What better way to start this blog than to relive the moments that officially led me to being an O.F.W. (Overseas Filipino Wifey).
NOTE: To my non-Filipino readers, O.F.W. officially means “Overseas Filipino Worker” and refers to Filipinos who travel to a foreign country for work to hopefully help their families financially back home.
So now let’s begin our story with the end of my permanent residency in the Philippines.
Last Day in the Philippines
It was nearly midnight. Clutching my passport and tourist visa grant in one hand and my husband’s hand in the other, We anxiously sat in the boarding area waiting for our flight to Australia. I could see that he was really looking forward to going back to his home country. I, on the other hand, had a very parched throat not because I was nervous about our big move but because even our small bottles of water was confiscated due to the highly strict customs regulations in Australia.
Finally, the time came to board our 8-hour Philippine Airlines flight to Sydney. At least I can get some more water inside the plane. Or so I thought.
Since it was an overnight flight, the crew had prepared everyone for a “good” night’s sleep. So before they went off to retire for the night themselves, I politely asked for some much needed water but the stewardess came back with a half-full glass of water and off she went. At this stage, I would’ve drunk as much as a camel would!
However, I didn’t want to press the button again and be a bother to everyone else already sleeping so I just had to be content with my meagre water ration. My husband entertained me with all his stories of back home, which helped both of us since neither of us could sleep anyway.
Then the first streaks of sunlight came through our window. Boy, was it a sight to behold! I held my husband’s hand and the precious cargo inside my womb as we basked in that October morning light.
I had always dreamed of watching a sunrise since the beginning of time but from where I lived in Manila, even when I climbed on top of our tin roof, all I could ever see was a sea of more tin roofs. When we’re on holiday somewhere, I’m too lazy to get up early to watch one. Excuses, I know. There’s been a few that promised me a sunrise before but none delivered, except my wonderful husband. And he’s been giving me sunrise after sunrise ever since.
This one while up in the clouds takes the cake! No other view can surpass being in a sunrise.
First Steps in Australia
It was a bit past 8 o’clock in the morning when Australia started to come into view. The first landmark we saw was The Twelve Apostles in Victoria. Soon after, I saw the all too familiar Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
We made our way through the Sydney International Airport towards “Maccas” (a.k.a. McDonald’s) where my husband’s sister JA was waiting to pick us up. I ordered the one familiar thing I could find in the Maccas menu: pancakes. Everything else looked different from the menu in “McDo” (also a.k.a. McDonald’s) in the Philippines.
There wasn’t any rice in sight. No spaghetti or fried chicken pieces either. It just had burgers and salads, and every item had its kilo joules written next to it. The apple juice that came with my pancake tasted nothing like the apple juice you can find in the Philippines. This one was really tart, not a trace of sweetness. Anyway, enough complaining. I’ll talk more about the difference between Maccas and McDo in another post.
After breakfast, we headed towards the exit doors of the airport. The moment I stepped out of the doors, which was officially my first step on Australian soil (technically it’s a concrete slab but anyway), I was instantly frozen solid. I couldn’t move from where I seized up. It was such a shock to my senses. It was supposed to be the middle of spring. But I felt like a blue tongue lizard in the Antarctic.
I didn’t have a jumper on, just a paper-thin shirt. I definitely did not get the memo for this one. From a sweltering hot and humid country, a paper-thin shirt is perfect. But here, I definitely needed more layers of clothing (and of blubber).
Driving on the “Wrong Side”
It was such a relief when we finally got into the car. My husband and I were sitting in the back while JA was driving in front. It didn’t sink in at first but as we hit the main