[personal] one year of being an ofw!

It has officially been a year now since I left the PH! Hi UAE, happy anniversary to us! (And also second grad anniversary! Padayon, mga bagong nagsipagtapos!)

As not mentioned here on this blog, a lot has happened during that year. A LOT. Prior to this move, I have to admit I really thought it would only be unicorns and butterflies. The usual, “OFW’s have it a lot better and easier than the people back home; that going abroad is the easy way out.” I’m still waiting for that magical day to happen, to be honest with all of you.

It Doesn’t Get Easy!

Let me tell you: I’ve been out in the world for two years now, and I’m still waiting for that eureka moment when I would know and feel that everything has fallen into place, much like how it looks to my contemporaries. It doesn’t seem like it will come this year, and even next year.

And I think, it probably doesn’t work that way.

Yesterday, I received a word from one of my superiors about how they want me to incorporate some new stuff to our social media as the ones we currently have been a little repetitive. I took it as an indirect, “You’re not doing very good at your job, Claridge.” But also minding that it might be the anxiety talking.

(The anxiety will never shut up, is also one of the things I learned over the year.)

As I often do, I shared this with my friends and one of them told me, “You shouldn’t think as if you don’t have room to make mistakes. It takes years for someone to get really great at something. Mistakes and learning from them are normal. Keep at it, you’ll keep on learning, keep on growing, and one day you’ll get there.”

And I guess, that’s really true. We (I) should stop being too harsh on myself. I’m relatively young. I’ve only been a working professional for two years. I know that I’ve been doing okay with my work. Sure, I get some things wrong, but I think there is enough credit to the things I did which actually helped the business.

Principles, Schmrinciples

It’s funny ’cause I realized, in the year spent here in the UAE, the hardest part of being out here is applying the honor and excellence one has learned in college. Honor and Excellence. I should stop compromising my beliefs for the comforts of others. I know, I know. In the test of real life, I wonder if it’s a tres or a kwatro I’ve been having.

Honor and excellence, don’t forget. Always, always embody.

Yalla, Habibi

So. One year. And two more, if all goes to plan. Every day, there is the urge to pack up my bags and go home. There is that little voice whispering, “You can thrive there. You did it before, you can do it again.” But also yesterday (seems like a lot happened yesterday, doesn’t it?) I read this graduation speech given by David Sedaris to wherever college it was, and one of his advice to the graduates was to don’t go back to your hometown. Actually, part of the advice was to also not have a fallback plan as a graduating artist.

But anyway, my takeaway from it was to keep on keeping on. Work on your craft, work on your career. It may fail, you may fail, but don’t ever quit. Of course, it was a timely read that I took as a sign from the universe that the road doesn’t end here for me.

I don’t know. I don’t think I’ve made sense with this post. I just want to commemorate this day, I held out for a year. A year of three visa runs to Oman, finding work at a completely unfamiliar place, stumbling, falling, and picking myself up. I’m a little bruised up but also little stronger, I’d like to think so. (Also, one published short story! Let’s not forget that.)

Yalla, habibi. Padayon.


[personal] filipino food i miss the most

(Because I’m currently snacking on some pricey siomai and milk tea, as if this were 2015 and I was in Area 2.)

The worst thing about being away is missing out on your usual food haunts. There are days when I felt like only Ate Fe’s sizzling sisig could cure me of my misery. (And yes, I acknowledge that I also had this mindset even before I moved here. #FoodIsLife) Someday, Doreen Gamboa-Fernandez will applaud me for the way I sing praises to food.

