sense of normalcy, or that they won't ever have roots and strong friendships. Some have praised us that we are exposing them to what the world has to offer, and that their understanding of the world will be so different from other kids their age. But seeing how strong and brave they are despite their meltdowns, how understanding and patient they are, and how resilient they are becoming, I think we are doing okay. We sent letters to their friends from Winnipeg and the US, skyped and sent videos to their best buddies, and made them feel that the world is small enough now that we could always get in touch. I've shed a lot of tears these past few months trying to be patient with them and trying to understand where they are coming from. I continue to struggle with it, and handle the transition myself, but I know that there is no other way but through.

The other day we took them to a crowded, local amusement park and I was surprised to see that Kevin, who was always shy to speak Tagalog and interact with Filipino kids just started playing basketball with 2 boys in the play area. They were wrestling, jumping on each other and playing with the ball so happily that I took a step back and let him. Nina just walked up to a girl and said, c'mon let's play in the doll house. She took the girl by the hand, and followed her around.

On Christmas day, we went to our family farm. They loved hiking in the mountains, crossing streams and exploring the animals and insects around. Despite the bug bites, no access to electricity and technology, they enjoyed themselves immensely and asked when we were going back.

They are even used to Manila traffic now and they have learned how to pass time by making "tunganga" (being idle, doing nothing). No Ipad required in traffic (unless it is a long road trip). They are also used to the dirty bathrooms, no toilet paper and no soap. Wet wipes in Mommy's bag is always the solution. They can take a bath using water from a pail, and can flush the toilet with a tabo (dipper) of water. They are always alert when we are in public places and will never let go of our hands.

Little by little, I think Manila is growing on them. As I've told the kids over and over again, we are lucky that we are together as a family, and home is where we all are. This 2015 will be a great year, and we will make the most out of our stay in the Philippines.

We are always thankful to our family and friends who have been so generous with their time, and so thoughtful at offering help with the move and lending us stuff we still don't have. We are overwhelmed at how positive everyone is with us being here and how many of you have welcomed us with open hearts. Looking forward to more times with everyone! We love you all.