Hello, Kamusta ka na? Ano na ang mga hanash bukod sa trabaho?

Heto, galing ako kasal ni Yuna, friend of a friend. I thought traditional Korean wedding siya so I was looking forward to it but then it turned out to be a Korean Christian wedding. It turned out to be a simple ceremony. Well, there was the buffet and the food was good. So, nakailang balik din ako sa spaghetti alio e oilo and persimmon juice. Anyhow, siyempre medyo busy si Yuna. For sure, there will be a chance to catch up when everything settles. During the reception, I could not help but think about our own Filipino-style wedding ceremony. I have the impression that we can be more elaborate, if not, more fun even if we say it can be just a simple wedding.

Umuwi ng Ever Loyal City of Affection Manila for an official business at nagextend na din for vacay. Thankful naman ako kase narecharge naman. Umuwi ng bahay sa Bicol, binisita ang bago kong pamangkin. Chumika sa mga kapatid at kay mudra. Made several catch up with 'super' friends. Well, it was refreshing. I felt a bit gloom paguwi ko dito sa Seoul, as usual, but I noticed it was less gloomy than I had my first. And then back to normal. Maybe for a fact na uuwi na naman ako this November since we will be having the conference there. I plan to extend for few days ulit since I won't be there during the holidays. Anyhows, medyo magastos nga lang since I do not have a house to stay in Manila where all of my friends live. Needed to check-in the hotel. Next time, I will try to spend wisely. But it was all worth it.

Well, back to the drawing board naman ako. I mean, nagplaplano kung ano ang mga short to medium term goals. Ilagay sa organizer ang mga Must Do's. Kahit minsan hindi natutupad. Ganern. Bumabalik sa isipan at puso ko yung feels na heto na naman, ang dami na namang gustong gawin! Ayoko na sana magexpect pero fired up na naman ako. Fired up to just do the things that make me feel happy! Can I still do it, once more with feelings? Can I Begin Again? Enter Keira Knightley. Naisip ko lang din same time next year, I maybe packing up my stuff na. Malay mo. But my point is ang bilis ng oras. Why waste it?

In one of our latest sesh, my daughter Irene told me she was a bit concern as to how have I been spending my social life in this city. Knowing when I was still in Manila, I used to have lots of hanash with friends. And I got plucked out and planted somewhere where everything was new.

To be fair, it was a bit difficult. But I guess I am a natural loner so it was manageable. I still had many things done in Manila all by myself. Here in Seoul, during my low moments, when all my friends seem distant, that's where I tend to just try to go to nice touristy places. That was at least during the first few months. But it won't take long since I met Filipino friends along the way and my weekends seem to be busy and my colleages in the office also make sure we get to catch up at least a month.

But somehow, there is still that moment- forgive me - when I feel I need 'realness'. Perhaps that's the problem. I still consider this all transience. Minsan naguguilty ako sa thought na aalis lang naman ako dito. Minsan, iniisip ko, So what? Just enjoy the company while it lasts. Minsan, hindi rin, matanda na ako for that. I'd only go for keeps. However, I just feel good that there's a company waiting back home.
We all have a share of moments in our younger years when someone asked, what do you want to be when you grow up? 

1. My father told me that I could take up journalism so I could end up like those rendering the nightly news. That was how I first heard about the word 'journalism'. Well, it sounded cute and classy. So, I began to be curious about what these people do.  But I marveled the idea of a person reporting in the actual scene. But I realized I did not want to appear in television and perhaps they were just reading.  I began to think who wrote what these people read in front of tv? 

My attention was diverted to newspapers, magazines, books. I began loving the letters and the written word and how they can evoke emotions. And then the most complex part was how they can be part of a broader concept called communication. Ever since, I have always been curious about writing, about communicating, about describing the exact picture, about getting the real emotions. 

Journalism was my first degree, hoping it would give me the tools. I still use them now. I try to update and relearn the techniques as much as there is an opportunity. But I miss writing. I miss immersing myself with words and hoping they can transform others. 

2.  During college, I got to learn of other people- those who have less. I wanted to get to know them better - their issues, the things they struggle, the things they celebrate. It became clear to me that these people - much as they need to improve their conditions - they need to have a voice so they can be heard. I was willing. And so development work has become a promise and I could use sociology as my frame to help make their voice louder and stronger.  