  1. Ate Fe’s Sisig. The first thing I will eat once I come back home. I swear to God, Maginhawa will be the first on my list. I will probably walk around Maginhawa-Malingap-Sikatuna area again, light a cig for all the memories I’ve had in that area. Crack open a bottle or three of Red Horse at Sarah’s or TK. Sober up at Mini-Stop with their Fried Chicken (that is way better than Jollibee’s!). Basically, relive my undergrad trash self. I miss it so much.
  2. Mang Larry’s Isaw/UP Food Crawl. Even as an undergrad, I could never keep up with the influx of new stores popping up all over the campus. There used to be a cute, rustic cafe by SOLAIR that vanished even before I graduated. Area 2 is a beast with an evolutionary rate Darwin would have been proud of. For sure though, the staples like LB shake and Mang Larry’s isaw will never be forgotten. (Also, maybe add a Snack Shack burger even though they are also fairly new to Area 2. I am old. I can still remember Area 2 with just LB and LKB.)
  3. FA Siomai and Arki Pantea. OHMYGOD. Now that I remember the Pantea, I get a mad craving for it. 😦 FA siomai with its heaps of fried garlic bits is just THE BEST. I can still remember my freshie days with my Chem 16 Cool Friends (they were all older than me) and they introduced me to All Things All Freshies Should Know About UP. They were cool.
  4. Waltermart Guiguinto’s Takoyaki. I’m pretty sure this is a franchised product, but I always forget its name. Anyway, it serves it purpose – to satisfy your takoyaki cravings, which is actually pretty niche if you think about it. I also miss Ganchan’s legit takoyaki but it’s so expensive. (It also just occurred to me that this should be a filipino food-themed post, but hey.)
  5. Gong Cha’s Earl Grey Milk Tea. 😦 When will Gong Cha open here in Dubai?


[personal]: things i’m thankful for

(I just typed ‘thankful’ as two words. I am clearly not cut out for this.)

Hello, hello. Yes, this is still not a book review. I’m sorry. So, a good fren from more than 6000 km away suggested I try to blog about things I am thankful for whenever I feel too stressed out about life. Today at work, we had a long meeting and most of it was spent talking about who gets cut out of the team’s roster. At some point, I thought to myself: This is what I sold myself, my soul, and my liberal arts degree, for. It was fucking disheartening.

Coming off from that point to list down the things I’m thankful for suddenly felt like an asshole thing to do. But hey.

  1. My Job. I am thankful for having my job secured as of March 26, 2018. I’ll never know when I’ll get the boot, but when that time comes… then it comes. But for now, I have this, this job of mine which I don’t really hate. I actually kind of enjoy it. Every day, there is something new to do, something new to tinker with, something to make me feel like I’m doing something for someone.
  2. Constant Friends. These past weeks were just pure hell. I’ve never had to deal with feelings since college and then, three months into the job and I suddenly grew this fungus on my heart what the fuck. It was good while it lasted. It was worse when it ended. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have survived any day of it without my friends who had to bear with my daily messages of pathetic woe. (It was also Peak Anxiety Episodes, so you all saved my life, actually.)
  3. New Friend. Do you know how hard it is to find a good friend at a faraway place? Like finding a needle in a haystack. I feel like one of the things that made me so miserable at my former job was because I had no one there who runs on the same frequency of crazy as I do. Finding my new friend was a miracle and at the right time, too. She’ll probably not see this anytime soon, but thanks, new friend! You helped me survive a ghosting, ulcer (literally!), and my anxiety attacks.

[personal]: hello, yes i am still alive

Hello, WordPress! It’s been… a fucking long while.

I am probably speaking to void right now, all my followers from seven (???) months back gone and happy with their lives and grandchildren, I guess. But anyway, hi void. It’s me. Adgie. Greeting you from the Land of Camels and Tall Buildings.

So a quick recap: I’ve moved (not quite) recently to Dubai to seek greener (drier, tbh) pastures. It was– an adventure. I can’t quite confidently say I’m happy after I moved, contrary to my, and other people’s, expectations. It wasn’t easy, for sure. It was – is – a Russian Roulette of emotions every day. I mean, I moved places. Doesn’t mean I left my demons at home.

Speaking of home, I intended for this first blog post post-move to be a little like my friend Ange’s blog post when she moved to Canada. Like a list of things I miss from the Philippines, which to be honest is quite a lot more than I expected. 😦

(I’m rambling, I’m so sorry. Writing for my own has never felt this relieving. It’s like opening a pressurized jar – everything is just spewing out of my mouth/fingers.)

So, yeah. The truth is, I moved because I couldn’t take living in the Philippines anymore. I was a fresh grad crippled by the mundanity of the everyday. I kept on looking for More More More out of Adult life and I felt like a failure for not seeing the worth of that life. I’ve spent years in college, looking forward to the day I can finally contribute something of significance to the world. Only when I did come out of school, I was flailing and failing miserably.

I lost hope.

It was the unsolvable traffic, the horrible train experiences every damn day, the low pay and high taxes for a job with too-long hours. I dreamed of that job for so long and it ended up as another item on my list of disappointments. (Btw, you all know about this. I’ve written about this before.)

After that first job, I made up my mind. I’m moving to Dubai, where my parents are, where transportation doesn’t feel like The Hunger Games, where the tradeoff is better. I hoped.

And then I headed off to my second job, which was fine and dandy at first. Definitely, the only place where I felt so connected with my colleagues – and still is my standard, btw. But then a lot of things happened. The work environment wasn’t all fine and dandy, after all.

(But, eventually, you learn that everywhere is never a fine and dandy place. There will always be reasons to not feel happy or comfortable. Always.)

But then, it was okay. I know I was moving soon anyway. It wasn’t a difficult decision to leave.

And then I left.

I left the country. Of course, I was looking forward to finally living the life I’ve always dreamed of. Sure, the guilt was eating me as well. Every damn day. But I thought of it as a trade-off. Something I have to bear in order for me to gain something worthy out of life. Equivalent exchange, if you will.

It wasn’t easy.

I wish I could tell you all how worth it it was to move away. To finally commute without feeling like you have to sell Satan your soul just to get where you want to go on time or within this lifetime. To earn a paycheck that pays the bills and still have a little nest egg you can look forward to on rainy days. To diversify your work environment and learn loads of new things. Yay Self-Improvement!

It’s… well, yeah. All of these things. And more.

It’s adjusting to people from literally all walks of life. People who know you from your nationality. It’s adjusting to living in cramped quarters and paying a fortune for rent. It’s a lot of new food and missing the food you’ve been familiar your whole life with. It’s looking for comfort from your friends when it feels like you’ll also fail here, 6,904 km away from home, and finding a hard time to vent, rant, cry, have a good release. It’s looking for people who would even a quarter of the way understand how your brain works and find that they have theirs wired differently from yours. (Yes, you’ve realized this from waaaaay before but now, you’re slapped in the face by this fact you’ve long ignored.) It’s being visited by your old demons and meeting new ones.

It’s difficult.

And if you ask me what I’m still doing here if it’s so difficult after all, it’s because I know I still have a lot more to learn and experience. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve traded off a life full of potential for something that feels a little lackluster. But… it also feels like I cannot contribute anything to my country at this time. Who am I, anyway? What do I have with me that can help my country? My blind ideals will get me killed for nothing. A casualty of war who died prematurely. It’s not the fight I want to fight.

I still want to come back and help. I still want to give something of myself that I know will be worthy of my country. And I still don’t have anything with me yet.

If there is something good I found abroad that I didn’t find while I was back home, it was Reason to Fight for My Country. Out here, there are lots of us Filipinos. Some will help you from the smallest of things to life-changing ones. Some will tear you down the minute you stepped on their little toes. Some lost their identity after finding another one. And I realized, for all my hate of my country while I was there, it wasn’t the hate that would drive me to fight against my fellows. It wasn’t the kind of hate that will make me call them names and treat them like trash. It’s the hate borne of frustration and helplessness.

6,204 km away from home and I found my Reason.

Okay, enough of the cheeseballs time. So, having been back again I’ll probably write more. This is really therapeutic. Thanks for the push, Mumshie. ❤ Next time, I’ll write about my brief time in Oman, More Work Things, and Other Writing Things. One at a time.

Year-End Review: A #Blessed Post

2016 was a very challenging year for humanity, to say the least. As a friend said in her Facebook essay, it did kick our collective asses but it also had its good moments. At work, we have this bloggers’ group with monthly challenges, and this month’s challenge was to reflect on what good things happened to us this past year.

The goal was to realize that we are #blessed – and I’m using that word in that instant a little mockingly, but it did make me realize that yes, I have, indeed, been blessed this year.

It wasn’t all so bad.

Books in 2016

As I am a book blogger, I tried to tie this rather a personal blog challenge to my content: books. And once I was sitting down, alone at a coffee shop one rare very early morning on a weekday, I found that it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. This activity made me realize how intricately tied my life is with books, and how I still define moments of my life with the books I read. Some people recall songs in times of crisis or moments of clarity. The idea is similar to that but in my life, I have books.

1. Cinder and Cindy Ella

The year started with me trying to ignore the looming and very lethal undergraduate thesis deadline that I have. I was on a vacation in Dubai during the first days of 2016, seeking clarity and the much-needed space and motivation for an impending bloody 20k-word-to-10-k word revision. I was fucking scared and already halfway insane with the thought of chopping down a semester’s worth of work.