3. Everytime I visited University of the Philippines Los Banos, there was such a sense of myself wanting to work and settle in the place. I learned about the campus during my college years when I habitually visited a friend every time there was a long weekend. The simplicity of the place, the greens. It made me feel secure. I promised to myself someday I would work in this kind of environment. I could become a professor in the university or I can apply for any offices near the area. I remember a job prospect that was almost perfect and I still recall the excitement I felt only to fail me at the end. I still dream of myself in a room with a big window of nice view of trees and greens and me, writing and learning the ways of the world. I dreamt of becoming a scientist in my own little way, in my own little corner in that place. 

Back to present. Do all those dreams get a least a dose of reality? I do not know how to answer, to be fair. At the very least, I can 'rationalize' everything - and I still do write and I am in a development work and yes, a development social scientist is far. So what do I do?  In times when you get mature, and you think about your first loves and haven't really gotten much of it. You begin thinking it's worth the second try. Because

1. I miss writing. I miss development communications. I miss the writing that matters. I miss the kind of writing that pierces hearts. I miss the writing and images that change the way we look at things. I miss people read what I write. I miss writing drafts. I miss the works, the research, the conversations before the writing. The legwork to it. The analysis to it. The plagiarism that you should avoid. Your values and biases that you should recognize before you write. Both the essay and the hard facts. I miss to be read.  I miss the immersion. I miss what I struggle the most. 

2. I miss talking to 'real people'. I miss writing about them. I miss writing about them and their aspirations. I miss observing them and engaging them. I miss 'fighting' for them. I miss hearing their stories. I cannot work in the desk and writing about 'real people'. I just cannot. 

3. And then I miss the idea of little corner. I wonder its endless possibilities. I still believe I can still do it, with a huge amount of preparation and a little luck. I still that in that little corner I will have it someday soon. 
Kailangan ko yata maisulat lang ito para maalis ang sumpa. Marami yata akong mga 'rejection' feels lately.

Kanina lamang. Nag apply ako sa US Embassy. Gusto ko sanang mag moment sa New York. Ayon na rin sa encouragement ng aking bff. 'Life Changing' daw. haha. Sige na nga. Try ko. Bakasyon lang.

Ok na sana kase hindi naman haggard ang pagapply. Pero ewan ko ba kung ano ang nangyari. Confident naman ako. Sa Q& A, sabi ko as tourist. Sabi ko sa New York. Sabi ko I work sa Seoul.
Pero sabi ng immigration officer, as per the reason identified, hindi pa daw sufficient ang stay ko sa Korea to go to US dahil hindi nila maestablish na babalik ako after my travel. Say whut?!

To be fair ang galing niya. Direct to the point yung line of questioning. Hindi biro ang maging immigration officer, I guess. I feel a major reason is my period of residency in Seoul. Dalawang beses siya nagtanong about it. Pati annual salary ko. He encouraged me to apply in the Philippines. So ang siste mag papa appoint pa ako sa Manila just to get a US visa.

Siyempre, I got watered down. It could have been exciting. Sayang yung almost 8k! But I guess my travel to US will be set aside muna unless there is an official business travel.

*****

Three weeks ago, I enroled in what could be my second Korean class. This time, sa isang office sa building namin.  Pretty convenient for me. I submitted my application, applied for lower beginner class, and I had the entrance exam. This was to verify if I can be 'fit' in the lower beginner class or be demoted or promoted. 

The exam was a bit hard, and after a week, I learned I was in the waiting list. It means I have to wait for a person to withdraw the class so I can get in. But it also means I got rejected. Nakita ko yung pangalan ko sa listahan, ako yung pang no. 16! Fifteen (15) ang kinuha. 

For one thing, parang nasira ang schedule ko. It was supposed to be my Saturday afternoon routine at least until October. Given this circumstance, I guess mag self-learn muna ako. Of course there are many classes around the city and some of them are quite pricey. Ito kase at least free and you get to mix with a lot of foreigners din.