My thesis was about Cinderella retellings in contemporary genre fiction. It was a no-brainer that I would take the romance and genre choices as my thesis, as these are the books that brought me to the Literature degree path I’ve been taking. But taking Romance and Sci-Fi as my thesis options were also setting me up to always defending my choice – of thesis and I guess, reading preference – to people around me. It didn’t help that a lot of people, maybe my thesis adviser included, didn’t see the worth in Romance novels. This lack of interest and respect made it really difficult to find the reason to keep on going and the reason of why I was writing my thesis in the first place.

I am in love with genre fiction, particularly Romance. And I always get triggered whenever people talk shit about it. This passion fuelled me during the last days of the semester in letting go of a big chunk of my thesis draft and revising what would be the final version of my thesis. I realized then that a lot of people may think their undergraduate thesis is just a little requirement they have to complete to get their degree, but for me, my thesis had been a good test of passion. After graduating, I will continue reading, loving, and fighting for my little genre books.

2. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi


Right after graduation, I was accepted to a local publishing house as an editorial assistant. If you have read my comeback post, you would know that this is a story of triumph and defeat, and I feel like I am finally ready to tell it now.

The Star-Touched Queen was a beautiful discovery before I plunged into my dream industry. In the book, the main character was spirited away into the world she thought she was better off in than the real world, a kingdom in which she was a princess. It was magical and empowering, and it lent me the strength and hoped that things would be as magical as it did for the main character.

So there I was, empowered and hopeful until the dream turned into a nightmare.
Like the main character in Star-Touched Queen, the magical place I was spirited into was not as beautiful and magical as I thought it to be. It felt like I was fighting for my beloved genre books against an army of patriarchal prejudice against them. And it is such a disappointment to find them in the one place I thought would be a refuge against such ideas.

I was miserable the entire time I was there. But I did learn some things I will carry with me until I am ready to face the publishing industry once again. Like, treating your employees with humanity in your heart and hire editorial assistants who actually like the books you are trying to publish.

3. Spark Books

So hey. These are books that tied me over while I was miserable and broken-hearted with my career. I loved each of these books and believed they are every bit as good as their western contemporaries.

I will defend New Adult Romance books until the last of my breath and these books made me realize how strong my love for the genre is. I’ll probably give a review some time in the future. Maybe.

4. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne


In the interim between the disaster that was my first job and picking up the pieces of my broken dreams, I found The Hating Game. It was about a copywriter, who lost the meaning of her life after a disastrous relationship, going on a business road trip with an art director co-worker, who may be one of the biggest players in their office.

I try not to be the cliché that Easy A pointed out: the one where the main character identifies herself with the book she is currently reading. But I do get a sense of identification and healing with the books I read. It may be a beautiful serendipity but it was also magical in the way all books have a universal way of healing us.
(This book is fantastic and a great full-length Romance novel. I missed these kinds of books. *sigh*)

5. Best Women’s Erotica


Yay! The last book of my year and it was a reader copy!

Things began to pick up for me in the last months of the year. I got a new job I was trying not to think too much about – I’ve learned that expectations have a way of hitting you rather forcefully at the back of your knees. And surprisingly, this time I think I got adulting right.

The job, which is partly the reason why I revived this blog, has been great. I am learning lots of new things every day and meeting people who are a lot more critical and fun than at my last job. (Oh my God, I just went there.) The work itself is challenging, but I think I love it. It’s the same feeling as the one I had when I shifted to English Lit after failing so hard at Engineering school. It was that “every day I create blunders and mistakes but nothing as terrible as not understanding an entire semester’s worth of lessons.”

With this renewed sense of hope, I am trying to make this book blog happen again. I volunteered to review this sexy book and I hope to receive and review lots more books this 2017. (Review should be posted before the week ends! Are you excited about what this anthology may have? I am, too.)

2017 Goals

Last year, I think my only goal was to survive thesis and finally get my degree. I did not plan anything about my career, only hopes that I may be able to get into the publishing industry. It did happen, although not as successfully as I would have liked. All in all, it was a very productive year. The realization that I have only graduated last year and that career success is not something I should get right off the bat took off a lot of pressure on my chest. I am new at this adulting thing and I am entitled to stumble and fall.

I am sure I will make lots of mistakes this coming year as well. I hope I create more content for this blog, get more free books (heh), and hopefully create something for myself. 2016 wasn’t so bad in terms of productivity. Here’s to hoping 2017 gets to beat 2016.