But lately, I realized that with my both work and personal schedules, I believe hindi ko din naman siya maeenjoy. There is this rule that I can only be absent thrice in the class and after that they will get my deposit money and probably I may be missing a lot of Saturday classes din because of my weekend schedules (i.e may three weekends in August is full already!) So, personal effort lang muna and immersion sa mga kung saan saan ang peg - just to further familiarize Hangeul.  

*****

Minsan sa buhay buhay, hindi mo maiiwasan ang feeling na feeling mo na out of place ka, na reject ka ng isang grupo, na shut off ka or simply you do not belong with them. I can honestly say hindi nila intention yun or simply the 'leader' of that group must have felt na I can be so busy. So ano ang pinuputok ng bochi ko. I got invited once and I expected to be invited again. You see, this group has its regular monthly lunch out (colleagues including in the other offices too). So when I saw them in the same venue where me na my other colleagues would be taking lunch. Casual lang naman yung encounter. But deep inside me, there is this feeling that I got out of their monthly lunch set up. 

But you know what was sad about it. I felt like I deserved an explanation from them. I felt entitled at some point. This 'pride' chicken, this 'ego'. It was really not about them at all. To be honest, most of their conversations I could not relate. It was about me. And I felt surprised to myself why did I have to feel that way. Somehow, kahit saan mo tingnan, ako yung may mali sa pananaw kong ito. I was childish. I felt I got rejected. Ayoko lang sila makita. All the more that I do not want to be with them at all. 

***

Sana sa mga susunod na araw at buwan, reverse naman ang ganap, di ba? Pero ganoon naman talaga. The most important thing is what you do with it. Mas emotional ako doon sa out of place issue. May the Divine forgive me for being unreasonable. 'Fuck this Feeling' sometimes. Siguro, it is one way of telling me,  grow up. You do not need to look out for them. There are just so many people and things that you begin overlook and they matter more than you know. 


It has been five months after I arrived at your doorstep, you strange big world. You welcomed me with your winter spell.  It was white all around you, the trees bare, and smokes whirl at random, chimney, breaths, cars, dreams perhaps.

You taught me to be brave because there was no one around. I remember one night, a pain in my stomach made me awake all night. I called emergency but you spoke of a weird language. I waited till morning. In all its discomfort, I promised myself to you that I'd be good and would be content for life if the pain could go away. As if I hoped for any magic. It did not go away that night. I waited until morning. The promise still lingers because the pain did disappear. It was a stupid case of winter virus, the doctor said.

In some idle moments, You wonder how on earth did you get here as if you were just transported. It is not humility I guess. Remember, you Competed for this job and you emerged out from the many who desired to get your post. If there is one thing that you should feel is that you should take care of your job. Not only you deserve it but also you knew you fought a hard. So each day, I try myself to be relevant to myself and to my commitment to my job. That is the purpose why I am here, everything else comes secondary.

Reality sinks in.  In my first spring. My boss is below expectation. You suddenly realize you are entering a solitary battle. It was not new to you. You did it before. Many times, you were dreaming of a world to be a better place all by yourself. So before it is too late, change your perspective. It may be a lonely but whatever it's worth and measure, Be kind. 'Act in good faith', my boss told me - the  most sensible advice I have ever received so far in my stay here. 'Act in good faith' and you will never go wrong. Never go wrong in my work and in this city.

With faith, comes the doubt.  The cold concrete absorbs you. And you do not speak its language. You decided you can begin by living each day and marvel. But at night, doubt lingers.

With doubt comes the entitlement. At some point, you  begin to believe that some people owe you. That one person owes you a lot. But you knew it was not right. You begin to search angels in vain. Butlately you realized angels fly. You begin to search for  humans. Humans who can guide you. In random, you act in good faith as you find them one by one. Yes, you continue to find them. Suddenly every weekend, which is supposed to be rest day, is becoming full.

Uncertainty flows but what is certain is the city makes you feel its love, its skin. It reveals before you both the kind and the cold, the kind and the warmth, the transient and the things that stay with you. You can learn. You can unlearn. And everyday, you choose to live.

What have you done to me? I close my eyes. Sometimes, I wish its January 2018, the year my contract ends perhaps start all over again back home and I can't wait. Sometimes, the heart says No.  Start Now, Right Here.